Fox pelts come into prime condition earlier than those of other furbearers. This means fox trapping can start earlier in the season. Fox trapping is a demanding sport and has its own methods.
- Fox trapping is done on the uplands, away from water.
- Special tools and different sets are required.
- A #1½ coil-spring trap should be used for fox trapping. It will hold any fox, yet not injure a dog that might be caught accidentally.
- A cage trap or powered cable device can also be used. The cable device is set to catch the fox by the leg only.
- The trap chain should be shortened to two links to prevent the fox from making long lunges and jerking free. Alternatively, the chain should be attached to a movable drag. With a drag, the chain should be 4' long. A good stake is recommended in most cases.
- Baits and lures are a must.
- Great care must be taken to keep traps clean and free of odors associated with humans, such as cigarette smoke. Traps must be carefully cleaned, dyed, and waxed.
Dirt Hole Set for Foxes
The dirt hole set is the simplest, the most widely used, and undoubtedly the greatest taker of foxes. This type of set has many variations. Directions for making the basic set with a coil-spring foothold trap are given here.
- Choose an open area, away from fencerows and fence corners. Except during very wet years, foxes will be in open fields where they can find mice.
- Set the trap upwind from a fox runway so that lure scent is carried downwind to the passing fox. The fox will follow the scent to the trap.
- Select an area where the soil is fine and easy to work. There should be little or no groundcover. Select groundcover that will make covering the trap easy, not difficult. Find a low log, small bush, or weed to act as a backstop and prevent the fox from approaching the set from the rear.
- Dig a hole 6" to 8" deep with a diameter of 4". It should be dug on a slant, toward the backstop and never straight down or straight in.
- Dig a bed in front of the hole. Place the bed so that the center of the trap will be about 7" from the hole.
- Stake the trap in the middle of the bed. Bed the trap so that the spring is to the side of the hole and one jaw is at the front edge. This arrangement usually will allow a dog to investigate the scent without getting caught, since a dog will not step as close to the edge of the hole as a fox will.
- Use wax paper or a maple leaf to cover the trap pan.
- Use a dirt sifter to cover the trap with 1/2" of dirt.
- Add any bait, lure, and urine you are using. The hole alone will attract a fox. However, many trappers use bait, lure, and urine. (Keep in mind that bait, lure, and urine will not improve a poorly made set.)
- Place a small piece of bait in the bottom of the hole. Remember to cover the bait so that birds cannot see it.
- Place a few drops of fox lure at the back edge of the hole and in the hole.
- Place urine on the backstop.
- Using a fork, scratch the entire site lightly to resemble a fox's digging. When you leave, make as little disturbance as possible. The fox's curious nature will encourage it to investigate the hole. The trap in front of the hole will catch the fox as it steps in to scratch out the dirt and bait.
Mound Set for Foxes
The mound set relies on the fox's habit of investigating from a high spot.
- Bury a large chunk of bait in the ground near an anthill, a bale of hay or straw, or other mound.
- Set a trap on top of the mound.
- The fox will first circle the bait. When it climbs up on the mound to investigate, it will be caught.
An advantage of this set is that non-target furbearers and pets will not be caught if they visit the bait. These other animals do not have the fox's habit of climbing to a high spot to investigate.
Scent Post Set for Foxes
The post set takes advantage of the fox's habit of marking its territory by urinating on clumps of grass, old fence posts, or small trees in a clearing.
Follow these steps to make the set.
- Choose a clear area along a fox's travel lane.
- Place a stick in the ground. This is your post. The post should be about 8" tall with the diameter of a broom handle.
- Bed the trap like you would for the dirt hole set. The center of the trap should be 6" from the post. Cover the bedded trap with sifted dirt.
- Squirt fox urine on the post. With luck, the next fox through the area will smell the urine and come to the set to get a better sniff or re-mark the territory.
The flat set is a variation on the post set. To make a flat set, replace the post with another object, such as a chunk of wood, that will attract the fox's attention.