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The Flat Set

by "Bic" in Central PA

There is no doubt that the Dirt Hole set is the most widely used set on a k9 trapper’s line . It is a highly productive set which can often cause a trapper to develop tunnel vision and overlook other productive set types. One of these overlooked set types the Flat Set.

By definition, a flat set is just that, flat. It has no hole dug into the ground to hide bait or lure. The set isn’t flashy with exposed dirt for eye appeal. All that is required to create this set is an object to be used as a backer. As with any set, it needs to be located where the K9 are traveling.

To make this set, select an object to be used as a backer. It can be a rock, piece of log, root or other natural occurring object of your preference.  (All pics can be clicked to enlarge).

Dig your trap bed so that your pan will be located about 6” from the backer for fox or 10” from the backer for coyote. Be sure, as with any set, that your trap is bedded firmly and has no wobble.

Then cover as you normally would. After you have done this, blend in the dirt pattern so the set looks natural and undisturbed. Be sure to leave the dirt directly over the pan slightly lower than the surrounding area. A little bit of guiding will help him place his foot where YOU want it.

The next step is to apply your lure. Because this is a curiosity type set, use a gland based lure formulated for your targeted species. Apply the gland lure to the base of the backer on the side that the trap is bedded on and just above ground level.

Flat sets are great to use in conjunction with other set types. When I find sign that is worthy of setting, I prefer to make at least two sets that that location. One set may be a typical Dirt hole set. I’ll call this set the “primary set.” Paying close attention to the prevailing wind direction, I will move 8 to 10 feet downwind from the “primary set” and locate my secondary set. This “secondary location” can be a great spot to install your Flat set. Often when a K9 comes into the “primary set” he will cautiously circle down wind of the set to better survey the area before committing to the set. During this circling ritual, he will pass near the less suspicious, more subtle Flat set. A Urine post is another great set to use in this situation as a secondary set type. Often, this is where the trapper will find his catch while running his line the next morning.

So, remember to keep some of these other set types in mind when you're laying steel. You just might increase your catch rates and pick up a few doubles in the process.

Temporary Trapping Ban in New Mexico

On Wednesday, July 28, 2010, Gov. Bill Richardson issued an executive order that bans trapping for six months in a large portion of the New Mexico side of the New Mexico-Arizona border.  Ostensibly, the ban is to allow wildlife biologists the time to study the effects of trapping on the endangered Mexican Gray Wolf population, which has been reintroduced to the area by the federal government.  Of course, animal rights groups are calling it a victory.

The story at this link, however, goes on to say how ranchers have suffered loss of livestock since the Mexican Gray wolf was reintroduced.  One may wonder why federal dollars are being spent to reintroduce a predator that hurts the local economy, then trapper's rights are taken away to avoid the off chance of an incidental capture.  Loss of livestock and trapping rights seem to be the only results of our tax dollar funded efforts to coddle the Mexican Gray Wolf.

The article goes on to say that two such wolves were so severely injured by traps that they had to have legs amputated.  Anyone who has any real knowledge of trapping probably will find such a claim very suspicious at best.  Sounds like more animal rights propaganda parading as news.  Send an email off to Governor Richardson and ask him to support the rights of ranchers and trappers over a handful of animal rights lobbyists.  Contact information can be found here.     

Dying and Waxing Traps: A Refresher Course

by Mike DiSalvo of Iowa

Most people who have ever seen a real trap outside of a movie or TV show will tell you they look black and may wonder how they get that way. After all, they are made of steel and steel just rusts unless painted or otherwise protected. Dying and waxing your traps will seal the pores of the steel and protect the trap from rust.

Now any trapper knows before the season rolls around you have 2 kinds of traps. You have brand new out of the box traps, still shiny and greasy from the factory, and your old traps, with mud and dirt caked onto them. Now the best way to get them ready to dye and wax is to take them to a car wash and blast the devil out of them with a power washer. For the new traps use engine degreaser to get the grease off, and use deep clean for the old dirty traps.

Boarding Beaver Pelts

by Tom Sabo of British Columbia

The natural shape of the beaver pelt is oval, and this is the pelt shape preferred by the fur industry. Thus, the beaver board should be marked with a series of oval rings to provide guidelines, in the desired pattern, for shaping the pelt for the fur market.  Patterns are available free from both NAFA and Fur Harvesters auction houses in Canada.

