Hello, This coming season will be my second and I'd like to get better at using lures more intelligently. Last year my canine & cat trapping consisted of 21 sets out for 15 nights. I caught one coyote, one grey fox, one bobcat & two red fox, BUT, I caught them all in the last four nights. Did I use the lure improperly? To much/ to strong? Did I leave to much of my scent at the sets?(I wore hip waders,gloves for making the set & gloves off for luring. These and other questions are plaguing me. The weather where I trapped went from to warm 33 to 40 with rain to cold with rain and sleet to cold with snow to real cold -7 to -11 and repeated, several times, it was a challenge. I trapped out of state so I did not have any scouting time before hand and the snow that happened during season was quick,followed by brutal cold and then melted off within a day or two, the critters holed up during it and when it melted I found little sign.The snow a month after season when I went back verified I was close with my sets to the travel routes and told me there were many critters there, I used the wind, both checked online and verified onsite. It was very cold for the last days when I caught the critters. I'm thinking 1)I either over lured and time & the cold made the set acceptable or I left to much of my scent which time took care of it or 2)It was so cold the critters were desperate and fell for inferior sets.I used only dirt holes and flat sets last year. I knew less about lure usage last year than I think I know about it this year. I used all the lures at the set.
Heres what I think I now know about lure usage, please correct me.
Canines & cats: a call lure should be used close to but not as part of the set. Placed on a bush/tree up off the ground to send the smell out. Call lures are to strong to be used at the set proper. Gland, food & curiosity lures are to be used at the set. Urine is to used at the set.
Beaver: Castor for territorial mound sets, food & curiosity lures used with a visible attractant. Food & curiosity lures should be used first. Castor mounds for the hard to catch ones.
Muskrats: food or musk lure can be used at the set.
Random questions: Should I mix a little straight gland with my various urines? Red fox gland with red fox urine,coyote gland with coyote urine, to 'enhance it'?
Why would I want to use say beaver castor lure when I can buy straight beaver castor for use at castor sets? A coyote lure for a scent posts(smoky post) rather than straight coyote glands? Am I missing something here? Are the lures formulated with different ingredients that make them more attractive to the targeted critters or would the straight glands be more attractive to the targeted critters?
Every lure maker has the 'best' lure for every specie, I can't help but thinking that a lot of lures lure more trappers than critters.
It's difficult for me to say whether you used the lure "improperly", without my seeing exactly what you did. Generally, a lure will say on it how much to use. Follow these directions, and you can't go far wrong. As a general rule of thumb I use 1/2, to one cap full, depending on how cold the weather is, of a liquid lure, and a "glob" the size of a pea, to a bean, of a paste type lure... Also, if you look into the use of lures you will find that there are some that are made to use in the hole or back edge of a dirthole, or on the attractor at a post or flat type set (food type lures, curiosity lures, and mild call lures)...and then too there are stronger call lures that are made to be used above and/or behind the set... However, in colder weather, and in some situations, I often use a call lure directly at the set as with a food type lure...but do so sparingly...more on this later.
Yes, the weather can present a serious challenge to a trapper... As a general rule I will relure every 3 to 4 days with light, occasional rain, and if there is fairly constant or heavy rain I usually just pull up and wait until the weather clears... With snow I do about the same as with clear weather, and only relure every 5 days to a week. But, if the snow is heavy I will take a broom and clear the area, and then make the set... If the snow then melts off leaving a muddy mess, I will remake the set using dry dirt.... Another thing I will mention is that when checking the set I only go close enough to see if a catch was made or the trap is uncovered or thrown... But, if the weather was bad enough for the animals to "hole up" for a period of days, then as soon as the weather breaks they will be out and hunting for food, so that is when you need those sets up and working.
Often it is difficult to "cold roll" into a new area, without knowing much about it, but in time you will learn to automatically recognize areas that are the best places to make sets. This is just something that you learn with practice and experience.
