by Steve Lunsford of Nebraska
The reasons I use hay sets vary. One is obviously frozen ground. When it gets too frozen to dig a trap bed I switch to hay sets. I just pick up a few armloads of hay from around the farmers bale pile and throw it in the back of the truck for my sets. Another reason I use a hay set is the eye appeal. In hay fields and open fields hay is a natural thing. It stands out but is not un-natural. I also use hay sets if there is a lot of mud around. Dig a trap bed, lay hay in it, pile dry dirt over the hay, bed the trap and cover with dry dirt then a little hay.
When I select the hay I use I try to get the fluff. Try to stay away from the stiff stems. Alfalfa does not work as well as prairie hay, it has more stems. A lot of people that have not farmed also get confused between hay and straw. Straw is the stems, the stubble that has been baled for bedding. Hay is the whole plant that is baled for feed.
When setting a coyote trap I usually try to set up a scene for the yote. Not that I am giving the yotes credit for super high intelligence, but it gets me in the right frame of mind for picking sets. I try to set up a story. Hay sets are easy because everyone knows when farmers move their hay bales or hay stacks they leave little bits of hay that falls off. Square bales are neater and don't do this as much, but the strings do break leaving piles of hay. So a clump of hay is somewhat natural.
Early in the year I have found success with hay sets combined with my dirt hole sets. This is not really a true hay set, but I use hay as a backer or an attractor.
This one is actually soybean stubble so I wanted to keep it away from the set.
The hay is the backer and attractor. It also funnels the animal to approach the trap the way I want. I have seen tracks in fresh snow where yotes will run 2oo to 300 yards to look at a pile of trash or hay. Then they spend time circling and sniffing the pile. This one worked well before the ground froze up. You can see where my trap is set in the pic.
Here is one I set on frozen ground. You can see how open the country is. Instead of setting 6 ot 12 sets around this field to locate exactly where the yotes were traveling I set a few of these out in the open along the field roads. Tracks showed the yotes would cross the field to look at the hay, then return back to the path they were following. Once I added the trap to the set I started catching yotes.
In my opinion there is no set way to do it. You can see in my first picture above, I chopped the ground up with my hatchet where the trap will go. I make the pile of hay, form it in a horseshoe, or a U shape. The trap goes inside the opening of the horse shoe. If I can get a trap bed chopped out that is the best. Set the trap below ground level bed and cover with dirt as usual. If not, I have also had luck just spreading the fluff from the hay into and in front of the U opening. Set the trap on that fluff, bed as solid as possible and cover with more fluff or hay. I was surprised but it works. Don't try to completely cover the trap with an inch of hay, just enough to hide it is good.
The lure goes into the inside of the U. I like to put it in the middle of the hay, in the inside of the U. Then add urine to the hay.
It also works well if you can bed the trap in the dirt to just make a simple pile of hay, add lure and urine to the hay pile, and set a trap on 2 sides of the pile.
I have no set way to place the trap. No set distance, no specific place for the latch or the stake. Just set it like normal. I found the idea of setting the trap on the hay from a post on Trapperman a year or two ago. Someone set a trap on a frozen creek.
Hopefuly someone else has some ideas that might add to my post.
Here is one of my favorite catch pics from a hay set.