The "Uphill" Trapping Adventures of Slim Pedersen

Mr. Slim Pedersen, who needs no introduction, was kind enough to write the following reminiscence about some of his early "uphill" trapping experiences.  Thank you Mr. Pedersen for sharing these great memories!

As I have been getting older I often find myself telling "back in the day" stories, so be prepared. This is probably going to be another one of those "had to walk to school in the snow, uphill, then uphill again to return home" stories. I have written several times about my very first trapping experience attempting to catch a skunk that was getting into the chicken house, so I will spare you that here. However, I will say that removing the big housecat from the trap, as well as the skunk that had sprayed me and everything else in the chicken house, was a bit of an "uphill" experience.

While I was hanging around in the local feed store a man brought in a few muskrats to sell.  Inching close enough to listen to most of the conversations, I heard the man tell another that he thought rock salt was the best bait he had used to catch muskrats with. Not realizing that the traps for muskrats should be placed under water, I made a set on dry land on the bank of a creek where I had seen muskrats swimming, and used some rock salt for bait. I caught a large skunk the first night. The skunk had at least drowned in the water, so I did not have to endure the smell of dispatching it anyway. The next night I caught a cottontail rabbit, then a porcupine, and after that the deer kept springing the trap. So I decided I needed to try something different. Hiding in some brush near the creek, I observed the muskrats swimming around just before dark.  One crawled up on a slight ledge, (uphill!) just under the water, on the side of the creek bank to eat some moss he had in his mouth. So I put my trap there and used some rock salt on the edge of the creek bank. I caught another skunk!

The next night it snowed and the creek froze over, and the trap was under ice. I was getting quite frustrated with the whole experience, but I broke away some of the ice and decided to try one more night. In the morning I had caught my first muskrat. I took the muskrat to the feed store to sell, but the man told me he would not buy it whole, and that I would have to skin and dry it first. I had skinned several rabbits to eat, so I took the muskrat home and proceeded to skin it like I had the rabbits—by slitting it up the belly. Then I tacked it on the wall to dry. When I again took it to the feed store to sell, they all laughed at me. (Dang, was everything always going to be uphill?)

A few days later, I caught a beaver in the small trap, and as I was approaching him he jumped into the water and I could not figure out how to hit it on the head to dispatch it.  But between the beaver slapping his tail and me striking the water with my club, I did manage to get very wet with the cold water. (Sure seemed like this trapping thing was always an uphill battle of some kind or other!)

A few years later, I caught my first bobcat under an over hanging sandstone rock and thought I had dispatched it with my hammer.  I threw it up higher under the rock where it was dry, away from all the mud and snow, while I was remaking the set. When I heard a low mumbling growl, I looked up into the eyes of the bobcat that had recuperated. I ducked, expecting to get bitten and clawed, but the cat jumped and landed on my back, then jumped off and ran away. (Yup, still uphill!)

Driving my old 47 Ford coupe car on a slippery county road, I was afraid I would get stuck in the mud, so I backed down the road and attempted to back into a field approach that was just past a metal cattle guard. Looking over my shoulder, and being careful not to back into the guard rails of the cattle guard, the front wheels that were cramped as I turned suddenly fell through the space between two of the rails of the cattle guard. The car was stuck better than if I would have gotten stuck in the mud! (And yes, dang it, it WAS a long uphill walk to go find some help!)

The first coyote that I caught was in a snare under a woven wire fence line, in a dig-under where the coyotes had been crawling through. It was a warm dry fall day, and I had walked down into the bottom of the drainage where the coyote had been caught. It was a steep UPHILL climb to drag the coyote back to where I had left my old pickup parked.

The first red fox that I caught was also caught in a snare under a woven wire sheep fence, and I had a long walk to get back where my pickup was. So without hesitating I draped it over my shoulders to carry, since I had snares in one hand and a roll of wire in the other, and only needed to hold the hind legs to keep it balanced on my shoulders. I do not remember if it was an uphill walk to get to my truck, but I soon learned how many fleas were on red fox, as I believe every one of them left the dead fox for easier pickings on me. I scratched uphill, downhill, and sideways!

I got stuck in a county road and had to walk almost thirty miles before anyone came along to give me a ride. Yes it was uphill, downhill, uphill again! The worst part was that it was late at night when I returned with help to pull the pickup from the mud, only the mud had refrozen in the dark, and I just drove the pickup away without needing to be towed. (Oh well, it would have been an uphill tow anyway!)

