Tips On How to Choose Supplies for Your Trapline by John S. Chagnon

trapping supplies -

Tips On How to Choose Supplies for Your Trapline by John S. Chagnon

Tips On How to Choose Supplies for Your Trapline by John S. Chagnon

So, you have found the areas you going to trap and it is either public land,  or private land and you have gained permission to trap there.  After you have scouted and determined which furbearing animal you are going to trap, you need to decide which traps and other supplies that you are going to need.  For existing trappers it is easy; however, new trappers can be overwhelmed by all the choices of traps and gear available to us today.  Hopefully this article helps you in choosing the right trapping gear.

We must keep in mind, while selecting traps and gear, the legal requirements, quality of products needed, budget and cost consideration while making our choices.   First, one must thoroughly read the Michigan Hunting and Trapping Digest so they understand all the rules of trapping in Michigan.  This is a good time to invest in your trapping license.   Pay careful attention to rules that restrict the size of trap and use of bait to name a few.  For example, in Michigan, we need to use a Number 2 or smaller foothold trap while trapping muskrat and when using bait, it must not be exposed.  The “no exposed bait” rule is a very good rule as it helps prevent new trappers from placing bait in plain view of birds which we do not want to catch.  The furbearing animals will still smell your bait and it is much more natural when it is covered at a set location.  It is a requirement to have trap tags with certain information on each trap; see your regulations.

Michigan has several Trappers Associations.  All can provide information on helping you properly abide by Trapping Regulations and the members can be wealth of knowledge on methods of trapping in our great state.  Below is the name and website link to our Michigan Trappers Associations:

Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers Association  www.mtpca.com

U.P. Trappers Association www.uptrappers.com

Northern Great Lakes Fur Harvesters “Search for Facebook Page”  They have a great convention every September in Kinross, U.P.

These Trappers Association websites will provide useful information and contract information.  All of the Associations have an annual convention where trapping suppliers from Michigan and out of state display and sell trapping gear and equipment.  Demonstrations are done on how to trap by knowledgeable trapping professionals and there is a chance to talk to 100’s of other trappers.  Contact phone numbers or emails of members are provided on the websites.

Trap selection and quality of traps is better then ever.  Major trap manufacturers include Minnesota Brand Traps, Sleepy Creek Traps, Duke Traps, Bridger Traps, and Wolf Creek Traps.  All make good traps and you have to decide which you are going to use.

The types of traps we have to choose from today include foothold traps, body grip traps and dog proof raccoon traps.  In the following table I have listed appropriate trap sizes and styles for the different Michigan furbearing animals.

 

Furbearing Animal

Trap Type

Size

Badger

Foothold

1.75 - 2

Beaver

Foothold, Body Grip

Size 4 – 5 Foothold 280 – 330 Body Grip

Bobcat

Foothold, Body Grip

Size 1.75 – 4 Foothold 220 – 280 Body Grip

Coyote

Foothold, Body Grip

Size 1.75 – 3 Foothold

Fisher

Foothold, Body Grip

Size 1.75 – 2 Foothold 120 – 220 Body Grip

Gray Fox

Foothold, Body Grip

Size 1.5 – 1.75 Foothold

Marten

Foothold, Body Grip

Size 1.5 Foothold 120 – 160 Body Grip

Mink

Foothold, Body Grip

Size 1 – 1.5 Foothold 110 – 160 Body Grip

Muskrat

Foothold, Body Grip

Size 1 – 1.5 Foothold 110 – 160 Body Grip

Opossum

Foothold, Body Grip

Size 1.5 Foothold 160 – 220 Body Grip

Otter

Foothold, Body Grip

Size 2 – 4 Footholds 220 – 330 Body Grip

Raccoon

Foothold, Body Grip

Size 1.5 Foothold 160 – 220 Body Grip

Red Fox

Foothold, Body Grip

Size 1.5 – 1.75 Foothold

Skunk

Foothold, Body Grip

Size 1.5  Foothold 160 – 220 Body Grip

Weasel

Foothold, Body Grip

Size 1 – 1.5 Foothold 110 or Rat Trap

 

Note: One needs to read the current regulations for size and other restrictions before setting traps.  Special rules apply to Body Grip Type traps as to size, where they can be set (public vs. private land), and how far off the ground certain size Body Grip traps must be.  In my opinion, to assure I minimize the possibility of catching a dog in a body grip trap, I set all body grip traps larger than a 160 either several feet in a tree or under water.  In fact, I find 330 Body Grip traps set under the water for beaver and otter far more effective than if part of the trap is exposed.  DR Stabilizers, out of Michigan, makes a great deep water stabilizer that makes setting the large 330 traps a breeze in deep water channels.  I also try to trap as far away from houses as possible, preferring most of my line to be in National and State Forests.

