March 6, 2023

Furbearer Trapping: What Equipment Do You Need?

A coyote walks through the snow with its head down.

Furbearer trapping is a part of human history and many cultures. Early hunter-gatherers made pit traps, snares and deadfall traps to capture prey. Furs made clothing and shelter while the meat fed families. 

If you’re ready to participate in this age-old activity, you need to know about wildlife trapping equipment. Before trapping, check the area’s hunting regulations to know what traps you can use legally. What are your options? 

In this article, we run through several types of hunting equipment used for furbearer trapping. Find out more about trapping equipment, then start your next adventure.

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Brief History of Furbearer Trapping

When you think of fur trapping, visions of hard days trekking over rugged wilderness may come to mind. You may picture a scene out of the historical drama Frontier, with Jason Momoa as an outlaw trapper.

Fur trapping has a rich economic history for European colonists. The booming fur trade declined in the Eastern United States in the late 1700s. Increasing settlements and over-trapping were the cause. 

Fur trade across the United States continued to decline in the late 1800s with the beaver’s depletion and changes in fashion.

Today, people enjoy trapping for many reasons, and only abundant species are hunted legally. Regulated trapping maintains biodiversity and protects habitats from overpopulation. Many trappers sell furs for additional income or catch animals to put food on the table. 

Furbearer Trapping Set Types

If you’re interested in furbearer hunting, consider what you’d like to trap. You can legally trap animals like coyotes, beavers, foxes and mink without putting their populations at risk. Your choice of trapping equipment depends on the furbearer you’re trapping.

Trapping is about strategy. An animal’s size and habits can change how you try to trap it. The wrong trap size or type can unnecessarily injure the animal and damage its pelt. Knowing the animal well helps you decide how to set your traps.

You can trap on land or water. Dry-land trappers need tools to set and hide traps from wary animals. Covering your traps also hides them from hungry birds who would take off with the bait or accidentally trigger the trap.

You may need a trowel to dig holes for bedding traps or a hatchet to cut away limbs and brush. Common trap set techniques and types include: 

  • Dirt hole sets. Trappers dig a hole in the ground first. They hide the trap in front of the hole and bait it to attract a furbearer.
  • Pocket sets. You can dig a hole in the bank at water level when water trapping. You’ll place the lure at the back of the pocket and set the trap in the front.
  • Flat sets. Land trappers may use an object to attract animals and set traps beside them. Flat trap sets are similar to dirt hole sets—minus the hole in the ground.
  • Cubby sets. Whether land or water trapping, you can take nearby rocks, logs or boards and make a cubby for your trap. Place the bait at the back of the cubby. Setting a cubby up by the water is great for attracting curious raccoons.
  • Blind sets. Simply put a trap in the path of the animal. No bait. Blind sets are best for water-bound furbearers.
  • Submersion sets. Water trappers can use slide wire or tangle stake techniques to submerge a furbearer underwater, resulting in a humane and fast death.

Types of Traps for Furbearers

There’s a lot of trapping equipment out there. Before you set traps, make sure to review the area’s regulations. 

Some states prohibit using certain traps or restrict them in specific situations. Always check the guidelines for trap sizes and know the rules before you take a furbearer.

Here are some common furbearer traps. This is not an exhaustive list. 

Body-Gripping Traps

Some of the most common traps are body-gripping traps or conibear traps. 

These traps instantly kill the animal and are often used for badgers, mink, raccoons, beavers and otters. Two jaws on the trap close around the animal’s neck or chest once the trap is triggered. 

Be careful where you place body-gripping traps. Domestic animals or endangered species could get caught—and killed—in the trap.

Box or Basket Traps

These traps are wire baskets with a door. Trappers place them underwater in hopes a furbearer will swim through. If a mink or muskrat gets caught, it will drown since it cannot exit the trap. 

Cable restraints

Using cable restraints captures animals and leashes them. Trappers hang a steel cable loop over a trail and wait for animals to enter it. Once something enters the loop, it tightens, and the animal restrains itself.

Cage Traps

Cage traps are also called live traps. Animals enter a cage, attracted by bait, and find themselves trapped inside. 

Recreational trappers don’t often use bulky cage traps. These traps are often used for removing and relocating pests like skunks or raccoons. They don’t grip animals, so releasing them is easy.

Cage traps can be prohibited for underwater use or for taking more than one furbearer at a time. Those are the trapping rules in Pennsylvania, for example. 

Foothold Traps

Leghold traps grab animals by the foot. You can catch foxes, coyotes and other wary animals with foothold traps.

With foothold traps, choosing the right size is essential. Traps that are too big can grip animals on the leg instead of the foot. Smaller foothold traps are better for limiting injury to the animal.

Check the state’s regulations for the maximum size coil-spring or long-spring foothold trap you can set.

Other Fur Trapping Tools and Supplies

Toting your trap alone isn’t enough. You’ll need to bring additional fur trapping supplies. Your top two essentials are tags and gloves. Hunting tags let you trap legally, and gloves ensure no human scent lingers on your traps. 

You’ll want several other tools in your pack to make life easier. These tools help you prepare the location and set your trap.

Be sure to add these items to your list!

  • Hunting tags and licenses
  • Bait
  • Stakes
  • Wire and pliers
  • Hatchet 
  • Hammer
  • Trowel or shovel
  • Basket or bucket (for carrying supplies)
  • Dirt sifter (no dirt clods will stop your trap!)
  • Drowning locks (for water trapping)
  • Clean gloves 

Start Furbearer Trapping Today

Now you know what you need to start trapping. Whether on land or by the water, you’ll have fun furbearer trapping solo or with family and friends.

Find your next trapping expedition. HUUNT can help! When you sign up for HUUNT, you gain access to guided hunts and hunting land leases across the country. Explore our hunting listings, then book your furbearer hunting trip.

Sign up today. Start hunting tomorrow.

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