Coyote Trapping – Master Capturing a Predator in 2020

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Due to their ability to easily adapt to new environments, coyotes seem to continually grow in numbers uncontrollably. Many states consider these animals as a threat to other members of the wildlife due to their predatory nature. Thus, they contribute in the decline in the population of other animals such as deer and small game.

Hence, to control their numbers and avoid the further decline of the population of certain animals, coyote trapping and hunting has been a popular venture. However, hunting is apparently more preferred since trapping can bring up more problems. For instance, other animals in the area might be the ones who would get trapped. When there is no other means of resolving the problem with the nuisance animal, then that is the time when trapping should be done.

The Best Way to Trap Coyotes

Setting On Location

Heres the thing right, if there is no coyote where you are setting, then your efforts will be completely wasted. It makes no difference how good the a set you have constructed is, or if you’ve got the best baits and lures: if there is no coyote to start with, there is a zero chance of you bringing home a catch.

This is why it is vital you get out and spend some time looking at your trapping grounds during the pre-season. Looking for a coyote’s preferred travel routes by following tracks. This means you also need to take the time to learn exactly what a coyote track looks like.

When looking at tracks – you will notice that a coyote’s foot pads tend to push inward on each other and their tracks are usually found to be grouped together in pairs that are slightly out of step from each other. What you don’t want to happen is to spend hours getting set up for trapping, only to find that you are setting for a dog – which would be a massive waste of time.

Even the best set will not cause the coyote to come to you if they aren’t close enough to see or smell your bait. It’s true that 10 good sets in the right spot will net you more fur than 100 traps set at random.

The best time to scout for coyotes is during the summer and early fall before the beginning of the season.

Trap Selection, Placement and Stabilizing

Trap Size

This is a hotly debated topic, as to what size trap to use when trapping coyote. The thing is that no one seems to agree.

Some trappers want to use the same size they would choose for a coon trapping (1 1/2 coil-springs) but it doesn’t mean they are the ideal option when it comes to trapping coyote. The 1 1/2 coilspring is on the smaller end, while I would consider the larger No 4 and 5 too bit to be the ideal Coyote traps.

The No.2 Trap is a good choice for trapping and should hold most coyotes and even Foxes that come along. It’s jaw spread is 5 1/2 inches as opposed to the No.1.75 that has a jaw spread of 5 1/4 inches.

To me, the ideal size trap is the 1.75. The 1.75 traps have an inside jaw opening of around 5 1/4 inches. When a coyote steps on one of these traps, it is really important that their foot is centered on the trap pan so that it gains a good grip on the coyote. Thankfully there are ways to stabilize your traps to achieve the best result.

If you want to use the larger sizes like a 3 or 4 it is important to know what the laws are where you are setting the traps as some states will not let you go that large.

Trap Stabilization

If a coyote doesn’t quite step neatly on the trap pan – or even steps a jaw of the trap, you really don’t want the trap to wiggle, or even flip.

Coyotes are generally quite heavy and therefore do not step lightly. When you are stabilizing your trap you want to make sure you are checking it for stability as you go. Purposefully try and make the trap wobble, if you can’t make it wobble, there is a good chance the Coyote isn’t going to be able to either.

A good simple rule is that the smaller the trap – the better, it just means you wont need to spend ages covering it and packing it down with dirt. You need to make sure you’ve packed the dirt well otherwise a cunning Coyote my feel the loosely packed dirt, back off and then dig it up.

When it comes to the pan tension, you I generally set it around the 3 pound mark. This means that if a Fox stumbles in or even a big coon, it will set the trap off. I see this as a win over an empty trap.

If you’re just looking to snag a Coyote, then stick to the 4 pounds of pan tension mark.


The last thing you need to think about is a foot guide for your trap. This just means an item close by or around the trap to discourage the Coyote from placing its foot outside the trap.

You could use clumps of dirt, sticks or smallish stones from nearby to encourage the Coyote to place its foot in the center of your trap set.

Just remember not to place any of your foot guides over the levers of the trap. It’s a good idea to set 3 guides in a triangle formation around the trap, without placing any of them over the jaws of the trap.

Caring for your traps: Cleaning, Coating and Waxing

Whether you have a brand new, or an older trap, you still need to maintain and make sure it is in good condition before going out trapping otherwise they may not function as expected.

All traps need to be cleaned correctly and applied with a dye and a wax treatment. This is especially the case if you have just purchased a trap.


Traps that are old or new both need to be thoroughly cleaned before use. Unfortunately, this process is quite time consuming, but the benefits far outweigh this as cleaning them well will most definitely give you better trapping results and mean that you won’t need to replace them anywhere near as often.

It is particularly important to clean new traps thoroughly using the process outlined below. The reason for this is that when traps are manufactured a thin layer of oil is applied to protect it from rusting prior to being delivered to the customer.

This thin layer of oil needs to be removed thoroughly and so that you can begin the Dyeing and Waxing processes. This can be done in a couple of ways.

My preference is to:

  1. Fill a metal bucket with water
  2. Place the traps in
  3. Add some toilet bowl cleaner or lye to lift the oil off as the water heats up.
  4. Apply heat to the metal bucket in some way.

