Basic Coyote Trapping Equipment

(getting started)

By Duane Fronek

Well to get started trapping coyotes I guess is to know what equipment to use and how to use them. Considering you read or watched some information on trapping or took a trapper ed class, we’ll start out on what trap to use for coyotes. There are many brands and sizes of traps out there and they all work, some are less effective than others, but the main thing just like anything else is, using the right tool for the job. My trap choice for coyotes are a couple but mainly the traps are size #3’s they have a jaw spread of 6”-6.5”, the bigger the better, coyotes are a tough animal and you shouldn’t under estimate their power, I’ve seen coyotes tear up traps and get out, they are a tough animal and have some power in those jaws. The size #3 trap whether you use the Bridgers, Dukes, MB 650’ or Jakes all give you ample jaw spread and catch area for getting a good hold on a coyotes paw. Some guys use 1.75’s and size #2 traps, but in my humble opinion their handicapping themselves with misses or pullouts, but it may be that the size restriction for jaw spread is less than 6” as some states restrict you to a smaller jaw spread. So check your regs for your state. Traps can be purchased through trap supply companies and there are plenty out there and most are pretty reputable. To give you an idea of who to buy from, Kaatz Bros., Minn Trapline, F&T are all reputable and fast shipping.

Now the trap. Below is a pic of a typical #3 trap used for coyotes, it’s pretty self explanatory as to it’s make up, but is intended for reference. What is added is jaw laminations, you can weld these on yourself or order them already done. They consist of 3/16” rod that helps widen the jaw face and prevent injury. Also some traps when closed will have a gap between the jaws of about a ¼”, this gap is called an offset and some states require it. You can buy traps either or without offsets. I like offsets and theres plenty of debate whether there better or not, but to each his own. Over time you’ll develop a preference and style that’s unique to you.

#3 trap used for coyotes
Next on the list is your staking system. There are many systems on the market, the most used today I believe are cable stakes, next are rebar stakes and for coyotes rebar stakes 30” long with a welded washer on top is the minimum length to use on coyotes. I use to use rebar, but hauling rebar stakes, especially if your toting a 100 or so can be quite heavy hauling in a pickup. I’ve switched over to cable stakes about 5-6 years ago, they take up less room and are lighter, and in my opinion, hold better. They usually are about 15” in length and you can buy them or the components and make your own. There basically driven into the ground with a driver and when there completely in the ground you give them a jerk and it sets them.There attached to your trap chain with a 3/16” quick link. The chain on your trap should have swivels in it’s length to allow the trap to freely rotate when the coyote is trapped, to prevent pullouts and injury. Below is a diagram of how mine are setup.

Trap Chain Set Up
Now below is a diagram of how a cable stake is used. You drive it in with the driver, then when you have your stake drove in, remove the driver and give the stake a tug. This sets the cable stake end to prevent the stake from pulling out.
Cable Stake Set Up
Now for tools needed. You’ll need a good hammer to drive in stakes a chipper on the back for hard ground or frozen ground. Gloves, leather work the best, a dirt sifter for sifting dirt over your trap, a trowel for digging trap beds, stakes and driver. Below is a pic of your basic tools.
Basic Trapping Equipment Needed For Trapping Coyotes

This is your basic trapping equipment, besides pan covers, which I will cover in putting in a set. I basically use wax paper. It’s used to go over the trap pan before sifting the dirt over your set. It prevents dirt from getting under your pan, which will prevent your trap from firing. To carry your equipment in the field a clean 5 gal. bucket works or a utility bag you find at hardware stores, both work. To haul traps in a good Rubbermaid tote with a lid is fine, size depends on how many traps you have, I have a 48 gal tote with a hinged lid, its tough and durable, mines still going after 20 years, before that I kept them in a large wooden box I built.

2-55gallon barrels for boiling traps

Trap preparation is important here as well. It keeps your traps in good shape and keeps them clean of foreign odors. There are a couple ways to approach this. New traps need to be degreased of factory oils, you can do this by taking to a car wash and pressure washing them with hot water and soap, or you can boil in a large metal container with water and dawn dish soap, the regular original stuff, or red devil lye. Disclaimer: BE CAREFUL WHEN BOILING TRAPS< SPILLS CAN CAUSE SEVER BURNS. You can use a turkey fryer to do this or and concrete blocks with a barrel 30-55gal.and build a fire under it. After boiling for say an hour, let it cool then fill the barrel with more water till it runs over the top. This takes all the oil floating off the top and you can pull your traps out. Once the traps are out throw them in the grass for a couple days till they get a light rust. Now there ready to dye. There are several things you can use to dye traps with. You basically fill your container you cleaned your traps in and add commercial logwood powder that you can get from trap supply places, or you can use black walnut hulls, staghorn sumac bulbs, the red tops. Or maple leaves that have fallen in the fall, green doesn’t work. You add dye according to directions or for the organic ones about a 5gal. Bucket for 25-30 gal of water. Bring this to a boil with your traps and dye in the water, once the water starts boiling, cut the heat back so it simmers and leave simmer for a half hour, then let it cool, once cool, drain the water off the top, and remove traps, let the traps dry in the sun,they’ll dry fast. While your traps are drying it’s time to get your wax melting for the final step. Melting pure wax in a container like a stock pot works great, you’ll need about 20ibs. Of wax. DISCLAIMER AGAIN: HOT WAX IS FLAMMABLE AND CAN CAUSE SEVERE BURNS! I know, I’ve down it. Melt the wax in the container preferably outside with a burner like on a turkey cooking outfit. Once the wax is melted you use a piece of heavy wire or rod with the end bent like a hook. You lower your trap in the hot wax and leave it there till the trap turns black again. When you first dip your trap it’ll turn white because its cold and the wax turns white, but once its heated to the same temp,it turns black and is ready to pull out. I then hang the trap to dry on s-hooks made of wire on to a nail from a rafter or clothes line, put cardboard underneath so dripping wax doesn’t mess up a garage floor etc. Once the wax is dry, the traps can be put into whatever container your going to haul them around in.

An easier method are the dips, clean your traps by any of the methods above. The dips are mixed with gas, the hight the octane the better, but the best is to mix the dip with white gas or lantern fuel as per directions on the can of dip purchased from a trapping supply dealer. Once traps are dipped, hang to dry as you would if there waxed. Once dry, the gas odor evaporates leaving the traps dyed and odoless, sounds funny, doesn’t it, but it works. It’s best to do this in the summer to help dry them faster. Again the dips are flammable so keep away from flames. When your done dipping the dip can be stored according to directions on the product.. The next step is adjusting and then setting the traps which I’ll cover in my next article. Enjoy!


  1. Duane,

    Great article on the ins/outs of trapping. I had no idea of all the equipment what was involved. My trapping experience is limited to coons on the river banks of the Sabine River and old slews of East Texas from the 70's.


    Pastor Kerry

  2. Great article and a good read. I look forward to the rest of the series.

  3. sweet article it will help me on my quest on trapping a coyote

    1. Joni, We would love to see some pictures if and when you get one! Good luck.