Thanks for visiting Trapping Supplies Review. This is a place for trappers to share their insights on all things related to trapping. If you would like to contribute a trapping article, equipment review or stories and pictures from your trapline, please click "contact me" in the sidebar and I'll be happy to include your post. Meantime, please feel free to post comments on any topic if you have additional insights. Together we can make this website a valuable resource for trappers.

What's Right About Trapping

I have been a trapper for many years and along the way I have learned quite a bit about this sport. It is among the most challenging and rewarding of all outdoor sports, and an important tool of wildlife conservation. I'd like to outline some of the basic reasons why trapping is important and how it is often misunderstood.

First, trapping is often misunderstood and misrepresented. Animal rights activist have targeted this sport for its supposed cruelty, and many folks who have no experience with trapping seem to have false notions of it. People envision suffering animals caught in steel-toothed traps and dying a slow death. Really, this is a grave misconception. Animals caught in foothold traps (the proper term) rarely suffer any damage or pain and can be released unharmed if the trapper so desires. I know; I have done this many times. In fact I have arrived at a number of trap sets only to find an animal sleeping, clearly not in any pain. I'm embarrassed to say that I have caught my fingers many times in foothold traps. My pride was hurt, but my fingers were fine. The idea that trapping is cruel and painful to animals is the biggest misconception surrounding this sport.

The second misconception is that trapping is unnecessary. Furbearer populations need to be kept in check for many reasons, most of all to ensure a healthy population. Overpopulation of species like raccoons and foxes invariably leads to the spread of ravaging diseases like mange, distemper and rabies. I believe we have a responsibility as stewards of our environment to manage the population of furbearers in order to keep them healthy, maintain their population levels to suit the available habitat, and to avoid human-animal conflict as much as possible. This is basic, responsible conservation.

Fur is an important commodity in the clothing industry, especially in Eastern Europe, Russia and China, where winters are bitter cold and fur is still culturally acceptable. Furtakers in the U.S. typically sell their pelts to auction houses who in turn sell them to garment makers overseas. While fur garments are less popular in the U.S., other people groups consider them a necessity, and I don't believe that we should be judgmental toward the customs and clothing of other cultures. Still, consider how much we also depend on animal products for our garments and accessories in the U.S. I once talked to a woman who angrily told me how cruel and unnecessary it was to use animal products for clothing purposes while all the while she had a leather purse slung over her shoulder. I just smiled. In her mind, leather products just came from the department store, and she clearly gave no thought to the matter beyond that.

Trapping is a sport with a magnificent heritage. The West was explored and settled by the great "Mountain Men" of the early 19th century, and it was trapping that lead them to discover and cultivate those uncharted lands. Even today, trapping is one of the most challenging of all outdoor sports. A trapper must be an excellent woodsman, know how to scout for animal signs, read their habitats, and interpret patterns of animal movement and behavior, all to guide him to the precise location where the animal will step! Trapping is the greatest challenge for any sportsman, especially going after a wary species like the coyote.

That brings me to trappers themselves. It's a small but dedicated group, and I mean dedicated. You will rarely find a half-hearted trapper. Many of them enjoy the sport to the fullest. I have attended several state and national trappers conventions and I am impressed at how kind, friendly and down to earth trappers are. They are family-oriented, working class people who are always ready to help, love to chat, and keep friends for life.  I'm proud to be part of this group, and I'm not ashamed of our sport or our way of life.  Some folks may not like trapping for whatever reason, and some may not really understand it, but I'm thankful that this long-established sport still has a place in the American landscape.

A Salute to the Lowly Grinner

Almost nobody tries to catch them, and nearly every trapper hates them, but somehow we end up with them in set after set.  They are the ultimate "non-target" catch.  Yeah, I hate when they ruin a good fox or 'coon set, but here's my take on the lowly grinner: they are the ultimate survivors of the woods.

