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Introducing Masked Reaper, a pure coon gland lure. This is fresh and ground raccoon glands preserved for lasting quality. The new lure will be available on the website this evening. Prices are $25 for 4 0z and $8 for 1 oz. Price includes shipping.
Special thanks to Rich Faler and Ralph Scherder with the American Trapper magazine for allowing me to reprint this article. The following was printed in the July/Aug 2020 edition. If you are not a member of the NTA, please consider joining.
Shon Ingram, 47, hails from Sevierville, Tennessee, in the Smoky Mountains. Although he enjoys trapping multiple species, he specializes in trapping raccoons with dog-proof traps and has developed his own line of coon lures and baits which are sold through his business English Mountain Lures. He is also a full-time firefighter and does animal damage control work.
Ralph Scherder: How did you get started trapping?
Shon Ingram: I’m a transplant from Alabama. I used to be in the healthcare management business and just woke up one morning and decided I didn’t want to do it anymore. I came to this area of Tennessee and really liked it, so I decided to stay. I became a firefighter and started trapping. That was about 10 years ago.Being from Alabama, I was a big deer hunter. But here in east Tennessee, the deer population isn’t like in other places, and I got tired of hunting and not seeing any deer. I decided I needed to find another hobby, and that’s when I discovered trapping. I found something I liked with the dog-proofs (DPs), and I just immersed myself in it from the beginning.
RS: What was it about dog-proof traps that you really liked?
SI: We have a lot of coon hunters where I live that have high-dollar hunting dogs. In that area, there’s a dislike for trappers who use coilspring traps and snares. A lot of it is lack of education about these traps. They don’t understand them and how they work, and they think the coilsprings will hurt their dogs. I wanted to avoid any conflict, so I started using dog-proofs and just fell in love with them.I enjoy trapping other animals, too, and I like using cable restraints. But I’ve really put all of my ducks into learning how to use dog-proof traps. In my animal damage control business, I don’t do much urban stuff. Most of what I do is for farmers, controlling beavers, snaring coyotes, or setting DPs for coon in their barns. Those are the types of trapping I like best.
RS: Are you running mostly dryland sets or trapping around creeks?
SI: This is mountain country, so there are a lot of creeks and high ridges and everything in between. I have a lot of agricultural fields to trap, too.
RS: When trapping different types of terrain, how do your techniques change?
SI: They change, but mainly it’s just getting a raccoon to work the trap. They have to want to eat whatever bait you put in the tube. When trapping the ridges, I lure things differently. That’s where most of your big boar coon live or are traveling, especially during mating season, so I use more gland-based lures. In the creeks and agricultural areas, I definitely use more food-based lures.
RS: When you say gland lures, are you referring to raccoon gland lures or from other species, too?
SI: I use a lot of raccoon gland lure, and I’ve also had great success with beaver castor. Just about any animal is attracted to castor. It works great for everything, even coyotes. One of the trapping lures we offer has a hint of beaver castor in it, and it’s probably one of our best sellers.
RS: How important is it to use bait that raccoons find tasty and want to eat? When I’ve used DPs, it just seems like they work the trap harder when I’m using bait that tastes good to them.
SI: That’s a definite. For instance, if you’re using just a straight gland lure in the DP, they’re really not going to reach into the tube. They’re reaching in because they’re trying to get something to eat. If I’m using a gland lure, I use bait, too. The gland lure is just to get them in the vicinity, get them to stop and actually work the trap.
RS: Do you find much difference in how raccoons work a DP during the early season as opposed to late season?
SI: I do. Early season, I think they’re more focused on lures and baits that are fruit- or berry-based. Late winter, they’re more into protein-based, meat-type baits that provide an opportunity for more than what’s available in the woods that time of year. By then, a lot of their food sources have dried up and they’re looking for something substantial.
RS: During the early season, when food is more available, you’re also competing with those food sources for a raccoon’s attention. How do you get them to work the trap even though so much other food is available?
SI: If I’m trapping a cornfield, raccoons already have all the corn they want to eat. If coons are coming into the cornfield to get food, they’re not going to be interested in a bait that also has corn in it, so you have to use something completely different. And I do that no matter what food source I’m trapping around. I always use a bait that smells different than whatever food is nearby.