I generally don't use more than one, or occasionally two, lures at a set. With a dirthole, for instance, I'll use a food type lure, or a bait, in the hole, and urine on the back edge or backing... Occasionally I will add a mild call lure to the back edge, but only occasionally. Sometimes I will put a small amount of a more potent call lure above, and a few feet behind my set... At a post type set I will use a glad or matrix lure or occasionally a mild call lure or curiosity lure, on my post, (not all 3, but only one) and often some urine, but only one lure... Flat sets generally get a curiosity lure or mild call lure, or food lure... As a general rule I only use one lure, of whatever kind, at a set, and often urine... Let me also mention that if I find an area that looks good for a set, I will often make 2 to 3 sets there, but they will generally be at least 10 feet apart, and often as much as 50 or 60 feet apart. Around a pond, for instance, I will often make 3 sets around it, often one dirthole, and a couple of flat sets, or a flat and a post, or other sets you have learned...amd believe me there are a book full of assorted sets that work well around ponds. Ponds, particularly ponds setting back in the timber, have always been good to me... Just mix it up, with a different lure at each set. Offer them a choice.
You said, "Canines & cats: a call lure should be used close to but not as part of the set. Placed on a bush/tree up off the ground to send the smell out. Call lures are to strong to be used at the set proper. Gland, food & curiosity lures are to be used at the set. Urine is to used at the set."... Basically that is correct, and this what most every trapping book will tell you. But, they are only "general guides"... As a general rule directly at the set is the only place I use urine....... HOWEVER......with lures I've learned to sometimes "mix things up", and not give the animals the same thing everyone else is showing them, show them something a little different. Often "thinking outside the box" will pay dividends... What I'm trying to say is that the various trapping books only offer a general guide line. Do not be afraid to try different things... In some circumstances, and with some call lures, I use them directly at the set.... Now, I'm NOT trying to promote anyone's lures here, and the fact is I make many of my own lures, but let me just offer this, and you can take it for what it's worth..... There are a number of commercial lures I always keep on hand, simply because thru the years I have learned that they work very well for me. I AM NOT saying these lures are better than any other lures, only that they are personal favorites of mine. Every trapper will have personal favorite lures that they have confidence in, and these are 3 of mine...and I make sure to always have these 3 on hand. They are all call lures and I very often use them directly at the set, as you would a food type lure, or as you'd use a gland, or curiosity type lure.... For bobcats, my favorite commercial lure is CARMAN'S PRO'S CHOICE. I very often use it in the dirthole, or on the backing... And for coyotes, my favorite lure is another CARMAN lure, CANINE CALL...and again, I often use it directly in the hole. But, my preferred use of it is on the "attactor" at a post or flat type set... And my personal "all-time-favorite, commercial All-Around lure" is HAWBAKER'S 600... But, all 3 of these lures are excellent "all-around" lures, and all have been constant producers for me for many years........ But, mix the lures you use up, don't offer the same things over and over... For instance, when reluring a set, don't worry about what you used the first time at that set so you can go back with the same thing. If it wasn't producing, then it might be a good idea to try something else.
You also say "Beaver: Castor for territorial mound sets, food & curiosity lures used with a visible attractant. Food & curiosity lures should be used first. Castor mounds for the hard to catch ones."... Well, here is my personal take on beaver... First, I make all my own beaver lures. I save all the castors from my beaver, hang them over a wire and let them dry, then grind them up and add glycerine to make a paste... Into this jar I will also squeeze the oil from the oil sacks. This is my primary beaver lure, and it works as well as any commercial beaver lure I have ever tried. (And the longer it is allowed to set the better. I have some in the shed that is several years old.) ... However, I will also take a portion of this lure and put it into a separate jar and add a few drops of poplar bud oil. (Go lite with the poplar bud oil. It is seriously stout stuff. To about 4 ounces of caster/glycerine mix I will generally only add one to three drops, depending on how stout this brand of poplar bud oil is.) ... In my trapping areas there are not often alot of beaver, but where there are I have found that I use castor mounds almost exclusively. I may not catch them all, but I catch my share, and leave a few for "seed stock". And I often will take a few finger sized twigs from whatever trees the beavers are chewing and peel them to lay on the castor mound, sticking one or two up for the white inner part can act as a sort of "flag" to be seen from a distance... Only occasionally do I use body-grippers on beaver, but with them I seldom use any lure.
