Sometimes it’s a blessing, sometimes a curse, but I’ve always been a sucker for trying new ways of trapping coyotes. You have to understand I’m usually the “skeptic’s skeptic;” I’m never sucked in by the endless banter of state fair hucksters as they try to sell me “the last mop I’ll ever own” or the glue that will hold an elephant from the ceiling by one leg, or the ladder that I should never be without. The bizarre TV adds by Super Car Guy telling me that (and I quote) “buying a car doesn’t have to suck” that evidently draw customers like honey on an ant hill just make me mad. In short, I’m not easily swayed or convinced by something new. But when it comes to trapping, I often lose every shred of common sense I ever had as I try some new way of fooling a coyote I read about on the all seeing-all knowing internet or maybe in an old tattered trapping book I found at a garage sale. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with trying new ways of doing things now-and-then. If no one ever tried anything new we’d still be talking on phones meant only for conversation and we’d always be stuck with cars we actually had to drive ourselves (how ghastly.) The problem with my trapping experiments is that they almost never work, and I never seem to learn that.
Prior to Thanksgiving I had several coyote traps set on properties west of town. One property sat a half-mile off the road and was sandwiched between a creek and two other landowners. To get there required driving across a long narrow pasture, then out onto a soybean stubble field. That particular corner of the field is low and stays wetter than the rest of the field after it rains. Because of that, the soybeans had drowned out last spring leaving a large weedy patch the farmer had left standing when he cut the beans. I reasoned coyotes would visit that weed patch often because it stood out in that corner of the field like white socks with black pants and was probably full of field mice for them to catch.
As a way to set a trap near the weed patch, experiment #1 was to try making a “trash set” for the first time. Making a trash set simply entails making a mound of trash or stubble from the field, putting some lure or scent on one side of it and setting a trap that will catch the coyote when it inspects the mound and the scent, which they most certainly will because it catches their eye as they inspect the landscape and will appear as a likely spot to find a field mouse or two for lunch. I raked together a bushel-basket sized mound of soybean chaff near the weed patch, put some scent on a stick and stuck it into one end of the mound then shaped the whole mess so the coyote had to cross the trap to inspect the smells. Three days later I was disgusted to find a skunk caught in that trap.
Not really wanting to tote the skunk home, I googled my mental archives for a way to use it to catch a coyote. In one of the many old trapping books I’ve perused over the years I remembered reading some old trappers advise to bury a skunk in the ground with just the tip of its tail sticking out then set a trap near it, so just like that, experiment #2 was born. Coyotes enjoy the smell of skunk; many lures used to help trap them have pure skunk scent as a base. Skunks have rather colorful tails that are surprisingly soft and ripple in the wind with very little breeze. I rebuilt the mound of trash, stuffed the dead skunk up in the pile with just a couple inches of its tail sticking out and reset the trap in front of it. Hopefully the “sweet smell” of skunk and the critters tail softly swaying in the breeze would attract a marauding coyote and convince it a tasty snack could be had by merely dragging the stinker from the pile. Sure enough, two days later a big mature coyote awaited me there at my improvised trash set.
Now before you stand up and cheer for the success of my two experiments, let me say that I’ve already tried them both again since then, and as usual, neither one worked. Some “wise guy” once said “If at first you don’t succeed, lower your standards.” While that’s bad advice for life, it proved good advice for catching that coyote. I doubt those experiments of mine will be documented and lauded in the annals of history or in text books, but I’ll still try them again. Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors!
Steve can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.