"Source: Minnesota DNR Waterfowl hunters should keep in mind that some fields are considered baited and off limits to waterfowl hunting. Due to the wet and cold spring, some farmers were unable to plant a normal crop for harvest. Instead they worked with their insurance companies or the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Conservation Service office to plant a cover crop. "These cover crops were never intended for harvest and are now being disked, tilled or plowed.
The food sources such as oats, which were a common cover crop, are now an attractive food source for ducks and geese," said Dean Olson, DNR enforcement district supervisor in Rochester, Minn. Olson noted these fields are considered baited and off limits to waterfowl hunting. Federal regulations define a baited area "as any area on which salt, grain, or other feed has been placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered, if that salt, grain, or other feed could serve as a lure or attraction for migratory game birds to, on, or over areas where hunters are attempting to take them."
"Any such area will remain a baited area for 10 days following the complete removal of all such salt, grain or other feed," Olson said. Hunters are encouraged to talk with the farmers about fields prior to hunting to assure none of them were planted as a cover crop."
Travis Martin from Pennsylvania had a good reply: "
Comparing a bare field with that of a field with a vibrant green cover crop in winter, it would make sense that it would provide more potential cover and forage for wildlife when they need it most. Is this something that should be discouraged? In talking with an Agent from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services the violations come when using an agronomic practice that is not recommended by the Cooperative Extension Service.
There is no issue with a standing cover crop that is not disturbed, which is an approved practice. It is when you manipulate your cover so grain, seed or other feed is exposed to attract migratory waterfowl. If you “manipulate” such as mowing, shredding, disking, rolling, chopping, trampling, flattening, burning, or herbicide treatments you will need to wait 10 days after seed or grain is removed from the field before you can hunt migratory waterfowl. This does not include birds like doves.
This article needs to have more details explained so to make things clearer on how to best utilize cover crops for wildlife management. I would suggest a more in depth story to bring more understanding to this issue. Many hunters are paying more rent to having hunting rights compared to rent paid to farming the land. This could be another opportunity to making cover crops pay."
Reading AgTalk you would think farmers don't even plant covers without help from the government. I have never depended on the government to help me do what is best for my farm and my soil though I have used the few dollars per acre for DCP and price relief to help manage my risk. I inherited the CRP program when we bought two farms but they never even paid for my new waterway.