Nov 11

Using peat moss to trap and catch more coyotes, bobcats, fox and dry land raccoon.

Using peat moss to trap and catch more coyotes, bobcats, fox and dry land raccoon.

by Clint Locklear, Predator Control Group

I have received a lot of letters on why and how I use peat moss. I show it in my DVD’s and I use a lot of it. The use of peat moss is not a new idea by any stretch of the imagination. I personally use it for three reasons: one, rain and mud, two, freezing temperatures and three, it’s easy to use. Plus it has an advantage on my summer control lines.

Peat moss is cheap and can be found at most garden centers. It is used as a soil enhancement product. When you open up the bag, you will notice that it is bone dry and packed in the bag like a brick. Because it is so dry it will not accept water for a length of time. This is an advantage to a trapper, because dry does not freeze. Something that is wet freezes. Now if we have a dry medium around our traps and it dips below or stays below freezing, the trap will function when we need it to. Some peat moss have a finer texture. Some are rougher and they require the trapper to sift or break up the peat moss in your hands as you apply it at the set. Depending on what and where you get your peat will decide how you handle the clumps in it. There are a lot of companies and brands that sell peat moss.

Like I said peat moss is dry. So it is easy to get and much lighter to carry than dry or wax dirt. Over the past few years I have been almost a 100% user of peat moss. Now I use it year round, no matter what the temperature is or what it is going to be. The reason is simple, the peat moss helps me keep traps longer in the ground and still function without me having to mess around with it. I trap in a lot of different soil types across the country. Soils that have any clay in them will crust once they are disturbed and the sun bakes on it. At a glance the set will look fine, but the soil has turned into a clay pot. It would take an elephant to set it off. By using peat moss and only using a thin top coat or better yet, grass clippings, let the sun turn up the heat. I am still in the catching game.

Once the rains set in, dry dirt is a pain in the butt. Dry dirt is nice when it’s dry, but it soaks up water and turns to sloppy mush at the drop of a hat. You could wax the dry dirt, but for me I cannot drag a 55 gallon drum or two on an out of state trip. Since the dry dirt soaks up water, it will freeze quickly. I understand that animals walk in the mud when it’s wet, but if you are trapping in sod or leaves they will have a tendency to stay off of a sloppy wet pattern. For years I would scoop out the now wet dry dirt and remake the set, and add more dry dirt. This will make a sane man talk to himself after a few weeks. Peat moss will stay dry after some impressive rains. The top coat will be wet, but just under the surface the rest of the peat will be dry as a bone. Now just like everything else, peat moss is not perfect. After a week or so of constant rain and wet ground, the peat moss will start to soak up water. If the weather is going to be below freezing, you will have the same ice cube effect as the wet dry dirt. So if the weather is soaking wet, I will replace the old peat moss with dry peat after a week or so. Now I am talking about real wet continuous weather, not just a rain. For warm wet weather and hot weather for that matter, I just use peat moss on the top of the trap. So dig a trap bed just as you would for dry dirt. I will bed the trap in the original dirt. Then I will grab a handful l of peat and rub my hands to gather, breaking up any clumps in the peat moss. I will put it inside of the jaws and level it off so I will not have to use a pan cover. I do want the peat to go under the pan to keep out any dirt or sand from getting under the pan. Now keep in mind that this method will not expand your kill area like a heavy steel screen does. This is why I enlarge my pans with metal to get the bigger kill area. Next I will lightly coat the jaws and levers with peat moss. This will keep the hole area above the trap dry and it does not take much pressure to blow through the cover above the trap. Peat moss is light and comes apart nicely. Then I will sift a light top coat of dirt or grass clippings.


If it is or is going to be cold, I dig the trap bed just a little deeper. Before I bed the trap, in the bottom goes about ¼ inch of peat moss. Then I twist in the trap. To steady the trap, I push in from the outside of the trap bed. This way nothing but peat moss is touching the sides of the trap. You do not want wet mud touching your trap. It could keep your trap from firing or maybe slow it down to the point as to not close in time to catch your animal. After the trap is bedded, place enough peat moss to fill in-between the jaws to cover the pan and have peat under the pan. Then coat the jaws and levers so no wet mud can touch them and freeze them down. You can top coat over the trap with dry dirt, but if it is going to be below 20 degrees, you need to anti-freeze the top coat. My first choice is a glycol/urine mixture. My second choice is plain table salt. If the terrain has ground duff, leaves or grass I will use this and keep the dirt out of the equation. Setting your traps in this method will allow you to still be catching when most guys are frozen in.


Now peat moss is not a perfect medium to work with. For one, it has to be top coated with something. Most animals do not like to step on bare peat moss. I do not know why, it is a natural product. Bedding can be a problem if too much peat moss is used. It is springy and no matter how hard you push and play with it, peat will not bed rock solid. The more you use in volume, the harder it is to bed. One thing that will help is to dig your trap bed in such a way to make it support the trap.


Next, you cannot bury the trap as deep as you can with dry dirt. Peat moss is very, very spongy. So if you have a lot over a trap, you will get a trampoline feeling to the pattern over the set. Animals do not have to know that trap is in the bed, it will feel out of place. Animals do not like anything that feels un-natural. Plus if you bury the trap deep, you are taking a chance on having the peat moss plug the jaws. I have had the peat moss plug up and not have the jaws close tight enough to hold an animal. So if you are new to peat moss, do not load it up over the jaws.


Peat moss is not the perfect trap covering, but neither is anything else. If you have not tried it, you should give it a try. Just remember, the goal of setting traps is one: catch the animal and two: have the trap in operating order till the animal gets there.


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