By Jed Ninefeldt
Organizations exist to protect the heritage of the sport from those from the far right and left. The cumulative years of knowledge assembled in the organization is the biggest reason for a novice to join. Next, nearly every trapper is willing to share their knowledge of the sport as long as you’re not trapping right next to them. Finally, the conventions each summer are filled with demonstrations and most of the big venders (trap sales, accessories, and fur buyers for the coming winter). These organizations include: Minnesota Forest Zone Trappers Association (www.mnforesttrappers.com); Minnesota trappers Association (www.mntrappers.org); and National Trapper Association (www.nationaltrappers.com).
Lures and Baits
Lures are the foulest smelling concoctions one will likely come across in one’s life time. Lure are made from glands, oils, and essences. Baits are similarly horrid smelling and generally made up of mixed lures and scents. However, most baits consist of ground up repurposed animals and is edible. Some baits are as simple as fresh poplar branch. Lures and baits may be species specific or more general.
Flagging is the use of some visual attractant such as, surveying tape, chunk of real or synthetic fur and or feathers to attract animals to your set. In some cases old CD’s are used for the flash.
Trap set up
Before buying traps, know what you plan on trapping first. I primarily trap cats (bobcats), coyotes, fox, wolf, and the occasional nuisance beaver. My trap set up is as follows, one MB 550 offset 2 spring, one foot of number three chain, the two swivels that come with the trap, and a quick link in case an earth anchor is used. Then, I have an additional five to six feet of number three, another quick link, and a 3/8 inch coyote drag. On my MB 650’s (coyote, cat, wolf traps) and MB 750’s (wolf and beaver traps), I remove the # 3 chain and replace it with 35 or 7 chain to quick link to the trap with a MB wolf swivel at the foot mark. I use another six to eight feet of chain and another quick link with a 3/8” drag. I want enough swivels and or chain so my drags stay on the ground and catch the vegetation and hold the animal.
The set up for water traps and body grippers is a little different. Body grippers, for the most part, come ready to use, although most trappers extend a cable (3/32 snare cable) off the preexisting setup for greater flexibility. As most animals die instantly in the body grippers, a heavy duty setup is not needed. Leg hold water traps require a different set up. Mink and muskrats will be staked by shore. Beavers, on the other hand, need a drowning slide. You can either purchase a slide or make you own.
Slides are made by using 1/8 inch cable with loops on both ends for attaching to a stake with weights on the other end. Slide a snare lock with a loop to the cable to attach the trap before crimping the cable. I use old brake rotors as weights because they do not slide easily, take up less room on the four wheeler, and they are heavy. Many people use sand bags for weights. Beaver traps may also be anchored by using rebar that is placed into the bottom of the pond, parallel to the bank. This method requires special slides that fit over the rebar and works great if you are road trapping and don’t have to lug equipment through the woods.
Once the trap configuration of drag, stake, and snares is determined, it’s time to remove all human scent from them prior to use. First, you must boil everything to get the manufacturing oils and scents off. Most trappers now dye and wax their traps, either by boiling them with a dye or dipping them in specially formulated liquid dyes. Most of the liquid dyes work really well but the down side is that they use gas instead of water, leaving a residual smell. This process works great for water trapping. There are some liquid dyes that do not work and others that work great. Dipping is a slower process then dumping twenty to thirty traps into a pot, boiling them with logwood dye, and letting them soak for an hour. Be aware that dye does not stick very well to new traps.
Waxing traps keeps the metal protects against rust, allows traps to close quicker, and improves performance in colder weather. Waxing traps is done using plain pure wax, either dyed black or plain. Pure wax is highly flammable. Plan on using this same pot or crockpot strictly for your traps each year. The key to waxing traps is to place them in the liquefied wax and leave them there until you don’t hear anymore crackling or popping, then take them out using wire hooks and hang them until cool.
After boiling and waxing, do not touch them, use only clean gloves that we will go over in the next segment.