The Weekend Trapper

Is trapping animals a thing of the past? Not for Pat Murphy

“I’m what you call a weekend trapper,” Murphy said. “I set my traps Friday evening and check them religiously on Saturday and again on Sunday, when I finally pull them until the next weekend comes. In my book, it’s important to check your traps each day. I don’t want any half-eaten victims out there! My trapline usually consists of no more than six to eight traps. I like to set ’em up along the banks of a creek that runs through my wooded 300-acre parcel in Central Wisconsin. Naturally, the creek proves to be a great place for fur bearers searching to locate food … and also get coaxed by my traps.”

Wild About Trapping!
Murphy’s trapping season runs from November through December. And his harvest list consists of coyote, fox, raccoon, woodchuck, opossum, and porcupine. Some traps are set just to control the ever-expanding rodent and varmint populations. Of course, animals with good pelts are sent off to the local fur processing plant.

“You can make a few bucks on a really, really nice pelt. But I wouldn’t count on making a fortune over night,” Murphy said. Other pelts are sent out to be tanned for a rustic decorative touch to the walls of Murphy’s cabin.

“This next year, I want to get a special permit to trap fisher, whose pelts are in demand,” Murphy said. “These smart critters have a body 19 to 24 inches long. They’re relatives of the mink, marten and weasel family. They don’t eat fish like their name suggests. Instead, they dine on hares and porcupines — it’s their favorite food.”

Uses A Variety Of Traps
Murphy said he uses many different kinds of traps.

Duke Coil Spring Trap.

“To nab raccoons, I like to use a wooden box, about the size of an ammo box, to contain the scent. One end is open. In the back is the bait (usually a scent-attracting sardine they simply can’t resist). In front of that is a body trap. The coon must travel over the sensitive “tongs” of the trap to get to the bait. When that happens. WHAP! … dead almost instantly … the humane way.”

Murphy also likes to use common Duke Coil Spring Traps.

“These units are ideal for trapping coyote, fox, weasels, and raccoons,” he explained. “My technique here is to dig two shallow holes level to the ground. I place some stink scent bait in the second hole located ahead of the trap. Then I’ll insert the trap into the first hole. Set the jaws. Then I sift some fine, loose dirt over the trap to simulate natural camouflage. Critters come waltzing by, attracted by the scent, and usually drop their foot in the false hole. SNAP! A sure-fire leg holder, until I come along on my ATV to take care of business.

Duke Single Door Cage Trap.

“Occasionally, I like to use large, all-metal box/cage traps by Duke,” Murphy continued. “These are mesh live traps sold at most sporting good retail stores in various sizes. You simply set the enticing bait on the plate at the far end. When the animal enters the open door and tries to get the bait, his weight trips the pre-set hinged plate that’s connected to the door. Down it goes, before the animal can turn around. I use these traps to relocate rodents, such as porcupine, skunk, woodchucks, and opossum.”

Scents/Lures Aid Success
Murphy said using a good scent or lure increases his odds of success. He notes his favorite animal scents and lures are by made by Kishel’s (

Pat Murphy shows off some of his pelts.

“I’ve discovered their Red Bush lure. It’s designed specifically for the serious fox taker,” he said. “Whether they’re hungry or not, those sly beauties can’t resist. It’s thick, long lasting and a real fur producer! Another proven performer is Coy Dog II, a little something coyote love. Works well for me!

“Finally, a bottle of Kishel’s Crossbreed Call does the trapping trick,” Murphy continued. “This is a super, double-duty scent designed to coax those finicky coyotes and elusive fox. It’s freeze proof. And good all season long. Definitely a real producer.”

Trapping, it’s a fun-filled contagious adventure. A true calling from the past … inspired by the American mountain men of long ago. Today, the legend lives on … through avid trappers like Murphy.

Shop Sportsman’s Guide for a great selection of Traps and Trapping Supplies!

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