There is Nothing Like Your FirstBy
There is Nothing Like Your First
by Wade Looker
I started trapping muskrats with my dad when I was 8 years old. He started taking me on the line with him from the time I was knee high to a grasshopper. Ever since those days I have been catching fox, coyote and bobcat on my own.
It seems like every time I talk to a trapper about how they got started this is the answer I receive. Well, it’s not my story. I actually just started last year! I had always been interested in trapping but did not have a good source of information to form a basis to start from, nor did I have time in my rigorous fall and winter basketball schedule. Finally, I started college and was no longer tied to the court. I was able to run a small trapline with a college friend on weekends and Christmas break. I soaked up all the information that I could from books and websites and other sources.
I gawked at the pictures that I saw of huge catches of raccoon and muskrat and dreamt of having my own catches, but what really caught my eye was the coyote pictures. Something about going out and catching the smartest animal in the woods just spoke to me. I read as much as I could about catching the elusive “songdog.”
I did not make any sets during the weekends because I only had 2 check days, however, once Thanksgiving break came I made some sets. My family had routinely seen a coyote running the fencerow behind our house. I took two traps (I had heard about gang setting) and made a dirthole set and a urine post set at the fencerow. A couple nights later I heard lots of howling from the fence row and I was restless with anticipation at the thought of having a coyote in the morning.
I awoke first thing in the morning and went to check. It became painfully obvious that I did not have a coyote awaiting me. But the news only got worse. As I got closer I started to see how events unfolded. I went to where the trap was supposed to be and found an empty trap bed, and a few feet later found a stake. According to the books, a trap cross staked with two 18” rebar stakes should hold coyotes. In this case, the books were wrong. I had made a catch but unfortunately the coyote has pumped the stakes out of the ground and ran off with my trap. A few days later, one of my neighbors shot the coyote and was able to return my trap. Lesson one: coyotes are powerful animals.
A few weeks had passed with me away at school. I read something about cable stakes on a website and ordered a dozen. There would be no escaping next time! Finally Christmas break arrived and found me back on the line. While deer hunting a property, I saw 4 coyotes and was able to secure permission. I immediately went to where a finger of the woods protruded into a cut corn field. In this finger of woods was a pond. I set a trap at each side of the pond’s dam. One was a urine post on a corn stalk. The other was a double dirthole with sheep’s wool.
I also went back to the fencerow to make more sets. I had read about something called a post hole set. It is where you dig a hole about a foot deep and about a foot across. You put small holes in the side of the bottom of the hole for bait and lure. Directly in the bottom you put a trap. I also put another dirt hole and another urine post set there.
Each day I checked I became less and less confident in myself. There were tracks ALL OVER the sets at the fence row but I could never connect. I had traps dug up and snapped which taught me lesson number 2: bed your traps ROCK SOLID. After learning this lesson I remade all my sets.
Finally, after another few days of waiting I came upon this… my first ever trapped coyote! I can’t describe to you the elation I felt. I had finally done it. I went out and caught the top natural predator in my area. I had been able to get the smartest animal around to step on a tiny piece of ground! I felt more accomplished than I have ever been as a trapper. It was caught at the pond dam set! While this was definitely not the biggest coyote I have now caught it is without a doubt the most memorable.
It was finally time for me to go back to school and end my season. I pulled all my traps except the ones at the post hole set. The field was still pretty wet and I did not want to drive across his wet field with the four-wheeler. I awoke the next morning, the morning that I had to leave, and saw this beautiful female awaiting me. Every other trap was frozen except for the one that caught her. I sure am glad I decided to wait that extra day.
So even if you don’t start trapping like most others do, there is still time to catch up. I encourage everyone to get someone else involved in trapping no matter their age.At 20 years old, I caught my first coyote and I can honestly say that there is nothing like your first.