By Josh Boyd
Whether you are a dyed in the wool trapper, or a concerned land manager that strives to minimize fawn predation, coyotes have long since been a favored species of pursuit for those who trap. As coyote numbers continue to thrive, many outdoorsmen and women jump at the opportunity to take a proactive role in the management of these furbearers.
Those who have trapped coyotes are often all too familiar with their uncanny ability to sense anything in their environment that is not as it should be. This innate reluctance to commit to what they are not in the assurance of can make coyote trapping difficult at times.
However, with keen attention to detail, a double dose of persistence, and a playbook of go-to top producing trap sets, one can experience quite substantial success while trapping these crafty canines.
The following are a few of the numerous trap sets that, when utilized to their full potential, will reduce your property’s predator problem and put more pelts in your fur shed this fall.
Dirt Hole Set
If you have ever watched as a coyote slinked across the perimeter of an agricultural field, or eased across a dense woodlot, you are probably aware that they seldom pass any opportunity to study a burrow or den of various other species. This is for good reason, as coyotes often feed heavily upon mice, rabbits, and a number of other species that take cover in these earthen cavities.
This exact behavior is precisely what makes coyotes so susceptible to the dirt hole set. A dirt hole set is made by preparing a trap bed of the appropriate size at a distance of approximately 9”-10″ from a bait hole that is dug at an angle that slants slightly toward the aforementioned trap bed. Bait or lure is then placed within the hole as an added form of attraction for any passing coyote.
It is imperative to select a trap of substantial fortitude, as a trap of weak construction can suffer extensively from the forceful lunges of a coyote. Much of coyote trap selection comes as a matter of personal preference.
Coil spring traps ranging from #1.75-#3 are commonly utilized. Whichever trap you choose; always ensure that it is properly bedded to prevent its discovery by curious coyotes. Cross staking of traps also comes highly recommended.
A flat set can be an extremely productive addition to any coyote trap line. The principle behind this set is simple. Coyotes, like any other canine, are outwardly territorial, and a flat set capitalizes on this in a big way.
When making a flat set, you will first need to locate a suitable form of backing. This backing will be used as a scent post for attraction and can consist of a number of items, ranging from rocks to partially rotten wood. You will place urine-based lure on this backing, as well as a small dab of a glandular lure, in an attempt to entice a territorial response.
A coil spring trap of the same sizes that are commonly utilized in the dirt hole set will also work perfectly in conjunction with a flat set. Your trap will be bedded in a properly prepared trap bed, as it would be in a dirt hole set, at a distance of approximately 10 inches from your backing. Stepping sticks can also be placed in a way as to guide an approaching coyote to the trap as desired.
Coyotes are no strangers to farm country, and as a result, crossing fences becomes a regular part of their daily life. In doing so, coyotes within an area commonly establish under fence crossings. These are typically areas that provide the greatest extent of ground clearance within a given fence line.
These locations can come in the form of a fence with a broken bottom strand of wire that creates an opportunistic crossing, or a natural low spot in the ground beneath a fence. These crossings are often easily identified, as a well-worn path at the sight is usually evident. Snares make the perfect tool for trapping these locations with a high level of efficiency.
Once coyote crossings have been identified, a snare can be set. When trapping coyotes, the loop of the snare should be approximately 8″-10″ in diameter, allowing for the proper placement of a coyote’s head and neck within. The snare can be held in place with the aid of a support wire as needed.
When trapping for coyote, a trapper is wise to keep their human scent to an absolute minimum. Coyotes, by nature, are extremely wary and will quickly shun a set that is contaminated with scent.
For this reason, both rubber boots and gloves are advised when setting coyote traps, to prevent scent from being deposited on a trap or the ground on which you have walked. Foothold traps used for coyote should also be boiled, dyed, and waxed before use. This assists in eliminating human scent contamination, as well as other key functions such as weatherproofing.
Trapping Coyotes Efficiently
Not only is coyote trapping beneficial from a land and habit management standpoint, but it can yield a season’s worth of enjoyment as well. The ultra-wary characteristics of the American coyote will undoubtedly test an individual’s trapping prowess.
By integrating one or more of these aforementioned trap sets into your line this winter, you can throw the coyotes in your area a curveball from which your trapping endeavors can benefit.