About five years ago I was trapping mink under ice when I noticed two of my sets had been swiped by a coyote who had trotted across the ice and stole my harvest. At first I was irritated I lost my mink but after I was done sulking a thought occurred to me. I can trap predators on the ice!
With a little ingenuity and prep work you can follow these tips to start trapping predators out on the ice too.
Convert Your Mink Sets to Predator Traps
As late fall comes so does the ice. And with it my mink trapping success plummets. But my predator focus kicks into high gear and out come my snares and predator sets.
The ice and snow season brings out the mice, squirrel, and hares to the frozen over streams and turns them into natures highway.
Traveling the frozen waters provides these animals access to food sources they cannot reach the rest of the year.
The browse growing along the edges of the water is not an attractive food source during the abundance of spring and summer but becomes mighty enticing when the world freezes over.
The hare, mice, and squirrels come to this wintery vegetation and become easy prey for the local fox and coyotes.
In areas where wolves are present, they are known for taking deer and even moose in these locations.
This has been verified by numerous snowmobile riders who have stumbled onto the remains of these kills.
If you live in an area that allows predator trapping on the ice, this natural behavior can be used to your advantage.
While snares can be used, I have found them to become less effective as the season wears on. Instead, I have found modified mink sets to be unstoppable once the ice rolls in.
That is because a frozen hole set on the bank of the water is right where the predators are already looking for their dinner.
Pocket Set For Predators
A pocket set is really just a hole on a slope. And once the ground is frozen, the pocket set is perfect for trapping fox.
The pocket set protects your bait from unwanted scavengers thanks to the frozen surroundings. But it will bring in mice and shrews who will help in drawing in a fox.
The combo of bait and mice is a powerful attractant for a fox
Place your traps on the sides of the pockets with the dogs pointing at the pocket in a V shape.
Use the largest trap you can legally use in your state as it will improve your hit rate. The more powerful traps will work better when buried under snow.
Chop a shallow depression in the ice and bed your traps in them with a layer of styrofoam pellets under the trap.
Put a single layer of toilet paper over the top of the trap and then a layer of snow.
This prep will prevent the trap from sinking down into the pocket while also blending into the surrounding well.
If you don’t want to deal with cleaning the styrofoam up after the season then using barley husks works and does not need to be cleared out when trapping season is over.
Trapping Predators In Thin Ice
When the ice isn’t thick enough to chop out your bed make urine sets along the bank line near your pocket. Set them within twenty feet of your pocket and the best location is near a prominent object such as a tree or large pocket of grass.
Just make sure the object is high enough to obscure your set.
Place at least two traps at each pocket, one about six inches of center of the pocket and the other ten inches away.
Use some grass as a trap bed and after the traps are set, place more grass over them. Grass works great as it blends into the surrounding and won’t inhibit your traps closing. You won’t need any more covering.
Secure all traps to a stake or drag. Read more on drag sets for coyotes.
Now just give your sets a bit of urine and they are all good.
Once complete, it will resemble a chaff set minus the bait.
Snaring Predators On Ice
Snares can work well when placed along narrow trails and walkways leading to the ice.
The trick when snaring on ice is to avoid heavily covering your sets. A set with too much cover will just be jumped over by the fox or coyote.
Snares also work well near beaver houses and muskrat dens. Even empty houses are checked out by predators so if legal, a snare on the top of the house is very effective.
Keep in mind that any bait can work, urine works the best on ice.
Removing a predator from ice takes a bit more work than usual. You will need to cautiously chip the ice away from the animal with an axe to avoid fur damage.
I’ve had some of my best predator hits after the ice sets in. It takes a little thought and preparation but it is very rewarding and the results will speak for themselves. Give ice sets a legitimate shot this season and you will be happy to see how many stretchers you fill.
For more tips check out these articles