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Paul Dobbins
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Welcome to Trapper’s Tips.  We all have shortcuts and tricks that improve our catch and increase efficiency on the trapline.  Please share them here and we can all benefit.  Remember that because something works in one area, doesn't mean it will necessarily work in your area.  If a tip looks like something that may help you – try it and see if it does help you.

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Cage Trapping

    When I'm cage trapping I find a trail then the spot where a cage will go in good and not be right on the trail, I like to put the cage where the target can see it from an angle and a couple feet off the trail, a cat toilet, is in my opinion the best place to put the cage about 10-30 feet away from the toilet.
    Ok we have the location.....
    Next clear out and level a place for the cage, place the cage in the spot making sure everything is as it should be. Next remove the cage and dig a dirt hole about where the pan will be, with some of the dirt hole between the pan and back of the cage, then place your [with skunk essance] lure in the hole under the cage [this way you won't get the lure all in the fur when you catch your target].  Next I like to put a piece of  legal fur almost to the back of the cage, on a piece of 14 ga wire just hooked to the third square from the back hangin down from the top and down about 5-6 inches, [I use one fake glass eye on the fur].   I like the fur strip to move at the least bit of wind, then I place the cage carefully back in place being careful not to cover the lure and the dirt hole with dirt etc. then I start to cover the cage with brush etc use what ever is there, and I cover the top both sides and back I don't want the target getting to the side, back, or on top. Next cover the bottom of the cage wire with sifted dirt etc, Cats don't like walking on 14 ga 1x1 wire.
Ok so now the cage is in place. now take a look making sure everything is as it should be.
next find a suitable place within 3-10 feet of the cage, and about 6 feet high and tie a flag.  [I like to use surveyers tape tied in a bow with about a foot of tail hanging down] so the target can see it from a distance.  Make one last visible check and the cage is ready.
I use cage sizes are 8x18x36,  10x18x36 and 12x18x36.   I have caught about the same amount of cats in each as the other. Tip provided by Stacy Yancy

Cheap Trap Containers

Save those old plastic water softener brine tanks. Clean them up to re-use for storing trapping stuff. They are about 30 gallon and can be used for storing dry dirt or traps. They come with a cover to keep out water or vehicle  smells whatever. They are an odorless plastic and are ideal for this purpose and they are usually free. In an open truck you can tape the cover with duct tape to keep it from coming off.  Tip provided by Jerry L. Mueller    aka Happy Plumber

Home Made Boot dryer

A boot dryer I have made: Using 1 1/2 PVC pipe, cut a piece about 1' long and put it in a workbench vise. Glue a tee on to this pointing up. Glue another 6" piece (horizontal) into the tee and put an elbow on the end with it pointing up as well. Cut 2 pieces about 18" to 24" long and glue into the top side of tee and top side of elbow. Cut the top end of each of these pipes on a 45 degree angle in the direction the toe of the boot will be. Finish it off by putting a rubber plumbing connection ( with hose clamps) on the bottom horizontal piece and hook your wife's hair dryer to it. Works good for any boots, usually has a temperature adjustment, and can be used from one year to the next. I used a hair dryer that my wife didn't want any more. Also works good for drying some fur and costs a fraction of what a commercially made boot dryer does. Tip provided by Jerry L. Mueller

Skunk Odor Removal

Mix all ingredients together in a plastic bucket;

1 quart hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup baking soda
1 teaspoon liquid dishsoap

Use a sponge or cloth to wipe the animal, can do the inside of the mouth but KEEP OUT OF THE EYES!  Mix as needed, doesn't store well after mixing.

Treating Snares

I boil my snares in water and baking soda. Put your snares in, bring your water to a boil, add half a box of baking soda and let boil for 5 - 10 minutes. This will remove any oil from your snares and give them a dull gray finish.  Tip provided by Ranger 

Removing Burrs From Fur

When I have burrs in in Fox, Coyote and Coons, I've found that by spraying Johnson's Kids No More Tangles, or a cheaper Walmart generic equivalent, will help get the burrs out.  Just spray some on the fur where the burrs are and let it set for a couple of minutes, then comb it out.  Most burrs will slide right out.   Tip Submitted by Paula Hamilton.

