By Jason Webster
I am writing this on the last day of the 2016 trapping season here in Pa. As I sit here and reflect on all the ups and downs of this past season as well as the triumphs and defeats I experienced. Something keeps sticking out in my mind about a lot of this past season’s catches. The thing that jumps out at me is success rate of sets that were on remakes.
There is a lot of controversy about how to go about remaking a set after a catch. Should you change the trap, should you move the trap outside the catch circle, should you relure and bait the set and so on. Well guys I am going to give you my opinion and what I have noticed has worked for me. Now this will vary depending on if it was a baited dirt hole set, a flat set, a scent post set or a blind set. Every intense is a little different but most are the same besides a blind set. If it was a blind set, I would now make it a dirt hole because of the destruction to the immediate area and may move the blind set up or down the trial farther. The other variable I have noticed sometimes is when using a dog proof raccoon set. A lot of the time, once I have caught a raccoon in a DP trap I have experienced that the trail goes dead or the raccoons go around the catch circle. In this case I simply move the trap up the trail outside the catch circle and everything is fine. Again, like most things in trapping this is not a constant but just something I have experienced more times than not.
For starters, no matter what the set was initially intended for, when I make a catch in that set, I never change the trap unless there is something wrong with the trap that cannot be fixed right there. People will say, now the trap smells like the animal or there may be blood on the trap. Well my theory is once you catch an animal in the trap and have a catch circle the entire area smells like that animal. All the dirt, grass, leaves, sticks and debris all smells like that particular animal. I don’t see a problem with the trap smelling like everything it is surround by. There is no reason for the next animal to pick out the trap based on smell. Your trap is sort of scent camouflaged at this point. By changing the trap you only increase the chance of introducing a smell that will stick out for the current situation.
On a remake I think now you have two of the best attractants you can have. First being eye appeal. A catch circle is something that will stick out and grab attention. It will demand that an animal get a little closer to investigate what is going on. It will play on their curiosity and most can’t help themselves but come and see what all the fuss was about.
Second, you now have area where the animal has been urinating, pooping, slobbering and leaving all kinds of fresh natural scents. This is possible the best lure you have. It is something that is so natural to them that it will actually tend to put animals at ease because it is smells that they are use to. This is also a great time take some of this dirt and debris to another set to use as “Loaded Dirt”, but that is a subject for another article.
Most predatory animals are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will not pass up an easy meal. If they think something has buried some food in a hole or up under some debris they are more than willing to steal it for their own. This leads us back to the remake. With all the scent of another animal already there and the smell of a good bait, they will be more apt to investigate the situation.
My most recent example of this occurrence is while testing a new bait and lure last week here in southwest Pennsylvania. I put out 2 dirt holes at the top of a ridge where a grown up power line met a logging road. The first night I connected on an opossum in the dirt hole to the right. After I dispatched the opossum, I remade the set using the same trap. I reconstructed the area the best I could after the possum basically destroyed what I thought was a pretty good looking coyote set. I just kind of raked some the tore up grass and leaves to form a mild backing behind the existing hole. I didn’t have to re bait the hole because I could see there was still bait in it. I reapplied a little more lure to the backing and was on my way. They next day the traps were untouched but on the second day I connected on a beautiful bobcat. Just a side note, here is Pennsylvania are bobcat season is already out so I released the bobcat with hopes of reconnecting with it next year while our season is still in.
What really drives this point about the remakes home with this example is, there were 2 identical sets made 10 feet apart with the same bait and same lure. One set was untouched and one was a remake after the possum. The remade set was tore up and smelled like another animal. The bobcat could have chosen either set but was caught in the remake. This could have been a coincidence or it could have been the fact that the set now had eye appeal and smelled like another animal the bobcat was use to. Either way to me this just even farther concreted my belief in remakes.
In closing if you have any questions, comments, or would just like to drop a note fell free to comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or look me up on face book. Thank you for taking the time to read this.