IMPROVE YOUR TRAPPING SUCCESS
by Cody Weiser
There are many people out there today that trap feral hogs. Traps are designed and built in almost any imaginable shape, size, and format from small cages to large pens that can encompass over an acre of land. Trapping mechanisms can be as simple as a stick or as complex as a motion sensor. Construction of the trap can consist of anything from fence posts and scrap lumber to custom machined and fitted steel. With the vast differences in trap design, you would think that there would be one or two that stand out in catching ability, but that seems not to be the case. One must look further into other factors that can mean the difference in success and failure when it comes to trapping hogs.
HUMAN OR UNNATURAL SCENT
Human or unnatural scent is probably the number one reason that hogs won’t enter a trap. A boar’s sense of smell is his greatest detection devise and controls his movements and actions. When a hog approaches a trap, he is intelligent enough to realize something is out of place and foreign. A trapper attempts to use bait and/or scent attractants in an effort to coax the hog inside the enclosure by using scent to overcome the fear and uncertainty of entering. Most trappers completely ignore their own scent and how much of it they are spreading around the trap while they are setting and re-baiting it. If you have ever been winded by an approaching hog while still hunting, then you know firsthand just how cautious a hog reacts to getting a whiff of human scent. If a hunter will take the time to use scent removal sprays, soaps, and laundry detergents when planning to take a 50-100 yard shot on a hog, then why wouldn’t a trapper use just as much, if not more, caution in scent control when they are working with a trap they expect a boar to walk into?
I’ve spoken to folks who complain about a trap that they had great success with for the first few months it was out and then hit a slump in its catching ability. I always recommend moving the trap, even if it is only a few feet away. If you move the trap and change the direction the trap door is facing, you might just make it appealing enough for a hog to check it out. Feral hogs are extremely intelligent; but at the same time, they have a huge curiosity. If a hog was with a group that was trapped but it missed being caught, you can be sure that it won’t go near that exact same trap again. If you spin the trap around and, move it over 10 feet and maybe add some brush to the front of it, then you have just changed the look, feel, and approach. This change may be just enough to get the curiosity up of that wise old hog and get him to enter.
This goes back to the curiosity level of the hog. There are a handful of successful baits and scent attractants on the market and hundreds of homemade concoctions that trappers swear by. Pick 3 or 4 of your favorite and rotate them throughout your traps. This will keep the trap scented with something “new” and offers a constantly changing scent that may appeal to the most stubborn of hogs.
Trapping hogs is not an exact science. It is the art of trickery where the trapper must outsmart the hog. If you keep on your toes and keep things changing, then your odds of having a trap full of pork will do nothing but go up.
(Article first published in Wild Boar USA magazine in the Jan/Feb 2008 issue)