|Excerpts from Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 20.21(i)|
No persons shall take migratory game birds:
(i) By the aid of baiting, or on or over any baited area, where a person knows or reasonably should know that the area is or has been baited. However, nothing in this paragraph prohibits:
(1) The taking of any migratory game bird, including waterfowl, coots, and cranes, on or over the following lands or areas that are not otherwise baited areas -
(i) Standing crops or flooded standing crops (including aquatics); standing, flooded, or manipulated natural vegetation; flooded harvested croplands; or lands or areas where seeds or grains have been scattered solely as the result of a normal agricultural planting, harvesting, post-harvest manipulation or normal soil stabilization practice;
(ii) From a blind or other place of concealment camouflaged with natural vegetation;
(iii) From a blind or other place of concealment camouflaged with vegetation from agricultural crops, as long as such camouflaging does not result in the exposing, depositing, distributing or scattering of grain or other feed; or
(iv) Standing or flooded standing agricultural crops where grain is inadvertently scattered solely as a result of a hunter entering or exiting a hunting area, placing decoys, or retrieving downed birds.
(2) The taking of any migratory game bird, except waterfowl, coots and cranes, on or over lands or areas that are not otherwise baited areas, and where grain or other feed has been distributed or scattered solely as the result of manipulation of an agricultural crop or other feed on the land where grown, or solely as the result of a normal agricultural operation.
What This Means
You cannot hunt doves or any other migratory game bird by the aid of baiting or on or over any baited area where you know or reasonably should know that the area is or has been baited.
Baiting is the direct or indirect placing, exposing, depositing, distributing, or scattering of salt, grain, or other feed that could lure or attract migratory game birds to, on, or over any areas where hunters are attempting to take them. A baited area is any area on which salt, grain, or other feed has been placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered, if that salt, grain, or feed could serve as a lure or attraction for migratory game birds.
The 10-Day Rule and Distance
The 10-day rule recognizes that removing bait does not remove the lure created, and that doves will habitually still be attracted to the same area even after the bait is gone. A baited area remains off limits to hunting for 10 days after all salt, grain, or other feed has been completely removed.
How close to bait can you hunt without breaking the law? There is no set distance. Court rulings vary depending on the circumstances. The influence of any bait will increase or decrease depending on many factors, including topography, weather, and dove flight patterns, and can only be determined on a case-by-case basis. Remember, however, that the law prohibits hunting if bait is present that could lure or attract birds "to, on, or over areas where hunters are attempting to take them."
For More Information
The Federal migratory game bird hunting regulations can be found in 50 CFR Part 20. If you have additional questions about dove hunting and the law, contact the nearest U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement office or one of the Service regional law enforcement offices. You should also consult State fish and wildlife agencies to determine what State regulations apply.
Last updated: February 14, 2013