Think about it: these ugly little critters turn up everywhere.  The woods must be teeming with them, maybe because those higher on the food chain can't stand to eat them, just as many trappers can't stand to skin them.  They remind me of Gonzo on the Muppets, except not quite as friendly, and that's another thing.  For their size they sure are feisty, combative, and love to show those teeth.  I'd hate to get bitten by one.  They are butt-ugly too.  Seems like the Lord showed a sense of humor when creating them.  Killing something so ugly just seems to add insult to injury.

They must have an excellent sense of smell because they sure can sniff out my dirt hole sets better (or quicker) than the 'coons seem to be able to.  When you let them go (if you let them go) they seem like they want to stay and fight rather than run away.  Gotta give 'em credit for that.  They ain't scared, or if they are, they don't let on.

I have a new respect for grinners.  The last few I caught I just gave them a salute, let 'em go, and remade my set.  I have decided to co-exist in peace with the lowly grinner, the ultimate survivor of the woods.   

Duke DP Update

Hi folks.  I mentioned in a previous post that I've been fooling around with Duke dog proof traps for the first time this season.  I've just sprinkled them in along my 'coon line here and there alongside my usual spread of foothold traps, just to see how they compare in terms of ease of use, catch rate, etc.

It takes literally no time at all to punch in a set with a DP trap compared to making a traditional dirt hole or trail set with a foothold.  I'm amazed at how much easier it is.  While a few of my dirt hole sets got washed out by heavy rain, the DP's stayed perfectly operational.  Also, I experienced no pull-outs with the DP traps.

Just as a little experiment I made a few 'coon sets side-by-side:  a dirt hole set with tuna as bait and a DP trap with marshmallows as bait.  So far the DP trap / marshmallow bait combination has outperformed my dirt holes.

I see no downsides to the Duke DP traps so far, and if they keep performing this way I may just use them exclusively on my 'coon line next year.

Best wishes, and tight chains!

Attaching Trap Tags

Here's a tip for attaching your trap identification tags so that they won't fall off or get torn off by an angry 'coon.  A kindly old trapper taught me this little trick.

Curl up one of the ends of the copper trap tag using long-nosed pliers, like this:

Hook the curled end of the tag around a link of chain, like this:

Using your fingers, roll up the tag around the chain link:

Finally, once you've rolled it up as far as you can with your fingers, use your pliers to crimp down the end of the tag so it is rolled up tightly:

Then just boil your traps with the tags attached like this.  They will turn dark and blend in with the chain.

Duke Dog Proof Traps

The Duke dog proof traps came out over a year ago, and they seemed to cause quite a stir of conversation on trapping blogs and forums.  Why?  Because, like all Duke traps, they are more economical than most of the competitors.  Dog proof traps ain't cheap, and to purchase a respectable number of them is a sizable investment.  The new Duke DP's were initially looked upon with suspicion by most, precisely because they are quite a bit cheaper than similar offerings by other companies.  However, after finally acquiring a few of my own for testing this year, so far I have found them to be of very good quality.

I have used foothold traps exclusively for years, but decided to expand my horizons a bit and add a dozen  Duke dogproof traps into the mix this season.  Besides the obvious advantage of cutting down on non-target catches, my main motivation for trying DP's is to keep my 'coon line running after the weather hits that freeze-thaw seesaw.  Keeping footholds freeze-proof can be done, obviously, but I personally find it to be a pain in the butt.  A self-contained, above ground trap offers many advantages when the weather goes bad.  So, that's part of my plan for this season.

Here's a Duke dog proof trap out of the box:

Here's another view:

One thing I like is the sturdy stabilizing stake on the bottom of the trap.  After anchoring the trap from the chain with a rebar or cable stake, the trap can simply be pushed into the ground and stabilized in the upright position.  The springs are VERY strong on these traps right out of the box.  The trigger inside the tube of the trap is activated by being pulled, so bait is placed on the trigger itself and/or below the trigger at the bottom of the trap tube.  These pictures show the trigger within the tube and the trap in the set position:

The only modification I made was to shorten the chain and add a mid-chain swivel.  I don't see the need for so much chain on the stock trap, and you can never have enough swivel action to keep the 'coons from twisting out of the trap or damaging a foot.  Here's my slightly modified trap chain:

I'll post some results once I get these traps in action.  I'm waiting until mid-November until our Pennsylvania raccoons are prime.  If you have any tips or experiences to share regarding these traps, I'd love to hear from you!