One spring I decided to attempt some serious beaver trapping after the fox and coyotes had started rubbing bad enough that the fur was not worth trapping for. I got plumb carried away, putting out leg hold traps, conibear traps, and snares for two days before I checked any of the traps. The first of checking traps I had caught ten beaver—the next day I caught eight more beavers—the third day I again caught ten beavers. Skinning, fleshing, and stretching on the few stretchers I did have, then putting the rest of the skinned (but yet unfleshed) hides into a deep freeze, I again caught seven more beavers. I pulled all the traps and snares the next day! I soon learned that I could catch more beaver than I could skin, stretch, and dry! (Yes, beaver trapping is a constant uphill work load!)

While trapping coyotes and bobcats in Colorado with a partner I saw several mink along a stretch of river, so I put out a few pocket sets and made several trail sets along the edge of the stream. I did not have any hip waders with me, since I was suppose to be trapping on land for the predators, but I did have rubber pack boots. One day while standing on the side of a steep slippery bank, stretching to reach a place to put a trap, my foot slipped down the steep bank and I fell into water up to my waist. Did you ever try to dry out a pair of felt liners under the blower of a heater in a pickup? Let me tell you that walking UPHILL to check traps set for bobcats was not much fun the rest of the day in below zero temperatures!

Another time I caught four fingers on one hand in a 330 conibear trap while attempting to remove a small bit of debris that had floated against the top of the jaws. The trap was fastened on the opposite bank, under water, around a large tree root that had been washed out. The creek had risen considerably, and I could not get to where the trap was fastened. I was standing on a slick bank. To shorten the story a bit, let me just say that while sliding down and climbing back up that slick hill, several times, I did somehow manage to get the trap off. However, I slid down often and had to climb out of the water UPHILL several times.

So let me end this story like I started it. Even though I only had to walk to school UPHILL one way, "back in the day", I did have to learn and experience trapping UPHILL both ways, and several other ways as well!

However don’t let me discourage you young and inexperienced trappers! Making mistakes and learning from them while you struggle uphill will be your best memories when you finally get around to telling your own "back in day" stories later in your life.

Snare Preparation

by "ADC" in Iowa

I like to use the Formula 1 dye, as it is fast and easy when you have a bunch of snares to do. I also like painting them with a LIGHT coat of cammo paint. If you coil them together and spray each side with different colors of cammo, when you un-coil them they blend in so well I can hardly find them. Spray paint is too expensive when you have 1000 snares to do, so I most often use the F1.

What Stinks?

Here's a link to funny little piece by Jim Braaten over at The Sportsman's Blog called "Here's Why Being a Trapper Prepared Me for Fatherhood."  The gist of it is that the horrible smells of trapping lures gives you some amount of preparation for what awaits you when changing your baby's diaper.  As a father of five, I couldn't agree more.  Get some skunk essence on your hands and you are in the general ballpark of what a newborn's diapers smell like.  Anyway, the Sportsman's Blog has a lot of neat material to check out, most of it a bit more serious! 

Ever Heard of John Richardson?

Probably not, but this Tennessee trapper is a great example to the rest of us.  Mr. Richardson recently took the opportunity to give a talk about trapping to his local historical society, and did what he could to dispel the myths generated by the animal rights crowd.  If you are a trapper and want to preserve our heritage by helping the general public understand what we do and why we do it, consider getting involved like Mr. Richardson did.  Maybe your local Boy Scouts, 4H group, or historical society would welcome a talk by a trapper.  The opportunities are there, we just need to look for them.  In Mr. Richardson's case the local newspaper even ran a story about his presentation, giving him even more publicity.  You can read the article at this link.  Here's a short take from the article:

"Do you ever hear from PETA?" asked an audience member, referring to the radical organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.  "The National Trappers Association takes care of that," Richardson said. "I think (PETA is) a little bit misguided, but I still try to talk to them and not get too upset.  I think I'm helping people. I thin (nuisance) animals for farmers. If you stop all trapping, you can forget farming anything."

Hats off to John Richardson, a good example of a trapper who gets involved for the benefit of trappers everywhere.

