Making Coyote Sets Click - Part II
In the last issue I left off talking about using droppings, and I want to pick up there again.

One variation I do is to place the dropping on top of the object I'm using as an outside blocking. A cow chip is one of my favorite choices for this blocking, and there's nothing more natural than a black dropping smack dab on a dried up cow chip. You see it all the time. I smear a little gland lure on top of the chip and place the dropping on top of the lure. That helps hold it in place, and makes it smell even more like a coyote has been there. It's one more way to get a coyote to make those extra tracks. If the dropping does disappear, the residual lure smell will still be there.

If I'm using a taller outside blocking, or a backing for the hole or flat set itself, I will at times place a dropping on that. It's not uncommon to see where a coyote backed up and left a dropping on such a place, and to imitate this I will take a dropping and just 'mash it on the grass or light brush. This not only gives some visual advantage, but also lets the smell be distributed a bit. Again, a little fresh gland lure is used, and you have a very natural addition that compliments any canine set. Droppings are easily freshened up with a bit of urine too, and a little bobcat urine on a coyote dropping at an until then dormant coyote set has paid off for me many times.

Droppings can be placed down inside a dirt hole, too. You lose some of the visual advantage, but they will smell them, and will often be prompted to make those few extra critical steps.

Visual attractors are usually associated with cat sets, but they have value with coyotes, too. My favorite is the bleached bone. The white color is in contrast with just about any soil, and can been seen from a distance. It doesn't have to be huge, like a skull or leg bone, to be effective. Since bones are porous, lure and other smells will stay on them for a fairly long time. Bones work great at flat sets, too. You can use a rod or trap stake to make a pilot hole if the ground is frozen, to keep from breaking the bones when you pound them in, and once in place they are hard for a coyote to pull out.

A trap bedded fairly tight to the attractor (6-8 inches to center of pan) works best for me, especially when used with an outside blocking. Still, one of the key factors to really make sets 'click' is to use a lure or bait that the coyote will actually want to pull, or at least lick and try to grab. I won't use my M-44 lures on these bones, because I save them for their intended use, but I do prefer to use a food/curiosity type of lure. That being said, I don't think you can really go wrong with just about any type of smell on a bone, be it bait, gland, urine, or whatever. Once again, a little variety goes a long ways to getting them to make an extra track where it counts.

Some successful trappers use the feet from trapped animals as a visual attractor. I've found that they need to be held in place with a spike or long nail. Placed pad up and toes towards the trap seems to work best for me, although I've seen them used other ways. Make sure they're legal, as some states prohibit exposed animal parts. Here again, fresh gland lure, with its natural smell, is my first choice. A bobcat foot with some gland will catch just about any predator, and is one of my old standby 'sleeper' type sets.
A few other things that are simple to use, and are also effective, are smells found right at a catch circle. A sifter full of dirt found at a dry coyote/bobcat/fox set that connected previously, holds a lot of smell and attraction. I've shook and sifted the dirt over the entire set at times, and had good luck. The sifter will take out any large rocks, debris, and anything else you wouldn't want on the set, but even that debris can be piled a few feet away from the set. The droppings left in the sifter? Use them right at a set and see what happens. Other times I've gathered some of this dirt and without sifting it just thrown it over by a set that hasn't connected. The bottom line is, you're scattering some super attractive smells around your area. I call that a Hot LZ (Hot Landing Zone).

It's not hard to envision what happens when a coyote comes in contact with your sets. A coyote is traveling through an area, and detects a variety of smells on the wind. They investigate from hunger, curiosity, or just to get in contact with that familiar smell of another canine. It smells another animal that was there longer than just lingering. The approaching coyote's defenses are up at first, but maybe that fox smell, or that cat dropping, will make the coyote work the set a little harder, a little longer. That adds up to less misses, more catches.

I approach coyote trapping as a long term effort. I've always lived in areas of low to moderate coyote densities, and I've found through the years to expect to wait some coyotes out for a long period of time. That has made me fairly critical of how I construct my sets. I want everything involved to take some weather and still be working. My backing will usually be fairly high (up to a foot or more) and substantial. I want any blockings or add-ons to be fairly secure, and placed right. I like two smells at a set, and rarely vary from that. I like my set as level as possible, especially over the trap. I don't like moisture to collect over my trap. I use my set finishing tool to make things level, debris free, and as natural as I can.

I know some of you trap in fairly high coyote densities, and maybe some of the things I've mentioned aren't of interest because you feel they're not needed. Some people are happy with the methods they use, and change comes hard for them. I hear it all the time. Standard, time-honored, simple dirt holes and other sets will always take a lot of coyotes. But in my area, and with my population densities, and as a predator control trapper often needing to remove specific coyotes as quickly as possible, I've found that the extra precautions and little 'add-ons' I do, have paid off enough for me to continue doing them. Extra tracks at a set will pay off, I promise you. Remember, it's not always about the coyotes you catch. It might come down to learning more from the coyotes you didn't catch.