To Set a Trap

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Published on: Jan. 2, 1998

Last revision: Oct. 28, 2010

A few years back, my husband found on our doorstep a cardboard box that had been delivered from a famous outdoor catalog house. Bert's immediate reaction was glee.

I watched Bert's eyebrows arch and his forehead disappear beneath his hairline as he pulled from the box some steel traps, a long-handled trowel, coyote lure and, the piéce de résistance-a huge jug of coyote urine.

"Urine?" he howled. He checked the label once more and saw that the box was addressed to his wife. Steeling himself, he demanded to hear my latest scheme.

I'd never trapped before. In fact, I didn't know the first thing about trapping. Bert stood in front of me, dazed and confused, wondering why I wanted to trap now. My friend and helpmate obviously never had a hankering for a full-length coyote coat.

Our farm is rife with coyotes.

The darned things terrorize fawns, turkeys, rabbits and quail. They steal our neighbors' piglets and chicks. To let us know they are around, they howl on our property; sometimes it sounded like they were right under our bedroom window.

I didn't plan to make a career out of trapping. I figured to get in and out quickly, sort of like a corporate raider of the woodlands, taking just enough coyotes to make my coat-about nine, perhaps more if I wanted to match the pelts perfectly.

I argued that the money I'd spent for traps was only a tiny fraction of what a coyote coat would have cost, so I was really saving Bert money. And how hard could it be to trap nine coyotes?

And anyway, I had "The Book." Let me explain about The Book. A few years earlier I'd inadvertently and through no fault of my own become a member of an outdoor book club.

Well, I suppose it was inevitable. I didn't get a card back to the club on time and soon found a book on trapping stuffed inside my mailbox.

I didn't think much of it then but, during the January doldrums, I thumbed through it, garnering just enough information to be dangerous. To wit:

  • You need big traps-at least a #3-for coyotes.
  • Dig bait holes with a long-handled trowel. This creates the famous 'dirt hole set,' a tactic almost as familiar to trappers as it is to coyotes.
  • Place lure near the hole.
  • Bury the trap. (Preferably without springing it, a near impossible task.)
  • Sprinkle some coyote urine to cover your scent.
  • Remove coyotes from traps the next morning.


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