By Joshua Jones
It was January 2nd, 2008. My trapping partner, Justin Garrison, was riding with me headed toward a new farm we had just acquired to trap on and we knew it held coyotes. We turned onto the paved road that lead to the property and did what we always did. Drive around the property looking for trails leading into it. Sure enough, we found the coyote trail crossing the road where two fence lines met. Only thing was the trail disappeared once it got onto this particular property. Were the coyotes just spreading out once they crossed the road and wandering aimlessly? We drove into the property and started looking closely at the edge…no trail at all there but we knew the coyotes were following that edge. We hung two snares about 100 yards apart on that edge where there was an opening between the taller grass and the brushy fence line. The results on January 3rd, 2008 were two coyotes snared on that edge where a trail didn’t exist.
Another time I was looking for locations for setting coyote traps along a pasture edge when I spotted a long draw coming up from the ditch at the bottom of the hill. Closer inspection revealed a place where the cattle over the years had dug a trail in where they rounded the top edge of this draw. I looked even closer and discovered that coyotes were also using this cattle trail to cut around the draw. I put a snare in the trail and a couple days later…I had a coyote there.
I think that many people when they see coyotes believe they are just wandering from here to there. That is definitely not so. I have snared a few hundred coyotes in my 22 years of trapping and I can tell you that they always have a purpose and a plan wherever they are going. They will follow edges when traveling like the one mentioned above to stay closer to cover and they will cut around points that stick out into fields, pastures, draws, etc. They may have a particular hunting spot they visit, a rally point where they meet up with other coyotes in the pack at night, or a place to bed down for the day. One thing is for sure though, they always stay somewhat close to cover and that is where snares come in handy.
The snare I use is made up of 5’ of 7×7 3/32 aircraft cable with a swivel, support collar (whammy) for #9 wire support, and an ADC washer lock or a larger bent washer lock. That is my preference for locks, there are many out there on the market, but I always find myself going back to my tried and true locks. I then attach an s-hook to the swivel and add another 2-3 feet of an extension with another swivel. In Iowa we are required to have the deer stop at 2.5”, meaning the snare cannot close any tighter than 2.5” loop which would allow a deer to escape should they be caught around the hoof area. For stakes I will sometimes use a double stake swivel with two 20” rebar stakes crossed or use an Iowa disposable cable stake. I also will at times use a “kill pole” stake and mine are made of ½” rebar, 4-5 feet long with a long T handle welded on it about eight inches down from the top. I can attach my #9 wire to this stake once driven in the ground at least 36 inches and hang my snare from the wire and this stake actually helps be a guide in an open trail. Don’t leave it exposed, wrap grass around it or use those brushy weeds to camouflage it. The bottom of the loop should be about 10 to 12 inches off the ground.
While scouting for coon the other day I was also taking a mental note of places where coyotes were traveling. One spot was along the first row of beans/corns that have been taken out. These are great locations if the farmer doesn’t till them. Canines will use those edges to travel and when taller grass or a brushy weed is next to that row, hanging a snare there is simple and will put fur in the shed. Don’t disturb the area as much as possible and resist the temptation to add extra guiding in that location, it may alert the animal causing them to pause and go around. I have also seen a couple coyote trails around the edge where there was a small draw that snuck out into the field from the edge, the coyotes were “wrapping” around at the point and I can’t wait til mid-November to start setting those places. Other places you can look are where creeks or rivers run through fields of CRP, beans, corn, and pastures. Coyotes will travel those edges and often times if there is a healthy population, you will find where the creek/river makes a sharp bend, the outside bend will have a trail right close to the edge, SET IT! Those places are dynamite on coyotes traveling the edges.
Don’t be afraid to set a snare in a place you think coyotes are traveling even if you don’t see a trail there. Pay attention to the edges of cover and you will be successful with coyotes this year!
Take a kid with you trapping. Know the Iowa Trapping Regulations. Join the Iowa Trappers Association, National Trappers Association and Fur Takers of America. They are fighting in the trenches for your rights to keep on trapping. By the time you read this I will be setting coyote locations myself and I hope to see you out there on the trapline.