Trapping Tips: Use the Right Bait For Each Critter

When it comes to trapping, you've got to have the right bait to catch the right critter. Sure, cheese or peanut butter will work on a mousetrap, but what if you're not after mice?

To be successful, you need very specific baits to lure in specific animals. Here's a how to get started.

Trap Bait For Herbivores
There are some great baits for plant eating animals that can be harvested in the wild, or picked up at the local market. When I'm after groundhogs, I have the best results when I use really sweet apples, cut into pieces so their fragrance is released. You can skewer an apple slice on a trigger component, or just leave some cut pieces in a box trap.

Squirrels are very fond of whole peanuts, or roasted peanuts. And in field, they have a hard time resisting sweet pecans and hickories. I'll crack several into small pieces to use in box traps. For more primitive traps, I'll crush the hickories into a paste to wipe on the trap's trigger mechanism. Just don't use them under a tree full of those nuts. The animals will not want to go for the bait that is tainted with human scent when there is plenty of the same food choice lying around.

Trap Bait For Omnivores
Omnivores, by definition, will eat anything. This can make them easy to bait, or hard to bait - depending on the type of animal. For raccoons, I like to use canned tuna. The fouler and cheaper the tuna is, the better it seems to work. I'll often trap for coons alongside creeks and streams, and pour the tuna juice into the creek in hopes that they'll follow the creek up to get their fishy treat.

Possums seem to love lunch meat, hotdogs and other processed meat foods. Although, I did once catch a possum on the chunks and a tail of another possum.

Trap Bait For Carnivores
Meat eaters do have their preferences. The bait has to be something enticing to the animal. Coyotes love beaver meat. Foxes love rotten, hardboiled eggs. Mink, ermine and fishers love fish. Bobcats love fresh organ meat like liver, lung and other guts. You can also have good luck using various scent baits that are available at some hunting and outdoor stores. Bait doesn't always have to be food. Coyote scent can be used on coyotes. Beaver scent can be used on beaver, and for coyotes. Coon urine can be a useful cover scent against other animals, as well as an attractant for raccoons. Just remember the following:

• Don't bait with something that is already available to the animal (like corn in the cornfield).
• Meats and other perishables may need to be replaced daily
• Bait stealers may take your bait without setting off the trap. Ants, mice and little birds can pick the bait clean in a short time.
• Be prepared to catch a different animal on any given bait.
Are you running a trap line this winter? Let us know your favorite baits in the comments.

Photo: qmnonic