Treating Conibears
When painting or dipping conibears, its a good idea to put a piece of tape around the jaw where the dog will connect when set, then remove the tape after the dip or paint is dry.  Also remove any dip or paint from the notch in the dog.  This will prevent the conibear from being too sensitive.
Speed Dip
When using speed dip, subsitute Coleman lantern fuel for gasoline and the drying time will be greatly reduced.  To remove speed dip, soak in mineral spirits and use a wire brush to remove.  Anytime gasoline, lantern fuel and mineral spirits are used, do so outdoors because of fumes and keep it away from sparks, flames or heating elements. (ie. hot water heaters)
Fixing Leaky Boots
If you have leaky boots (knee, hip,or waders), just fill the with water to find the the leak. Mark the leak, then emtpy water. I use Shoe Goo, it's found in hardware stores or home centers. 
To dry the inside of your boots, fill with kitty litter. Kitty litter also dries ones boots when an unexpected step is made.   Tip submitted by Wet Foot.
Ornery Coon Set
Ever have coons htat keep robbing your pocket sets by flipping traps or not even touching the trap? Well heres an idea that will help. The set where the coons have been robbing blind its a good idea to set 1-2 trail sets using either coni, foothold or snare 4 feet away from the robbed set and you'll be able to nab that theivin' coon.    Tip submitted by Sniperbbb
Freeze-proofing sets
When  trapping in  ice & snow , traps tend to freeze down.  Use ziplock bags and put your set trap
in & seal it.   This tip provided by Joe Barbee.
Lure Holders
I use sections of bamboo its tough and you can drive it in the ground. Just cut it off above and below the joint sharpen on end put sheep wool or cotton in the end,you can put fur in the end for site appeal. Works great at castor mound sets,you can pre-lure and cut them any length. In frozen ground you can drive a rebar stake in to get a hole started and the put in the bamboo. And you can pick them up 
and reuse them. This tip provided by Gary Mather
Basic Flat/Urine Post Set
While there are more variations to the flat set than there are to the dirt hole, I'll try to come up with a general flat set that is generic in nature.  Again, location is the most important aspect of any set.  If the animals do not travel close enough to notice the set, it won't matter how well the set is constructed.  A flat set is nothing more than a set using an ojbect above ground rather than a hole to apply scent and attract the animal.  The object can be a rock, piece of sod, piece of wood, a bone, piece of charred wood etc.  If one of these objects don't already exist at the good location, you can easily put one right where you'd like to construct the set.  It's good to position the set where the object will stand out in contrast to the immediate area.  When you position the object to be used in the flat set, keep in mind how you want the animal to approach the set.  Using existing backing material at the site you can position the set so that the animal must travel over the trap to reach the scented object.  The target animal will dictate how far back the trap will be from the object.  Of course foxes will require the trap to be positioned closer to the object than a coyote because of the difference in the length of their legs.  Each flat set is different and each set has its own problems and peculiar things about it that governs how far from the post to position the trap.  The best thing to do is look at where you think your target animal will step and set the trap there.  This is one of those learning things that will require you to be observant of where a missed animal has stepped and from that you will get a feel of exactly where the trap should be placed over time.  You should bed your trap solidly just like the dirt hole set.  Usually a good gland lure or urine works good at these sets.   Before I'd make a flat set with both gland lure and urine, I'd make two separate flat sets from five to thirty steps apart and use gland lure only on one and urine only on the other.  Having two sets that smell differently doubles your chances at any given locaton.  There are not target animals that can get in one, leaving one still operating.  Quite often fox and coyotes will travel in pairs.  Having two or more sets at a good location gives you a chance for a double catch.  Double catches are more common in the fall and winter than in the spring and summer months.  This just a basic description of a Flat/Urine post set.  There is a lot more that can be learned about the flat sets.  You can learn more by getting the book by Charles Dobbins  Variations of the Flat Set .
 Take advantage of all the written material and videos you can get your hands on. That fire in the belly to learn all you can about this sport will serve you well and will be   reflected in your catches.
There are lots of sources of information. 
 There's this forum, The Trapper and Predator Caller magazine,  Fur-Fish-Game magazine, hundreds of books on the market and many  videos. If you can find a veteran trapper in your area that will take you  under his or her wing, you will really shorten your learning curve also. 
Record Keeping
 Keep a record of the different types of sets, lures and baits you try  during the course of the trapping season. This will enable you to review  what you've done and give you 
a very good record of what worked for  you. 
 Set Locations
 Locations may not look the same in different parts of the country. 
   Farmland where there are a lot of row crops will seem somewhat  different than the 
rolling prairies of the Dakotas. Woodland areas will  also seem somewhat different when it 
comes to selecting set locations. Set locations for snares will differ also. 
There are common threads that  will be evident in the set locations of different terrains. 
These common  threads are where the canine travels to hunt and where the canine travel 
just to get from one place to another. For hunting - remember edges - 
like  the edges of fields and where edges intersect are best like where   bean field, corn field and pasture connect. For just ease of travel -look for saddles in ridges as an example. 
Lure Holders
     I was taught at an early age that its a no-no to apply lure directly on  the ground. The ground tends to absorb the lure's odor rather rapidly which deadens the odor. To prevent this, I put the lure on or in something so that the odors can travel freely into the air. I know there are a wide variety of lure holders being used by  trappers - so give us a tip on what you like to use. 

