How Do I Prepare Conibear Traps?

by Dave P. Fisher

Newly purchased Conibear traps need to be conditioned before they can be set out for animals. They come from the factory coated in grease to keep them from rusting; however, in order to use the traps they will need to acquire a coat of rust. To prepare the traps for use, you will need to remove the grease, then allow them to take on a coat of rust so they can be dyed black to hide them from the animals once they are set.

Degreasing the Conibear Traps

Fill the metal container 3/4 full of clean water and put it on the cooker to heat until it boils. Place a chip of wood between the jaws of each Conibear trap to hold it open so the inside edges of the jaws will get treated.

Group the Conibear traps and tie the chain rings together with a 2-foot length of rebar wire. The number of traps tied together will depend on the size of the traps and how many can be completely submerged in the container.

Submerge the first group of Conibear traps in the boiling water. Push them down with the stick until all metal parts are under water. Leave the traps to boil for 10 minutes.

Pull the traps out of the water. Leave the wire attached and hang them. Continue this process with each group of traps. Leave the Conibear traps hanging until they have taken on a light coat of rust, which can take a few weeks depending on the weather.

Dyeing the Conibear Traps

Refill the container as before and put it on the cooker to boil. Once the water is boiling, pour in the logwood crystal dye and stir it in thoroughly with the stick.

Lower the first group of Conibear traps into the boiling dye water. Push the traps down with the stick until all the metal is submerged. Boil them for 10 minutes.

Remove the Conibear traps from the container and hang them in an airy place to dry. Continue this process until all of the traps are dyed; keep the water boiling throughout the entire process.

Turn the burner off and let the water cool. Save the container of dye water in case you have to redye any of the traps or need to dye additional traps.

Store the Conibear traps away from unnatural orders, such as petroleum products. The steel will take on the odors and scare animals away from the trap.

Items you will need

  • 10-gallon metal container
  • Propane cooker
  • Rebar wire
  • Heavy rubber gloves
  • 3 foot wooden stick
  • 1 lb. logwood crystal dye


  • Logwood crystal dye can be purchased from a trappers' supply store.
  • If the Conibear traps are already used and rusted, the degreasing step is not necessary. Go directly to the dyeing process.
  • You can speed up the rusting time for degreased traps by regularly spraying them with a hose or leaving them outside in the rain.


  • Wear the rubber gloves when working around the boiling water. The traps will come out of the water hot; do not touch them with your bare hands.
  • Do not attempt to remove the container from the burner while the water is still hot. Leave it in place until the water is cool enough to safely handle.
  • Do not wax Conibear traps, as they will not stay set if waxed.


  • "Trapping North American Furbearers"; S. Stanley Hawbaker; 1969
  • "Guide To Trapping"; Jim Spencer; 2007

About the Author

Dave P. Fisher is an internationally published and award-winning Western novelist and short-story writer. His work has appeared in several anthologies and his nonfiction articles in outdoor magazines. An avid outdoorsman, Fisher has more than 40 years of experience as a hunter, trapper, fisherman, taxidermist, professional fly-tyer, horsepacker and guide.