Beaver Snares Under Ice

by Tom Sabo in British Columbia

The following illustration of this set is from the B.C. Trapper's manual:

The bait sticks should be fresh aspen, or whatever the primary food source for beaver is in your area. I like to nick them to give the appearance that they have been nibbled at. Additional snares can be added depending on water depth. When setting near feed piles, which is generally the best location, keep several feet away to avoid the snared beaver getting tangled up in the pile. Also, do not attach snares on the dry pole any closer than 20" to the ice. If the snare is too close to the pond surface ice you risk having the beaver freeze into the ice when it is caught after it extends the snare and floats up beneath the ice.  A frozen in beaver involves a lot of work to retrieve.

Rather than attaching snares with staples I prefer, and find it much easier, to attach them to the dry pole with a tie wire connected to my snare.

Good luck in all you trapping ventures.

Snare Set for Bobcats

by Tom Pindell in Wyoming

Here is one snare set up I use that was reportedly pioneered by Keith Gregerson.  It stays working in some of the worst weather.  The following pictures can all be enlarged by clicking on them.

I start with two pieces of woven wire fence and make kind of a tunnel out of it like this.

Then I will hang a chunk of rabbit in it from the top, just so it will hang down and the cats can see it as they are checking it out.  I didn't have bait when I went and built this for the pictures, so I just used a glove to illustrate what I'm talking about. This is what it would look like.

After I have the rabbit inside I will put in some good gland lure also, then cover the wire tunnel with pine or cedar bows, or even sage brush.  Always make sure to cover the top really well, as I have had some cats try to get at the rabbit from the top.

Here is a wider view of the set, which you can see has its own eye appeal.  I will also add some flags on the trees close to it just for more eye appeal.

 I hang the snares on both sides coming into the cubby.

I put in a stake right beside the cubby to anchor the snares, but I have also used trees to tie off the snares.

The last picture is of the finished set.  I believe you could also make the same set with foothold traps at both ends instead of snares, but I have not tried it yet. I have taken several cats in these little cubbys over the years with snares.

Take a Kid Trapping

The following reminiscence is by Arnold Favinger from PA.

Did you ever hear the saying at the end of those fishing shows, “Take a kid fishing”? As I watched one of those shows and heard that statement, I started to think about some of the kids I had taken trapping, and trapping as a kid myself.

I guess I feel indebted to younger trappers because of old Jim Murphy. I had met Murphy when I was 14 standing near the bridge on Mount Road, after I had checked some muskrat sets. Murphy saw my handful of muskrats and stopped to talk to me about trapping. Back then no older trapper shared his knowledge with a youngster, especially one he had just met. But, Murphy and I quickly became friends and he showed me a few tricks of his for trapping coons and rats, as well as taking me to trapping conventions with him and his partners. I met so many wonderful and helpful trappers at those conventions that I still fondly remember.

Trapping Today Blog

You'll gather a few bits and pieces of trapping news here, but nobody keeps up with the latest trapping headlines like Jeremiah Wood over at Trapping Today.  Click the link below and take a look around.  You'll want to add this site to your bookmarks.

Snare Loading

by Tom Sabo in British Columbia

Snare loading is a method of adjusting the snare so that it has a rounder loop and will work more efficiently. To load the snare, grab the lock with your left hand and about 7 inches of cable with your right hand. Run this portion of cable several times over a small round rod or screwdriver that has been clamped in a vise. Do not apply too much pressure or the snare will become kinked. Practice will teach you how much pressure is needed to provide a round loop that will close quickly when little pressure is applied to the bottom of the loop.

I acquired this bit of snaring knowledge, and more, from one of the many books I have bought over the years, called "Snare Lines Across the West" by James Lucero.

In the following pictures of well loaded snares, the loading is to the left of the lock. Load the cable from the lock out, not the cable the lock runs over.

Horse Sense

A recent editorial by Tom Purcell got me thinking about the practical nature of trappers.  Purcell bemoans the gradual loss of resourcefulness, practical skill and common sense in urban culture, and how this generation has an underdeveloped sense of how things work.  He points out how farmers and laborers, those "humbled by the unforgiving realities of nature," once provided the realistic and sensible mindset that made this country great.  Anyone who spends time on the land, doing real work with dirty hands, can't help but be practical, capable, and realistic.  I've seen this "horse sense" in a lot of trappers, who I think will also appreciate this article.
Read it here.     

Fisher Trapping Basics

by Tom Sabo from British Columbia

HABITAT: In my area fisher habitat generally consist of heavily treed coniferous and mixed forest areas with lots of dead fall ( heavy woody debris) along or near riparian areas. They prefer to travel and hunt under a well closed forest canopy. They are not well adapted for travel in deep, soft snow conditions, thus they are seldom found in mountainous areas.

