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.