Hunting/coyote trapping


QUESTION: can a person make too many sets in an area? I have 10 sets in approximatly 3 acres.

ANSWER: Good Morning Pat,

To be honest different people have different opinions on that... I personally believe the answer is "Yes...and no", depending on the situation, and the animals being trapped. I know people who will make a dozen sets or more in an area that I can only offer my personal opinions.

As a general rule 10 sets in a 3 acre area is not too many...especially if they are sets for different animals... Let me explain.... For coyotes I might make as many as 8 or 10 sets, but they would all be at least somewhat different and not all right together, and the area has to show plenty of coyote and/or fox sign... I may make a standard dirthole set using bait, urine, and perhaps a call lure... Then, not far away, maybe within 30 feet and in easy sight of the dirthole, I may make a post set, using only urine of a combination of urine and gland lure...and close by, within perhaps another 50 feet of the dirthole I might put in a flat set using only call or curiosity lure. If along a trail I might string these sets along the trail leading to the dirthole set, or that distance on either side... Then I'd go a distance away, and out of sight of the first sets, and put in another dirthole set, maybe a mouse hole this time, using only bait or a food lure (I like ground and preserved mice for these "mouse hole" sets as a general rule, but any food lure or good bait will work). Then maybe another flat set with only a food or curiosity lure not far from that... Around a "normal" area I will generally not put in more than half a dozen sets for canines... Then I'll go at least a half mile before putting in more canine sets.

Now, I said, "it depends" let me give a few examples of the "depends":

If in that same area there is for instance, a good stream or creek, or pond, lake, etc.,  with coon sign, then I might also put in half a dozen assorted coon sets well as a dirthole for the canines along the upper bank... Or the dike of the pond, particularly at the place where the pond, when it is over-full, the water flows out... Then down the spillway I will put in one or two more coon sets.

If I have located something like a rancher's or farmer's "carcass dump" (where the rancher or farmer dumps the carcases of large animals that have died. Every large farm or ranch will have at least one. If you ask the farmer or rancher they can tell you where these carcass dumps are located.), or if I find a large dead animal such as a cow, horse, or mule, I know that every coyote in the area knows of these and they will be on his rounds. He will check out the carcass dump every time he comes thru that area, whether there are any fresh dead animals or not... So, I will generally make 3 or 4 sets around the carcass dump, or large dead animal...usually flat and post sets, and perhaps one...and maybe 2, dirtholes (any lure, bait, or urine, is fine here, but I don't use call lure here as the animal or dump is already the "call")... But make these sets far enough away from the dump, or dead animal itself, so as to avoid catching crows, buzzards, and most of the possums and skunks these things also attract. I like to put the sets no closer than maybe 20 or 25 feet away (at the closest), but a bit further is fine too... But, I will also go down each trail leading to the dump and put in one or two sets, dirtholes, flats, and posts mainly.... Another set I like, particularly when close to a carcass dump or other draw, is what I call "The Trident Set"... I will go to an area clear of brush or trees, where there is only short dead grass or very little grass, and dead leaves are fine... I will picture a triangle with the points approximately 3 to 6 feet from each other, and at each point I will put a small amount of a different lure. Then in the middle of this triangle I will blend in a trap.

Something a retired professional government trapper, one of the fellas who got me started and one of the best trappers I ever knew, once told me when I was just learning, is this, "If an area is good enough for one set, then it's good enough for at least 2.".... With coyotes for instance he would ALWAYS make at least 2 sets any time he makes sets, within a close distance of each may be a dirthole, but the other will be a flat or post set... And I have come to believe this as well. It works particularly well if the coyotes are traveling in packs. It gives you the chance at taking more than just the one... Many times I have had 2 animals there, when if I had only one set then I'd have only caught one... Also, many times I have caught a possum or skunk in one set, and a fox or coyote in the other...and if I had only one set there, then after I caught the possum, then I'd have missed the coyote or fox that came by later.

And one final thought I'll leave you with:  When I was a younger man and just getting started in trapping, I was out one day with my father in law, a very good trapper in his own right. We had just spent a long day putting in sets, and it was getting late in the evening and I was getting tired and hungry... So, I said, "Well Bob, what you think...about ready to call it a day?" ..... He looked at me and said, "Up to you...but those traps will catch alot more fur in the ground than they will in the back of your truck." ... So, we put in about 8 or 10 more sets before calling it a day and heading home.

