Editor’s Note: The following is the second of a two-part article by Jim Spencer sharing practical tips for bucket use. To read Part I Click Here.
Block Underneath the Trap
When you cock the springs of a #160 down to lock it in place in a bucket, the bottom of the trap is almost 3 inches off the bottom of the bucket. Bill and I used to have trouble with some ’coons, probably smaller ones, trying to get under the jaw. We solved it by putting a small, flat rock or section of stick beneath the jaw. A ’coon could easily rake it out, but it seems the visual barricade is enough to keep them from thinking about going under.
Stabilize Your Buckets
This is important. If your buckets wobble, you won’t catch many ’coons. Make sure the bucket is level on the ground, and lay a log or rock or two on top to make it sturdy and secure. I repeat: this is important.
Use Trailing Scent
This is important, too. You can make your own trailing scent by saving used cooking grease or scrounging it from fish restaurants, but even if you have to buy fish oil, it’s relatively cheap and pays for itself many times over. Carry a squirt bottle full of it and use it liberally, making a trail to your bucket from every likely direction a ’coon might approach from.
Set On the Travelway
Don’t think that laying down a line of trailing scent can take the place of proper set location. It can’t. You still have to make sets in the right place. Set at pinch points along lake or stream banks, under bridges, near culverts, near where you find ’coon droppings or ’coon tracks. With buckets, you don’t have to pick the precise square inch of the earth’s surface, but you still have to be on location.
Set Up Buckets Ahead of Time
Because they stack and because everything you need fits inside the bucket, it’s easy and advantageous to get them ready ahead of time. Put a trap, a coiled cable fastener and a bait sock in the bottom of a bucket, slide another bucket on top to hold that stuff in and repeat the process. Then, as you make sets, slide a bucket and its equipment out of the stack and make your set. It really speeds things up.
Carry Extra Traps
Another thing that speeds things up is having extra traps ready to go when you check your bucket line. Instead of taking the ’coon out of the trap at the set, unsnap the trap from the cable and clip a fresh trap in place. Take the ’coon out of the trap when you get home, or if you have a partner, do it while your partner drives to the next set.
Don’t Overstay Your Welcome
If you haven’t caught a ’coon in a bucket after four nights, you’re unlikely to catch one there at all. Even if you’ve caught three or four coons there, after the fourth night, you’ll almost certainly do better with he bucket set in fresh territory. Moving after three nights is probably even better. If there are too many ’coons using a spot to catch most of them in three or four nights, set multiple buckets. Gang-setting is a useful concept for the bucket trapper.
Be Careful Where You Set
They’re called killer traps for a reason. If you see a dog or cat at a potential set location, don’t set a bucket there. If you see dog tracks or cat tracks, don’t set a bucket there. If you have reason to suspect a dog or cat might come through, don’t set a bucket there. Pass it up, or use one of the ’coon-specific traps like the Duffer, Coon Cuff, Li’l Griz or Egg Trap.
Sharpen Your Skinning Knife
If you set very many buckets and use these tricks, you’re going to need it.
Jim Spencer is executive editor of Trapper & Predator Caller. To read more articles by Spencer or our other experts, Subscribe Now. What bucket tricks have you used to fool critters? Share your thoughts on this article and tips from the field in the Trapping Forum. To read Part I of this story, Click Here.
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