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The Iowa Trappers Tips Page

Safety on the trap line
When you are running your trap line safety should be your number one priority. Please keep these things in mind-

Make sure someone knows where you will be. Tell somebody or leave a note saying where you will be and at what time you expect to return. If you have an accident or are incapacitated you will know help is on the way. An even better idea is to trap with a partner.

Do not over-exert yourself. Drink lots of fluids and take a small snack or bag lunch if you anticipate being out for a long period of time. Take time to catch your breath.

Plan ahead. When trapping, especially in the winter, know the weather report and dress accordingly. Little things like a butane lighter or dry pair of socks in your pack can make a world of difference. An extra set of clean, dry clothes in your vehicle is a good idea.

Know your equipment. Traps are dangerous! Make sure you know how to use your equipment before venturing out.

Use caution and common sense when trapping in the winter. Winter trapping can be an enormous amount of fun and hard work and can be equally dangerous. Be extra careful when trapping beaver and muskrat under the ice. Constant water and animal movements will cause unseen thin spots. These normally occur near dams, feed piles and lodges but seeping springs and weather conditions can make the ice thin anywhere. Carry a five foot long ice spud (usually a long piece of rebar sharpened to make a chisel on the end) and constantly check the ice when you are walking on it.

DO NOT PANIC. If you should happen to get lost or incapacitated when you are outdoors follow the "STOP" rule of thumb-

Sit down




What this means is to stop what you are doing, Sit down and calm yourself, Think about and assess your situation, Observe your surroundings and then Plan your next move in a calm manner. In other words, take a deep breath and think things through.

Safety issues are a matter of common sense. Start practicing proper precautions now and before long you will not even have to think about it. It will become second nature to you.

Skinning tool
When skinning a tough animal like a coyote, I use a wooden dowel about a foot long and 1/2 inch diameter, dull sharpened on both ends, to poke and pry in those hard to separate places that about kills your fingers (like under the front legs). Any old broom or mop handle will work fine. Just use it where you would normally use your fingers and you will think this is the greatest thing since peanut butter. Don't make it too sharp, so it won't poke holes in the hide.
Other Tools

Good beginner muskrat sets
Some of the best sets are the easiest sets. #110 Conibear in runways, where they are legal; you can put a trap in their house. I would use a #1 Stop-loss for this. My favorite is; I pull apart the house a little and set a trap in front and when the rat comes up to fix it, he will step in it. Use a Stop-loss. I also use #110's baited with apple on the trigger; put this by a log that they are going on top of.

You can also make a little pocket in the bank where muskrats are digging or feeding. Put a piece of apple in the back with maybe a little lure, and place a #1-½ long spring in front. Make sure you can drown them by wiring the end of the chain to a stake and then put the stake in deeper water. The trap is heavy enough to take any muskrat down.

Speed dip or logwood dye?
I use speed dip for all my water traps and am very happy with it. For my predator traps I still use logwood dye and wax. The reason; according to my catch results, the one year I used speed dip my predator line produced about 20 to 30% less. Simple, I switched back to logwood dye and my catch total was back up to normal. You can catch some fox and coyote with speed dip but think of the 20 to 30% you are missing because of using it. Logwood dye is a powder that comes in a 1-pound bag. It's pretty cheap and does about 6-8 dozen traps. You pour it in a 5-gallon container and boil the traps for 30 minutes; they come out black. Put a new batch of traps in the container; do this until you are done. Speed dip comes in a 1-quart container you mix with gas and dip your traps. It does about 10 dozen traps. You dip your traps outside in the heat of summer and hang the traps and let them air out for 1-2 weeks.

#120 and #160 conibear for raccoons?
I find the #120 useless for coons. I know some are caught in the trap every year but that is an accidental catch. To purposely set for coons using the #120, you will have a lot of sprung empty traps. The #160 some people like, I find the trap too small and the coons refuse to enter. I feel the #220 is the best coon trap of the conibears on the market. Once again, if you like the #160 for coons, go for it.

Where to set the #110 Conibear