RS: How did you get interested in making your own lures?
SI: When I first started trapping and got into some of the trapping groups on Facebook and other social media, people would say that you can catch a coon on anything. All you had to do was go to the store, buy a bunch of candy, throw it in a DP, and you’ll catch a coon. And that’s how I started out. I was getting store-bought stuff and having some success. So yes, you can catch a coon that way, but can you catch as many coons as you could be with better baits and lures? No. I started reading about lure formulation, experimenting with ingredients like all lure makers do. It’s really just trial and error. But once I developed a few lures and baits that were really working for me, I started giving them to other people to try on their traplines, and the feedback was great. People really liked the stuff. The business is growing, but it takes a lot to get your name out there. I focus mainly on lures and baits to use with dog proofs, and it’s been good.
RS: Raccoons can be awfully snooty at times, and I’ve seen them walk by a lot of sets, especially since I started using trail cameras so much. It often amazes me how many raccoons walk by a set. When we have a coon in the trap the next morning, we’re happy with the result, but we don’t ask ourselves how many walked by before we caught one of them.
SI: If a lure doesn’t catch their attention, they keep walking. I think they’re more finicky than people give them credit for. I use a lot of trail cameras on sets, too, and it can humble you. It shows you the importance of a good lure or bait, even when using DPs. Sure, just about anything will catch a coon. But it takes a good lure or bait to catch a lot of coon.
RS: Do you use many trailing scents?
SI: I do. I use a lot of oil-based trailing scents, and I use one that smells completely different than whatever bait I’m using in the tube. I’ve had the most success with anise oil. Raccoons love anise oil. They’ll walk a trail or roadway and hit that trailing scent and go right to the DP. Smoke oil is also extremely effective as a trailing scent.
RS: How do you stabilize and anchor your DPs?
SI: It depends on if I’m working creek bottoms or along a ridge. If I’m on the four-wheeler on a ridge, I already have my DPs baited and set and a cable on the chain so that all I have to do is look for a tree to attach it to. That’s the most efficient way to set a bunch of traps in a hurry. If I’m in a cornfield and there’s no tree to attach to, I use a cable stake. I’ve tried a number of ways of using these traps. I’ve dug holes and stuck the DPs in there to make a sort of pocket set. I’ve used rocks piled up around the traps. DPs are very versatile, which is what I like about them. You just need to make sure the trap is stabilized, either sticking straight up or angled in the ground. If it starts to lean too much, or falls on the ground, your catch rates really go down.I’ve used pretty much all types of covering on the traps that you can think of, everything from golf balls to aluminum foil to Styrofoam cups. But I don’t use them unless the weather’s going to be bad, such as heavy rain or snow.
RS: How do you prepare your traps?
SI: At the end of the season, I take all of my traps up to the carwash and pressure wash them, and then take them home and hang them up to dry. Make sure everything is cleaned out of the tube. Sometimes stuff can get stuck in there and prevent the triggers from moving adequately. Then I’ll either dip them or spray paint them. Once they’re done, I use a tiny bit of silicone spray to lubricate the springs.How I paint them depends on where I’m trapping. If I’m on public land, I use brown spray paint or camouflage, but if I know I’m the only trapper on a piece of property, then I like to spray them white. Studies have shown that raccoons see the white better at night, plus they’re easy to see when I’m checking traps on the four-wheeler. In high traffic areas, though, you have to camouflage them.
RS: Where do you see the future of trapping?
SI: I think the act of trapping itself has not changed a whole lot, but everything else has changed. NAFA has gone under. Prices are down. Not many trappers are actually making money fur trapping, unless they’re species-specific and put up huge numbers. But do I think that it’s going to come back? Yes. It always does. The big question is when. Nobody can predict the future as far as when fur prices will go back up. Sooner or later the market on raccoons will come back. They’ve got to. And when they do, I hope to be here to see it.I’ve had a lot of great people help me get started in the lure business. But I’ve also had others say that I’ll never “make it big” in the lure business because all I focus on are raccoons, and there’s not much money to make right now in coons. One very well-known lure maker, in particular, has been a great mentor to me, and he told me that you have to make your own niche in this business. You can’t be everything to everybody, so find something that you love and focus on that. For me, that has been trapping raccoons with dog-proof traps and making lures and baits that help other trappers enjoy it more, too. •
Each year about this time, every trapper begins to think, even obsess, about the upcoming trapping season. Its time to start cleaning and dying traps, buying up lure and bait, and getting those trapping properties lined out for those cool mornings in the woods. Trappers realize more than anyone what a huge task it is to be a chaser of fur.
