Can Scent Attractants Be Considered Bait?

Black bear (Photo courtesy of UDWR)

Question: I understand the baiting issue, but I would like clarification on deer and elk attractant scents, like “Tink’s” or “BuckBombs”. There are also scents for bears, hogs and predators and I want to be in full compliance for whatever I’m hunting for. (Michael J., Mojave)

Answer: California Fish and Game Commission regulations do not specifically prohibit using the products you mention. However, the regulations do prohibit taking resident game birds and mammals within 400 yards of any baited area.

The definition of baited area is, “. . . any area where shelled, shucked or unshucked corn, wheat or other grains, salt or other feed whatsoever capable of luring, attracting, or enticing such birds or mammals is directly or indirectly placed, exposed, deposited, distributed or scattered, and such area shall remain a baited area for ten days following complete removal of all such corn, wheat or other grains, salt or other feed.”

According to retired Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Captain Phil Nelms, scents sprayed into the air and allowed to disperse over a wide area in the wind generally do not fall within the definition of bait. Scent products that have to be applied directly to a surface such as a rock, tree or bush generally cause the game to come to that specific place, and if they feed on it, it is bait.

So, if the product you use causes the game to chew on, nibble at, lick, etc. the surface it is applied to, it is “feed” and as such falls within the definition of bait. In that case, you are prohibited from taking (e.g., hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill or attempt any of those actions) game within 400 yards of that area.

Motorized decoy ducks with paddle feet?
Question:Can I use motorized decoy ducks which have paddle feet to kick up water? They don’t simulate moving wings, but simply cause ripples in the water with the use of paddles. Please advise. (Derek O., Fresno)

Answer: Yes, starting this year, it is legal to use duck decoys that have battery powered feet that cause ripples in water before Dec. 1. The restriction only limits decoys with electronic or mechanically operated spinning blade devices or spinning wing decoys (California Code of Regulations, Title 14 section 507(c)).

Bonito carcasses for lobster bait?
Question:Is it legal to use bonito carcasses for lobster bait? Since bonito have a size limit, the fish carcasses cannot be measured and so there’s no way for DFG to know how many or how large the fish actually is. Is there some way to legally use these carcasses to bait our lobster hoop nets? (Inquiring Minds)

Answer: You can take/have up to five undersized bonito in possession. When fishing from a boat with bonito for bait, use no more than five bonito for the maximum of 10 hoop nets allowed on a vessel (assuming there is more than one lobster fisherman). Use half of a bonito for each hoop net, and keep each half whole. That way the game warden can count how many you have total by inspecting each net. If there are less than five bonito, there is no need to worry about the size.

Can hunters carry additional tags while hunting?
Question:Last fall while hunting with a guide in the D6 Zone for deer and bear, I shot a nice 300-pound black bear. While getting my bear tag from my backpack, one of the guides saw that I had both my D5 and D6 deer tags as well as my bear tag. He told me that it was illegal to be hunting in one zone (D6), while having a different zone tag (D5) in your possession. Is this true? If I have a legal tag for the zone in which I’m hunting, I can’t see any reason why it would be illegal to have a legal tag with me for another zone. I always keep all of my tags together in my backpack and I’m sure most all hunters do, too. Would you please see if it is a judgment call on the part of the game warden or if there actually is a law that says it’s illegal? (Bill K., Placerville)

Answer: Regulations require only that hunters must have in their possession a current tag valid for the species and the zone in which they are hunting. Possession of another tag, issued to the same hunter but valid for another zone or species, is not prohibited (CCR, Title 14 sections 708, 360 and 361). A more common problem in this area is when one of the tags belongs to a friend or relative. It is against the law to possess a tag belonging to someone else.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at

One response to “Can Scent Attractants Be Considered Bait?

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