A Thinking Trapper Finds Greater Success

Have you seen a new trapping trick on YouTube? Whoa Nelly... chill out before you apply it to your sets.

Mark E. Neely | November 2, 2019

I enjoy reading articles about trappers who have found a way or technique that really works for them. Lots of trappers have written books about trapping, some of which cover the basics, while others go into great detail about specific sets or baits to use. Trapping videos are a great way to relax and spend time learning about various methods and tricks of the trade. 

Of all the ways to learn this great sport of ours, my favorite is to ride along with a trapper who I believe knows his stuff.

It’s important for a trapper to gain knowledge from every source available and then to think through that knowledge and put it to work for himself. Knowledge is power, but if not used properly, it can be useless. 

I’m not taking anything away from the trappers who write articles or make videos, but we must think about where they are trapping and the facts that surround them as they share their knowledge.

Lots of trapping information is basic and can be used almost anywhere in the United States, but there is good trapping information out there that can only be successful in certain geographical areas or in particular situations. Let’s look at a few examples of information that may require you to think before you use it in your Georgia sets. 

Let’s say you’re reading an article about a trapper who catches hundreds of coyotes every season and you feel that he’s someone to copy. In his article, he’s really contributing all of his success to his choice of baits and lures.

You come to the conclusion that if you just buy some of that bait and lure, that your success will also be great. It might, but let’s think about that video for a minute. 

First off, always make note of if the person making the video is with a bait/lure manufacturer and pushing the product.

You may be watching a video on using snares for bobcats—something that is illegal in Georgia—and the trapper brushed in a trail to help funnel the cat. However, you can take the brushing-in idea and apply it to your cage traps, which are legal for catching Georgia bobcats.

Secondly, make note of where the video was filmed. I have a favorite trapper, and I like his videos, articles and baits, but I do not use his stuff all the time because he traps up North, and I live in the South. I have learned that most baits and lures on the market can work when used during the right time and in the right situation.

Thirdly, most baits and lures are made for specific purposes. Some are made as a sexual attractant, some as food and others are for curiosity. Think about your baits and buy the ones you need for that time of the year and for what is going on in the animal’s life that you are trapping.

Let’s say you come across another series of videos with an expert trapper, and you notice that the trapper uses a flat set more than any other. In your mind it must be the best set to use, and you plan to employ the set exclusively this upcoming season. Before you do, think about that for a minute.

Is this the best set for your area? Is it the best for all your situations? If the other trappers in your area all use the very same set, there is a chance they have the yotes educated to this set. Just because one trapper who happens to be a great trapper uses this set does not always mean it’s the best for you. 

If you like the flat set, I would learn to make this set very well and then consider the best times and places to use it. A good trapper will know how to use multiple sets and the best times to use them. As you continue to educate yourself through actual field work, while continuing your education through all the other outlets, you’ll get better and better about learning things just like this.

One problem that I had when I first started learning to coyote trap came after watching a number of videos by one of my favorite trappers. One of the things he consistently did was set his traps on the west side of the trails and roadways, so without question, so did I. However, I was never as successful as I thought I should be.

A trapper friend of mine suggested I do some thinking about that, and it quickly clicked why my sets weren’t that successful. The author was so successful because the wind most commonly blew out of the west for him, which meant the scent of the bait and lures drifted into the trails and roads and into the noses of the coyotes.

Talk about a “duh” moment. While he was using the wind to his advantage, I was not. I trap on land that sits on a big peninsula where the wind hardly ever blows in a constant direction.

There was a simple solution to my problem, and all I had to do was think about that and find a way to apply it to my trapping. The wind where I trap basically blows westerly in the mornings, and by afternoons it shifts and comes from the east. I started picking my very best locations and made two sets at each. One would take advantage of the morning winds, and the other worked with the evening winds. In most places it just meant me putting a trap on both sides of the roads. 

A very important factor that must always be considered is your state’s trapping laws since the videos and articles you often read may be done out of state. 

Since we’re GON and talking about Georgia trapping, you need to be very familiar with all the trapping regulations. Go to Trust me, trapping laws can be different from one state to the next. 

For example, let’s say you discover a great video about catching bobcats using snares. You rush out and get some wire and start mapping out your trap line when you have a very good friend tell you that using snares in Georgia isn’t even legal for bobcats. Georgia DNR rules state, “Snares may be used for trapping beaver provided that snares are set in water or on land within 10 feet of water, including swamps, marshes, and tidal areas. All snares must be marked with the trapper’s name or identification number.”

Here is a tip where you can really dial into some interesting information. Make plans to watch a number of videos about using snares to trap bobcats, even though you can’t do that in Georgia. However, you may very well be able to incorporate some of their general trapping tricks into your Georgia bobcat sets, when done with legal traps, of course. 

Let’s say a YouTube video of using snares for bobcats shows a man brushing in a path to “steer” the bobcat down a trail and into his snare. You could use that same brushing technique when setting out cage traps, which are legal, for bobcats. Or maybe another light bulb clicks and you decide it’s a good idea to brush in the entire cage trap to help camouflage it.

Now, let’s pretend we’re reading an article about catching raccoons using big conibear (body-gripping) traps. It’s a great video, and you’re all excited. Which conibear trap should I get? Bigger is better right?

Before I rush out and buy several big conibears as the article recommended, I’ll need to know certain things before I begin. You flip over to the Georgia DNR website and read, “Body gripping traps in excess of 9.5 inches square may be used only in water or within 10 feet of water.”

Before making an expensive purchase for a half-dozen large conibears for raccoons, you at least now know you better look for some smaller ones. 

Finally, let me encourage you to join the Georgia State Trappers Association. This is an excellent place to gain knowledge. Even though I am a trapping instructor, I still learn when I get around a bunch of older trappers. I can always improve my trap line with this new information. The old timers love to sit around a campfire, and although the truth of their stories is stretched a little, they are full of trapping wisdom.

The Georgia trapping season for furbearers is Dec. 1 to Feb. 28. There is no closed season for beaver or coyote. You’ll need what’s called a “Resident Commercial Trapping” license for $45. You can find a link to that license at

License application must be completed and then mailed or brought to: License Office, 2065 US Highway 278 SE, Social Circle, GA 30025. For questions, call WRD headquarters at 833.557.3303

Become a GON subscriber and enjoy full access to ALL of our content.

New monthly payment option available!


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.