After our traps are boiled, dyed, and waxed, it’s time to put on a brand new pair of gloves that will be used the rest of the season, especially if you’re predator trapping. A predator’s smell is 100 times greater than a human’s. I use the cheap rubber covered gardening gloves while others use light weight cotton chore gloves.
It’s time to wrap the chain on the drag and stick them in the trap. Store traps come down to individual preference; some trappers use a five gallon pail while others use milk crates. I like the milk crates because if it’s raining or snowing when I’m out, everything falls right through. I separate them out by trap size in their respective milk crates.
Location is key to successful trapping; most trappers look for terrain edges, funnels, waterways, and game trails. Terrain edges are a drastic change in cover; a woods and field edge or swampy area and high ground. Funnels are a piece of high ground connecting to another piece of high ground surrounded by lowland. Waterways are creeks, dry or wet, rivers, and especially on the edges of beaver ponds. Game trails can be tricky to locate and difficult to determine whether they are a deer trail or a trail everything uses.
Set making consists of a couple of basic sets: dirt hole, blind, and post set. Dirt hole is either a natural hole made from rabbit or other creature, and manmade. I look for something that sticks out, such as a larger tuff of grass. I take my modified garden trowel and dig two holes about five to six inches deep, saving some of the dirt to place over the top of the trap to blend it in. The rest is thrown around as if some animal would if they were digging a hole. In one hole I put a little bait and allure scent in the other. Doctor them up with some wool or feathers for more appeal.
A blind set is usually made on a known path of travel by placing a natural obstacle, a smaller diameter stick or bending nearby brush, to guide the animal to step where I want them.
A post set is placing a post, one to two feet high, or using an existing one to use urine and lure scent. Most predators already have an existing post that they use to mark their territory. We are just creating one in hopes of eliciting a natural response from the predators that want to mark their territory.
Trap placement depends on the targeted species, prevailing wind, and set choice. In this area it is a westerly or northwesterly wind. Most animals are right side dominant like humans. Species determinations are based on stride or step. Targeting foxes with dirt hole; a good distance to set a trap away from the hole would be four to eight inches, offset to the right about two inches. The bigger the target animal, the further away the trap is from the hole. When making post sets, try to picture the animal attempting to urinate on the stick as that’s where you want to place your trap. If you are trapping in an area that has pressure or animals are not committing to your sets, move your trap out further.
As far as placement goes, dig a hole big enough for the trap and dig a little channel to run the chain in and over to cover and hide the drag. You want your trap pan to be at the lowest point when buried. In the fall I put the trap into the ground, seated or bedded (pack peat moss around the edges) so the animal can step anywhere on the trap and it doesn’t move. Then, either place a piece of wax paper or fiberglass mesh on top of the trap and sift peat on top of it and lightly dust it with the surrounding dirt. When the ground is frozen, make a hole in the ground and place wax paper between the ground and the bottom of the trap so it doesn’t freeze and fail to work properly. Bed and cover the trap with peat, using light dusting of snow when it’s there.
Depending on the weather, leave a set for three to four days before refreshing the scent. The weather dictates everything, from remaking a set if it rains too much and then freezes. Peat will soak up a lot of rain but the traps may now be frozen. Some trappers use sodium bicarbonate to keep their traps form freezing, but it also rusts them fast. Others use waxed dirt, either homemade or bought, but this is time consuming to make and expensive to buy. Some trappers even swear by the use of bought hulls.