SET LOCATIONS: There is no specific criteria for set location other than locating their travel routes. Fisher consistently travel, and hunt, a certain circuit. Once you have found a good location it will usually produce year after year if you have a stable population. It does not matter what type set you put in, if its baited and/or lured they will find it.

BAIT & LURE: I prefer beaver but deer, moose and fish also work well. They will respond to many lures. I use a marten lure made by a local trapper that is sweet smelling and contains raspberry jam, anise and other ingredients. In extreme cold weather a skunky lure is helpful. Beaver castor also works well.

CAGE TRAPS: Nothing special about setting them other than placing in known travel routes. I like to cover them to keep snow out and block the sides to form a enclosed cubby to make the animal feel more comfortable. Chicken feathers scattered in and about the set seem to make it more attractive but is probably not necessary. As I stated earlier: if there is bait there and they want it, they will enter the trap.

As far as setting boxes with conibear traps, I simply use a marten box on a leaning tree with a 120 mag trap with a pan trigger placed close to the bait. In this situation the fisher triggers the trap with its chin while working the bait and is caugth by the neck at the base of the skull.

In summary, fisher are generally found in relatively low numbers over large areas and their circuit may be 2 or 3 weeks, so patience is necessary when a set is established.. If you are on location you will eventually connect.

Make Your Own Catch Pole

This is a helpful little video that gives step by step instructions on how to make a simple catch pole.  Just click the play button at the bottom and the movie will start.

Trapping and the Bible

by C.J. Williams

With the rising influence of the animal rights movement, trappers often find themselves on the defensive. Now more than ever it is necessary to defend and explain our way of life to a misinformed public and a growing chorus of critics. Many good things have already been written in the defense of trapping from the standpoints of conservation and ethics. In those realms I cannot add much of value beyond what has already been said. There is, however, a theological and biblical side to this issue that matters to people of faith. What follows is my own perspective on what the Bible has to say about trapping.

Foxes by the 100's by Russ Carman

Book Review by James Holm

      Lets go back a few years and look at a fox trapping book that I recently reread and was amazed at how even now 20+ years later it still has very sound and very usable information. The book I am referring to is Foxes by the 100's by Russ Carman.  The information in this book is more than solid for fox trappers of all experience levels. Russ makes it no secret that he believes the dirt hole set has been used incorrectly for many years by many trappers!

      I am personally not a K9 trapper with any real experience with coyotes, but I have caught some fox over the years and this book makes sense to me.  Anyone with even a small population of foxes can and should be able to increase how many foxes they are catching every year. The illustrations and pictures in this book do a great job of explaining the sets and how they should be used. Also in the book are locations with photos to help novice fox trappers succeed immediately. I am not saying this book will make you a professional fox trapper after your first or second year out, but it will definitely make you a better fox trapper as soon as you start using the methods Russ advocates in this book, no matter your skill level. I also think that you can take the information in this book and cross it over to other animals with a little thought and increase catches in other areas of your trap line. See you on the line…

Illustrations of Basic Trap Sets

Tony Hursman of Alabama provided these very helpful cutaway illustrations of some basic trap sets.  You can click each image for a larger view.
Thanks Tony!

Flashy Dirt Hole Set for Bobcat

by Tony Hursman in Alabama

The First picture in the series is a location pic of the set up area. In this location there is a corn field that borders a very thick and brushy area. This area is loaded with rabbit sign and coon sign, which equal great food items for the bobcat. There is a ton of briars and thistle trees which make getting in there tough. The cats and coyotes won't hesitate to walk the edges looking for rabbits heading to the picked corn fields. There are rabbit tracks and trails along with coon and bobcat sign along this edge. I found one set of coyote tracks so catching a coyote is not out of the question.

The second picture in the series is where we have the hole dug out and all the dirt put to one side of the hole. I dug this hole under a good size grass wad, so this root system will give the hole some stability for the wet weather expected. The hole wont collapse when wet. Off to the side you can see the small shovel handle, which is what I use to dig the hole, then I have some long distance call lure and some bobcat bait. Then we have a Montana number 3 offset trap with 4 coiling and a cable anchor attached to the trap, along with the setting tool. These are the items we will be using to dig the set and finish the hole.
The next picture in the series shows where we have dug our trap bed and that dirt is added to the pile on the left of hole. Now normally if I am just targeting bobcats I will put the trap about half as close as it is now in the picture. But since there is also a chance for a coyote I will pull the trap back further for the chance to snag the coyote as well. This will also catch the cat.

