By Clint Locklear, Predator Control Group
To catch more coyotes, your traps have to fire out of the dirt. Simple I know, but it is easy to forget that the dirt we are setting in has a large percentage to our success or failure. We all dream about trapping in nice dry dirt and sifting this magical dirt over our sets will be easy and productive. The reality is that most dirt we all find ourselves trapping in, can and does hurt our predator catch. I will go over some of the dirt types I have had problems with. The safe way to coyote trap is to bring good dry sandy loamy soil with you. I know this takes more energy, space and time. This is true, but how much time and effort does it cost you to set a coyote, fox or bobcat trap and have it not work to its fullest. The goal of setting a trap is to capture an animal, nothing else. If you set the trap with this simple mindset, you will take the extra time to make sure the trap will fire when needed.
To trap and catch more coyotes, bobcats and fox, look at your dirt
Red clay, never, never set in this kind of soil. Sure it may be fine if it is bone dry, but it is evil to your trapping in the long run. Red clay will harden up if wet or even moist when the sun comes out. It will make a top surface that is hard as a clay pot once dried out and sun-baked. It will take a 200 pound coyote to break through the crust. This will keep your pan from firing and will also keep your trap levers from coming up and closing the jaws. If the trap does go off, the trap jaws will be in super slow motion. Wet red clay will also cause a valcum cleaner reaction. It will suck and hold on to your trap levers and jaws and cause you at best, a toe catch. At worst a total miss.
Black Gumbo (black dirt), this kind of dirt acts like clay. It seems fine to set in when super dry, but it will go south in a hurry once rain and then sun hits it. I have found this dirt in the Delta Country, parts of South Texas and MT. This soil type is the kind of black dirt that balls up on your boots and truck tires when wet. Not only does it stick to your boots, it sticks to your traps with the same intensity.
Sugar sand is a dream to work in, but it has a mind of its own when you get a hard rain. It has a way of sliding under your pan and filling in the void under your pan. The set will look fine, but once the sand works under the pan, the trap will not and can not fire off. Now if it does not rain, you can control this. The problem is that it loves to rain as soon as I set a trap line out.
So, if your trapping in these kinds of soil types, bring your own dirt with you. The trap set you save, may be your own.