With the early Canada goose season opening on Saturday, Sept. 1 – and the regular duck and goose seasons on the horizon – hunters must know what’s occurring in the fields they plan to hunt to avoid a situation in which they’d be hunting over bait.

This year’s wet spring, especially across the southern part of Minnesota, left many farmers scrambling to get their crops in the ground. In some instances, they decided to forego planting crops such as corn and soybeans and instead planted cover crops like oats and other small grains.

Whatever’s been planted in a field, hunters must know this: If the crop is still standing or has been harvested under a normal agricultural practice, it wouldn’t be considered a baited field. But in situations where a field has been disked or plowed prior to harvest of the grain, for example, the field would be considered baited and hunters could be cited.

According to the 2019 Minnesota Waterfowl Hunting Regulations, it’s illegal to hunt migratory waterfowl by the aid of baiting or on or over a baited area where a person knows or reasonably should know that the area is or has been baited. A baited area is considered to be baited for 10 days after removal of bait.

“The responsibility falls on hunters to know where they’re hunting and what farmers have done with their fields up to that point,” said Lt. Col. Greg Salo, assistant director of the DNR Enforcement Division.

For more information, hunters should consult the regulations or contact the conservation officer in the area they plan to hunt.