Coyote Trapping 1/5/2022 9:10 AM
Trap preparation is important. I first use muriatic acid, lye, or mainline cleaner (sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide) to remove all the manufacturing oil from the traps. It also etches the steel, to help it hold more of the dye. I rinse them off with water afterword’s. If you have time let them set outside a few days to get a thin layer of rust on them. This will help hold the dye in the next step. Some folks squirt them with vinegar to speed up the rusting process. Then I boil them in logwood trap dye and walnut husks. This will get them jet black and help to reduce rust. Next, I dip them in hot trapper’s wax. Leave them in there until the trap gets as hot as the wax, and then remove and hang to dry. This will put a thin film of wax over the trap to protect it from rust, remove/seal all scent, and will make it trigger and function super-fast. Waxing also makes the traps easier to clean up after a catch, as well as helps to prevent them from freezing to the surrounding dirt when temps drop below 32 degrees. I sometimes heat the traps in my shop oven at 250 degrees and then I can dip them fast because the traps are already hot. My favorite coyote trap is Minnesota Trapline Products MB-650 cast jaws. This trap always gets great pad catches. The pan tension is around 4 to 5 pounds with these traps which ensures a deep pad catch, plus eliminates getting non target animals.
If you have a good hunting dog, use him or her to find coyote skat and collect it. I use a few pieces of poop at each set. My dog is also excellent at finding coyote signs like where coyotes cross fence lines. She also runs down coyote trails, smelling at a coyote’s height on the branches of where a coyote would leave scent. This helps me to determine where to set traps. She also catches lots of voles on the farm which I use at my sets.
If you’re going to be setting a bunch of traps all in one day, which is what I recommend, set all the traps first and get all the sets just how you want them, and then come back and add the lure and baits to them. This will help from getting smells where you don’t want them. The last thing you want is a coyote digging up your trap because you got scent on it. I also use a few chicken feathers at each set as an attention getter, it just arouses their curiosity.
When you’re working with baits and lures, you always want your trap downwind from the lures (prevailing wind). This will help to get the coyote to come to the trap in the right direction. For instance, if you have a dirt hole set, this will help the coyote approach in the right direction. The coyotes started getting wise to my dirt holes, so I am making more blind flat sets. Some call them triangle sets or compass sets.
Get several different gland lures as well as baits. Some coyote or fox urine is also really good to squirt on a rock or clump of grass next to your set. Try to image the coyote pissing and place the urine to where you might believe the coyote to place is feet while peeing. Watch some YouTube videos on dirt hole and flat sets. For your dirt hole sets, I use a 2” diameter auger on my cordless drill. These augers are sold and used to plant flower bulbs. It works great for making nice dirt hole sets. Drill your hole at a slight angle pointing towards the trap. Coyotes like to look down the hole. This will place them on your trap. Make the hole around 12” deep. This way they can pier down into it, but can’t get to it without working the set, thus improving the likelihood of catching them in your trap. On dirt hole sets, I typically place the trap back from the hole around 12” and off-set from the hole about 3”. With dirt hole sets you want lots of eye appeal. You want it to look like a fox or coyote has dug a hole and stashed food in there. With a flat set you want the opposite. You want it 100% concealed, so they have nothing to get suspicious about.
You want to protect your pan from getting dirt under it, with either some aluminum fly screen above the pan, or poly fil pillow stuffing under the pan. This is to prevent a small rock or something getting between you pan and the trap base causing it not to fire. You also want 3 to 5 lbs of pan tension, and a night latch is something I recommend as well. Too light of pan tension and they will feel it and you won’t get good commitment.
Setting your trap so that is firmly bedded is the most important part of the whole set! If a coyote steps on say one of the jaws and the trap shifts positions, he is out of there! Also, whenever you are remaking a set after catching a coyote, don’t use the existing dirt around the set to re-bed your trap. If you get any scent around your trap, they might dig up your trap. If they flip up the loose jaw, not only are you not going to get them, but they are also going to be gone, because they know something isn’t right.
One last thing. Make sets on sign. Another words, place your traps where you see tracks, poop, coyote scratch marks or other signs indicating coyotes are traveling near the location. I caught a coyote along my SXS trail last week. There was nothing special about this location, except occasionally I would see coyote scat there. But I often see scat on my trail. The key here was that my dog always stopped in this spot and did a lot of sniffing, and eventually did several sent markings by peeing. I knew it must be a hot spot for whatever reason. So, I set a stepdown dirt hole set next to a nearby tree, and sure enough I had a coyote the next morning.
One of the advantages of the MB-650 with the cast jaws is that both jaws are locked down solid when the trap is set. This makes it much easier to ensure the trap is bedded firmly, because you don’t have one jaw loose. Also, if you listen to the old-time trappers, they say don’t make your chains too short. A shot chain will allow the coyote to pump your stake. Your more apt to have a coyote pull out of a short chain, than a long one. I use a longer chain, plus a in-line shock spring. Haven’t lost one yet. The old timers say coyotes will fight harder on a short chain and for whatever reason will fight the trap much longer on a short chain.
In my mind these are the three most important things in trapping coyotes and in this order:
1) Bedding the trap
2) Trap location
3) Baits and lures.
