The Cache Set
I first saw the "cache set" while thumbing through a copy of Fuller Laugeman's lure catalog. Fuller and his wife, Ruth, had bought Bill Nelson's lure business back in the 1970s. They continued making lure under the name Big Sky Lures for several years.

Growing up beaver trapping in the U.P., I was well accustomed to the beavers' habit of collecting a supply of sticks for a winter food source, or cache. So when Fuller mentioned cache I first thought he was talking about beaver lure, but as I read on, I realized he was talking about canine lure.

I first met Fuller and Ruth in the fall of 1983, when I ventured West to trap. I was going through Winnett, Montana, so I stopped and had my first of many visits with them. Ruth had given me a catalog to look at before the Montana Trappers Rendezvous, which was coming up that weekend.

I camped a lot in those days, and I'm sure I read through that catalog with the help of a flashlight. I was new to the Western style of trapping; the jargon and references to canine and cat trapping, in numbers, had my head spinning.

When I eventually had the chance to ask Fuller about the cache set for coyotes, he was fairly brief in his explanation. He mentioned "scratches" and "covering", and the use of bits of fur. I came away with a few unanswered questions, but I felt I had learned a little about his version of the set.

To be honest, I got stuck on the standard dirthole and flat sets, along with the occasional trail set, for a long time. In most cases, I never saw a reason to deviate from the norm. My success was such that I felt I had a good handle on things. But, like a lot of other trappers, I'm always looking for another way to catch canines. I started to consider making a set that covered many bases and would work in a variety of situations.

If you read my articles, you know I'm not into "trick" or complicated sets that take time to construct. I lean towards sets that require little, if any, maintaining and I use natural blocking to reduce misses. The cache set, as I see it, fits right in.

I use more cache sets at remakes than when making a new set. If I had the perfect situation every time, it would be in a slightly torn-up circle made by a bobcat, with a little debris to use. But we don't always have a perfect situation to work with, so let's start from scratch.

A proper definition of the word "cache" is: To store away in hiding or for future use. Based on that alone, you can almost visualize a canine or a cat stepping back, after hiding a scrap of meat or bone and thinking to themselves, "That'll be there later." After all, that's basically what a dirthole set is imitating, and we all know how well it works for a variety of furbearers.

My variation of a cache set is actually a slightly modified dirthole, which evolved over time. It likely came into play when I had trouble getting a hole dug or chiseled in hard frozen ground, and I had to cover the hole with a fairly large wad of grass. I always try to have a grass plug over the bait in a
dirthole anyway. By scraping up grass and other debris right at the set, you give it a more torn-up and visible look.

I like to make this set where I can find easy digging, if possible. If there is some light grass, or other debris, so much the better. Ground cover varies greatly in different areas, but I'm confident that suitable places can be found almost anywhere.

I prefer a fairly low backing, less than a foot, but I've also used the roots of a fairly large, dead tree. Here in the West, it's common for grass and dirt to accumulate under certain sagebrushes, and this gallon or two of natural debris is tailor-made for this set. I've also used pine needles, wheat stubble, or a partial swath of hay left in a baled field. Using something natural to the area is somewhat key to the construction of the set.

I use the digging tang on my hammer to dig a shallow hole into the debris or grass clump. At times, I'll have to use the cut-down tile spade that I carry. Depth of the hole can be little more than a dent, since it's going to get covered up anyway. I usually try to get at least a few inches deep since I use a lure holder at my sets, and I want it covered too. I'm in the habit of digging my trap bed at the same time, and I'll dig that so when the trap is bedded and covered, it's roughly flush with the ground.

I'm a huge fan of bleached cow bones. If those aren't available or legal to use, you can use another type of lure holder. I use dowels with 1-inch felt strips wrapped on them with great success. Also a bag of them takes up less room in my bag than the bones do. To be honest, the simple method of just smearing the lure or bait inside the hole works well, but lacks the eye appeal.

Once the hole is made, I drive a bone or dowel lure holder in it. I prefer to have these lure holders driven solidly into the hole so it can't be easily moved. It's on this that I place a food lure or bait usually, but I've also used gland on it.

Again, using the digging tang on my hammer, I'll scrape up some of the vegetation within a foot or so of the set, in every direction. If I dig a little deeper in some spots, it just makes the set look a little rougher which makes it even better. Some use a 3-prong garden tool as a scratcher. I mound enough of this debris over the attractor to resemble about half a basketball.

It's important that you don't leave any big chunks of debris that might blow onto your trap bed. Too many times I've checked traps from a distance, only to later find the wind has blown a root or piece of brush over the bedded trap, discouraging an animal from stepping in the right spot. It doesn't hurt to use your gloved hands to pat the mound of debris down a bit, to make it withstand the wind better.

I prefer to bed the trap directly in front of the covered lure holder. The distance from it will vary, depending on if and how you use the front of the mound or cache as gentle blocking.

I use any rougher debris or objects like a cow chip as an outside blocking of the trap. I place that a few inches from the jaw of the trap, to create a walk-through type effect. A little smear of fresh gland works well on the inside lip of that object, toward the trap.

To finish the set, I like to use a dropping on top of the cache. A dried out dropping will work, but a fresh one will work even better. You can usually find a few droppings while scouting or setting, and put them in a Ziploc bag or clean jar. Once you start catching animals, you can collect fresh droppings from the intestines of the skinned animals, and have a fresh supply all season long. The droppings from catch circles will work well too.

Wind direction is of some importance, and I like the trap bed to be on the downwind side of the set, just like you would almost any other type of set.

I feel very confident in the fact that cats and canines will respond to the odors and smells of each other, even if one or the other isn't present at any given place. I hear it all the time; fox trappers in the Eastern U.S. using cat gland based lures to make large catches, while a Western cat trapper may use red fox urine. I'm a firm believer in fresh gland, and I've used it at this type of set many times.

Greed, intrigue, possibly hunger, some territorial urges, and maybe just plain old boredom factor into the effectiveness of this set. A combination of smells helps, and I almost always use at least two.

The cache set has it all going for it. It imitates where an animal has buried something to eat. The dropping placed close by is a focal point, and helps the animal have confidence to work the set. A variety of smells, in the right position helps get the target animal to step in the right spot. You have all the bases covered. Will it replace the other sets I use? No. But I'll continue to use it on my predator line, as the opportunity comes up. It has worked so well for me that I've often thought about renaming it the "cash" set.