The next pic shows where we have the trap set and back in the bed. Now we will give the trap some good solid twisting motions to make it solid to the bottom of the bed. This is a dog-less trap. Setting the dog so that it wont throw the foot isn't necessary. So what we need to do is make sure the trap is set so the bobcat or coyote will have to have the foot cross between the jaws of the trap. Now if we were using a dog on a trap we would set the trap with the dog at the 2 o'clock position, as this would keep the dog to the right of the hole and hopefully away from the foot. Notice the size of the hole we have dug. It's bigger than the trap. That's why I call it the big flashy dirt hole set.

Now the next picture shows where I have added the dirt around the trap and packed the dirt tight to the trap. I cant stress this any harder. Pack the trap tight to the bed.  A loose trap is your worse enemy. If once you reach this point and you take your finger and push on the jaws of the trap and it moves a little, start over as the trap is not bedded solidly enough. You dont want the trap to move at all. Once you have the trap bedded and it doesn't move then you are ready for the next step in the series.

Now the next picture in the series shows where we have put the screen cover (or what ever you decide to use) over the trap pan, but you can use a trapper's cap or a coffee filter cut to shape or a grass wad under the pan. What ever you do make sure that the dirt can't get under the trap pan. Once the cover is in place we will use some of the dry dirt and cover the trap with about 1/2 inch of the dirt and blend the dirt into the surrounding cover.

Now what! The next picture in the series is to add the dirt that is setting on the left side of the set along the edge of the trap. We want to build up the edge around the hole to make it truly stand out from the surrounding area. This is where the flashy part of the set comes into play. What we are trying to do by this is imitate the ground hog's hole in appearance. No predator can pass by a mound of dirt without having a look down that hole. Remember to leave open the area in front of the trap as this will be a guide to put them in the trap. They will dig at the hole at the lowest point, that being where the trap is. So mound the dirt high using every bit of the dirt that you have dug from the area, leaving the space in front of the trap open.

The next picture in the series shows the hole with the bait added to the bottom of the hole and a grass plug added. This serves several purposes for this set up. It covers the bait from birds of prey that will be flying overhead and will also force the animal to physically remove it to get to the bait. So don't pack the hole too tight with grass, just enough to cover the bait, and enough to give him a mouth full of grass to remove. This makes him spend more time working the set to get after the bait.
Now the final picture in the series is the picture I have taken of the hole from a distance. If you look you can see the hole stands out quite well and off to the left of the trap is a nice trail leading to the fence and the thick cover. So now we have the big flashy dirt hole set on location and on sign. This has been my best producing cat set this year. I hope it will help some of you guys to take your first cat.

Trapline Journal Software

Many trappers keep a journal because we like to keep track of our line, watch for patterns that emerge, and keep notes on what works and what doesn’t. If you want to take your trapline organization to the next level, Mark Alexander of Arkansas has come up with an innovative computer program called Trapline Journal. This software looks like it could be a great help to professional ADC trappers as well as weekend hobby trappers, and everyone in between who likes to run an organized, thought-out trapline.

Review of the MB 550 Trap

by Billy Breland, Mississippi

A few years back Mr. Rob Caven of Minnesota  designed a trap of what would become a favorite coyote trap for many trappers. The trap that came to be called the MB550RC was a five and a half inch jaw spread with 3/8" thick cast iron offset jaws and built to handle most any coyote or Bobcat from across the nation. Though built rigid and extremely sturdy it was not the cheapest double coil spring trap on the market but definitely earned the title "You get what you pay for".

In early 2008 I purchased a couple dozen of these traps for my year around coyote line. I was very impressed to say the least. With well over 100 coyotes to its credit on my line it held every single one perfectly even with the occasional "toe" catch in the 3/16" offset cast jaws.

As time progressed and a lot of feedback to the Cavens, it was found that once a coyote was caught, many trappers were having problems with the long 2.06" 30 degree bend dog of the trap either bending severely or breaking off completely.  Of the more than 100 coyotes the first year, I had this happen twice and only saw it as a maintenance issue and not a problem. I was still in high favor of the trap. At this time I decided this trap was worthy of larger numbers in my arsenal. When I purchased  a couple more dozen from Minnesota Trapline Products, I was sent a "Newer" version of the MB550RC.