I am just going to talk about bedding the trap for coyotes. In my mind this is the most important part, because if the other two (location, and bait) work to get the coyote to the trap, and get him to begin working the set, but if the trap moves, or if the coyote detects something different about the ground the trap is under, you’re not going to get him. He is either going to dig it up, or just leave. If they detect movement when stepping on your trap, you can bet they are out of there. Our clay soil makes it easy to firmly bed a trap. I use the Mark Zagger style of trap bedding. Basically, a deep hole under the trap to help prevent freezing. I dig out a hole slightly smaller in diameter than the trap jaws. I pack clay around the perimeter of the trap to lock in in place. This makes for a very firm and solid trap which is critical for catching coyotes. I also use aluminum fly screen for a pan cover which I also stole from Mark as well. However, because we have clay soil, I have modified it a bit to work better for me. I also pre-form my trap pan covers in my press to pre-mold them to my trap pan. This insures the screen lays flat on the pan. By laying flat on the pan, there is no sponginess when the coyote steps on it.
When making dirt hole sets, I typically place the trap 9 to 12 inches back from the dirt hole and off-set about 3 inches. When making flat sets, I punch my bait holes about 7 inches from the edge of the trap. I punch in three holes that are 120 degrees apart around the trap using a ¾” rod. Then I use sheep’s wool to hold the bait. It is important to push the sheep’s wool down about 1 inch below the surface of the ground, or else you may have an issue with the coyote wanting to roll on your lure. At both sets, I often place scat, a rock, clumps of dirt, or a stick to help guide the animal to the trap. Coyotes don’t like to step on things, so they will avoid them. If you place them correctly, the coyote will step over them and right onto your trap. You don’t want too much stuff, because it will cause him to be more leery.
One other thing I like about using aluminum fly screen for the pan cover is that the soil above the trap dries out after it rains. With a deep hole below the trap, the water drains, and the trap can breathe because of the screen. This allows the soil above the trap to dry out and then when it freezes during the night time temps, the trap will still fire perfectly!
Once you catch a coyote, remake the set. Sets that have already caught a coyote, have a way better chance of catching another one due to all the smells left by the first dog.
Just my observations and thoughts. Coyotes howl in the evening for lots of different reasons. One of them is to let others know that they are occupying an area. They will howl, and this will stimulate other groups a mile or two away to also howl. This way they know where each other are and to let others know that their areas are occupied. When they stop hearing those howls, they know that those areas are no longer occupied and are open for investigating.
A dirt hole is where an animal has stashed his cache for later. He digs a hole and buries it. He then marks it with urine and sometimes scat. Dirt hole sets are a great set to catch the dominate coyotes controlling an area. When they come up on a dirt hole set that is in their territory, they are not happy, they come investigate with authority. It is a good way to catch them.
Once the controlling territorial coyotes are cleared of an area, new dogs soon come in looking to set up residents. Typically, these are young coyotes that have been dispersed from the family unit. They set out to find a new place to live. When they come up on a dirt hole, they are very leery. They approach with caution. Often they will shy away, not getting close enough to get caught in your trap, for they don’t want to suffer the consequences of getting caught stealing someone else’s cache.
A good way to catch these younger coyotes is to make flat sets. My flat sets are totally hidden. I do my best to make them look as undisturbed and natural as possible. I poke three holes 120 degrees apart each about 7” from the edge of the trap. I usually put a very small amount of different lure in each one on some sheep’s wool. I push it about 1” below the ground surface to prevent the coyote from rolling in it, and keep him from easily getting to it. The sheep’s wool will help hold the bait longer and keep the scent working. I add a different lure to each hole, typically a gland lure, a call lure, and a curiosity lure. Occasionally I will add a rock or a stick and squirt some coyote or fox urine on it. This just gives the coyote one more thing to investigate and keep him at your set longer. These sets are far less intimidating to younger coyotes that are investigating a new area they are unfamiliar with.
For snaring coyotes, I use 1X19 5/64” cable. I use a 12” loop 10 to 12” off the ground. It has just the right tension and rigidity to hole a nice round loop. I dye them to reduce their visibility and remove the oil smell from the manufacturing process. Coyotes have excellent sense of smell. I also use some thin twigs poked into the ground to help hide them. You really want those loops to be more rounded. Simply rub the wire over a rod to create more curvature in the location you need it. It will get rid of the teardrop shape and make it more rounded. I make my own snares and snare swivels. I use slim lock snares. I use a whammy to mount the snare to my 9-gauge support wire.
A little bit about scent control for you. I am a strong believer in leaving as little human scent at the set as possible. Sure, coyotes are going to smell your scent, but leaving as little scent signature as possible is best and doing so will dissipate to near zero in a few days’ time especially if it rains. As humans, we say seeing is believing, but with coyotes smelling is believing. Coyotes have 20/70 eyesight. Coyotes are not color blind; they see most colors in a grayscale and can see most shades of blue. So a coyote may not always believe that they see or hear, but they know exactly what they smell! Their sense of smell is their keenest sense. They smell in layers, similarly to how a bloodhound picks up on the one scent he is tracking. So, they are easily able to sort out the different smells in say a lure of instance. I treat my trapping cloths just like my hunting cloths. All washed in scent free detergent. I wear knee pads and work hard to move as little as possible around the set. My goal is to leave as small a signature as possible. I set my traps and prepare the site with one pair of gloves, and use a different pair to apply the baits and lures.
I’m itchin’ to see a coyote Twitchin’.
Last edited by DonnyTrapperBoy; 01/07/22 01:16 PM.