Grab And Pull
If you are a canine trapper, you've probably heard of the 'Grab and Pull' response. There has been a paper or two (or more) written about this unique behavior of the canine family, to want to lick, grab, and pull certain smells.

I have to be honest; I started to read one or two of these published reports, and lost interest rather quickly. It was nothing against the people who did the research because I respect anyone who has the discipline and time to compile such data. But I had already discounted too many of the smells tested, as high percentage 'problem' smells because of livestock and/or deer. But I've always been a hands-on type person, and I'm always thinking about how such research will pertain to me, and if I can utilize it in the real world of trapping.

I have some etched-in-stone theories about canine trapping. Though they number darn few, they are based on what I've seen and experienced while pursuing canines in a lot of different areas and conditions. While working predator control I'm always experiencing new and changing coyotes; it's just one of the many reasons that I continue to pursue coyotes as a profession. Their habits, litter size, response to vocalization, and other small things that make them wild canines, can vary from month to month, not to mention year to year. I sometimes find myself so wound up in it all, that I have to force myself to get back to basics to catch coyotes and fox come fall, when the bulk of fur trapping is done.

I'll always value the effectiveness of the dirt hole set for canines. It defines a canine set for many, and it will produce canines as long as we pursue them in the future. But I've been around this game long enough to know that there is always a need for a little variation for some of the canines that didn't read the reports on how effective the dirt hole set is.

I've written before about flat sets, and their effectiveness on canines. I continue to use them throughout the year, in many variations. They can be made many different ways, with a variety of backings, visual attraction, and smells. That's where 'Grab and Pull' comes in. By making your flat sets with that behavior in mind, you can increase the odds greatly.

If you've read many lure catalogs, you've probably seen reference to some lures as being "good on M-44s". I use that description at times myself, and I guess I should continue the sentence with, "... so it will work great on flat sets too". The percentage of trappers using M-44s across the country is probably 1% or less of the trappers out there, because they're used only for predator control purposes. With strict regulations, record keeping, and intended use being limited, they aren't even a remote consideration for most of today's trappers.

But, like a lot of things, the research and testing to make them effective can be utilized in another way. The M-44, and its predecessor, the Coyote Getter, was no doubt developed by trappers in the field at the time. There's some good reading on the subject, and I've read a lot of it.

I remember my first exposure to M-44s, many years ago in eastern Montana. I'd seen a few before, but since I started out just pursuing coyotes with fur trapping, they really didn't seem an option for me to use, or need. It was when I was getting more interested in the predator control aspect of coyotes that I started to research and look into them. I was lucky to be friends with several people who had used them over the years. All of the old timers had started with the original 'Getters', and a few quit using them when the government regulated their usage out, giving way to the new M-44s.

I was coached a lot on location, best time of year, scents (some of which were pretty exotic in my eyes), and what to lubricate the ejectors with. I soaked up all the information like a sponge, and stored it all away. With so many opinions and experiences thrown at me by so many people, I had to step back and think about it all. As usual, the best way to learn how to use them was to simply try them firsthand.

One thing that had been mentioned by so many of the good old hands was the size of the 'head', or capsule holder of the device. One rancher friend, a former government trapper, explained that if the head was too large, the coyote or fox would possibly tilt its head and try to pull it from the side, which wouldn't allow the device to deliver its load of cyanide properly. The cyanide simply missed the back of the mouth of the animal, and didn't prove fatal. You'd find the tell-tale bite marks, but no dispatched animal.
The fact that a canine has to actually reach down, bite the head, and pull up in order to fire the device, demands a different type of lure than just ordinary or typical lures. Not all smells and textures will trigger a canine to 'Grab and Pull' or 'Bite and Pull'. I can tell you from experience that a lot of good call-type lures, and gland-type lures, really aren't that effective in this application. Some lures make a canine (especially coyotes) roll and/or 'shoulder' them a fairly high percentage of the time, so those are out of the question too.

How does all this pertain to trapping coyotes, you ask? Simple. Almost everyone has heard of the use of, or has personally used, bleached bones in canine trapping. I'm a big user and advocate of them myself. I use T-bones throughout the year on a daily basis, and I find their applications almost endless. Flat sets are my primary function, but I find myself using more and more in dirthole sets, where I actually pound them into the hole. In my opinion, a finer lure holder and eye appeal object doesn't exist.

I use an outside blocking to create a walk-through type affair, and I feel that by having a good focal point, with an attractive smell, and an outside blocking, I miss only a small percentage of the canines that work my sets.

But you can take it even one step farther. By using a lure holder the right size, in combination with the right type of smell, you can make a deadly canine set for use with a foothold trap. A trap bedded fairly tight (pan 4-6 inches away), and properly guided, has been the most successful for me. The fact that the coyote or fox is going to be almost straddling the scent holder to pull up on it actually takes a lot of the guesswork out of trap positioning.

By 'right size' I mean about as big as your thumb, which is basically the size of the time honored and effective M-44. Only about 1¼ inches of the M-44, the head, protrudes about ground level, and it is that part that a canine pulls up on.

Luckily for the trapper, there are readily available lure holders that are basically imitations of the head of an M-44, or cyanide gun. These holders are built by using a piece of wooden dowel, and have a variety of wraps, including wool, felt, burlap, and cloth. They are all effective, and each will have its place.

It's fairly easy to build your own. Start with a ¼-inch dowel about 6 inches long, then sharpen one end to a point. I use black or brown felt, but color is a matter of preference. I use a fabric cutting board and a fabric cutter to cut strips about 1¼ inches wide and 7-8 inches long. I bought a hot glue gun for wrapping M-44 heads many years ago, and I still use it when building these lure holders. A simple line of hot glue, the width of the felt, holds one end in place near the flat end of the dowel. Then, wrap the rest of the felt tightly around the dowel, in layers, so that it forms a 'head', on the dowel. Another small line of hot glue under the very end of the felt will hold it all in place.

These can be used this way, or dipped in slightly melted wax. The wax will actually help hold the lure on the head, after it absorbs it. The waxed head helps keep birds and mice from pulling at the material so easily, and they could last you for a few years without re-waxing.

In frozen ground a small punch or rod can make a pilot hole, but try to use one smaller in diameter so the dowel is tight in the hole, or a canine might leave with it. If they have to work at it a bit, that just helps make more footprints on the pan.

Lure selection will be up to you, and probably the best advice I can give you is to use it sparingly. I believe a little intrigue factor goes a long way in this application, and I want the coyote or fox to have to nose around a bit for the smell. Urine and/or gland lure will work wonders a few feet away, or on the outside blocking too.

There isn't too much in today's trapping world that hasn't been tried at one time or another. Sometimes the simple things, that are right under our noses, are the most effective. I like to get back to basics, and keep things simple when trapping canines. The use of small lure holders, and 'pull-type' baits, are a good start.