Trapping: The Other Management Tool

By: Ryan Nikkel
By: Ryan Nikkel

Let’s talk about something that goes hand and hand with killing big whitetails. Something most people don’t think about when thinking about hunting. This is something that will not only get you outdoors, where you love to be, but will help bring population numbers of all your  game animals up. Trapping. Yes that’s right, trapping.

I have added trapping into my management program and I have to admit, I never realized what a difference it could make in my overall hunting experience. Not only is trapping beneficial for the excitement and the hides you get but it decreases the numbers of predators which helps increase the number of deer  as well as the number of turkey and other wild game birds in your hunting or management area.

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I’ve been running a trap line for over 4 years now, trapping egg eaters such as skunks, possums and   raccoons which has boosted bird numbers. Coyotes and other top predators have cut down on the number of fawn and doe deaths which has increased the deer herd.

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Like most things trapping can be as expensive or inexpensive as you want it to be. Snaring is an inexpensive way to get your foot in the door. You can buy pre-made snares from most outdoor stores such as Cabela’s, Gander Mountain or your local sporting good stores. Or if you go online to ‘Coyote Snares‘ or ‘Animal Snares‘ the internet will provide you with several valuable resource and places to shop. Or, you can make your own:

Snares are easy and quick to set up and because they are inexpensive you can run quite a few, bettering your chances of catching coyotes and bobcats. Fences where you can tell coyotes are going under and game trails are great places to set snares. Foothold traps are a little more pricey but if taken care of can be used for many years. Again most sporting good stores sell a small variety of some of the most common brands. Using the internet you might be able to find some better deals or look at different varieties that might suit you best.  

Back to metal leg hold traps which can also be easily found online under: ‘Animal Leg Hold Traps‘. Once you get your traps you will need some type of stake, a dirt sifter, shovel or trowel,  a hammer to set your stakes and bait or lure to attract the animal.

Getting started; raccoons are one of the most destructive animals when it comes to stealing corn and eating bird eggs and are probably the easiest animal to start trapping . For this I would suggest you get a ‘Dog Proof’ trap (see video below) which you’ve probably seen in your local farm supply store. You can find them cheaper off the internet though. They are called Dog Proof traps for obvious reasons. The are designed to catch animals that use their front legs to grab things. They are safe and rarely will you catch a non-target animal. For these types of traps you will need some sort of bait such as cat food, marshmallows  or anything that may appeal to these sticky fingered bandits. Another route would be to use a ‘Live Animal Trap‘ where you place your bait in the back of the cage and then the door closes behind the target animal when it walks in, locking them inside until you get there. This is the most humane way to catch an animal unharmed. With these types of traps you can safely relocate the animal to another area if you don’t want to dispatch the animal. Live Animal Traps are more costly however.

Trapping is  a fun, rewarding way to spend your time outdoors and it is not difficult to learn or expensive to get into. It’s great for kids for those reasons but it also helps teach them responsibility and gain a real appreciation for nature and how wildlife interacts. We all know what a devastating effect coyotes and bobcats can have on  fawn numbers so why not take things in your hands and slow them down? Most of us have called  predators a time or two, but what if you could call them 24/7, Seven days a week with a trap line. Traps help you to take care of those rascals while you sleep and work.

Take out a coyote, save deer, turkey and other game animals.
Take out a coyote, save deer, turkey and other game animals.

In most states it is required to check traps daily, in a 24 hour period. It’s only as time consuming as you make it but it is a hobby that helps you take your management program to the next level. There are many different schools, DVDs and videos on the internet readily available on trapping that will show you everything you need to know to get started and how to do it correctly.  There are so many benefits to trapping it’s hard to believe I went so long without incorporating it into my management program. So if you’re looking for something to give you that extra edge don’t let this year’s trapping season pass you by. I’m sure glad I learned about trapping. The results are phenomenal. It has helped my program tremendously and I’ve learned too how to process and sell the hides for added income. And who knows, you never know when that fawn you save will be the next booner on your wall.