Here's part of an article that gives the PGC's interpretation of hunting over bait.
Under Pennsylvania law, it generally is unlawful to hunt in or around any area where artificial or natural bait, hay, grain, fruit, nut, salt, chemical, mineral or other food – including their residues – are used or have been used within the past 30 days as an enticement to lure game or wildlife.
It doesn’t matter how much or how little of a product is being used or has been used in an area. If it’s been used there within the past 30 days, or if residue remains, hunting there is off limits.
The requirement for residue to be removed is deserving of deeper examination, said Thomas P. Grohol, who heads up the Game Commission’s law-enforcement bureau.
Some hunters in the summertime will place apples or salt blocks in their fall hunting areas in attempt to bring deer in front of their trail cameras and inventory what lives there, Grohol said. Such a practice is lawful, as long as the bait isn’t placed within a Disease Management Area, where it’s illegal to feed deer intentionally, or it’s not attracting bears or elk, the feeding of which is prohibited statewide.
But the type of bait used in an area outside of hunting season might also dictate when the area can be hunted, Grohol said.
“If you’re dealing with apples, deer will eat them completely and there’s not going to be any remaining residue,” he said. “So as long as they were gone from an area at least 30 days prior to someone hunting there, no law has been broken.“But if a salt or mineral block was placed out, it undoubtedly was rained upon and that salt or mineral seeped into the soil,” Grohol said. “Evidence that residue remains might very well be obvious to investigating officers, too, because such areas often continue to draw deer and other wildlife that will root and dig for that residue in the ground. In such a case, the hunter would need excavate that ground and haul all of it out of the area, and then after 30 days, hunting could take place there.”
Of course, none of that is an option on state game lands, where the feeding of wildlife is prohibited.But on private lands, it’s something hunters must consider. Less than a month remains until the start of the archery deer season. The statewide archery deer season opens Oct. 1, and in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D, the Sept. 17 archery opener is only weeks away.
Grohol said that, under the law, it doesn’t matter if a hunter caught in a baited area placed the bait or not. Each hunter is responsible for ensuring an area has not been baited prior to hunting there.
“In addition to physically inspecting their hunting areas to make sure they’re free of bait, hunters are encouraged to question the owners or caretakers of properties where they hunt to drill down deeper into the possibility the area has been baited,” Grohol said.
Nothing in the law that prohibits baiting pertains to normal or accepted farming, habitat-management practices, oil-and-gas drilling, mining, forest-management activities or other legitimate commercial or industrial practices.
Hunters may hunt in areas with agricultural crops or where treetops have been felled by loggers. If they have permission, they can even plant their own crops, food plots and trees, and hunt there lawfully, Grohol said.
“What is illegal are those baits that are brought into an area and placed out, then not cleaned up in their entirety within 30 days prior to hunting there,” he said.