Buckshot's Trappers Tales

Why Leghold Traps?

The leg-hold trap has been around for centuries. In the past 40 years, great improvements have been made in the name of animal comfort. Coil spring traps that close tight were all tested. The results will surprise most hunters. The animals were attached with sensors and their breathing and heart rate was monitored. The facts were; the animals only fought the trap for about 15 minutes. Then the animal started to calm down. At about 1 hour after being in the trap, the heartbeat and breathing returned to near normal levels. So, you see, it is a myth that the animal is sitting there in pain being tortured the whole time. You can't argue with scientific facts.

At just before daylight, the animal would again fight the trap because this is the normal time for the animal to go to its bedding area and sleep for the day. After that the animal normally curls up and goes to sleep. So, an animal in a trap that is checked everyday is not in any great pain. In fact, the study proved that some forms of hunting with dogs was MORE stressful for the animals then the trap. So, all you hunters out there have told me over the years that you could never trap and cause that much pain to an animal, are living in a dream world.

Man, as a meat or fur harvester, needs to respect the animal enough to do what you can to prevent injuries. So you can modify your traps to be even more humane, by doing the following. Weld number 9 wire to the top jaws of your traps. This increases the jaw spread and does not pinch the animal foot as bad. Off set the jaw, by welding a 1/4 lug on the inside top of the jaws. This will give you an offset jaw of 1/4-inch allowing blood to flow to the paw. Add 2 swivels to the trap and an inline shock absorber spring. This is one of the best most humane traps in the world.

Some animals will still become injured, but the percentage is down to 1 in 100 animals. Check your traps everyday. If you don't have the time to tend your traps properly, then you shouldn't be trapping. Some hobby trappers only trap on weekends. They set the traps on Friday, check Saturday and pull their traps on Sunday. Whatever you do, just make sure you are out checking traps everyday.

I have talked to many people over the years and have met the arm chair experts who caught a few animals. They talk to one or two trappers and think they have the big picture. I talked to one guy who was the typical know-it-all. He was from down south and met a professional water trapper years ago. I told him back in the fur days there was professional fox and coyote trappers. He said in a loud voice that was, BS, no one could trap enough fox to make a living at it. He didn't know I was trapping for all these years. I have met the pros and was trained by one that is still making his living today trapping predators. His name is Craig O'Gorman out of Montana.

You wouldn't ask a movie star to fix your car, so don't listen to hunters about trapping. It is totally different. Please don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing hunters. I have hunted for more years then I have trapped. I just want to bring the facts out. Talk is cheap, results show the truth. Like O'Gorman told me, you can't skin excuses. Trapping is about having a good knowledge base and working hard. I thought I would get this out in the open, before we discuss the sets for legholds.

The best all around set for most predators is the dirt hole set. I have trapped coons, possum, skunks, red fox, gray fox, coyotes, bobcats, and mink using the dirt hole set. It is one of the best all time fur producers. To make the set you need a 1-1/2 coilspring or larger trap. Up to a #3 coilspring for coyotes. A stake swivel and a stake of 1/2 inch rebar with a washer welded on top. The washer has to be welded on top so the stake swivel can spin all the way around the trap. The rebar stake should be 18 to 36 inches long. I mostly use a 24-inch stake.

You need a trowel for digging the hole, a sifter for the dirt, to keep rocks out of the trap area, a hammer, bait and lure, and a pan cover. I use a steel metal screen. This can all be seen on my video. The video helps to show all the little things and how to make the set, so there is no doubt in your mind.

You dig the hole at a 45-degree angle, 10 to 12 inches deep. Put the dirt from the hole into the sifter. Dig a trap bed in front of the hole, stake the trap, place your pan cover on and bed the trap. Sift dirt over until all is level. The pan's center should be 8 inches from the hole, dead center. So as you look at the hole straight back, at 8 inches is the pan center. Add bait and lure inside the hole and cover with grass.

Now after a catch, this is very important, shoot the animal in the head with a .22 short, immediately remove the animal and move 30 feet away. So it bleeds over there away from the trap area. Clean the blood up with your trowel and toss away. Scrub the trap down with a tuff of grass to remove any blood or hair. Re -make the set. But, this time use all the torn up grass, weeds, and form a "V" with the beginning of the "V" at the hole, widening out to the back. This will help guide the next animal in over the trap. The area is all scented up and any fox in the area will come over to see why all the smell is there. Animals are lazy, is why this set works. Why go hunt and kill an animal to eat, when there is all ready some food to be had?

For fox, location of the set is important. Set where a dirt road enters a field, where two different crops change or where a drainage ditch runs along a field. Remember the wind. The back of the hole should be facing the wind. So the wind blows the scent over the trap. Most animals approach a trap set from the downwind side. That is why it is vital for you to pay attention to the wind.

Legholds can also be used on trail sets. Where you see trails entering the field from the woods is a good place. Follow the trail for a short distance. You are looking for a narrowed down spot. A small tree, a branch they are stepping over, a bush they duck under. Something that narrows the path down. Dig a trap bed and set the trap, then stake it. Sift dirt over and make the area look like it did before you placed the trap in the ground. Place a stepping stick on both sides of the trap. A one-inch diameter stick will work the best. The animal will step over the stick into the trap. This is a good set for smart coons.

Trapping for a smart beaver, the Leghold is good. You need a #3 or larger trap. Use a drowner, two stakes and wire. Stake out in deep water. Now, a beaver swims with his front paws tucked up against his body. When his chest hits the bank then he sticks out his foot to walk. So, to catch him you need a poke and sticks. Find a spot where the beaver are coming out of the water. On the bank dig a trap bed. Stake one stake in deep water and run wire up to the top stake. Place the drowner on the wire. Make sure it only goes down and not up. Set the trap and wiggle it in the mud so that it is solid. Place a small poke stick out from the trap, about 2 to 3 inches sticking out. Place the lure 18 inches back, off center from the trap pan, 8 inches. Beavers have a wide body. The beaver will smell the lure and swim over to see what is going on. They will hit the poke sticks and place their foot out into the trap to climb up. The trap will fire and the beaver will be caught by the front leg. The beaver will dive for deep water and the drowner will hold him on the bottom. In 6 to 12 minutes the beaver will drown.

This set works real well where the beaver are trap shy of the #330 conibear. When you are water trapping any type of animal, set up the trap on a drowner. If you get some swivels, cut off the trap ring on your leg-holds and add the swivel. The swivel is made to take a 1/2-rebar stake. If you are water trapping you now have a built in drowner. This helps a lot, now you can keep your traps working for you all the time.

If you are having trouble with theft in the area, you can trap on the edge of a field and use two stakes. Run enough wire so the animal can get in cover. That way you can make a set out in the open and let the animal hide itself. You can also use drags. The only problem with drags is, if the farmers dog gets caught he will wander home on the road. If someone see him they will take the trap off and 9 of 10 times will keep the trap.

I support hunters and I believe hunters should always support trappers. It is a proving fact that trappers protect game animals. So, if you want more game to hunt, then you need trappers to keep the predators in check.

 


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