Gettin' Ready (And a Shout Out for Minnesota Trapline Products)

Hi folks.  I know it has been quiet around here lately, but with the season just around the corner there will be a lot more activity here on TSR.

I love this time of year...cleaning out the fur shed, getting my gear ready and enjoying the cool weather.  It's amazing how much there is to do to get ready for a new trapping season, but tinkering around in my fur shed is one of life's small pleasures.

I ordered a few supplies, including a few of the Duke dog-proof traps that I plan to experiment with this year.  I'm not so concerned about non-target catches in the places I trap...I'm more interested in trap sets that will remain operational when the weather hits that freeze-thaw stage.  Weatherproofing foothold sets can be a real headache, so I thought I'd seriously try some dog-proof traps this year.  Being self-contained with the ability to set them above ground, it seems like dog-proof traps will be just the ticket in the colder months when footholds get tricky to use.  I'll be experimenting, and I'll be sure to post some reviews of the Duke DP traps along the way.  I've only used footholds for years, so it's time to try something new.

I also thought I'd mention the great service I got from the Caven family at Minnesota Trapline Products.  I've made plenty of orders with them before, and they never disappoint.  I placed an order on Monday, it shipped the same day and I received it on Wednesday (in Pittsburgh, PA).  Besides quick shipping, they have a great selection of products (anything you could ever need, really) and competitive prices.  I've ordered things from other places, and have generally had good experiences, but I can't think of any reason to use another online supply company besides Minnesota Trapline Products.  They're top notch.

Well, I wish you all the best as you gear up for a new season.  If you'd like to contribute anything to the site, like a review, a trapping tip, pictures or just a good story, please send me an email.  Your contributions are always welcome!!!

Best wishes, and tight chains!

Old School Muskrat Trapping

My friend Jeremiah Wood over at Trapping Today posted a link to this book, which I found informative and entertaining, so I thought I'd pass it along.  The Accomplished Muskrat Trapper was written in 1922 by A.E. Schmidt and is now freely available from Project Gutenberg because the copyright has expired.  I love these old trapping books.  They are still very informative and the writing style is intriguing.  This one is like a snapshot of trapping history with the literary flare of another age.

For example, the introductory sentence:

 In placing this booklet before the great fraternity of American trappers, the author does not propose to exercise any pedagogical influence upon the truly professional trapper, who, seasoned in the hard school of experience, knows the animals he is seeking, like a mother knows her child. It is his wish, however, to assist and guide the amateur to a greater success.

Enjoy this little slice of trapping history!

A Pocket Guide to Animal Tracks

Identifying animal tracks is an important skill for the trapper, and a handy guide like this can be a big help if you are new to trapping.  This particular guide comes from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Wildlife.  You can print it out and stick it in your pack-basket for future reference.

A larger version can be found here.

Prime Time for Scouting

The season is over, my fur shed is a mess, and I have a long list of things to get to that I neglected during trapping season.  It'd be very easy to just wait until Fall to start thinking about trapping again, but for some reason I just can't.  Well, you know the reason.  Trapping may take place for only a few months a year, but being a trapper you're always a trapper.  There's always something to do and some way to keep up the addiction.

I try to build into my schedule some dedicated scouting time each Spring.  It's right on the heels of the season so potential trapping spots that I didn't get to this year are still fresh in my mind.

The biggest reason to get out and scout now is that everything hasn't bloomed yet.  Once Spring comes in full force the woods will hide its secrets again, but now when the ground is barren it is so much easier to spot scat, tracks and trails.  Sure, the animal patterns may well change quite a bit between now and Fall, but scouting now still yields a lot of information that will be useful when next season starts.

