Dear Answer Man: While wandering through a local sporting goods store the other day, I came upon several aisles that were well-stocked with items like "Deer Cane" and "Buck Grub." I thought it was illegal to use bait to hunt deer in Minnesota. What gives? — Bambi backer
Dear (deer?) Bambi: It is indeed illegal to bait deer for hunting purposes in Minnesota. Statewide, any product that contains sugar, corn, grain, molasses, hay, sunflower seeds or any other food product can't be used to lure deer into range. So, any hunter who buys these products for use in Minnesota is probably walking a fairly thin line, especially once the bow hunting season begins in a few weeks.
But there's an even bigger issue in southeastern Minnesota. Because of chronic wasting disease, the DNR prohibits feeding deer in Wabasha, Olmsted, Houston, Winona, Mower and Fillmore counties. CWD spreads quickly when deer are concentrated in a small area, and nothing concentrates deer like a 50-pound bag of corn dumped in a suburban backyard.
Bird feeders also pose a problem. A low-hanging feeder that's filled regularly with sunflower seeds and/or corn can attract a lot of deer, so the DNR asks people to place feeders at least six feet off the ground.
The ban on feeding deer in southeastern Minnesota also applies to many of the otherwise-legal attractants that deer hunters often use, including plain salt blocks and deer urine.
Bottom line? If you want to legally attract deer to your back yard or the back 40, plant a garden. Bambi likes corn, but he LOVES peas, beans, pumpkins and radishes.