In 2008 Rob redesigned the dog and pan of the 550 and in conjuction with Mr. Ed Medvetz, came up with a "New Style" MB550RC. It had a shorter dog that measured 1.60". The pan also took on some new changes to accommodate the shorter dog. The new "Paws-I-Trip" pan has a coining where the dog contacts the pan, this coining raised that part of the pan and helped achieve the stock 2 lbs. of pan tension. It also has the spring pin formed after the pin is slid through the pan posts and not crimped on.This itself increased the strength and stability of the pan. The new pan style was brought onto the market on 06/01/2008. On this date there was no inventory of the "old" style traps.

As a trapper, Forrester, and Millwright for more than 35 years, I am a firm believer in one of my late dads quotes of "If it ain't broke, Don't fix it". At more than a half a century old, my hands and fingers are not what they used to be. The long dog of the old style 550 made for a better leverage when setting the traps. When your setting more than a couple dozen traps at a time this will make a difference on an older, worn out thumb. Another thing was that the old style dog was a good bit easier to set the poundage for those who required a little more tension than the stock 2 pounds. Several trappers have agreed with me on this statement.

If you were one of the "Lucky" ones to purchase the older style 550 and have had the broken/bent dog problems, a real simple fix is to contact Mr. Ed Metvetz of  M-Y Enterprises (Paws-I-Trip Products) 220 S. Lincoln St. Homer City, PA 15748. He has a harden stainless steel dog in his inventory that will resolve most if not all of the dog problems.

This review is in conjunction with:

Ed Metvetz of M-Y Enterprises
Rob Caven of Minnesota Trapline Products
and the personal opinions of
Billy Breland

Footholds for Beaver

by Randy Goldenman, Minnesota

It seems a lot of newbie beaver trappers have a hard time with footholds. This is the way I do it. I know some will disagree with some things I'll post, that's fine, but this has worked very well for me. Although the below set is a castor mound, I use the same trap placement and strategy at most foothold sets.
I like to find a hump or point that is easily seen by passing beaver. The nice thing about beaver is you can usually make the set where you want to catch them. In other words, you can make the set and lure the beaver to where it best fits what you want/need to do. I like to make the set where there is brown grass so my mud shows up well. Although it's the lure that's most important and your main attractor, I think eye appeal can also be important, especially if the wind is blowing the wrong way. Another thing I look for when setting footholds is the right slope on the bank and water deep enough to drown.
This is the same spot as the above picture with the finished set. The trap is PAINTED WHITE FOR PICTURE REASONS ONLY. If possible, I like to set my footholds (except TS85's) in 1" of water with shallow water in front of the trap as well. By doing this, I know the beaver will have it's feet down and walking when it hits my trap. This is especially important when using smaller traps (like #3's and #4's) because it gives me the best chance of getting a front foot which I prefer. With the drowning methods I use, any beaver that put's it's front foot in my trap is done. Another reason I set my footholds shallow is because when I used to set deep I was missing the occasional beaver, they would just step over the trap. Especially in the spring when trapping travelers, I only have one chance to catch the beaver or it's gone. Beaver would occasionally step over my trap on approach to my set, and swim over the trap when leaving. I knew this was happening because my bait would be gone or the mound ripped up and the trap would still be set. It didn't happen much, but it would occasionally happen. By setting shallow, I have chances at both front and back feet on approach, and both front and back feet when leaving. 100% chance of it stepping in my trap. Traps set deeper also have a better chance of being sprung by the chest, especially if the beaver is gathering mud to carry to the mound. If a foothold set is such that I can't find a shallow spot to set or can't make one, I'll set a 750 or TS 85 in at least 5" of water an elbows length away (about 18-20") from where I expect the beaver to hit it's chest on the bottom when it approaches the bank. I use guide sticks just like when setting shallow (explained in next paragraph), just farther out.

Another very important thing I do, especially with the smaller traps, are the two pink colored guide sticks in the front. At 14" apart, these guide the beaver's feet right in line with where you want them which is right between the jaws so the trap "suitcases" the feet. I'm convinced one of the main reasons for sprung, empty traps is because the beaver has it's rear foot on a jaw when the trap fires. It's very hard to get a good hold when this happens. Especially with smaller traps, the closer you can get the rear foot to right between the jaws and the center of your trap, the better off you will be. Set your trap so the outside jaw is right against one of the guide sticks, off-setting the pan 4" - 4 1/2". Traps set closer to center will only ask for marginal holds. If you measure a large beaver's width between the legs, you will see they are wide animals.

