After a couple decades of trapping mink I have tried many sets and while even the most complicated rigs have their place, the best trap sets for mink are the tried and true. I have harvested more fur with the sets below than the rest combined. So if you are looking for a no BS set list that will produce mink without wasted time and effort then this is the article for you.
Trap More Mink With Traditional Sets
If you’re anything like me, when you hear about a new fancy trap set or tool you go out and include it in your trapline. While it’s a lot of fun (and worthwhile) studying up on new techniques, it’s important to keep in mind that we should be focusing on what works. And when it comes to harvesting mink, you need to be focusing on the set types below first.
Natural Pocket Set
The number one set for harvesting mink for me over the years remains the natural pocket set. In raw numbers this set has produced more mink for me than any other, and it’s not even close.
The only downside to the natural pocket set is that you will not always have a spot to set one.
I’ve had the most luck with this set at abandoned muskrat houses and beaver dens. So if you come across these in your area use the natural pocket set!
Even if the water no longer reaches the location or has just dried up for the season, these spots are honey pots for mink. I would even go so far as to say my dry land sets have produced more than those right on the water’s edge.
Put your natural pocket set just off center of the den or house entrance. You don’t have to use any lure but a couple drops of pure mink musk won’t hurt.
If you’re placing your natural pocket set at the water’s edge then build up a trap bed that allows the set to be about two inches below the surface of the water. Put a wire extension on your trap chain and stake it deeper out in the water and you are good to go.
Artificial Pocket Set
So when you just don’t have the option to place a natural pocket set, the artificial pocket set is your next best option.
And as long as you can dig, any location can be an artificial pocket set.
Some of the best producing locations for digging are along steep undercut banks on the outside of a stream bed. Look under bridges and around culverts as well as these can produce a lot of mink with an artificial pocket set.
Basically, if the water is too deep to do a traditional blind trail set then this is the way to go.
I also have had good results near artificial crossings created by beaver dams and irrigation pipes.
The biggest perk to this set is that you can focus in on where the mink are traveling and with a well placed set you will have a solid mink harvest.
When digging your pocket the depth should be enough so that a frog or crayfish can rest inside without being seen. Mink love looking for them in pockets and if your pocket is deep enough, it won’t take long for a curious mink to stop by and take a look.
I’ve found the sweet spot to be ten to fifteen inches deep. Any more is just overkill so skip the extra digging.
Make sure you have a shovel handy when setting your traps, I like my old tile spade but use whatever you already have on hand. But the tile shovel works great with it’s short handle and long blade and can make digging go a lot faster.
When you make your artificial pocket sets it is best to do them before the season begins. Setting a trap right after digging your pockets can work but it is far more effective when your pockets sit for a bit before setting your traps.
This allow the mink to get used to the holes which will keep them from getting scared off by the sudden change.
Artificial pockets also tend to produce better results when placed in high and dry locations so stick to similar set locations as a natural pocket.
Field Drain Sets
A field drain set works for much the same reasons that a natural pocket does. During parts of the season these spots will flood leading to mink coming in to explore the new food location the water brings.
That makes the mouth of field drainage pipes ideal for mink trapping. The key to this placement is finding fields that are only partially flooded as those are the ones the mink are headed to. Simply find a partially flooded field and look for mink signs near the pipes. The one’s with tracks is where you should set your traps.
These mink sets are nothing new. They’ve been producing mink for smart trappers for longer than any of us have been alive. But they still work amazing and each year I use them to pull my harvest. There are more great set options and I will be writing about them soon but even with just these in your toolbox means you too can take as many mink as you need.
For mink tips check out these articles