You could use a simple BBQ gas setup or set up a little fire in the back yard and set up the bucket on top. You could also just heat up the water using a large kettle and letting it sit for a bit longer.

WARNING: Make sure you wear some Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when handling hot water and caustics. This could include (but is not limited to):

  • Gloves
  • Face Mask
  • Apron Do not add caustics to boiling water. Always clean your traps in a well ventilated area.

Once the traps have been immersed for about an hour, the oil will rise to the top, be sure not to remove the traps through the layer of oil on the top of the water as you would re-cover them in oil on the way out. Instead, tip the oil off the top before removing the traps from the water/caustic bath.

Old traps also need to be cleaned from time to time. Do this when the season is over before storing.


The next step requires a thin layer of rust to appear on the traps after the cleaning process.

The purpose of the Dye is to add a dark camouflage layer extend the life span of your traps.

Repeat the process above for cleaning (without putting in any caustic chemicals) and once the water is boiling, you can add a dye solution.

Options for dye solutions include both natural and commercial dyes. The commercial dyes come in liquid and powder form.

Some options for natural dyes include materials like:

  • Sumac
  • Maple
  • Oak Bark
  • Wallnut
  • Butternut Hulls

Leave the traps sitting in the boiling/hot water for an hour.

NOTE: Don’t dye traps that have not been cleaned first to remove the oil layer.

Waxing your Traps

The waxing process isn’t something that is completely necessary, however it adds longevity to the life of your traps while providing lubrication to the trap movements.

Generally, most trappers use white wax found from most trapping supply dealers.

The best way to do perform the waxing process is to:

  1. Heat the wax in a metal bucket using a small camp stove to around the 230 Degrees Farenheight
  2. Attach a thin wire to the chain of the trap so you can carefully immerse the traps in the hot wax and remove them when they are covered.
  3. To remove the hot trap from the wax, make sure you pull it straight up using the thin wire and let all excess wax drain back into the Bucket.
  4. Hang the traps to allow them to cool.


  • Do not use an open flame to heat the wax. Liquid wax is highly flammable.
  • PPE is essential.

Final Trap Checks/ Adjustments Before Heading out Coyote Trapping

Even if your traps are brand new and you have completed the processes discussed above, there still may be some adjustments you need to do before using, such as:

  • Making sure the pan is level with the jaws of the trap. This will ensure a good trap. To adjust the pan height, bend the frame where the dog is attached.
  • Adjusting the notch and dog so that the trap will release correctly.
  • Pan tension adjustment – you want to get the tension to about 3 pounds.
  • Make sure you have done the dyeing and wax processes prior to adjusting the pan tension.

Additional Equipment for Trapping Coyote

You really don’t need a lot of other equipment to head out and start trapping coyote. If you’ve trapped other animals before you probably have nearly everything you need. Here are a couple of things that may help:

Rebar Stakes

You want to get a solid stake that will withstand the lunging force a coyote will put on your traps. Something like a 24 inch rebar stake thats around a 1/2 inch diameter.


A sifter is a good idea to make sure that you have an even spread over the trap when you lay it. If you have clumps of dirt, they can get stuck under the trap pan and cause issues when it is falling.


A trowel is an important tool to have with you when you are making the trap bed.

Trappers Hammer

Often the ground you are trying to drive stakes into may be frozen or very hard. For this you would need to make sure you have a decent hammer with some weight in the head. You could also think about getting one with a chisel end so you can dig.

Managing Scents

One thing you need to consider when you are outdoors and ready to set your trap is to think about what scents you are leaving behind.

You should be doing your best to leave as little human scents as possible. A canines nose has up to 4000 more scent receptors so you need to take some measures to minimize the scent you leave behind.

But how?

  • Don’t breathe on your traps
  • Wear a face mask or scarf
  • Approach the trapping location with the wind blowing towards you.
Image from
Image from

Coyote trapping is usually done to control livestock predation or for fur. Either way, the strategy used to trap a coyote would be similar. Learning about more information about coyotes, such as their behavior, will help you get good results in your trapping.

Before you begin the trapping, you should first know about the rules and regulations that the state has set for this activity.

After that, one of the first things that you should determine is the location where coyotes can usually be found in. This can be done through observing the ground and try to find coyote droppings in a certain area. Moreover, an average adult coyote can weigh from 35 to around 50 pounds. Given that, you might wonder about the kind of trap that should be used. Bigger traps are recommended for trapping coyotes such as No. 3- and No. 4-sized ones.

Coyote Trapping - Lure

A lot of people who trap coyotes prefer to use the No. 3 coil spring that’s round-jawed with four coil springs and welded, straight link machine chain. [1] While coil-spring traps may be popular for coyotes, there also coyote-sized cage traps that are available on the market.

While coyotes maybe wary of being lured by these traps, selecting the right bait and setting up the cage trap correctly can make you successfully trap a yote. However, cage traps do not usually catch healthy adult coyotes. However, they prove to be effective for catching sick and young ones. Hence, it is important that the trap won’t be easily identified by the coyote. Concealing it or camouflaging it with its surrounding will be helpful. In addition, other measures such as making sure that there is no trace of human scent will guarantee you that you’ve properly set-up the trap. 2

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