I am from the Midwest and it is very common to plant food plots for deer hunting or hunt over a flooded cornfield(with planted millet for ducks). This is completely legal here. But as soon as you take a bag of apples and set them out for deer to eat it becomes illegal, or if you place kernels of corn around where you are duck hunting it is illegal.

What is the difference between purposely planting food and purposely placing food you have planted somewhere else?

I feel like if placing a food source is illegal than planting one to hunt over should be illegal too, or vice versa and both methods are legal.

  • 4
    Not a legislator, but: planting a feed plot involves a long term commitment of time and effort that has a long term benefit for the entire herd. Baiting has zero benefit for the herd, and can be done at any time on anyone's property.
    – Lumberjack
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 21:22
  • Go plant an apple tree in your favourite hunting spot.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 21:32
  • I have planted an apple tree(actually several) in my favorite hunting spot, and I think that planting sources of food and 'Baiting' are one in the same. I guess I never really thought about the longterm benefits of planting various plants/trees.. but to counter, Corn comes down every year and has to be replanted. Same with Millet, so I guess my question is more aimed toward duck hunting. Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 21:48
  • 4
    @OlinLathrop no this is trying to understand the logic behind a law not advocating one way or the other Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 13:01
  • Are you talking about someone planting a 10'X10' plot of corn way back in the woods or someone who hunts on their existing farm? Based on your millet example it seems like you're talking about the second scenario. If that is true then I can give an answer.
    – Erik
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 16:10

1 Answer 1


First it is not illegal to feed and hunt in all areas, only some. Google "deer feeder" there are industries around this market.

I discuss some of the considerations in my answer at What are the downsides of baiting game while hunting?

Where food is grown, grown food plots are always present, all animals including game animals come and go to these plots as they desire. It just in not practical to say you can't hunt in the crop fields of the US grain belt. Additionally it takes substantial work outside of the hunting season to maintain this plot of land.

If a hunter grabs a bag of apples at the store, and drops them in a field, the food is only there by the direct intervention of the hunter. True he probably does it more than once, but the point is that is unnatural. The food surplus (what the animal eats), is greater than the environment can support.

The real short answer is: Where baiting is illegal, the law makers believe it will increase the harvest rate (killing) of target species above what the ecosystem can sustain.

There are environmental, political and economic reasons that make the extermination of game animals in some areas undesirable. Hunting laws are generally designed to maintain stable population and harvest rates.

  • Another way to look at this; the planted food is available to the animals 24/7, without regard for the presence or absence of the hunter. Proper baiting is designed so that animal will be present to eat the food, when the hunter is present. Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 18:17
  • Thanks for the answer! I don't fully agree with this answer. If a hunter grabs a bag of millet seed and drops it around a pond, the food is there by the direct intervention of that hunter and requires the same effort as dropping apples. This food is not there all year and when it's gone, it's gone and will have to be replanted. I guess I just have to accept that this is a huge loophole that will be taken advantage of! Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 14:39

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