Remakes - Part I
I'm often asked how I handle re-makes after a catch while trapping canines. It's a topic that has lots of variables, like all trapping, but I do have some methods and tips that I would like to pass along.

Non-Target Catches
Some catches will no doubt be from non-target animals, such as skunks, 'coons, 'possums, and the like. I also have a fair amount of badgers and bobcats show up in my traps intended for fox and coyotes. When they are prime, (and in the case of bobcats, legal) they are a welcome addition to the day's catch. I used to get disgusted with the time spent releasing 'cats and shoveling badger circles back in to make the set usable, but over the years I have learned the value of the eye appeal and smell they leave behind.

I find the smell of basically any animal to be of some attraction to canines. In the case of a skunk, the digging, chewing, and grass digging is all valuable. If you are able to properly dispatch the skunk, and remove it without any detectable odor, the traces of it left behind will help in making your set that much more attractive. If the skunk sprays during dispatch I will still reset, although I find myself using those as locations for a buried skunk set, or at the very least, a flat set with just a tip of the skunks' tail sticking out of the ground, right at the base of the backing. I usually let things air out for a few days after dispatching any skunks that spray.

Raccoons might require a new trap to remake the set as coons will certainly shine them up and make them prematurely rust. But their smell at a set certainly isn't going to make a canine shy away. In the case of bobcats, their smell is super attractive to basically all predators, including other 'cats. They don't tend to tear the set location up as much as some of the others, but their smell and droppings are valuable. Just think of how attractive a set must be that originally had fox urine, or coyote gland, and then 'freshened up' with fresh, musky 'cat urine. If there was ever any combination of smells that I would define as a "magnet" it would be this.

The same goes with badgers. Their digging and mounding of dirt while in a trap can really make a mess of things. I would say I pull the set 50% of the time, and opt to reset right along the mound, as it is a great eye appeal. The rest of the time I simply take my shovel, turn it sideways, and 'sweep' the dirt back into as flat a spot as possible. The combination of badger smell and the fresh dirt make a good set location, and badgers will work them also.

Unless the set location is virtually destroyed and can't be rebuilt to my satisfaction, I will capitalize on these smells and the eye appeal left behind, and use it to my advantage.

Target Catches
And, of course, you will have to deal with remakes after catches of the intended canines. I guess I have no hard and fast rules, but I do tend to re-set the 'circle' created while the animal was detained in the trap. I will give you a few reasons why. First, the smell of another canine will be of interest at least to some degree. This is especially true of red fox and coyotes, from my experience. The concentrated smell left behind is a major source of a combination of urine, droppings, chewed grass or brush, and sometimes actually "reeks" of the odors.
Also, I have came to the conclusion over the years that a lot of the second and third catches (or more) made at a set are littermates. The familiar smell of another fox or coyote is no doubt of major attraction, since they were raised together. If you ever get the chance to look around a fox or coyote den after the pups are out of the hole, you will probably see sign of the food bits, bones, feathers, droppings, and 'wet spots' left behind. As the litter gets older and the areas get worn down, this is known as "pup wash" by seasoned denners. These spots will sometimes show what variety of food that the parents will provide for a growing family.

I have often noticed where a fox or coyote pup had partially buried a piece of bone, wing, or bit of fur in a shallow depression they found or half-heartedly dug themselves. I call these "mock dirt holes." For the most part these "dirt holes" are just like you would make for canines, with the exception of being on a smaller scale usually.

Where I am heading with this is simple. A large percentage of canines are caught while litter trapping, especially in the early fall. If you are in a high population, you might find the litters still hanging loosely intact a little later. It only makes sense to capitalize on the familiar smells left behind by the previously caught animals. Many times I have caught 6-8 fox in a row in one set, and another set close by will fail to connect. The same with coyotes, although I find 2-3 is more the norm with them, especially at staked sets.

Probably just as high on the list are the canine competition and territorial factors. In most areas coyotes will rule the roost, but that won't stop a red fox from investigating a predominate coyote smell. This is especially true if the set has had a chance to air out for a few days, or maybe some snow has toned the set done a bit. And coyotes, especially the adults, will at times literally attack a set made with fox smells, as evidenced by the 'kicks' and scratches I've witnessed many times over the years. Since the fox is no doubt down the list as far as pecking order is concerned, coyotes will respond to their smell with virtually no concern, other than to find out what their "competition" was doing there, and what they left behind for them to investigate, play with, or steal.

In Part II of this article in the next issue (March/April), I'll talk about how to make the most of remakes. A properly remade set should have everything going for it that the original set did. By this I mean it should still have a proper backing, a level approach, and, if a dirt hole type set, firm enough ground to dig a hole and not have it collapse. Compromising on any of these factors can result in misses or visits without the animal truly 'working' the set.