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.