  For water trapping, I like to find a hollow stemmed dead weed.  These usually are abundant along most creeks. I'll break off the  stem which is about the diameter of a pencil and shove the   hollow stem into my lure bottle. This crams the lure into the   hollow cavity of the weed stem and then I will push the other end of the stem into the ground or in the pocket set and there's  a natural lure holder. It's off the ground and has a reservoir of lure in the hollow stem that will keep emitting odor. 

     For dirt holes, I like putting a wad of rolled up dead grass in the hole for my lure holder. Also this will give the canine something to try to pull out of the hole since its obstructing its view of the bottom of the hole. While he's trying to get this grass wad out of the hole, its moving its feet around 
and increasing my chances of  a catch. 

Bobcat Appeal
    When trapping bobcats, use a visual aid to help  get it to your set location. The bobcat depends on its eyesight a   great deal when hunting and this can be taken advantage of. First I'd pick a good location for a set, then I'd find a lone branch to  hang my attractor from, and put the set fairly close to the visual  attractor. I wanted to hang the attractor where it would be visible to a bobcat from the furthest distance. I have used bird wings   where legal. I use mono filament fishing line and hang it so that the  wind will blow it around without it getting tangled on a nearby  branch. With this type setup, the slightest breeze will cause the   wing to move and thats all it takes to get the cat's attention.
In areas where its illegal to use parts of animals for bait, a tape from   a cassette works very well also. Just tie it to the branch and let it  drape down from the limb. Cats cant resist checking these out. 
Mink sets in spring runs and springs are productive mink   locations. The mink will visit these places at all times of the year, because here there are crawdads, frogs and salamanders living in the silt and mud. At these locations the reptiles will be hibernating in the winter.  These springs are not likely to freeze in the coldest weather. Pockets,  other holes, or cubbies can be created and will pay off at this location. 
Sight Appeal For Beavers
When using visual attractors for beavers either with or without lure, my   favorite is a piece of maple about as big around as your thumb and eight  to ten inches long. I like to take a couple of these and remove all the  bark so they are very white looking and they show up well against 
mud bank at or near the water line. I will also take the rest of the limb  that I removed these peeled sticks from and lay it in a trail leading to the water. I will either use an existing trail or make one myself. The reason I  like to use the maple is because it will stay nice and bright for days when 
the bark is removed. So many other varieties will turn dark and look old  in a matter of hours. 
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