But lets go deeper. Beyond the cleaning and browsing of trapping catalogs and websites. Beyond the phone calls and letters to farmers and landowners for trapping rights on unexplored areas. What are you willing to do for a good season? I mean really do? Walk farther? Trap more? Learn better skills? Call ten more farmers to ask for trapping permissions? Step out of your comfort zone and trap a different fur bearer you never have caught?
My biggest challenge this year will be to get in better shape before trapping season begins. With all the COVID 19 isolation and staying at home this spring and summer, my waistline has gotten out of control and more than I want to carry on the trap line along with the raccoon I plan to carry out with me every morning. Another challenge for my is to become more species specific. Even though I’m known as The Dog Proof Trapper, every year I find myself going after coyotes. I hate skinning a smelly dog. I don’t know why I do it. Every year I say to myself to stick with those raccoon but one or two song dogs always end up in the freezer.
For you it may be something different. Maybe you need to become a more skilled trapper and find a mentor or take a class to learn the skills needed to fill the fur shed and make a profit. Perhaps you need to start your preparations earlier so you are not struggling to get everything ready the night before trapping season begins. Maybe you want to trap more and increase your catch. Maybe you want to use a better bait like DP Dynamite, rather than those store bought honey buns you crush and throw in a dog proof trap every year, only to find that the ants and possum have ate it all.
Specially formulated for dog proof traps, this corn based paste bait is accented with cherry and molasses and various sweet oils that make Mr. Coon stand up and take note. Put just enough to make the animal reach the trigger and put a little on the lip of the trap for an explosive catch rate that will be sure to surprise you. Price includes shipping.
As trappers we have an obligation to the sport and to those that have come before and will come after our trap lines are done. We must be good stewards of the land we trap, the animals we harvest and the traditions that come with all we do. This means being prepared and giving it our all each day we are in the trapping woods. So, as this summer begins to wind down, really sit and think. What will you do to make this trapping season better? I hope this post finds you and your family safe and happy in these crazy times we are facing. Remember to get our there and enjoy the woods and the things God has given us. Tight chains.
Hey guys just a quick post to let you know we have Anthony Ashers trapping log book for sale on our bait and lure page. Not only can you keep track of your catch, but there is also a section for the trap set and bait/lure used for each catch. I have always been one for keeping a running tab of my catches in a notebook but this year I will definitely be using this logbook. Tight chains!
What trapping lessons have you learned the hard way? How do you overcome these mistakes and get better at trapping fur bearers? Trapping can be considered a lot like dating. You make a lot of mistakes before you figure out what you are doing. If you sit back and think, you are sure to come up with several lessons learned throughout your trap line adventures each season. Just like with anything in life, these lessons make us better at what we do. Mistakes will happen. Its how you react and adapt to them that proves you to be a good trapper. Here are my ultimate trapping lessons learned the hard way.
More is Better!
In other words always carry more stuff than what you think you will need. For instance, how many times have I been out trapping and needed one more trap or cable? I now try to plan my line beforehand but always add a few more traps and supplies such as cables, stakes, or quick links.I seem to find the perfect spot for a trap on my way out of the woods every time. Now I go prepared. You can get great supplies at https://www.fntpost.com/
Trapping Season Goals!
I always seem to over think and make huge promises to myself and others of my season catch numbers. Do this and you are setting yourself up for failure. Trying to get to a certain number of animals puts too much pressure on a man. Then you can’t enjoy the experience of trapping. Now some people will say otherwise and that having a number in mind helps you plan finances and whatnot, but it brings me nothing but stress. But I am a hobby trapper and do it for the enjoyment.