I prefer the 7 1/2" jawspread traps, like MB 750's. They are a lot more forgiving of bad trap placement than the 6 1/2" (#3 or #4) jawspread traps. 750's aren't legal everywhere though. #3 and #4 sized traps should ALWAYS be 4 coiled VERY strong. You can't get traps too strong for beaver. Make them as strong as you can set them. When they start to get weak, replace the springs. One lost beaver would have paid for a lot of replacement springs.

Pan tension should be at 4-5 pounds to get a better hold and avoid muskrats.

The trap dog should be at 3:00 or 9:00, depending on what side you have your trap set on, with the dog to the outside. Stabilize your trap, so it's not rocking, with small sticks or rocks under the jaws and levers.

When not in current, I like to dig the traps down so the pan is level with the bottom. If you do it in current, sand can wash underneath the pan.

I like to use lot's of the blackest mud I can find on my mounds for eye appeal. If there are some freshly peeled sticks in the area, I throw those up there too. I know eye appeal is important and useful, because often I'll catch beaver on both sides of a river or creek in the same night even when the wind is blowing hard from a certain direction. One of these years I'm going to try not using any lure on some sets just to prove this point. I also use a stick of popple at most sets. It's optional though. At least here, popple is candy, and can help in attracting up to the bank. All beaver don't go to the top of the mound. Especially smaller beaver, like 2-year-olds, sometimes will just go near the edge, get a whiff, and leave. Bait helps get them to commit.

Notice the blocking around the set in the above picture. Blocking can be very important. Sometimes beaver will try to go directly into the wind to your lure or just try to go around for some reason. Make the way over your trap the easiest route to the mound. Dead tree tops and brush tops laid sideways work well for blocking. If you have beaver that have been trapped hard before, a lot of blocking may put them on alert, although I have rarely seen this be the case. If I know I'm after possible smart beaver though, I'll make a small trench at the base of the mound with my boot and use a little grass to try to block off the sides best I can, without making it look too obvious and hope for the best.

IMO quick drowning is very important, especially with smaller traps. I know there are good trappers that don't drown their beaver and I admit it's not always necessary with 7 1/2" jawspread traps and in some situations. But with #3 and #4 sized traps it's necessary. I've always said a dead beaver on the end of a drowner isn't going anywhere, a live beaver still has a chance. The end of the drowner preferably should be in 4' of water or more. It's 4' from the nose to the drowner on a large beaver. With hind foot catches with the smaller traps, you want that beaver under water as soon as possible. Beaver can live a long time with just their nose sticking out of the water. You can get by with less water with larger traps, but I personally seldom set a foothold with less than 3 feet of water to drown.
 Drowning rods make life much easier for a beaver trapper. I like 1/2" rebar or stock rod, 10' long on average. Some are 12' and a few are 8', but 10' get's me into deep enough water to drown in most of my set locations. Just stick the rod into the mud as far as you can push it, stake with a 24"-36", 1/2" rebar stake and you're through. I've never had one pulled out. The only problem with rods is they can be hard to get into a rocky or hard bottom. They're not for every situation. MTP sells a kit called the "Bauer no-weld" system if you don't want to make your own locks or have access to a welder. All you need is the rebar and the kit.
I use weights with cable (usually 1/8") or #11 soft wire where theft might be a problem or I can't get a drowning rod into the bottom. I consider 50 pounds about right. You can get by with less on softer bottoms. Any less weight and you run the risk of the beaver getting slack in your cable or wire and not having the drowning lock slide properly or at all. The above weights were made from concrete test cylinders filled with concrete and rebar for a handle. 50 pounds carries easily this way. 6" plastic pipe, 12" high, would also work instead of the test cylinders. The blunt edges on the top dig into the bottom nicely. Others use feed sacks filled with rocks or sand at the trap site. For those far back places though, I just use 3"-4" saplings for stakes cut at the site. They must be the kind that beaver won't eat through.
I like my homemade "L" drowning locks. Swivels work too, but the holes are too small to suit me. The bigger holes I have in my "L" locks are big enough that they will slide easily past any twists or kinks I may get in my cable or wire.