I’ve never been trapping. In fact until recently I’ve never even put my hands on a trap. I’m green!
With recent studies showing that coyotes are having negative impacts on the deer herd by killing a scary number of fawns each summer, GON is stepping up to do something about the problem. Along with our GON’s Coyote Cull contest (see page 16), we want to educate GON readers on how to trap yotes.
As this issue of GON hits mailboxes, we are sitting on the verge of fawns hitting the ground. There is no better excuse than right now for trying to eliminate song dogs off your hunting land. Being new to trapping, I had to find somebody to show me the ropes.
When I pulled up at Ben Poole’s home in Social Circle, he was talking a mile a minute about MB 550 traps, flat sets, hole sets, waxing traps, bait… Whoa, hold the phone, Ben! What is an MB 550?
Ben, who runs a heating-and-air business, does some trapping for money if someone has property 30 minutes from Social Circle, but he mostly traps because he just loves it.
“It’s addicting. I really trap mostly for recreation,” said Ben.
Ben’s heart is deer hunting, not just for him, but he enjoys taking family, friends and kids deer hunting. He wants to give the deer on his property every chance possible to grow up and reach maturity. Taking coyotes off his land is part of Ben’s deer-hunting equation.
I spent a lot of time with Ben so that I could relay all his trapping knowledge to you correctly. After all, GON has a vested interest in seeing these fawn eaters removed!
Ben taught me that trapping can be very detailed. But I also learned that trapping can be very simplistic and a great activity for anyone spending a weekend at their hunting club.
There are two kinds of trapping sets I will discuss in this article. One is the “flat set,” which can be done for about $80. Flat sets only require four things—a hammer, conduit, a whisk broom and three traps. Turn to page 20 for how to get your flat sets going.
Then there is the “dirt-hole set.” Dirt-hole sets involve using scents to attract coyotes and costs about $350 to get six traps in the ground.
This set continues to work over the course of several weeks. However, Ben proved to me that it can certainly be successful over a weekend at the hunting club. While setting dirt-hole traps for this article, Ben caught two yotes less than 24 hours after putting six traps in the ground. So purchase some trapping equipment and plan to spend a few weekends at the hunting club this summer. Being successful can save a fawn!
The following eight steps will get you six dirt-hole sets in the ground. However, before dirt-hole traps get set, you’ll need to boil, dye and wax all your traps once you buy them. See the inset below for how to do that.
No. 1: Ben’s go-to coyote trap is called an MB 550-RC Coil Spring Trap (Double Coiled/Cast Offset Jaws). You won’t find these in a hardware store. Ben gets 90 percent of his trapping equipment through F&T Fur Harvester’s Trading Post at www.fntpost.com. Ben says these folks are very easy to deal with, full of trapping knowledge and quick to deliver product.
“The 550s I use have two springs,” said Ben. “They make one that has four springs, but in my opinion you just don’t need that in Georgia. A coyote, or anything else you catch in Georgia, isn’t coming out of the 550, 2-coil trap.”
Ben’s 550 trap also is “offset,” meaning the jaws do not shut all the way. Overall, this is better on the animal. Ben often traps in fairly residential areas, and he’s caught his share of dogs and cats, and he’s been able to send them on their way after turning them loose.
No. 2: Ben usually puts his coyote traps along roads or around the edges of food plots or openings where yotes are likely to travel. Ben looks for fresh scat and tracks in these areas.
When preparing a trap site, Ben always wears leather gloves to keep his scent off the equipment. Using a Sod Buster Hammer, Ben digs out a spot about 12 inches by 12 inches and several inches deep. You could use a framing hammer for this, but Ben wouldn’t trade his sod hammer for it. He says it just does a good job digging in Georgia soil.
No. 3: Take a piece of 3/4-inch conduit and prepare a hole for the coyote to stick his nose in and smell the bait. As a general rule, you want that hole 9 inches above and 3 inches to the right or left of where the middle of your trap’s pan will be sitting. This offset positioning should have the front foot of a yote stepping directly in the pan.
It’s very important to make sure your hole is angled toward your trap. This way coyotes are forced to approach the hole (and bait) from the side the trap will be on.
To create the hole, hammer the 3/4-inch conduit down 7 or 8 inches into the ground and then move the conduit back and forth to open the hole up just a touch. Be careful not to open the hole too much, because field mice will get in and rob your bait.
No. 4: You’ll need a strong anchoring system for your trap. When a yote is caught, he’s going to put some pressure on this trap as he tries to get out.
There are several different types of anchoring systems on the market. Ben prefers a Fox Hollow’s Super Stakes “Original Super Stakes With Cable.” He uses the 12-inch anchor on a 1/8-inch cable. He used to use an 18-inch anchor, but he said they are simply too hard to dig out of the ground. The 12-inch cable provides plenty of holding power for coyotes, according to Ben.
To drive the anchor system 12 inches into the ground, Ben uses a Fox Hollow Super Stake Driver, which slides inside the anchor system. Using his Sod Buster Hammer, he’ll hammer the anchor down directly on top of where the trap will be set.
No. 5: Now it’s time to put the 550 trap in the ground. Place it directly over the anchor, and pack dirt around the sides of the trap, so that it’s securely in the ground. If the ground is shaky or lose at all, the coyote could spook.
No. 6: Peat moss, a secret among some trappers, is an important ingredient that keeps Ben’s traps mostly dry. If all he did was pack dirt on top of the trap, the dirt would turn hard as concrete after a rain, and the trap would not spring. Peat moss allows traps to still be viable after it rains.
Ben uses a Freedom Brand Heavy Duty Sifter to evenly spread the peat moss on top of the trap.
