There was no doubt about it, my buddy missed his calling as a mad scientist. Watching him mix his concoctions was like watching a cross between a professional dancer and the nutty professor.
When he asked me to come and learn the ins and outs of making homemade trapping bait I had no idea how much thought went in to what my friend did to make his traps the most enticing on the line.
Making Trap Bait Yourself
It tickles me to no end running my trapline as traditionally as possible. Walking up on a hit in a trap I’ve baited with my homemade lure is about as good as it gets each fur season.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are some great commercial baits available that work. They don’t really put that big a dent in your pocket either. But when it comes to trapping traditionally you can’t go wrong with doing it yourself.
Benefits To Making Your Own
Years ago a buddy of mine gave me a bottle of beaver scent he made himself. He handed me the bottle and mentioned he made it ten years ago and it still brought in the pelts.
I’ve been using that bottle for a few years now and it still works! The great thing about using homemade lure is it just doesn’t go bad.
In fact, homemade scent tends to get better with age. It generally takes on a stronger aroma, think of it like a fine wine. A stinky fine wine that will help you rake in the fur.
Keep It Natural
When producing your own scents you want to keep it simple. But remember that simple doesn’t mean cutting corners.
The simplest and best homemade lure is made from real urine and gland.
This is the easiest homemade bait to produce but even this simple combination takes attention to get it right.
The first sticking point for most trappers is how to get good urine for their scents. It is incredibly important to get uncontaminated urine, if you do not do this right you will create a scent that repels your target instead of bringing them in.
The most reliable way to collect good urine is to keep the species and collect it directly (when legal of course). That entails setting a live trap for the target animal and keep them safe and healthy while you collect their urine.
This just isn’t feasible for many, so you will be left with collecting the urine of trapped targets instead. This is a challenging way to get enough urine as you will likely only get a few drops per catch.
But if collected over a couple of seasons you should have enough to start making your own scents.
What Odors Are Most Attractive To Your Target Animal?
The key to success in making your own lure, and trapping in general, is to use scents that are enticing to your target animal.
Most furbearers are leery of unusual scents, basically anything that doesn’t smell natural. While there are a few that will investigate any new smell they encounter.
So the exact scent you make, and how strong it is, will depend on the natural tendencies of your target. Some animals will come running if they smell anal gland scents, while others will turn tail and run.
The general rule of thumb is that you will add one anal gland per gallon of urine.
There are other glands that work as well so the key to progressing is testing different glands and ratios. As long as you don’t add anything too extreme you aren’t likely to screw anything up.
Homemade Scent Ingredients
Aside from urine and anal glands, some other excellent ingredients to use in your homemade scents are the feet and hair of your target animal.
These scents prove hard to ignore by most species and should be incorporated with some of your lures.
One great way to incorporate the feet is to first rot them. Cut them off and let them age a bit (back feet work best for most targets). Then simply use those feet as bait.
Using hair is simple. Keep hair from catches and use liberally in your sets. With some urine this can be a highly effective lure.
Another excellent homemade bait is scat. When an animal defecates, they leave scent glands for identification.
Putting Your Scent Together
Once you have your gland and urine ready it’s time to put it all together. Because odors are carried by fatty acids, an odor free liquid that dissolves oil should be used as a base. The most commonly used liquids are glycol, glycerine, and 190 proof alcohol.
Never use denatured alcohol as a scent base
These liquids will help preserve the rest of your ingredients.
Before adding your gland it should be aged a bit. Then chop or grind all solid ingredients and mix together with your urine in a clean, glass jar.
The exact ratios used is where the fun really comes in. Experiment with different combinations and ingredient ratios and see what works best for your target. Be sure to write the exact mixture on each jar so you can replicate it later.
If you will be storing your urine for an extended period of time then be sure to add a couple tablespoons of salt before storing to prevent spoilage.
Storing Homemade Trap Scents
Glass containers work the best for keeping your scents fresh. If making large batches, or if you are going to use your lure in a single season, one gallon plastic jugs work well. Just be certain they have been cleaned of any outside scents first.
Have pint bottles on hand if you plan to try multiple different recipes. Make smaller batches when experimenting and use these smaller bottles to avoid making a large batch of ineffective lures.
Always fill each container all the way to the top. You do not want space for air as this will lead to decomposition of ingredients.
You can either seal your bottles with wax or simply use black electrical tape.
I look forward to making my own scents each year. I’ve had some of my best results with some ratios that were just fun experiments. So I definitely recommend doing the same with your mixtures. I don’t know if I will ever be as good as my friend, he was a real genius with baits. But I am sure going to keep trying.
For more trapping tips check out these articles