Is the Number One Trappers Secret Spring Cleaning?
By Toby Trigger

Posted: March 4, 2017

Can the level of trap shed organization in spring be a predictor of trapper’s success next fall?  You bet it can!  Here’s how to improve your catch later by spring cleaning now:

The end of the winter trapping season has arrived and if you’re like me that fur shed or corner of the garage is looking a little messy.  There’s the bucket with six partial bottles of lure, pliers and cotton balls all wadded up in the corner and a pile of traps all tangled with drags in the middle of the floor which I have stepped around for the past two weeks.

Marten boxes were pulled mid February and then piled up haphazardly in three different places and the steel tub I used to re-boil traps in half way through season is still sitting half empty with logwood dyed water and a thin layer of crusty wax.  My snow machine is still on the trailer in my driveway and after three months in the high country could use a little attention.  Rubbermaid tubs are strewn about and as I open each one there’s a variety of random items like disposable stakes, waxed paper, trowels, channel locks and oh, that’s where those trap tags went…

Trapping is hard work but it’s enjoyable.  Even those late nights skinning, fleshing and putting up fur are enjoyable.  I love long days in the outdoors, breathing fresh air and getting my hands dirty.  Cleaning up after myself is not necessarily my best quality but as a trapper I’ve got to get organized now to set the foundation for successful scouting season in September .  If you’re wondering how cleaning up the post-trapping season mess is going to help you scout in September then read on.   Being an effective trapper is a year ‘round endeavor and spring cleaning sets the stage for all seasons.  Spring cleaning also reveals one of the best kept secrets to trapping success.


The time to clean up traps, get them tuned and organized is not the night before the season opener.  I wish I could say that I’ve never been standing in my yard at 1 am on opening day dipping that last batch of traps in hot wax but can’t.  I can say that I’ve learned my lesson even if it has taken a while.

By the end of the season traps wear out.  Things like trap pans, springs and levers could be bent or broken.  Trap frames may have crept in or out a little and the pan isn’t sitting flat between the jaws anymore.  It may take a few hours to adjust traps and while you’re at it scrub the dirt and rust off with a wire brush and check swivels and S-hooks.

Now, take those traps that need parts and pieces and hang them separately from the traps that are in good working order.  The traps that are ready to go are now in the “boil and wax” section and the traps that need work are in the “needs work” section.  This simple task sets you up for activities in May and June but we’ll get to that later.

Clean up the container that you use to boil and dye traps and with fresh water and logwood dye, boil the traps that are hanging ready to boil and wax.  I realize that not everyone waxes traps, I do because it helps keep traps working through the freeze-thaw conditions on my trapline.  If you’re planning to hang your traps outside then a thin coat of wax will prevent rust from forming on your traps and short chains.  If the traps are going to be stored inside you may wait to wax them until later in the year but the point is to get your traps as close to season-ready as you can now to open up time later.

March and April is a great time to clean up your inventory of lure and bait and to get containers cleaned out and organized in a way that allows you to see exactly what you have and what you’ll need.  This can be the messiest job there is during spring cleaning but it’s well worth the effort.  I’ve been accused of maintaining a stinky fur shed from one particular lady and early spring time clean up helps alleviate those accusations somewhat in mid July.

Being prepared and organized helps us be more efficient and ultimately more successful.   Many trappers have written words that read something like; “There are no secrets to trapping, it’s just a matter of hard work and dedication”.  While I agree that there aren’t any short cuts to success n trapping nor any magic pill that’s going to make it easy, I do think there are a few secrets to success.  The secret begins at the end of season when the mess we’ve created by trapping is attended to.  It continues throughout the year in preparation for next season and the more we prepare, organize and visualize our success during the next season the more successful we will become.

The foundation for this begins with spring cleaning and this may just be the biggest secret to trapping success there is.  This season, get ready early and maintain those efforts throughout the year.  You’ll thank yourself when you realize that there’s nothing left to do but to go trapping when the season opener comes along.  And it won’t sneak up on you either, instead you’ll be waiting for it when it comes.  If that sounds good to you, the time to begin preparing for that day is right now.