Just as a warning, trapping can be very frustrating for a newbie, I was there once myself and still figuring the critters out. Make friends with people in your area that trap and see how they set for different critters. Catching a fox is very different than setting for cats.
Some tricks I have learned (at least that work up here)
-There is an art to it. You have to get that animal to step on the pan of the trap. Direct the animal to put it's foot down in the center. Use stepping sticks and how you would approach a bait. Animals are lazy and will take the easiest route.
-Bobcats and lynx are cats. What would you use to trap a house cat? Perhaps make a little house out of wood. Hang a toy (a bird wing or a CD work good) these are also known as attractors. Have some food like a piece of a duck carcss wired to the tree and put a lure on it. My favorite is a castor (beaver gland) and catnip blend. There you have what is know as a cubby set.
- For canines, their nose is what keeps them alive. Be super careful of scent. Up here we work off snow machines towing a sled. My feet are never directly on the ground and a special set of gloves are used for them. Dogs tend to like trails (like I said earlier, animals are lazy) setting up along a path with a stick and some dog urine (a pee post) will work.
- Conceal the traps with dirt or snow (depends on how wet the snow is,) but don't over do it. Break up the outline of the trap, but don't have so much dirt or snow that when it fires, the foot gets pushed up out of the trap. In Alaska for fox, coyotes and lynx, we use #3 or 4 size traps to compensate for the amount of snow we tend to get.
- Know what the weather is going to do. Will some sets be flooded out. Is it going to be a big mud puddle and possible loose the trap? Is freezing weather on the way after a rain. All considerations should be covered and pull or add traps accordingly.
- Wax paper helps to keep traps from freezing down. When the trap is being bedded. Have some crumpled up sheets of wax paper ready to go, preferably in a plastic bag to keep scent to a minimum. The sheet should be as wide as the trap and long enough to go under the trigger, over the pan and under the other side. Be careful and know how to hold the trap without catching yourself. After the trigger is set, I typically grab under the jaw opposite of the trigger under the pan. At the same time with that hand, pushing up on the pan to prevent firing.
- Feather the traps. The trigger may be in , but the amount of pressure to fire the trap may be too much for say a raccoon to set off a trap.
You'll learn with time. There are so many trick and trades and somethings I just do without even thinking about them. It's just automatic. Those were the things I thought of off the bat. You said you are VERY new so I tried to keep this as basic as I can. If you have any other questions, please feel free to post up. Keep in mind that Alaska trapping and "Southern trapping" maybe different in some area. I've never been down there, but this is what has worked for me up here. Good luck.
Alaskans for Global Warming
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