Better late than never.
Sorry about the delay, but the season got busy and I'm just now getting a small break to sit down and post this.
This one will cover bedding the trap and location.
Just like real estate, trapping is about location. You can have the best bait in the world and make the perfect set, but if it not where the animals are traveling you won't catch a thing. Knowing the travel and hunting patters of the animals you are after is key to finding good locations for your sets. Cats are stalkers, so locations with plenty of cover are best; draw crossings, brush lines, etc. Coyotes are cruisers, roads, trails, and open areas are most likely your best bet for them. My trapping country is all pasture land so these are the first places I look. If you trap in mixed land areas, check the transition areas between crop land and pasture, corners seem to hold more sign. Also small bun hinge of brush, these offer both cover and shade, so critters are naturally drawn to those. And of course water. Out here in the desert, nothing lasts very long without water, so you will definitely find sign anywhere near water. Always set on sign. Where you find tracks or scat, you need to make a set.
In these pictures, a coyote was using a small trail coming around this brush to hit the road leading to water.
To help with scent and to contain the dirt you will need to cover the trap, use a drop cloth. Here I am using a piece of denim to kneel on. Now I use a plastic chemical apron I found on the side of the road. Thank God for oilfield workers, they are keeping us poor folks well supplied with all the stuff that falls off their trucks. This apron was still in the package.
When trapping for coyotes bedding the trap is most important. The only fix for a poorly bedded trap is to get it right the first time. If the trap or soil moves any when the coyote steps near by or on a jaw, then one of two things will happen. 1. It will leave and not come back...ever. 2. It will dig up your trap and never come back. First thing, you need a hole to set the trap in. So dig an area big enough to set the trap and have room to work it, but the less ground you disturb the better.
In this picture I've already buried the drag chain. I like to go ahead and hook my drags on something, this one is in a fork of this mesquite. I'm all about quick turn around, so not having to track down a trap that may have been drug off in the brush saves some time.
You will need a pan cover or pan pad. This will keep dirt out from under the pan, allowing the pan to move freely to trigger the trap. I use denim or a heavier fabric that will endure being in the ground and keep the sifting so from falling through. I find cloth to be better than screen, especially in dry conditions where the sittings can get to be like fine powder. And in my experience, coyotes and coons seem to know exactly where to find wax paper.
Cut a piece of cloth big enough to cover the area inside the trap jaws. Then cut a slit on one side to fit over the dog. This will allow the cloth to drop over the pan on all sides. As you can see the front jaw is lifted, this is so I don't catch myself. You can work your pan cover in place better and if the you accidentally hit the pan your fingers will thank you.
I always start on the front edge when bedding my traps. Sift a little dirt onto the pan cover. This will hold the cover in place and show if you need to make adjustments to it. Then sent more dirt along the front so you can press the jaw down into it. Once the jaw is pressed down and it won't push down anymore when weight is placed on it, using you fist, tamp the dirt solid until there is no give to it.
Once the front jaw is set, work around the trap sifting and tamping making sure the trap does not move in the bed.
Of course, you will not be able to tamp the dirt inside the jaws, please don't try that. So just sift dirt in to fill in around the pan. I try to leave the pan un covered until the final sifting, then just put a thin layer of dirt over it.
In this picture you will see that I've used a small trowel to cover the pan and then scattered some leaves and grass over the top of the trap. The leaves are from aljarita (sp?), they are very sharp and critters around here know not to step on them. The trowel leaves the pan clean making a target for them to step on. Also, for cats and coyotes I place my bait 8-10 inches from the pan. As seen here, I'm using my dig free hole set.
The bait will go in the pvc pipe and its an attention getter.
At this point I want to cut down point of access to the bait. Using natural backing, the misquote tree and closing off any holes, I make only one way for the animal to get to the trap. Also, buy using sticks and, in this picture, cactus paddles, I direct the animal into the trap from the front.
Once I'm done with the set, I make things look like they did before I was there. By brushing out my tracks and scattering dirt around it looks natural.
This set produced three coyotes and a fox in five days.
Happy trapping! May your Christmas be merry and all your traps be full!
Cold front's coming!