And remember, the MAIN thing in trapping is LOCATION... If the animals are not passing that area where you have the traps set, then you will not catch them... ALWAYS set as close to directly on location as possible... Don't expect any lure to call animals very far off their line of travel, no matter what the ads say... LOCATION is the key.

Pat, I hope this helps...and good luck this season,


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello Mongo. I was wondering your secret to nasty weather: rain sleet snow with coyote sets. The rain and freezing has caused me problems . Its been awhile and i am still alittle rusty. L.O.L I have been trapping a place that dont seem to louzy with coyotes. But thats where im perfecting my set. Getting ready to get after them. Would appreciate your expertise.

ANSWER: Good Morning Pat,

Well...where to begin... I always hated having to deal with nasty weather. It just made things alot more trouble and alot more work... To begin with let me advise you to carry good cold weather gear in your truck, another change of clothes, a blanket, and matches or a lighter...not to mention I also carried a few other things such as a shovel, a tow chain, an old truck inner tube full of dry sand that I wired the ends shut on, a high lift jack, a come-along, a 5-gallon can of gasoline, and enough canned food and water to last 3 days...and a spoon.... At one time or another I have had to use all of these things... Today they have cell phones. They didn't have those back in my day. But I strongly advise you to carry one.

You said, "I have been trapping a place that dont seem to louzy with coyotes." ... Then maybe you ought to talk to other land owners in your area about trapping their land... If the animals are not there, you can't catch them... I always liked to have a little more land than I figured I'd be able to get to, lined up, just in case... And if I could set my lines up so as to "do a circle", starting at one place and ending up about the same place without having to retrace my route, that was all the better... Altho on long routes where I couldn't do a circle I sometimes started at home, ran to one of the line, slept in my truck that night, then ran the traps back home the next day.

When I am dealing with snow I carry a broom, and where I decide to make a set I will take the broom and sweep an area clean of snow, and go ahead and make my set... I may sweep a small area just big enough to make the set, or I may clear an area the size of a truck hood. It just depends on how I feel at that time.

In freezing weather I use an anti-freeze... There are many trapline anti-freezes out there, and many ways of doing it. Some people use buckwheat hulls, but I could never get my traps to bed solidly in buckwheat hulls...some people use waxed dirt, but that is a hassle to make...some people use a spray anti-freeze, but that stuff is kinda expensive... The simplest, easiest, and cheapest for me is to use plain table salt... I read an article by Ray MIlligan once where he was talking about using plain table salt (NOT Iodized) for his coyote and fox sets..and I have seen pictures of him making sets with a box of salt setting there beside him... And I figured if it was good enough for Ray Milligan, it was sure enough good enough for me. So, the first of every season I usually bought a couple of cases of those 1-pound boxes of salt, and carried a couple in my trap basket when making or redoing sets... Dig your trap bed, put enough dirt back in to bed your trap, and sprinkle on a sight layer of salt. Now bed your trap solidly, and lightly cover with dirt. Sprinkle on another light layer of salt, then do your finish covering with dirt.

In rainy wet weather you will need dry dirt. When your trap bed turns into a tiny swimming pool the only thing to do is clean it out and remake it with dry dirt. Alot of trappers carry dry dirt that they have gathered in dry warm weather, in clean plastic buckets, or large plastic trash containers, with lids to keep the rain out... You can find dry dirt under old sheds or lean-tos, in old out buildings, or barns with dirt floors, or just dig it and save it when the weather is warm and dry...and I even moved my dog's house once to dig dry dirt from under it... When on the line and needing dry dirt I have found it by digging at the base of cedar or evergreen trees, under rocks, or by digging into the side of vertical cut banks.

One little "trick" you can use to prevent your trap bed from turning in to a small pond, is when you dig your trap bed, dig it a small bit lower on one end. Then take a trap stake and pound it into this lower end several inches, ream it around, then pull it back out. This will leave a hole. Stuff this hole with dry grass. Then go ahead and bed your trap as you normally would... With the trap bed being lower at this end the water will run to this end and drain into the hole. This won't totally prevent your trap bed from getting wet, but it will help alot toward preventing it from flooding.

