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Ask a Conservation Officer: Bowhunting deer at an established bear bait station?

Q: I am bowhunting for bears over an established bear bait station, and I have both a bear license and an archery deer license. If a deer steps out, can I shoot it?

A: In most situations, no. According to Minnesota State Statute, bait includes grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, hay or other food that is capable of attracting or enticing deer and that has been placed by a person. "Baiting" means placing, exposing, depositing, distributing or scattering bait that is capable of attracting or enticing deer. The accepted, legal method to hunt bears in Minnesota is to use bait. The majority of what is found in common bear baits would be considered capable of attracting or enticing deer. This also includes anything with sugar or sugar derivatives such as glucose, dextrose and fructose, which are common ingredients in a wide variety of materials that hunters use for bear bait, and are also included in commercially-available deer attractants. A person hunting bears over or near a bait station would most likely be in violation of deer baiting laws if they harvested a deer over or near a bear bait station.

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Conservation Officer Anthony Elwell  is field training with Matt Miller, a Minnesota Conservation Officer with the Lake Superior Marine Unit.