As to muskrat, I do as you are saying, and use the lure at the set. However, in all honesty I will go on to say that in 95% of my trapping areas there are no muskrats, and I have only trapped for them on a few occasions. The same with mink. So, I will not claim to be proficient at trapping either of those animals. In fact I have only trapped a few dozen muskrats and a dozen or so mink over the years. So, I rather hesitate to offer much information on these two animals.
I have heard of people mixing gland lure with urine, and I even believe there is at least one commercial lure maker who is doing exactly that. But, I have never done it, and prefer to use the commercial lures, and any urine, as it is and not mix anything with it.
You ask, "Why would I want to use say beaver castor lure when I can buy straight beaver castor for use at castor sets?" ... I believe I somewhat answered that in one paragraph above. But, just for "G.P." let me toss this in... I have been good friends with 3 of the government trappers in this area thru the years, both retired and active, and the current state government trapper (ADC man) happens to be married to my wife's best friend, so I speak to him fairly regularly... He told me once that for a beaver lure he prefers to just use dried castor ground up and mixed thickly with glycerine, and with nothing else added, but, often times he has simply used fresh castor that he chops up into a jar, squeezes in the oil from the oil sacks, and adds a little creek water to, then shakes up real good....... I'm sure that most, if not all of the commercial beaver lures on the market work, and some probably work excellently, but personally, I use what I told you about above.
Then you ask, "A coyote lure for a scent posts(smoky post) rather than straight coyote glands? Am I missing something here? Are the lures formulated with different ingredients that make them more attractive to the targeted critters or would the straight glands be more attractive to the targeted critters?" ... Let me just say this... I'm sure that each lure maker has his personal "secret ingredients" that he uses to formulate his lures, and I'm equally sure that all work to some degree or another... But, let me offer this when you go to looking about what lures to buy...Look for longevity. A lure that has been on the market for many years works. If it didn't it would not long remain on the market.... Also let me say that there are quite a number of "exotic" lure ingredients that many trappers, especially those just starting out, have never, and may never, hear of, that lure makers sometimes use in formulating lures...things such as: lovage, orris root, lavender, in-heat urine, fennel oil, birch oil, asafoetida, anise, sodium benzoate, tonquin, seal oil, etc., etc., etc... Some of the ingredients used are common and easily found or aquired, but others are extremely expensive, and there are others that can only be had in an artificial form nowadays... As time passes most trappers get the urge to make a few of their own lures, and they often loose interest in it when they find that the lures they make with common ingredients are not very productive. But, there are books on the market that give a number of excellent lure formulations, if you find this of interest... I stated earlier that I make many of my own lures. I got the majority of my lure formulas from 3 older trappers that I bugged, followed around, and bothered for many years to learn what I could from them... For instance, the absolute best coyote lure I ever used I make myself. It is a recipe given to me by an old, retired federal government trapper. He mentored me and taught me much of what I know, and before he gave me the recipe he made me promise that I'd never give the recipe to anyone as long as he lived, and today he is in his 90's. He is no longer able to trap, but he is still hanging in there, and so I have kept my word and never given his recipe to anyone...and the odd thing about it is that it's made from fairly easy to obtain items. I'm surprised no one else has discovered it.
And you finish by saying, "Every lure maker has the 'best' lure for every specie, I can't help but thinking that a lot of lures lure more trappers than critters." .... My friend, you are correct.... As I said above, "When you go to looking about what lures to buy...Look for longevity. A lure that has been on the market for many years works. If it didn't it would not long remain on the market."..... And don't expect any lure, no matter how good it is, to "Lures beaver from the other side of the lake." ....or... "Will pull a coyote from a mile away.".... This is simply "hype" that many lure makers use to get your attention... For a lure to be a consistent producer it has to be where the animal will find it. The closer to "on the spot", on on the animal's line of travel, you can make your set, the better off you will be.
Richard, I hope this helps, and good luck this coming season,