Hunting/coyote trapping


Hello Mongo.  Wanted to let ya know ive caught 2 coyotes and 1 red fox with a little help from you my friend. I had one pull out of my trap this morning. Hated it. used a offset trap that i dont usually like. But my question is how often should i boil and wax my traps .I have been setting around 5 weeks. I noticed that the last coyote i caught was held by 3 toes. I think,but not sure,that my trap is not as quick because my 1st coyote on the 2nd day was held by the whole paw. Needing your expert opinion. may be possible the trap didnt quite do the job by the way i placed my trap. Hope you have some good advice,as you always do. Thanks Pat. Have a good evening or morning Mongo.When ever you get this.

Good Morning Pat,

Well, good deal. Glad to hear you are having some luck, and Congratulations...and I'm glad I could help a little... The first ones are always the hardest. They start getting easier after that..... When I first started trapping I didn't think much of off-sets either. But, it was the law here on any trap with more than one spring, so I had to use them... Then, as times passed, I realized that the off-sets actually served a practical purpose. I found that this off-set allowed blood to flow to the foot, and this caused the animal not to fight the trap so hard, or to chew on his foot so much...which helped him to stay in the trap, and be there when I showed up the next day.

I generally just treated my traps before season, then I liked to let them "set" for at least a couple of weeks, in some place where they could "air out", but not be gotten to by animals or people. However, I do know people who treat their taps and them use them within just a few days... Sometimes, after treating, I hung them several feet off the ground in a lean-to shed with 3 open sides. This allowed the wind and air to circulate, but kept the rain and snow off... Then, I built a trap shed, a very small building, little more than 4 feet wide, and 8 feet deep, with a slanted roof about 7-8 feet high, and with a dirt floor. I nailed boards all across the inside walls of the shed, with nails sticking out to hang my traps on, and I laid down cedar boughs on the floor, which I changed every year, and hung my traps in there in the off season. I never put any lure, urine, or bait, or anything with an odor in there...just traps. And I put my trap stakes in clean plastic buckets in there as well... Then about 10 years before I became disabled and was no longer able to trap, I got the local highschool shop class to build me a nice little storage building...maybe 15 feet wide, by 20 feet long, with windows, a solid board floor, and everything...LOL... But the highschool shop teacher was a friend of mine, and he was always looking for wood-working projects for his boys to do. I don't recall what it cost me now, but basically I just paid for the materials. And it is still what I use for my traps today.

When I started trapping, after I put my traps in the ground, I didn't retreat them again until I pulled them. Then I retreated them as soon as possible after pulling... I usually took them to the local car wash and used the hand sprayer on them, to get all the dirt and mud off them. Then, after they had several days to hang and dry, I retreated them........ Then, a month or so before the next season I checked them to see if they needed treated again, before I used them. If they looked good, I didn't retreat them before use.

When I first started trapping I dyed my traps with simmering water and logwood crystals, then waxed them... After a few years I quit waxing them, and only dyed them...using either the logwood crystals, or the brown logwood powder dye that turns black in the water... The reason I did this was that the fella I told you about, the best trapper I ever knew, only dyed his traps, but he didn't wax them. He told me that wax was a hassle, and it was bad about picking up odors. After I quit waxing them and only dyed them, I did not notice any change in the amount of animals I was catching, so I never waxed traps again... After several more years I started using the dip. I simply had so many traps to treat that it was taking me a couple of days to do them all. And again, my catch didn't go down...and the dip was so much faster and easier than dyeing, or dyeing and waxing. But, like I say, I liked to let them hang and air out for a couple of weeks before using them.

Sometimes an animal will be caught only by a toe, or a few toes. That tells me that perhaps my trap didn't fire as I wanted it to. You must have the trap bedded SOLIDLY...where the animal can step anywhere on the pattern and there is no movement, except over the pan... And I want my pan set on a hair trigger, so as soon as he commits his step there, it fires... I know many trappers who like to have it a very small bit lower over the pan........ And there is a dirthole set called the "step-down" set. The ground directly in front of the hole is lower by several inches, and the trap is there.

But, your traps need to be set on a hair trigger, so there is no creep or movement until the trap fires. Many trappers will file the pan notch totally square, and the end of the dog flat, so they can set it on a hair trigger, so that when it fires, it fires quickly and crisply...but many other trappers will "night-latch" their traps. Personally, I "Night-latched" all my coyote and upland predator traps... Let me explain how I did that... But, you might want to wait now until your season is over, then do it before next season, if you decide to do it.... Here is how to do that:

"Nightlatching" your trap......

When setting a trap most trappers try to set it so it has a crisp, clean "Hair Trigger". This is sometimes hard to accomplish without a way of knowing exactly when the trap will fire. Nightlatching will solve this problem and give you a consistent hair trigger every time you set the trap. Nightlatching makes a trap fire crisper, faster, set easier, and it reduces pan travel. Pan travel is the amount of movement the pan has to make before the trap fires. Excessive pan travel will let the animal know that what he is standing on is moving. Sometimes this movement is enough that the animal has time to pull his foot back before the trap fires...and it is also often the cause of digging in the trap bed, particularly with canines... A good many trappers, predator trappers in particular, nightlatch their traps to prevent this possible problem.

To nightlatch you will need a small flat file, with filing grooves on the edges... There are several different ways to nightlatch a trap. This is how I learned to do it, and found it works very well. First you must file the dog end at a slight angle from the bottom up, and/or, file it perfectly square. Dogs that come from the factory are usually stamped out, and are rounded a bit on the end, and rounded in the notch. Now, with the edge of your file, file a very small step in the notch of the pan (where the dog goes). Try to keep the step very small and at the edge of the notch. Don't file too much, remember you can always file more later but if you file off too much you can't put it back... Now you will have what looks like stair-step in the notch of your pan. Using your file, make sure this notch is square so that when the dog comes out of the notch it doesn't roll off, it drops off the sharp edge causing the trap to fire crisply... You are now ready to set the trap... Set the trap just as you normally would, but put the dog all the way in to the bottom of the original pan notch. Once it is set, raise the loose jaw to allow you to reach the pan with your thumb without fear of getting snapped. Holding the trap firmly under the frame with the other hand, lightly pull the pan down to it's hair trigger notch in the pan. When it reaches this point you will hear a "click". This is the dog falling off the original notch into the step you filed... At this point the trap should be on a crisp "hair trigger". If it is "too hairy" and won't stay set, file the notch a little deeper towards the center of the trap. If it's not as touchy as you would like file the end of the pan notch to shorten up the step. After you are finished you will know you have a consistent way of setting your traps on a hair trigger every time. This may seem a bit difficult to do at first, but after you do a few traps it will become easier and simpler....... I seldom nightlatch coon or beaver traps, but I nightlatch all of my upland predator traps.

Something else here... If you use wax or a trap-dip, you will have to clean the wax or dip out of the nightlatch notch, and off the end of the dog, before setting the trap...otherwise it will be too slick to stay set... I have a small fixed-blade knife (with a thin blade like a paring knife) in a leather scabbard affixed to my trap basket. This knife will prove to be handy for a number of things, and scraping the dip or wax out of the notch and off the dog edge, is one of the primary uses of that knife.

Hope this helps, Pat...and again, Congratulations.



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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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