Pat, I hope this helps, and good luck with the coyotes,


One thing I was going to toss in but forgot, was this... If you use salt as an anti-freeze, ALWAYS rinse your traps off as soon as possible after pulling them, as the salt will flat rust them up bad and fast... If there was a open, ice free creek or pond, etc., on my line I rinsed the traps off right there as soon as I pulled them before throwing them into my truck... If not then as soon as I got home...... Then I cleaned them up and retreated them with dye, wax, or dip, or whatever I choose as trap treatment, as soon as possible... You have to take care of your equipment for it to continue to do it's job the way it is supposed to.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello Mongo.I have another question on coyote trapping. how often do you apply your coyote or fox urine and lures to your sets. I have been apllying every 3 or 4 days.Im wondering should i apply more often.

Good Morning Pat, and I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving,

Before I get to your question, let me say a few things.... I usually ran with a partner... While I did a bit of water trapping, I was basically and foremost an upland dry dirt predator trapper... Now, my son ran traps with me when he was able and not in school...but for most of my years trapping I ran with a partner. We each did what we did best, and split the costs and the profits...and the experiences... For the first few years, just after I got out of the army, and when I was just starting to go with the woman who became my wife, it was my future father in law. He is the man that first got me started trapping and taught me the basics... Then, for the next 10 or 12 years it was a fella I worked with who also saved his time and took it off to trap each year. He could trap dry dirt, but he was foremost a water trapper, and beaver and muskrat were his specialty. He was Pottawatomie Indian, and my wife's cousin, and his nickname was "Chief"... He lined up land to trap, and I lined up land to trap, and between the two of us we always had more land than we could get to. But Chief handled most of the water trapping and I handled most of the dry dirt trapping..... In later years my partner was an old friend from my childhood. His name was Larry, but everybody just called him Psycho. Psycho was a very good outdoorsman, hunter, and fisherman, but was not much of a trapper until I got him started... Psycho was my main trapping and calling partner for the rest of my years in the sports, until an accident at work crippled, disabled, and retired me. It took 2 back surgeries, but I can walk again, short distances, with the aid of a cane, but my trapping and predator calling days are over..... I'm an old man now, and am no longer physically able to trap, call predators, or even hunt any more...and that is why I try to pass on what knowledge I can here as the Q&A guy for trapping and predator calling at ALL-EXPERTS.... But, what I am getting at is if you have a good friend, get them interested in trapping. Believe me, sharing these experiences in the outdoors is MUCH better when you have someone along with you to experience them as well. And you will make memories that will last you both for the rest of your lives.

Now, to your question......... There are no "hard and fast" rules here, and alot of times I just went by "what I felt"... I'd apply urine, bait, and/or lure originally to my set(s) when I make them, of course. Then I do not generally apply again for at least 7 to 10 days, and in fact I try to only come close enough to the set to see if a catch has been made, or if it has been messed with to where I need to re-cover or reset, otherwise I stay as far away as possible....and if there is no action after about 12 to 14 days I will usually pull the set (Now there are exceptions to when I pull, and I will cover this a bit later).... Now, if there is a good rain where I have to remake or move the set, I apply lure and urine again as I re-make the set. But, if the weather is just damp for several days in a row I re-apply lure and/or urine every 4 or 5 days... If I make a catch I will not re-apply lure or urine when I remake the set, as the animal will leave enough scent there already... However, if the set area is so torn up that I have to move the set, I liked to move it only to the edge of the catch circle, and  remake it, and usually only used urine, and bait if a dirthole, but not use any lure, as there is plenty of "draw" there already.... In the event of snow I just leave it alone. Believe me, the coyotes can easily smell your set under the snow. If it warms up to where the snow melts, I just remake the set and relure and all as if making it originally.

