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How to Prep Your Traps
This is how I prepare my traps each season, some may do it differently. The reason for prepping your traps is to camouflage, deodorize, protect and lubricate. You absolutely need to prep your traps if you are serious about trapping especially if your going after canines through the roughest time of year like I am. The three basic steps are 1. Rust, 2. Dye and 3. Wax and I will explain each of these steps below.

If you are buying traps for the first time I would suggest buying used traps. You should already have a trap size and type picked out for what you intend to go after. Buying used has a great advantage over new in two ways, they can be had for a fraction of the cost of new ones if you shop around and they will almost always come with a nice layer of rust on them which is what you want. If you decide to buy new traps like I did last year you will have to let them out in the weather for a few weeks so plan ahead. First thing you will need to do to new traps is set up an old pot on a turkey cooker or wood fed fire and boil the traps. The traps will come with a slight coating of oil and you will need to get that off. After degreasing you should hang them up in a spot where they can get lots of rain, lay them out in the yard whatever. Get them rusty! You can speed up the process by spraying them with vinegar too if you're impatient but it will only give you a thin surface coat of rust.

Here is a picture of my traps last year after degreasing.
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Once you have some nice rust covering your new traps, or if you purchased used ones, its time to dye them. I use the rotting walnuts that accumulate in my back yard as a dye but you can also use sumac buds too. They also make a commercial dye for traps that can be found at any trapping supply store. I need to point out that you should also be wearing rubber gloves and old work clothing because this stuff is EXTREMELY permanent if you get any on you. I like to fill my pot with the walnuts all the way and fill it with water. Bring it to a boil and cook it for an hour or so. Scoop out the walnuts and lower my traps in one by one until its full of traps and top it off with water if needed so they are covered. I like to boil my traps for at least an hour and then I take them out and either hang them up to dry or place them on an old concrete pad in the sun to dry.

Here is what your traps should look like before you boil...
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Here is the set up and the results from today's boiling...
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Now the next step I don't do until it gets below freezing and stays there but you can do them when you dye the traps. Waxing your traps keeps the moving parts from freezing up and adds an extra layer of scent blocking to your traps. If I was to wax them after dying them I would melt unscented paraffin wax in the bucket of boiling dye while the traps were in. Get about a half inch of wax in the top and pull the traps out through the wax to cover them. You can also wait to do this or not do it at all if you decide. I didn't wax mine last year and didn't have too much of a problem with coyotes smelling my traps and digging them up and I pulled my traps before it got too late in the season so freezing wasn't an issue.

The final step will be to store them. Keep in mind you do not want to handle these prepped traps with your bare hands at all at this point or risk contaminating them with human scent. Use gloves and place them in a burlap bag or feed bag or something and layer straw or leaves in with the traps. Some local dirt where you plan to trap helps too.

This pretty much covers how you prep traps for use. It can be time consuming so grab a chair and a beer and it'll all pay off during the trapping season. You're work has only just begun now!
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