There are several specific traps available that do very well at catching the intended animal while almost eliminating other possible incidental catches of other animals and birds.  For example, the Dog Proof Raccoon Traps with a one way trigger, when baited properly with a sweet smelling bait, catch almost exclusively Raccoon.  If one puts fish or meat based baits and lures in these traps, they can, and will catch opossum, cats, and skunks.  Occasionally, you catch a bonus mouse or shrew for extra bait.  Muskrat colony traps catch mostly muskrat and occasional mink and are set under water.  There is also a season for using Cable Restraints for fox and coyote in Michigan, (please refer to Michigan Regulations).  Restricted use of beaver snares is also covered in the rule book.

The MB-550 Coilspring Trap, in off set or regular jaw versions, is one of my favorite traps for Fox and Coyote trapping.  The trap sets flat right out of the box and requires no adjustment to be ready for the trapline,  thanks to the quality night latch system.  For raccoon I use a lot of PCS Feather Light Dog Proof Aluminum Traps, These traps hold the largest, meanest raccoon, are extremely simple to use and the materials used in the construction of trap last for years without rusting away.  You can search and view an excellent YouTube video on just how effective and simple it is to use the PCS Feather Light Dog Proof Raccoon Trap.  When water trapping for mink, muskrat and raccoon I use a lot of 1.5 longspring and coilspring traps.  The number 1 size will work, but I prefer and find the slightly larger trap does much better at quickly drowning the furbearer.  The Bridger Number 5 Coilspring Trap is my go-to foothold trap for otter and beaver, while the 330 body grip set underwater in channels is my preferred body grip trap.   There is no one right choice in trap selection, you have to decide the quality and price you want to pay.  Other considerations that should be made is the dual purpose of traps.  For example, in Michigan, we can set size 2 and smaller size traps for muskrat, so if you are running a fall trapline for fox and coyote with 1.75 and 2 sized traps, you can also use them in the water for muskrat, later in fall or winter.

Close in importance to size and trap type you are going to purchase, is whether you are going to use stakes or drags (grapples)  to secure your trap and hold the furbearing animal.   When using stakes the important thing is to make sure you cannot pull it out of the ground prior to setting your trap.  Coyotes are everywhere in Michigan, so, if you can pull the stake out of the ground, the Coyote, in his attempt for freedom, will certainly pull the stake from the ground and disappear forever with your trap.  When using traditional rebar stakes, it is a good practice to use two stakes and a double stake swivel.  The AuSable Brand Earth Anchor trap stakes and Fox Hollow trap stakes are very popular and used a lot on my line.  Make sure to buy the appropriate driver for whichever cable or chain stake you pick.  I like to use drags when trapping old two-tracks or in areas so sandy that I do not feel confident that any stake will hold a fighting coyote or bobcat.  They will usually tangle up pretty quick; just make sure you have a good 5 or 6 foot of chain attached, the longer the better.  For water sets I use a drowner system.  I drive a T bar stake several feet above the water line and run 14 or 11 gauge wire or 3/32 aircraft cable out to a long hardwood wooden stake that I drive in the deeper water.  By having the shore stake high on the bank it allows us to keep sets properly working as the water rises.  Most traps today have a universal swivel that can act as a drowner lock and the furbearing animal can only go one way for quick dispatch.  The 11 gauge wire is used on all sets that have a possibility of catching a beaver or otter.  Otherwise, 14 gauge wire is used for raccoon, mink and muskrat sets.  We have far too many big raccoon in Michigan to have faith in thinner 16 gauge wire.

I recommend that all traps and stakes be cleaned of factory oil, left out to form a light rust coating and then traditionally dyed and waxed.  So, you will need dye and wax which most suppliers will inform you on approximately how much to order.  In next month’s issue I will explain several forms of natural trap dye material that one can usually obtain for free in most parts of Michigan.  Note: you will need to find a narrow container, as large as the largest trap you want to dip, and order enough wax to totally cover your largest trap.  In subsequent years you only need to refill what was used in prior years.  There are a number of trap dips, paints and other treatment products on the market and they all will work.  I will explain the traditional method of waxing and dying traps next month in detail.  Not treating your traps properly will limit their useful life, cause them to rust, not spring quick, and leave odors that smart canines will steer clear of.

If you are a gardner and intend to trap muskrat this winter, you can plant some parsnips for one of the best under the ice muskrat baits. 

Finally, some set construction equipment and other gear is necessary.  I’m going to focus on what almost every trapper uses.  There are simply a lot of gadgets and accessories that may or may not apply to your trapline and the choice is yours.  Most land and water trappers will need a trowel, pack basket or 5 gallon plastic bucket, dirt sifter, pan covers, wax dirt, trappers hammer, hip boots, wire cutters, lures and baits, fur stretchers and fur handling equipment.  There are many good, reputable lures and baits on the market today.  Hopefully you will get a chance to try some of mine available at www.lenonlures.com or use the dealer locator to find a place near you.  I work at PcsOutdoors.com and I always welcome calls from fellow trappers (989) 569-3480.  A lot of good, useful information is on both of the preceding websites for the Michigan Trapper.