If you trap fur to support your family and do this as a full time job, its a bit different. My passion and income is in lure and bait making and the trapping is just a plus. I prefer to just get out and trap, throw the furs in the freezer and count it all at the end of the season. Last year, I did this with my beaver pelts and was pleasantly surprised at the number and the fur check when all was said and done. To see some of that years beaver catch and learn about our baits and lures for raccoon trapping go to http://www.dogprooftrapper.com.
Enjoy the Process!
How many times have I sat on the front porch, watching the rain come down in sheets and knowing I needed to get out and do the 24 hour checks that are law here in Tennessee? Or have I been up half the night skinning while my family slept in their warm beds? Trapping requires commitment and dedication. The easiest part is putting in your trapline. Then comes the days of trap checks and hoping for whats just around the next bend in the road. Sometimes you are surprised and happy to see whats there and other times there is disappointment at an empty or sprung trap. My point is you have to enjoy what you are doing, no matter the weather, time of day or results of the trap line.
For me, trapping is a lot more exciting than deer hunting, which was once my passion back home in Alabama. Now sitting still for hours in a tree stand often times ranks up there with a tooth pulling. As we work thru this spring of quarantine and social distancing we have learned just how important getting out and enjoying the outdoors with friends and family is. Never disregard time with them and time in nature. Enjoy the processes of trapping, even the bad times.
What makes a good dog proof trap set? Is it WHERE you put the trap, WHAT you put in the trap or HOW you present the trap to the raccoon? I would venture to say all three matter! All the great coon trappers will tell you that the lowly raccoon gets a bad wrap. They are a lot smarter than we trappers give them credit for. Below are a few observations that I have about our sport of dog proof trapping and how you can improve your catches and enjoy more time in the woods.
Location! The first thing you must remember about dog proof traps is that they must be set on location. In other words, the traps must be where the raccoon is traveling, where you see sign that the animal has been there or where you expect it to be. If you set in a trail, place the trap right in the middle so that the coon has to literally trip over the trap walking down the trail. If you set near den trees, put it at the base of the tree where you see the scratch marks of claws going up the tree. In you are setting waterways, place where you see tracks or evidence of feedings. Dog proof trapping is considered easy by other trappers and sometimes it seems we don’t get a fair shake as compared to those that use coil springs. In my opinion, its a different game entirely because you have to be that much more on point to make a solid catch. When you find a good location, don’t just set one trap, set 3 or four. Remember the old adage, if its good enough for one set, its good enough for two. Just be sure and place then far enough apart so the two traps don’t get tangled.
Making them Eat! Baits and lures are a much debated topic when it comes to dog proof trappers. Some say its really easy to catch a raccoon. I disagree and would argue that although they are called “trash pandas” you must still be particular what you throw in a DP trap. There are two schools of thought when you look at coon bait and lures. Some people say go the store bought route and others say the use commercial lures. Since I am a lure and bait maker, I would, of course, tell you to buy commercial. Why? Well there is much thought and research put into lure making. Its not as easy as it looks trust me! I have had more failures than successes with doing bait and lure formulations. Some stuff works great and others wouldn’t catch a starved pigeon in New York’s Central Park! If you are starting out trapping, sure, buy the store bought stuff and use in DP’s. But as you get serious about trapping and making money from your fur, look to commercial products with proven success. Now, what do you use in the traps? As far as taste preferences and scents go, I would offer that it depends on the season. Early season trapping should be focused on fruits and sweet formulas, while late season is more meat based. Why you ask? Those big boar coon are traveling ridges and logging roads looking for a mate come January and February. Then they prefer something meatier and eats much like a coyote or fox would. Remember when using a lure to use something different that the bait you put in the tube. For instance, if I am using our Mini Bear Crunch, which is a dry bait composed of corn and protein pellets accented with chocolate, I will used a totally different lure, like Smoky Lust, which is anise and smoke. Believe it or not I have even used beaver castororium as a lure in the late season. Yes, from a beaver! Many a trapper would be surprised if they knew what ingredients were in their favorite lure.
