Remakes - Part II
In the last issue I pointed out that 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 an unacceptable percentage of misses, or visits without the animal truly 'working' the set correctly.

Making the Most of Remakes
Backings are one of the most important things I look for when making a set. They will vary, but I find myself using fairly substantial ones more and more every season. My theory is that a large percentage of coyotes work a set from the side, and I surely don't want to give them the option of 'back-dooring' me too. I simply won't leave a set without having that option eliminated.

If you are lucky, the original backing might be intact enough to reuse. I see this in tall grass situations, with fairly heavy sod. I also find I can use some of my sets that were originally at the base of a sage or other sturdy bush, or grass hump. Crop edges, such as stubble fields, are usually the worst, and these spots are where I find myself pulling a set and moving it a few feet or more.

At times I find myself using the torn up ground cover, brush, and roots as a makeshift backing. The chewed up torn material surely has a large concentration of smell, and it is natural to have torn up brush at a hole dug by an animal. But the one thing I have found with using this 'duff' is that it can be fairly light, and the wind might blow it over the set. In these cases, the light grass and such is thrown away from the set. (I might squirt a shot of urine on it to help the location even more).

To remedy the backing problem, I almost always try to "transplant" a backing into place. I simply search for a clump of grass, weeds, wheat stalks, or whatever is natural. It doesn't have to be large, but I usually use a clump 6 inches or so across. With my shovel I dig it up, roots, sod, and all. I then "plant" this at my set where I want it to be. It is usually a simple matter of making a hole the appropriate size, discarding the dirt a short distance away, and replacing it with the clump I've selected. There is almost always enough loose dirt left in the circle to help blend the newly planted backing in a bit. I've gotten in the habit of placing this blocking on the upwind side of the set if possible, to add a higher degree of dictating how the canine will work the set.

Other options for a backing might be a nearby rock that fits into the immediate surroundings, or a piece of a log or old stump. I use old, sun-bleached skulls for this purpose too. I always pick these up whenever I see them, and they work especially well when turned sideways and 'tipped' slightly.

The set itself need to be level also. There is no reason to remake a set in a depression or 'crater' left behind. These spots will collect rain and drifting snow, and potentially cause problems for you. And, the way the canines work the sets can be affected by anything that is less than fairly flat. I don't mind a bit of a berm around the edges, as long as the set itself is constructed to my satisfaction. I find my self "feathering" the edges off a bit, though.

Changing Up
There will be some places where I can't re-dig a dirt hole, since the ground was torn up too much. Or, my backing was destroyed and I can't put one in that looks right. In these cases, I will change things around a bit. I might dig a small hole at the base of a dirt clump that originally held a lure holder or bone, and try to make it look like a small rodent hole.
On the other hand, I often make a hole set out of a spot, simply by having the hole dug the right angle and depth, and try to use the backing that is available. Remember, with all the animal smell there, it is natural for something to be buried there. I might use the small clumps of grass left at the set as a 'plug' for the hole and let that smell add even more to the attraction. And, this grass wad will help prevent the hole from collapsing in the looser soil. The list is endless, and the variations many.

Pulling the Set
Of course, you have the option of pulling the set. Today's S-Hook tools, J-hooks, Quick Links, and other hardware allows it to be done in a few seconds in most cases. The decision to re-set, and where, will depend on the area. I like to have at least 2 traps per location, and 3 is not out of the norm for me. So pulling a set that is destroyed, or can't be used, is sometimes justified by the fact that there are still 2 traps there. The ground at the set that is pulled will still have the same attraction, and it will help the location.

Moving the set a few feet is common, especially when coyote trapping. Anyone who has trapped coyotes knows how they can be circle shy, and almost impossible to catch in a set that has already connected. I see this worse in some locales than others, and it seems to vary from year to year to some degree. My theory has been to have at least one "fresh" set at a location after making catches. I still re-set the circle if I can, but maybe move the actual trap placement over a bit, so it isn't in the exact center of the circle. I then add in an extra set to pick up those coyotes that will come in and work the location, but avoid the original sets. I might set within a few yards, but usually go out 50 feet or more on the upwind side, and put in a blended-in flat set.

I also change lures and baits up a bit. I use a variety of baits, lure, and urine, and have many combinations to choose from. I have my favorites, like everyone else, but I don't use them all at the same time. I like to have something different to use as the season goes on. I might set a line up with one bait, a call lure, and one gland lure. Good urine is usually used too. These four smells will allow me to make a combination of smells at a variety of sets.

I then switch some of the smells up. I might go with a different bait, and change gland lures up too. This season I started with fox urine and fresh coyote gland, and then switched to 'cat urine and aged coyote gland based lure after the second check. Again, more smells. Any canines checking the location and not working the sets now have new odors to deal with.

A Few Tips
If you are making multiple catches at one set, and another one close by remains untouched, take a sifter of dirt from a catch circle, and lightly sift in the area of the other set.

Use fresh dirt to bed the trap in. This will help avoid the digging and uncovering of your traps. I sacrifice a bit of dirt and lightly scatter it at the set to help blend the trap in if the soil is a different color.

Always use clean pan covers, Poly-Fil, or screens when remaking the set.

Try to scrape or remove all hair, or anything else left on the trap before re-setting. I usually open the jaws, take a handful of dirt, and scour the inside of the jaws also.

Making the most of re-sets can be a big factor in your overall canine trapping success. I hope this has helped you understand some of the theories and methods that work for me on my traplines.