How To Trap Snapping Turtles

large snapping turtle in water

As I trudged through the marsh the sweat on my head transitioned from a trickle to a full stream. I had severely underestimated the humidity of the swamp when I agreed to tag along with my buddy in search of monster snappers.

I was already questioning my decision making ability when my friend stopped and stated “I can smell ’em”.

I assumed he meant my armpits but the look in his eye was excitement and not the disgust my sweat soaked aroma deserved.

My buddy was a bit of a local legend due to his ability to consistently trap the baddest turtles in the swamp, so when he said we were on snappers I believed him.

Within a minute he produced five hoop nets containing as many angry snapping turtles. And I was left wondering just how he did it.

Trap More Snapping Turtles

Snapping turtle meat is some of the best tasting you can trap. Trapping snappers has gone back as long as humans have called the US home.

Early Native Americans used the shell of the snapping turtle for bowls and scoops. The claws made for beautiful decorative items and jewelry.

The snapping turtle has roamed these lands far longer than we have, and fossil remains date them going back as far as 200 million years. Snapping turtles have earned their place in the ecosystem and paying homage to them through traditional and ethical trapping techniques is one of my favorite trapping pursuits.

Snapping Turtle Trapping Set

There are as many trapping techniques for snappers as any other species but the most successful I’ve used, and learned that day from my friend, is to sink a catfish hoop net in the marsh.

Get it set in about two feet of water turned on it’s side. About half your net should be in the water and the other half sticking above the water line.

Use a number of fish heads (fresh works best) placed in a wire cage for bait. The wire cage keeps the snapping turtle from eating the bait but it won’t scare them off.

Tie the cage to the rear end of the trap. The snapper will enter the net to go after the bait and won’t be able to get themselves turned around.

This simple setup is incredibly effective. The only other factor is placement. To find the best spots scout your location and find where the turtles are hanging out during the day. Set your traps near (but not right on top) of these locations.

Check your traps daily because a catch will attract more snappers. And a second snapping turtle will tear up your first catch losing you the meat.

Reset your traps after each catch during the season and you will take an impressive haul.


Make no mistake about it, trapping snapping turtles is a hell of a lot of fun but it is also a lot of work. Navigating a swampy marsh in high heat and humidity while hauling around gear and heavy snappers is a real workout. It’s not for the feint of heart but if you love trapping and crave that delicious turtle soup it’s the only way to go.

For more trapping tips check out these articles

Written by Fred

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