Setup and Presentation! Most dog proof trappers just pound in a length of rebar or throw a cable around a tree, attach the DP and shove it in the ground on location. There are many more ways that the DP can be utilized other than just putting it in the ground. Presentation is only limited by your imagination. Here are a couple of presentation ideas. Dig a good sized dirt hole set, and place the DP trap in the hole with only about a 1/2 inch sticking out of the hole in the ground. Other idea would be to attach the DP to a tree, either by a mount sold by trapping companies or a fence staple around the spike on the bottom of the trap. Another idea is to place the trap inside another object like a drainage pipe. If you are setting near the water, consider putting your dog proof on a drowning wire. What about log crossovers? Take a drill and put holes in the log to mount your traps in. Just leave enough cable so the coon can hang off the log.
These are just a few ideas about how to improve your raccoon trapping. Remember to have fun and be safe in the outdoors. Take a kid trapping or introduce someone to our craft. Please visit our website for more great ideas as well as our online shop for great dog proof trapping baits and lures.
Its early morning. The sun is just coming thru the pines as you begin checking your trap line. Your sets include dog proof raccoon traps, snares in runways for coyotes and cats, and Duke #4 coil spring traps. You arrive at your first set and its gone. No catch circle. Just a cut cable and nothing to be found. Trap thieves! Hopefully this is just a single act , but as you soon find out its not. At each set you find your traps gone, snares cut and empty catch circles with pools of blood just beginning to congeal.
Unfortunately this happens. If you have been trapping long enough you will fall victim to this especially if you trap public land. Even if you trap private hunting land you may be subject to problems with fellow hunters that don’t want dogs injured in traps. I have had this happen to me and it feels like your guts have been cut out when its discovered.
Here are several ways to reduce your risk of getting traps and animals stolen from you on the trap line.
Trap on private land
Don’t trap near roadways
Use green or brown dog proof traps
Set up game cameras
Don’t advertise your presence
Private or Public Trapping?
Trapping on your own land is by far the safest option. Not only can you restrict access to the property but you can also have your pick of animals to trap. Make sure that your land is posted as private property and you have control of keys to the gates. For example, I trap on 40 acres of my own property and the only access is thru a road that runs beside my house. I know where all of my traps are and can set them there year after year. In addition, I can pre-set locations and get ready for trapping season beforehand.
Avoid The Roads and Crowds
Another idea is to avoid trapping near roadways. In other words, get out of any area that a lazy person could park and walk to steal your traps or your animal . People are lazy. Most people will not walk more than 100 yards from their vehicles. I learned this when I was a avid deer hunter. Most hunters will only walk an average of 200 yards from their truck when hunting on public land. To kill more deer, I learned to “go deep”, put the boots to the ground and get away from roads. The same can be said for trapping. This also prevents people from driving roads and spotting traps or animals in a trap.
Hide and Seek
Since this is a dog proof trapping blog, lets talk about what you can do to reduce theft of those DP traps. There is a big push to use white traps as this is thought to attract coons. I offer the opposite advice. Hide those suckers. I use Duke DP’s exclusively and only the olive green ones. These traps also come in brown, black and grey. If you use natural colors, this prevents would be thieves from seeing your traps from a long ways off. Some trappers use flagging tape to mark the trap locations. Instead of this, use a hunting app and mark your trap locations so only you know where they are. Are you a coyote trapper and use footholds? Here’s an idea. Use blind sets that won’t draw attention like a dirt hole set. Blend the trap in versus leaving a brushed out area of dirt or grass clippings. If the surrounding area is leaves, sift leaves in on top of the trap bed to further hide the area.
If you are in a situation where you are getting traps and animals stolen on a regular basis, you might consider using game cameras to monitor your trapping area. I have used this several times to keep track of my trap line activity on public land. This is a great idea, but I would caution trappers to use cheap cameras and hide them well. It can be a great tool on your trap line that would can use to prove theft and provide information to law enforcement.
No advertising allowed!
Finally, one last piece of advice. Don’t advertise your presence. Facebook is great but thieves are really smart. I have posted pictures of land and maps before asking for advice or showing trap line pictures and others have been able to find where my traps are. Now I don’t let anyone know where I am except the landowners and immediate family in case of an emergency. Don’t park at public parking areas and keep trapping items out of public view. Do whatever you can to reduce your presence in a public area.
These are just a few pointers on how to reduce theft of traps and animals. Nothing is fool proof but there are things you can do to ensure a good trapping experience.