I have been receiving many questions concerning the legality of the use of deer attractants in the state of Indiana. Quite simply, they are not legal. I have been attempting to clarify that during all my deer hunting seminars and speaking engagements, but there appears to be some questions by deer hunters.
It is legal for the businesses to stock these products on their shelves, and they can be used in the wild. But hunting near them is illegal. These products are considered bait. I know of several deer hunters who often use these bait products well before deer season opens to obtain trail camera pictures of deer in their hunting area, and it is legal to do that before the season opens. The products must be removed 10 days before the season opens or before you are going to hunt the location.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources prohibits the use of any products that are transported and placed for consumption, including, but not limited to: piles of corn and apples placed in the field and/or a prepared solid or liquid that is manufactured and intended for consumption by livestock or wild deer including, but not limited to, commercial baits and food supplements, salt or mineral supplements.
The list also would include artificial products as well as mineral blocks, salt blocks, and even natural foods such as corn and apples.
What this means, in easy to understand terms is, if you place anything that is not growing in the area and plan to hunt it, it is illegal! (Natural growing crop fields are legal for hunting and pre-planted food plots are legal.)
With that being said, if you are hunting next to a corn field or an apple tree, that is legal, but placing corn or apples under your tree stand is illegal. You will be in violation of the law.
An area is considered baited for 10 days after the product and the affected soil has been removed. Odor differs from bait. Scent attractants and cover scents are legal to use while hunting.
Personally, I prefer to hunt natural food sources such as the corn fields, bean fields, winter wheat, etc. The deer are accustomed to these crops and frequent them quite often.
Once again, I strongly suggest you obtain a copy of the deer hunting rules and regulations available at most sporting goods departments and read the section on baiting. It is clearly stated what the rules are, and there is no excuse for not knowing what is legal and illegal.
In summary, I would suggest you use a doe-in-heat attractant scent during the rut and hunt the natural crop fields and acorn ridges for better results. This has worked for me for 49 years now, and I never have to be concerned about baiting deer or breaking the law.