coyote trapping, Land trapping — January 16, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Trapping coyote, trap location, coyote sign, frozen ground, thoughts from Dustin

trapping coyote locationWell the good news is I managed to construct some sets in the rock hard
frozen ground that produced some coyotes! The down side is that they were
not skinable because of the mange. I’ve been going two weeks at what I call
a learning pace! What I mean by a learning pace is this; I find travel
routes, then I find tracks, then I find droppings and then I make a set.  I
have not went to the classic LOCATIONS and dropped in sets on a whim
hopping to connect. When we had snow on the ground for a week or so my eyes
were opened. Just because there is the classic location does not mean there
are going to be K9s there. I now find myself separating how I put K9 traps
on property. In my head I have what I call ”PLACES”. This is a place to
me on a piece of trapping ground that you read about or see in a video. It
is a place where two things intersect, corners of fields outside points,
lone trees, ect, ect, ect. I have read about them and heard about them alot
in the last couple of years since I got into trapping. But LOCATION to me
is where you have tracks and you have droppings. The reason I say “tracks
and droppings” is this; my dogs do not just take a crap anywhere. Many
times they hunt for a long time to take a dump. I feel K9s being nothing
more then a wild dog do the same. There has got to be a reason that they
are taking a crap there. So to make a set in a place without tracks and
droppings, for me, is making a set in a place where coyotes may be but I
really have no proof of why he will be there or has a no reason to be
there. I know thousands of coyotes are caught in places without droppings
in classic locations. But tracks and droppings really help build my
confidence up when I drop in a set.
When I made the sets I focused on areas where I could learn the most from
on how the coyotes worked the sets. I would clear a large area out of any
debris and then blend it in so I could see tracks at a set. One thing that
really surprised me is how much dancing a coyote does out side of the set.
That was an eye opener. Most of the dancing was about 5 foot away from the
set. I took another trapper with me on my line that has trapped coyotes for
a long time. He said, “Look the wind was from the south last night, you can
tell by all the time the coyotes spent pacing back and forth right here.” I
was shocked to see how often coyotes would do that. I think if you could
predict the wind and approach you could nail some coyotes while they do
their dancing approaching the set before they even get to the set.
Another thing I noticed and something I do not know how to fix is this;
when coyotes step from a rock hard surface to sand that my trap is bedded
in (to keep the trap from freezing) they seem to avoid it. I can assure you
my trap is bedded rock solid, it is not moving. This is why I use the sand
and not dry fluffy dirt or peat moss. I want the trap rock solid. But I
think just the difference in the feel of the ground on their paw is causing
me issues. I have watched many YouTube videos with people making sets using
nothing but peat moss to bed a trap and I just do not see that working out
well. I started trapping a sand pit last week and since everything is sand
I have not had any issues with them stalling out on the traps there. I have
not tried it yet but I think the only way to really get them to work a set
and not get all weird about the feeling on their paws is blowing out the
pattern so that once they are within 3 foot of the traps, they are on the
same feeling material that the traps are bedded in. Sounds simple but that
means transferring a LOT of dirt and sand to make only a few sets.
I have also heard of guys talking about putting the trap pan so it is at
the lowest spot in the pattern. This has not seemed to help me one bit? I
am not sure where or how this came about or what the theory is with it. All
I can say is it has done nothing for me on my line.
I am running flat sets and a double walk through dirt holes. I am using 2
traps at every set, this has really cut down on the misses. I honestly
think if guys knew how many coyotes visit their sets and did not commit
they would probably have themselves committed to a mental ward! I have left
some sets in for along time and not touched them. I have also had sets that
I added a new smell to ever 3 days. It seems that the ones I add a new
smell or bait to ever 3 days or so gets much more attention than the ones I
put bait and lure into and leave. This goes totally against everything I
have read and heard about in the main stream trapping world. I picked up
that piece of information in a book called One Sq Mile. In the book he
talks about adding a new Toy as he called it to keep the coyotes interested
in a set. It seemed to help. The biggest surprise to me was when I added a
whole bluegill to my sets one of my little cycles. In the next two days I
caught 3 coyotes and a fox off the sets. You normally do not hear much talk
of guys using whole fish on K9s. I do not know what it triggered in them
but it sure helped.
I cannot snare where I am at due to roaming farm dogs. This last 2 weeks
alone I have caught 7 farm dogs in my sets. Most of them were over a mile
from home! The reason I bring this up is I truly think the only way to put
coyotes up in numbers is with blind sets and snares. I say this because I
can tell by tracks, no matter what I have used for bait, some coyotes will
not work a baited or lured set. I came to this conclusion in all the
experimenting I have done playing with different sets. To put up big
numbers of coyotes I honestly think I need to find 10 15 pieces of property
at least 5 miles away from each other, insure the property has a food
source, water and lots tracks and droppings, then blind set every travel
way going to and away from it. Be it snares or foot holds. Foot holds being
more effective in my opinion due to the number of coyotes I caught in my
blind sets while coon trapping. It will be more work but I know you will
catch more coyotes!
I know lots of guys want to make money by trapping, this is why I am doing
it, but one thing is for sure, if mange comes into your area you will not
make any money no matter how many coyotes you catch. I would have been WAY
ahead money wise if I would of sat at home and watched TV. To be honest I
should of went after mink and muskrats under the ice. I would have been
much farther ahead but I am glad I did not. Just the little bits of
information I put on this post I learned will take YEARS off my learning
curve. I am using this year as an education year to build systems off of.
If I was not using this as a educational year and just went out and did
what I read in the books and videos, sure I would of caught stuff, but I
would not have near the confidence I have now in trapping some of the
animals I have targeted this year.
If anyone wants to bs or swap trapping stories feel free to email at
Hope you all are having a great holiday season, keep learning…
God Bless,
Dustin Drews
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  1. This is one of the best articles I have read in a long time. Couldn’t find one topic I disagreed with.

  2. this was a great article, straight nuts and bolts. thanks for taking the time to write.

  3. I have to say that I am surprised at how much information you just shared with many other trappers. It’s funny how what is in print and on videos does not work or works moderately. It goes to prove that experience is the best teacher and that the lessons learned by someone who actually looks at what is happening during his season is the very best teacher. Don’t get me wrong, for the guy who has never trapped and has not built up years of experience the books and videos do help them get started. If you want to do anything well you have to put in your time and learn by watching what is happening to you and what you have done and then make adjustments where necessary. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I want to add another comment: I have used a soup can with a slot cut into the side to cover the pan and dog so that I can pack the dirt solidly around and under the trap for just the reasons you mentioned.
    When I watch my lab walk down a trail I pay attention to how the dog moves along the trail. When she comes to a small depression she walks over it onto a high spot. When she stands in one spot she places her feet on a level spot not a depression.
    When it rains water pools in a depression.
    These are all reasons to avoid leaving a depression where my trap is placed. Again, this is not to say that some trappers who use a depression over their trap don’t catch fur, I just have these reasons for not doing that.

  5. Great insight. My son and I started coyote trapping this year. We are way ahead of where I thought we would be. Learning a lot from YouTube videos and some experimenting with my own ideas. I will say most of my catches have come from doing things different than all the stuff I see and read. The best catch method has been using a “stashpile” set I developed. 2nd best has been the “hay set” I learned on YouTube Nothing in flat sets, trench sets, post sets, and only one in a dirt hole set. I can see tracks and have even had digs near sets but that’s it with the conventional sets. So great artical above. I will start putting a blind set 5 feet from my sets in prominent down wind side. Thanks for your help

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