No. 7: Take a whisk broom, and smooth the soil out over the top of the trap. The idea is to camouflage the trap and make it look like the ground hasn’t been disturbed. Ben may even take some surrounding leaf litter, grass or pinestraw and run it through the sifter and over the trap.
No. 8: Now it’s time to get stinky. Ben removes his leather gloves and puts on a pair of disposable latex gloves. Ben carries a cooler full of enough scent, gland and urine to make a horse fall over.
There’s a pretty big selection of coyote scents on the market. I’m not going to overwhelm you, so I’ll share what Ben uses most of the time. Trust me, it’s certainly stinky enough to catch a coyote.
His favorite two baits are Kaatz Brothers’ Red Label Predator Bait and Caven’s Hiawatha Valley Predator Bait. Ben takes a good spoonful of one of the two baits and lets it fall off the spoon and into the hole.
“This stuff stinks so bad ants won’t even get on it,” he joked.
Next he’ll take a 6-inch cotton swab, break it in half and dip it in Blackie’s Blend Gray Dog Lure (coyote gland lure). Then, he’ll drop the swab into the hole. This lure is known to last for weeks and keeps yotes coming back to investigate the set.
Finally, Ben sprays some F&T Coyote Urine just above the hole. On one set, he even put a rock above the hole and sprayed it down. After all, yotes are dogs and go around peeing on things like rocks.
Again, there are hundreds of combinations you can try of bait, gland lure and urine, but this combination will get you killing yotes.
Let the fun begin! Trapping coyotes not only gives you something to do in the summer, but it also rids a nuisance critter from your hunting land. And when you trap a yote this month, flip over to page 16 and see about entering it in GON’s Coyote Cull contest. You may just win a gun, a YETI cooler or a $200 gift certificate for doing something to help your deer herd.
Three Steps To Preparing Traps
So you just purchased new traps… now what? Do you just strike out for the hunting club and set them? If you’re doing flat sets (see page 20), then yes. There is no prep required. However, if you’re planning on setting some dirt-hole sets with the use of scents, then there’s three steps you’ll need to take before spending the weekend at your hunting club. These steps are necessary to remove all scent from your traps.
Ben usually prepares a dozen traps at a time.
1) When you get your traps, boil them in water for one hour. Hang them up to dry overnight. When you check your traps the next day, there will be a light coat of rust on them.
“You want that rust,” said Ben.
2) Ben will combine 10 gallons of water and one bag of Logwood Trap Dye. He will boil his traps and anchors (with ID tags attached, see page 22 for trapping regulations) in this concoction for 30 minutes.
He’ll hang his equipment and allow it all to dry for several days.
3) His final step is to take 5 pounds of Pete’s Best Odorless Trap Wax and bring it to a boil. He will dip each trap and anchor in the wax for 5 seconds and pull them out. The traps are then scent free and water proof and ready to get in the ground.
Ben’s Coyote Trapping Tidbits
• If trapping a piece of property that hasn’t been trapped in some time, set traps close together where you find a lot of sign. Yotes often travel in packs. Plus, a trapped yote will likely attract others to the area.
• If possible, wait until midday to check your traps. A lot of times, coyotes will still be moving several hours after daylight.
• If you catch a yote in a trap, especially a female yote, reset your trap in the same spot. They have put down enough scent in the area to attract other coyotes.
• For whatever reason, when Ben catches a possum, he will rarely catch something by resetting the trap in the same area.
• Expect to trap at least two times a year on your hunting property. You’ll also want to keep a close check on the property. On Ben’s heavily trapped property, he may go two months and never see any coyote sign. Then within one week, he’ll be covered up with scats and tracks.
• Bushhogging often creates a coyote magnet because of all the field mice that get killed.
• Dirt-hole sets are good several weeks. The baits are so powerful that Ben has caught critters three weeks after setting the traps.
• A piece of fresh coyote scat is great to put just an inch or two above your bait hole on a dirt-hole set. This free bait will also work well if you take some scat from one property and use it on another. Coyotes will be curious by the new scent on their turf.
• Some of Ben’s best trapping advice was given by folks up North who trap more regularly. He’s found the folks at www.fnt post.com very helpful. There’s also a good collection of trapping experts on GON’s web forum at http://forum.gon.com/.
Georgia Trapping License & Regulations
• You must have a resident commercial trapping license. They cost is $30. You can’t purchase this online. You must visit the Wildlife Resources Conservation Center at the address below. You can also mail in the application to LBRU-Commercial License, 2065 US Highway 278, SE, Social Circle, GA 30025. Go to www.gohuntgeorgia.com/Trapping and go under “Licenses” to get the form.
• Although trapping season for fur-bearing animals (mink, otter, raccoon, fox, opossum, muskrat, skunk, bobcat and weasel) runs from Dec. 1-Feb. 28, coyotes can be trapped any time of year.
• Anything other than coyotes or beavers caught outside of the fur-bearing season must be released. For a video example of how to release a bobcat, check out this link: GON Releases Bobcat.
• You must carry a choke stick or similar device. This will be a valuable tool when releasing non-target critters.
• You must carry a .22 cal. rimfire while checking traps and use that weapon to dispatch the animal to be taken.
• Trapping must be done on private lands only with written permission from the landowner.
• It is unlawful to fail to inspect traps at least once each 24-hour period and remove any animals caught in the traps.
• It is unlawful to trap wildlife except with traps which are at all times legibly stamped, etched or tagged with the owner’s name or owner’s permanent trapper’s identification number provided by DNR. This trapper ID number will be provided when you purchase your license.