How to Bait & Set Traps for Coyotes

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The coyote used to be a western animal; however, in the last few decades they have migrated east and are now found all across the country. The coyote is an intelligent animal and suspicious by nature. In order to trap them you not only have to know their nature and travel habits, but how to make a trap that will draw them in and not scare them away. There are several sets that work for coyotes, but the “Dirt Hole” set is the most effective.

Items you will need

  • Traps – size 3 or 4 longspring or coilspring

  • Rubber gloves

  • Trowel

  • Dirt sifter

  • Rebar wire

  • Coyote lure

  • Coyote urine

  • Bait

Step 1

Coyote smelling tracks
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Prepare the equipment by attaching a 3-foot extension of chain, the same size as the trap chain, to the ring of each trap with S hooks. Dye the traps, wire, and dirt shifter black in logwood crystals, which also leaves them with a natural wood scent. Rub the rubber gloves with the logwood dye water to take the rubber smell off. Keep all equipment away from human and petroleum odors.

Step 2

Coyote smelling air
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Make bait by cutting chunks of meat, such as beef or game meat, into chunks the size of a large walnut. Put the pieces in jars and leave them in a warm place so the meat will taint.

Step 3

Coyote looking for food
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Find a place where coyotes are traveling in search of food. The Dirt Hole set imitates where another animal has hidden a bit of food. The coyote, upon finding the set, will try to dig out the piece of meat. Pick a spot for the set that has no large objects behind it like trees or bushes.

Step 4

Coyote resting
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Put on the rubber gloves and dig a hole into the ground, 8 inches deep and 3 to 4 inches wide, at a 45-degree angle with the opening of the hole facing the way the coyote will approach it. In front of the hole dig a hollow big enough to fit the set trap in and deep enough so the trap is slightly lower than the level of the ground around it.

Step 5

Coyote Looking outward
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Set the trap and place it in the hollowed bed with the jaw hinges pointing toward the hole so the coyote steps between the jaws and not over one of them. Keep the spring of the trap closest to the hole 1 inch back from the edge of the hole. The trap pan needs to be 1 to 2 inches off center of the hole and not directly in front of the hole.

Step 6

Coyote in desert
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Cut or find a tree branch that is four feet long and 2 to 4 inches in diameter and lay it in a natural way 3 feet off to the side of the trap set. Dig a small trench from the trap bed to the branch and lay the chain in it. Triple wrap the end of the extension chain around the middle of the branch with the rebar wire and cover the chain over with dirt so no part of it shows.

Step 7

Coyote in grass area
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Stuff some soft moss, grass, or crumbled soft leaves under the trap pan so the area stays hollow and does not fill up with dirt. Trowel dirt into the sifter and sift dirt over the trap until it is completely covered and no part of the trap is showing.

Step 8

Coyote in field
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Place one of the cut baits in the bottom of the hole and throw dirt on it, just enough to cover it. Dip a twig in the coyote lure and put it in the hole. Squirt a small amount of coyote urine over the hole, but not on the trap.


  • Do not set traps where people hike or dogs run loose. Keep coyote traps to areas away from people and pets.
  • Use caution when setting traps; having them snap on your fingers could break or bruise them badly.


  • It is important to keep human and foreign odors away from coyote sets. Any smell unusual to a coyote triggers his senses to danger and he will avoid the area with that smell. Wear rubber gloves when handling any trapping equipment to keep the human scent off. Dye all the metal to cover the steel smell.
  • Fresh bait is not attractive to coyotes. They prefer tainted flesh, which is the purpose for allowing the bait to taint. Check with your local game laws before making bait; in many states using parts of game animals is illegal. Use beef if that is the case.
  • Coyotes travel the easiest routes possible--old roads, trails, and around the edges of meadows or clear-cut areas. Look for their tracks or feces filled with hair.
  • If there is something behind the set that the coyote can’t see past he will avoid the place. Have the area behind the set open to their vision.
  • Sift the dirt over the trap rather than just throwing it on; this eliminates any stones or hard items that could block the jaws open.
  • Coyote lure draws the coyote to the set and the urine removes his suspicion of the set and makes him curious to check out the strange coyote that left it.
  • Using a natural drag like the branch is so the trapped coyote can’t get a solid pull against a staked trap which, in many cases, will let him pull out of the trap; by dragging the branch the coyote can’t get a solid pull.