I have always said, "You can ask 12 trappers a question and you would get 13 different answers".
A couple of weeks ago I spent my 4th year at the FTA Trapper's College as one of the instructors. The FTA College is in connection with Purdue University. It is certainly the greatest experience on the planet for any trapper. The instructors will tell you that they learn as well during the full week of actual trapping, speakers, demos and just being able to talk with experienced trappers. The wealth of knowledge is second to none. There are 15 instructors with a combined 700+ years of experience. Anyone interested in trapping, or wanting to become a better trapper, should definitely consider attending the FTA Trapper's College.
One comment that I hear every year, particularly from the beginners, is their concern over conflicting information from the instructors. Generally speaking, it normally comes down to small refinements or details. One area of disagreement that sticks in my mind from this year's "College" is the placement of 220 Body Traps on land. One instructor said that the trigger should go on the top of the trap, where as a different instructor said the trigger should go on the bottom. Clearly, this is a small detail and in the scheme of things, I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. Just an example of differences in opinion…
This year at the "College," each group (there are 5 groups) was given 4 trail cameras. The cameras were to be placed on different set locations to see if we could capture animals working the set and ultimately being caught. One interesting result from a camera was of a 220 Body Trap that had been placed on a trail. What the camera had captured was a raccoon literally climbing over the top of the 220 and continuing on his evening sojourn.
So, let's back up a bit and work on basic areas of agreement. The 220 should be set on an active trail, the trap should be off of the ground 3 - 4 inches. The trap should be fenced in if the trail doesn't have adequate "sides" to it. Blocking on the top of the trap is advised, and an attractant can be used such as a trailing scent (but in most cases not necessary).
So, clearly what the video off of the trail camera showed was that blocking above the trap would have kept the raccoon from crawling over the trap and resulted in a catch. The trigger placement probably didn't have much to do with the raccoon's decision to go over the trap.
My point of all of this is that while methods may vary from trapper to trapper, what we do as trappers is all very similar. The refinements and details are where the differences may be. All of us develop and change our perspective and methods as we gain experience. Clearly there are no definitive answers, just methods based on years of experience.
Until next time….
Charlie Masheck has been a trapper since 1972. He started Hoosier Trapper Supply in 1976 and was a fur buyer from 1976 - 1991. Charlie is also the formulator of the Leatherwood Line of trapping scents, Top Dog Predator Bait and Lip Licker Deer Lure. His 46 years of trapping experience and association with trappers and the fur industry have given him a history and perspective of the trapping trade few have.