I said there were exceptions that I'd cover later, and here they are... When I was running hard and had plenty of territory to trap, and was constantly moving, pulling sets in older areas and putting in new sets in new areas, I'd do as I said above as far as re-luring and urine...... BUT...when I was near the end of my time off from work (when I was looking at having to go back to work soon, or was already back at work and was just running a few sets close to home before and/or after work), then I may leave a set for 2 weeks or longer, or until I just decided it was a waste of time there and pulled it, but I'd still re-lure as I said above......... Now I worked for the state of Oklahoma in the Department of Transportation, for 23 years. And I'd save all my comp time, and all my vacation time, all thru the year, just to take it all off during trapping season. So I was generally able to take off the entire month of December, and about half or more of January each year, and all I did for this time off was trap and call predators... By the time I started working for the state I already had 10 or 12 years of trapping experience, and this was during the "fur boom" days, so I got in at just the right time......... However, when I was back at work full time I usually only ran 6 to 12 sets close to home, that I could run on my way to and from work... And when I finally pulled these, I spent the remainder of the season calling predators when I had time, usually on weekends and after work, until the fur season ended in February..... If you are not calling predators you might consider it. It always added a few extra pelts to my season totals.

Let me toss in some food for thought about lures. I have seldom told anyone this, and I NEVER told anyone during the time I was trapping myself, because I didn't want anyone else to know what I was using. I kept that as my secret because I didn't want them to start using it too... But my health is failing as I age, and I want to pass this personal information along while I am still able....................... Most any lure that has been on the market for a long time is a good lure. If it were not any good trappers would soon realize this and would not buy it, and it would not last very long on the market. So, any lure that has been around for alot of years is good. But, everyone has their favorites... And while I made many of my own lures, I also used alot of commercial lures too. So, let me offer a selection of my favorite commercial lures, the ones I generally reached for first when I was serious about taking fur... Now, I am NOT saying "these are the best". There are others just as good, if not better... I am only saying these were my personal favorites, as far as commercial lures are concerned... Anything I have tried by Carman, Hawbaker, or Milligan has worked well for me.... My number one coyote lure was Carman's Canine Call. Besides a lure I made myself, I probably took more coyotes over the years with Canine Call than any other commercial lure. It was also very good for fox and bobcat... My number one bobcat lure was Carman's Pro's Choice, and I must say that Milligan's Cat Man Do was a close second. Milligan's Steppenwolfe 1 was an excellent all around lure... But, without a doubt, my #1 all around lure was Hawbaker's 600... If I were allowed only one lure for ALL my dry dirt trapping anywhere, from coyotes to fox to coon to bobcat to possum and skunk, it would be Hawbaker's 600.... The man who first told me about Hawbaker's 600 was an old, retired government trapper, and the best trapper I ever knew. He made catches each season that some people simply would not believe. But I saw them, so I AM a believer... Of course he made most of his own lures, but his main commercial lure for dry dirt was Hawbaker's 600.......... I just tossed this in, in case you may be interested.

Hope this helps Pat, and good luck,



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I can answer most basic questions concerning predator trapping and some water trapping. Questions about lures, baits, sets, traps, trap treatment, modification, sizes, equipment, usage, etc. I have been certified by the Okla. Dept. of Wildlife Conservation, the old First Okla. Trapper`s Assoc., and the Okla. State Univ. Extension Service as a trapping instructor, and in years past have given classes to people wishing to learn the sport...I also have a couple decades experience in predator calling and can provide some basic answers to these questions as well.


30+ years running my own traplines, and 60+ years experience as a hunter, shooter, fisherman, and outdoorsman.

I have been certified by the Okla. Dept. of Wildlife Conservation, the old First Okla. Trapper`s Assoc., and the Okla. State Univ. Extension Service, as a trapping instructor... I have also received personal instruction from two professional ADC specialists.

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As far as teaching what I know to others. I take this to be what you mean here... I have helped my son, and son in law, as well as given classes to a number of other people in this area, to help get them started in trapping and predator calling... I have had personal instruction from 2 professional government ADC specialists, and I have over 30 years experience running my own traplines, and 60+ years of experience in the outdoors...... I have a friend who is a troop leader with the Boy Scouts. In the past I have done several demonstrations on trapping and predator calling for the boys, and on a number of occasions have helped the troop to set up and run a trapline during the winter, with proceeds going to the troop.

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