Secret Sauce – How to choose what lure/bait to use

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Video lure coyotes

When you look through a trapping catalog or walk the aisle at a convention there are thousands of lures available, so how to you decide which ones to try. ​Well, for starters, when you are using your lures you need to keep notes of where you use them, and what animals they are catching. This will help you to pick the lures that are most effective for you in your area. Keeping records can really help you improve your efficiency.

So what is the difference between bait and lure? Bait is usually food based, its something the coyote wants to eat. Bait pairs well with a dirthole. And I usually use more bait than I would lure. So at a set I may use a teaspoon of bait whereas I only ever use a pea sized amount of lure. Bait you buy in a larger jar and may be sold by the pint, whereas lure is sold by the ounce, so you can buy it in small jars.

Lure is more of a curiosity scent. Its meant to capture an animals attention. There are multiple types of lures, gland lures, curiosity lures, even food based lures.

Gland lures, are just that, they are made from specific animal glands, so you can get red fox gland, coyote gland, bobcat gland, etc. These are my favorite to use at scent post or flat sets, and I’ll use gland lure in conjunction with urine. So far as other lures, the difference is in what is used to make the lure. Some lures have skunky scents and are well suited for colder weather, so the scent will hang around better. Then again, in some areas skunky smelling lures will spook game instead of attract game.

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As I said before, its all about experimentation. Some lures will work better in different parts of the country than others. If you know of anybody that traps in your area, ask them what their favorite lures are, that is an excellent starting point. The same goes for baits, although there aren’t as many baits as lures.

If you go to a convention, you’ll see trappers smelling the different lures. I’ll admit, I do it too. Its just something trappers do. Just because it smells good to us obviously doesn’t mean it will smell good to coyotes, but you can key in on different ingredients and decide whether you’ve had luck with similar smells in the past or want to try a new smell.

Now to the untrained nose, it seems like all lures and baits are rotten, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The lure maker may have used aged or tainted meat, but they always put a preservative in to stop the decomposing process. There is quite a science to lure making.​ As a general rule, you don’t want to use anything rotten. It doesn’t seem as attractive to game as you think it might be, and usually it is good at attracting vultures, which you don’t want to catch in your traps.

Most lures are made with a general animal in mind, like canine lures, bobcat lures, etc. But don’t be afraid to mix things up a bit. Most predators love the scent of beaver castor, so using a castor based beaver lure can be really attractive at a dirthole set. I’ve had luck using mink gland lure on coyote sets. Be willing to think outside the box and you may come up with a new favorite lure.

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Another scent you will use regularly when trapping is urine. Again, you want to use fresh, good quality urine. When possible I try to collect my own from the animals I catch. Coyotes are attracted to most any animal urine. If you are specifically targeting coyotes, coyote and bobcat urine would be my top picks. But if you are just predator trapping I’d recommend red fox urine. Most predators are attracted to red fox urine and few shy away from it. Coyotes prey on some predators, so red foxes may shy away from a set with coyote urine on it.

I hope this gives you some good insight on choosing your scents. Get some good urine, several lures, and a jar of bait and go to town. Just be sure to keep notes so you’ll know what worked well and what didn’t.​

​Good luck and Happy Trapping!

If you want to learn more about coyote trapping be sure to sign up below for our Coyote Trapping School e course, where you’ll get step by step instructions on how to catch coyotes.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>