May 4, 2010
The coyote also known as the American Jackal, Brush Wolf or Prairie Wolf is a species of canid with 19 recognized subspecies that are located from as far north as Alaska and as far south as Panama. Coyotes typically grow up to 30–34 in (76–86 cm) in length, not counting a tail of 12–16 in (30–41 cm), stand about 23–26 in (58–66 cm) at the shoulder and, on average, weigh from 15–46 lb (6.8–21 kg) . Northern coyotes are typically larger than southern subspecies, with the largest coyotes on record weighing 74¾ pounds (33.7 kg) and measuring over five feet in total length. During pursuit, a coyote may reach speeds up to 43 mph (69 km/h), and can jump a distance of over 13+1⁄8 ft (4.0 m)
Coyotes generally breed in late January or early February. They have on average 4 to 9 pups 63 days later in late March or earl April. The young pups will stay in the den for about 3 to 4 weeks. Coyotes are capable of digging their own burrows, though they often prefer the burrows of groundhogs or American badgers. When the young coyotes are old enough to get around, they accompany their parents and learn how to hunt. They stay with their parents until fall or early winter when the family group splits up. Coyotes are most active at night although they are commonly seen out during the daytime as well. They do not hibernate but are very active during the winter months.
Coyotes are opportunistic, versatile carnivores with a 90% mammalian diet, depending on the season. They primarily eat small mammals, such as voles, prairie dogs, eastern cottontails, ground squirrels, and mice, though they will eat birds, snakes, lizards, deer, javelina, and livestock, as well as large insects and other large invertebrates. Any species of birds that nests on the ground are targeted by coyotes. Though they will consume large amounts of carrion, they tend to prefer fresh meat. Part of the coyote’s success as a species is its dietary adaptability. As such, coyotes have been known to eat human rubbish and domestic pets.
Coyotes are close relatives of the dog; in fact, they will mate with dogs. They establish definite routes of travel and will follow them as they make their rounds in an area. If you can locate these travel routes, you can catch coyotes. Trail sets such as explained for trapping foxes work well for coyotes once you have determined their lanes of travel. Scent post sets are the most commonly used and the most effective coyote sets. If you can locate a spot that has been used as an urinating spot, it is better than making an artificial scent post. Coyotes will urinate at the same spots every time they are in an area but may miss a post that you have created even if you have soaked it in urine.
Scent post sets such as this can be established in areas where coyotes run. Use coyote urine in place of fox urine. Coyotes often leave scratch marks around urinating posts just as a dog does. Some trappers make scratches around their scent post sets to make them appear more natural and to stimulate the intended quarry.
The Dirt Hole Set:Step 1. Dig a hole about 4 inches in diameter and 8 inches deep at a 45- degree angle. If possible, dig under a small bunch of grass that can serve as a backing. A dried cow chip, coyote droppings, bone or small piece of rotten wood can be used for a backing if grass is not available. Place the dirt from the hole on the kneeling cloth so it is easily accessible for covering the trap.
Step 2. Place the trap 2 to 3 inches from the hole to figure out how large to dig the trap’s bed.
Step 3. Set the trap aside, and dig another hole an inch or so below the level of the ground and wide enough for the trap and stakes.
Step 4. Level and smooth the trap bed.
Step 5. After placing the trap in the freshly dug hole, secure it by driving a stake through the attachment on the swivel. For the stake, use a 5/8-inch re-enforcing rod stake at least 28 inches long with a nut or washer welded to the top end.
If the ground is rocky, it may be difficult to drive the stake into the ground. If so, substitute two 16-inch re-enforcing rod stakes and drive them in the ground at 45-degree angles.
Use the cross-stake method if the ground is wet or the soil is loose. See a cross-stake set up in the drawing on page 21.
Once the stakes are driven into the ground, place enough loose soil from the kneeling cloth to bed the trap and firmly twist it into the dirt. The trap should be about an inch below the level of the ground.
Step 6. Once the trap is bedded in the hole, install a pan cover to keep the dirt away from the springs. Pan covers should be porous so that moisture, but not dirt, passes through. Denim, other cloth materials and fiberglass screen work well. They should be clean and free of odors. Cut the cover to fit under the jaws and over the pan of the trap. A trap with a 6-inch jaw spread requires a pan cover that is 6 inches wide and 8 or 9 inches long. In one end, cut a slit for the trigger mechanism.
Step 7. Pack loose soil around the trap and over the ends of the pan cover that extend out from the jaws of the trap. Pack the soil firmly all around the outside of the trap to bed the trap securely. This keeps the trap from tipping if the coyote steps on the soil outside the trap. If the soil dug from the hole is too wet or too coarse to use, find drier soil along protected cutbanks, under fallen logs or hay bales, or in buildings with dirt floors.
Step 8. Once the trap is firmly bedded and the pan cover installed, sift 1/4 to 1/2 inch of dry dirt over the trap. A homemade sifter with a 1/4- or 1/8-inch mesh screen of heavy hardware cloth with wood sides will screen out all coarse dirt, rocks and other debris from the trap covering. The trap will work smoothly through the sifted-dirt covering.
To make a place for the coyote to step as it approaches to investigate the lure, create a saucer-like depression in the dirt over the trap. The depression should be sloped slightly toward the opening of the dirt hole. Arrange small pebbles or clods of dirt carefully around the trap to guide the coyote into the trap, but be careful that pebbles or clods are not in the way of the trap jaws. Because coyotes like to step on smooth soil, this arrangement of pebbles or clods in conjunction with the saucer-like depression over the trap will do more to guide a coyote to step into the trap than will actual placement of the trap in relation to the dirt hole or lure.
In summer conditions, the dirt covering the trap will be dusty, making it an attractive dust-bathing location for birds and rabbits. A thorough sprinkling of water over the finished covering will cause a crust to form over the trap. The dirt crust is less attractive to rabbits and birds, which lessens the chances of making nontarget catches or having the trap covering accidentally knocked off. The dirt crust also gives the trap set an aged appearance and seals in any undesirable odors that might be on the trap or the pan cover.
Step 9. The last step in making the dirt-hole set is to add bait, lure or scent. The combination of two or more coyote lures in the hole make the set more appealing to a coyote and is more effective than using just one. Tainted meat bait, such as the flesh of beaver, bobcat, cattle or skunk, is a popular lure used in a dirt hole, but they deteriorate in hot weather. Many trappers use commercially available lures, which are more convenient and less messy than meat bait. There are numerous ways to make trapping lures. Three popular recipes can be found on page 25.
Use at least two coyote trapping lures in the dirt hole. Place a ball of sheep wool in the bottom of the hole and pour the lures on it, or pour the lures directly on the bottom of the hole. After the lures are applied, roll up a wad of dried grass and place it in the hole. Then place coyote gland lure, coyote urine or red fox urine on the backing. Coyote droppings can be used along with the gland lure or urine. If two or more dirt-hole sets are made in a close area, use a different combination of lures at each set to give each trap set a different smell.
Step 10. The finished dirt-hole set should look like an animal has dug a hole and strung the dirt back in the process. The dirt-hole set is effective partly because of its visual appeal. It also works well in areas with some grassy cover where other types of sets would be less obvious. Coyotes are attracted to bare dirt or mounds of dirt like gopher mounds, mole hills and badger dens. The addition of extra dirt in a trap-set location can make the set more attractive.
CONIBEAR® is a registered trademark of ONEIDA VICTOR INC., LTD.