I'm mainly out looking for 'coon trails.  With barren ground they are much more visible than they will be come Spring.  Raccoon trails tend to stay active, and many trails I find in the Spring yield catches in the Fall.

Once I find a trail I just follow it as far as I can, and very often it leads to a den.  Out comes my notebook, and I jot down the location.  Many dens I know of remain active year after year, so once I find a good den I know the spot will be worth scouting again the next year.  If I go into a new piece of woods I often start at the highest point or ridge-line, look for a trail, and follow it as far as it will take me.  I'm always on the lookout for rocky overhangs and old piles of debris (concrete, railroad ties, etc) as these tend to be great den areas.  When scouting for trails I often scan hillsides with thick grapevines, and look for high ridges with big hardwoods.

With the ground still barren 'coon sign is not hard to find.  If it's there, you'll find it, but the best time is right now.  When late April and May roll around the woods will hide its secrets again.

If you have any pics to share from last season I'd love to see 'em and post them here.  Just click "contact me" in the sidebar and send me an email.

Happy trails!

Logging Roads, Lanes and Laminations

The following video review is from James Holm.  Thanks, James, for another good contribution to TSR.

I was recently given the chance to view a new coyote trapping video released by Blackdog productions along with some trap modification footage as well. The video was shot in northern Wisconsin on public
land by Troy Erickson of Green Bay, Wisconsin. The trap mod portion is shot in Jason Dufresne’s shop in Minnesota.

This video is really not just another coyote numbers, "look what I caught" video. Troy goes into detail on how the animals in this big timber area are funneling and traveling through these areas and why they are moving the way they are. He covers traps, tools, sets, remakes, lure and bait along with some ideas that made me stop and think that even a water trapper like me might be able to catch a coyote by following his methods. Not to say that there is any earth shattering change to the coyote trapping world as we know it. but it is well put together and the information in it is as solid as it gets if you want to catch coyotes in the big timber or anywhere else they may be roaming. Troy is definitely a driven trapper who has no mercy on the coyote populations of Wisconsin!

The trap modification portion of this video is shot on location in the shop of the premier trap modification man in the business, Jason Dufresne. It shows the basic mods needed for animal comfort as well as trap speed and strength, turning your everyday trap into “a lifetime tool”. The finished products that Jason has been turning out over the course of the 2 years I have been acquainted with him are second to none. His work speaks for itself. This portion of the video is worth the price alone.

For more information contact Troy at www.blackdogproduction.net



Fox Trapping by A.R. Harding

I always enjoy reading trapping books from "the good old days."  It's fascinating to see how methods have evolved, and just as interesting to see what techniques remain the same.  One of the things I like most is the style of writing from a century ago.  There's always a turn of phrase or memorable quote from these old timers.  I recently stumbled on this old fox trapping book by A.R. Harding from 1906.  It is available free online at this link.  Here's just one snippet from page 11 that I find very amusing (click "read the whole story" below).

NTA Action Alert on Grey Wolf Legislation

Hi folks.  Maybe you've received this email from the NTA, but in case you haven't I'm passing it along in the hope that many of you will contact your legislators. 

 Action Alert
The NTA needs your help!

Big Game Forever, a coalition of several organizations, including the NTA, is currently working with friends in Congress to remove the grey wolf from the endangered species list. We have the antis worried! They have called for their supporters to contact legislators to oppose these bills, S. 249 and H.R. 509. We need you to counter that effort with one of our own! Please contact your Congressman and Senators and show support for this precedent setting legislation. Help return wolf management to the states! Any letters, e-mails or phone calls to Washington will help. If you need addresses just go to congress.org for contact information for your individual representatives, or log on to biggameforever.org and add your name to their petition. Karen and I will be in Washington DC Feb 16th making visits but we need you to help! If you have received this e-mail, you are just a few mouse clicks away from showing your support as well.

Please help us fight the fight!

Dave Linkhart, Director of National and International Affairs, National Trappers Association