Nov 04

The Perfect Trap Placement for killing coyotes

by Clint Locklear, Predator Control Group

I have tried about every trap placement known to man over the years. I’ve had the trap super close to the hole or object. Then I got into backing the trap up 6-9 inches from the hole. Next, I watched a few trapping demos and the “right” trap placement was left or right 2 inches, 4 inches or 6 inches. Then I got into the western way to coyote trap and my trap placement was centered to the dirt hole and trap was 10-12 inches back. I caught coyotes in all the above trap placements. It did become clear that pulling the trap back to the 10-12 inches was closer to the “perfect” trap placement.  I found out over the years, that the experience of the trapper and knowing the coyotes better, was what started me down the road to the perfect trap placement.

This is not an easy subject to put into print or even a video for that matter. That is because each trap set needs to have a different trap placement. Once I got out of the mindset of putting in a set with predetermined trap placements, trapping started getting real fun. If you are under the impression that the trap needs to be center or offset for your dirt holes for example, your being a set trapper and not an animal trapper. Are you into the belief that the trap needs to be tight, 5-8 inches back or set farther back from the hole at your sets, and this is your trap placement day in and day out, your missing coyotes. Why?

This mathematical formula style of setting, forgets the most important aspect of coyote trapping, the coyote. This also goes for bobcat, fox, raccoon or beaver trapping. A mathematical trap set forgets the lay of the land, time of year, animal habits and proximity to the travel way itself. I wish a mathematical style set would work everywhere and every time, but it wont. Now if you’re in a high population area, have little competition and have tons of land to trap (classic long lining) you can get away with it. If your like most modern trappers, you will have a job, competition, and limited ground to trap. You can’t afford  a low catch per visit percentage like a long liner can.

So how do you pull off a higher visit to catch ratio? You have to step back and see how a coyote will circle, use cover and trails to work the set. You have to take a close look at the ground around the set and figure out how the coyote will step up to check out the set, urinate on it or sneak up on the set. If you are under the idea that coyotes are the bully in the woods, you have never see them work a set or watched any of the coyote Teachers or the Night videos. They act like a meth head sneaking up on a “mark”. Once you know this, you have to guess where the trap needs to be for the coyote to work the set.  The way a coyote will actually work the set. This style of trapping takes experience on the trap line. At first you will have to learn from your mistakes and then mentally category what you lean for future sets.  Put some thought into placing your trap for a coyote, not following a formula that the animals could care less about anyway.

If your disappointed in this article, ask yourself why? Nothing worth a damn is easy or should be. It’s called learning, putting that learning too use and then learning some more. A better phrase is paying you dues. If you are looking for a formula to give you that perfect trap placement for coyotes, bobcats or fox, your setting yourself up for a marginal trap line experience. Don’t do that to yourself, you are better that .

How do you determine where you put a trap at a coyote set. Please leave a comment.


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  1. begginners luck

    First sets last weekend…..got coyote tues…..missed two since then…..guess i’m doing it right….

  2. 1st year trapper

    I just started trapping this year and have yet to catch anything in a foot hold trap, although i have been a hunter my whole life, so i do understand these animals trapping is a different game. thank you for being straight with the facts!!!

  3. Tim Ivey

    great article, this will help me on my small urban trapline. it’s more trouble to put in two traps on a set but you double your chances of catching one if he circles before he commits…..I will definitely incorporate this into my placement.

  4. LT GREY

    Damn time somebody told it straight !

    Sure are a lot of experts out there with ten to twenty coyotes a year under their belts.

    I have often said I can “feel” where the coyote is going to step at a set.
    That comes from understanding coyote behavior and years on the trapline.
    I’m not always right but I’ve taken enough animals in 14 states to tell me I’m right more often than not !

  5. Clint Cary

    like the article. I have never understood myself how someone could say “this is where every trap should go”.
    the terrain at the set, how high my bait/lure is at a flat set, anticipated approach, time of year even, temperatures, wind direction. These are all factors I have used at some point in time on my coyote lines.

    1. admin

      I know what you mean Clint, I have been told by several guys that they don’t ever need to use a secound trap at a set. ” they have been taught how to put the trap were the animal will step”. To each his own, but this mindset seems to have shut off learning and getting better in the future.

      1. Preeti

        Jess, the plbroem is that the coyotes have no predators and their numbers are out of control. As winter sets in they will be looking for an easy food supply and anything with a pulse will do. My lead-hand had let his dogs out for a run for a few minutes and when one didn’t return he went looking. All he saw were some coyotes in the area. A week or so later all he found left of his dog was his collar and bones. It happened that quickly. Coyotes have been showing up in urban areas in Norfolk and Haldimand and children do walk from house to house and go out to play. And, no coyotes are not more afraid of us’ than we are of them.

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