Trapping success is affected by many variables; time of year, weather, level of experience, competition, etc. Some can be dealt with some cannot. One factor that occurs every season that we can't control is what I would call the "December lull". This primarily applies to coyote and coon.
The explanation for coon is pretty simple. 'Coon spend the late summer and early fall months getting "fattened up" for winter, this allows them to "lay-up", "not run" or in other words stay in their dens for extended periods of time. This can vary from a few days to a couple of weeks. On a normal year, when the weather breaks this is normally the time when the coon "run" or move. Considering the unseasonable warm weather we have experienced this season we have not had the advantage of "warm ups" after a cold spell. When it is mild, it is a little more difficult to predict when the coon will actually move.
Coyotes take a little more explaining. In late fall (normally sometime in November) the pups disperse (or leave) from their family group and go out on their own to establish their own areas. For the most part they are just hanging out, trying to figure out their next move or where they will take up residence, better described as home range.
Since their home range has not been established, gland lures which translate to territorial lures are least effective at this time. Here again the mild weather has an adverse effect on coyote movement. Another factor that plays into this early to mid winter lull is deer season. Most of us trap in areas that experience high levels of deer hunting pressure.
The mass amount of food this provides for coyotes through: gut piles, dumped deer carcasses, etc. adds another negative dimension to attract coyotes to baited sets.
Many trappers start trapping this time of year, the fur is prime and deer season is winding down. As I stated earlier, some things we can't control and some things we can. The awareness of the things we can't control helps us through the more challenging times.
Clearly, fur can and is caught this time of year. Knowledge is key and ultimately is one of the biggest factors for success!
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.