1. How Do I Even Start?

First, determine what animal you want to trap and make sure it is legal to trap in your state.  After you’ve determined this, it is time to become an expert on that specific animal.  Research and understand the size, habitat, diet, predators, competitors, habitat range, and other unique information about that animal.

Second, learn the laws on trapping in your state, specifically the laws surrounding the animal you want to trap.  All laws throughout the 50 states vary when it comes to trapping, so it is important you find information directly from your state.  If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact your local conservation officer.

Third, research the kind of trap(s) used for your specific animal and learn the trap inside and out. If you pursue coyotes or foxes, I recommend using snares. Snares are safe, easy to deploy in the field, and are low maintenance.

2. I Don’t Know Where to Trap

Finding a place to trap is one of the largest hurdles to get over because of the competition.  Typically, trap lines have been passed down from generation to generation and when a new trapper encroaches on “claimed” territory, the new trapper is likely to lose traps.

One way to get your own area free of competition is to partner with local farmers.  Many farmers are busy tending their fields and need help controlling their coyote and fox populations.  A simple knock on the door and a short conversation could easily get you 400 + acres of trapping land to yourself.  As you walk or drive the area, you may find small creeks, ponds, and timber that hold other species including muskrats, beavers, and raccoons.  As you build a relationship with the farmer, you can request permission to trap these other species and maybe convince him to let you fish or hunt too.

3. Trapping is Expensive

Walking through the large outdoor stores you notice a small section in the corner that still holds some trapping supplies.  Walking through, you notice many of the conibear traps and foot hold traps can easily cost you $20.00, just for one!  Needing at least 50 traps to make the drive to set them, you may find the initial cost to trap high.

Trapping does not need to be expensive and there are creative ways to get around the prices.  One, look for used traps online.  Traps take up a lot of room and people who no longer trap are always looking to sell at low prices simply to make more room in their garage. Two, ask around.  Pass the word to the farmer who is letting you trap his land or to your fellow outdoorsmen that you’re looking to buy used traps. 

Additionally, there are cheap alternatives like snares that can be purchased online. Read more about snares with this article: Broaden Your Outdoor Knowledge: Trap Using Snares.

4. There’s No Money to be Made

As you start to consider trapping, you find yourself talking to local trappers in your area or reading forums on the Internet about fur prices.  You find that most of the trappers say the same thing, “There’s no money to be made and it is not worth doing.”  Don’t be fooled.

Again, trapping is competitive and some trappers will say anything to keep you out of the woods.  If no money was to be made, why are they trapping?  Why have they been trapping for 10+ years?  Fur markets fluctuate like any other market and over time, years full of bad fur prices are made up with years of excellent prices. But, should you be trapping to make money?

No.  You should be trapping to learn and have a good time.  Trapping forces you to look at the entire landscape and learn what ALL animals are doing.  Trapping forces you to look at the ground and decipher different tracks, the age of the tracks, and the direction the animals are traveling.  Trapping makes you think and act like the animals you are pursuing, making you not only a better trapper, but a better outdoorsman. There is no such thing as failure in trapping because of the knowledge gained and the memories made.

Justin J. Lind

September 2017
White Buffalo Outdoors