Aside from setting up traps properly and baiting them when necessary, the location of your traps can determine whether or not your trapping efforts are a success or not. Proper trap placement has a lot to do with understanding the behavior of the animals you are trying to harvest.
If you are trapping beaver, for instance, it wouldn’t make much sense to set up traps miles from water where beaver activity is evident. While it’s possible that a beaver would travel, you success rate will be much higher if you place the trap in an area where beavers are active. In a survival situation, however, it’s not always possible to target a specific type of animal.
In fact, it’s not recommended in most cases. You are trapping for food and in a crisis situation, anything is better than nothing.
One of the best ways to increase your chances of successfully trapping a variety of animals is to look for game trails. Unlike paths, which are typically only used by one animal (or one species of animal), a game trail is well-defined and serves as an “animal highway” for a variety of species. Usually these trails are used by animals as they travel between bedding and feeding areas or to local watering holes.
Setting traps along heavily used game trails is one of the best ways to harvest a large amount of game on a regular basis. In addition to looking for game trails, animal sign is a good indicator of animal activity in an area. Animal sign such as fresh excrement is a good way to locate areas where animals frequent and can even provide clues as to what certain species are eating – useful knowledge when choosing appropriate bait for your traps.
Other animal sign, such as footprints, remnants of recent meals, and freshly dug holes are also indicators of animal activity that should be considered when deciding where to place traps. Proper trap placement requires more than just finding a single spot where animal activity is high. You should look for multiple signs that indicate the direction animals are traveling. You should set your traps along this path of travel without disturbing the natural habitat.
Spreading your traps along this path of animal travel is known as a trap line. Finding a good trap line is the mark of a successful trapper and is something you should take the time to locate whenever setting up traps in a new or unfamiliar area.