Here is how I wrote it up for beginners to understand. I have it stickied over at a poultry forum. I updated it a little.
The Hay Set
I learned this set from a PA fox trapper, who uses it with MUCH success. He traps from Christmas to the end of the PA fox season, using ONLY this set, and catches quite a few fox. It works best in snow, as the visual of the hay on the snow is a real eye catcher for fox. I tried this set the first time 2 winters ago and caught 14 foxes with it, when other sets would not operate due to snow and frozen ground. Last season I caught about 60 foxes with it, and this included mid nov all through till season end. As for using it for coyotes, it does work, I saw some photos of coyotes caught in it( zags and now waterman), however coyotes are generally more caughtious than foxes, so success rates would likley be alot lower than with foxes. This set works on grey fox as well as red, and catches raccoons and possums as well, as with any fox set. However nontargets seem to be alot less with this set,esp in cold conditions since coons and possums usually hole up then ( also skunks hole up too). Cats and dogs will be attracted to it however, so set away from where they may be. Do not let your dogs roam about.
You must make the set where you know the foxes ( or coyotes) travel, the main travelways. For fox these are farmland tractor paths, and esp where such a path meets a hedgerow or multiple crop edges. Fox also travel the "waterways", the green grassy strips used for drainage in crop feilds. Check these locations out for fox droppings or tracks in mud or snow. Fox will also work along wood edges where the land next to the woods is pasture or meadow. Since fox hunt small rodents as a main food source, they will work wherever there is brush to support the rodents. Find the pathways fox use to get from food to den to water,etc.
How does this set work? A fox is attracted to fresh cut hay or grass, as displaced rodents may be around. I think they also just like the smell. When the fox comes in, it smells the fox pee on the hay and feels a need to add its own scent. Being fox pee makes a fox feel comfy, it throws caution to the wind and just walks right into the hay, hopefully sticking a foot in one of the traps. The addition of gland lure to the set makes it even more enticing to a fox. Esp one that isn't in a scent marking mode. When one of these foxes smells the gland lure, they just have to investigate at that point. The way foxes have been caught in my hay sets shows they get totally stupid compared to how they work a dirthole. I was getting toe catches at dirthole sets, even after upping pan tension, but at hay sets I can use 2 1.5 softcatch traps and get a good high pad catch. I have even had them get a front paw and a hind paw caught, 1 in each trap.
The lure I have been using is an aged butt gland lure that is liquid, it was homemade and was given to me. However I think that any liquid foxy smelling gland lure should work, and even pasty ones should work, so long as they are real foxy smelling.
pic 1- these are the materials you need to make this simple set:
- a hammer like shown ( sold by trapping suppliers, also allows you to dig dirtholes and trap beds for other sets), or a small size sledgehammer type hammer, basically something to drive stakes in with.
- trap stakes- I use a 24 " 1/2" rebar with a nut welded on top- if you have coyotes or wish to try this set with them, you need to get extra stakes to double stake ( more on this next pic)
- 2 traps for each hay set- shown are modified #2 bridgers, you can also use Dukes, Victors, etc, recommend to use #2 size for fox, and #3 for coyotes, best all around is a #3 softcatch ( made by victor) with a baseplate welded on the bottom, and with #3 machine chain, 4 coiling optional. This will hold all foxes without leg damage, and will paw catch coyotes and hold them. For snow conditions, the #3 softcatch with 4 coils will be best. 4 coiled means that there are 2 extra smaller coilsprings added to the trap , which speeds up the firing,esp good if theres frost, and gives some xtra hold for a coyote. Trap chains should not be too long, 10 inches is good. Make sure there are at least 3 swiveling points by having trap swivels in the chains. Use the screw on the trap pan assembly to make the pan fire with some pressure applied to it. This is called pan tension. 1 pound of pressure to fire for fox, 3lbs for coyotes. Lessen the pan tension if theres frosty conditions.
- hay- use fresh nice green and good smelling hay, best if you store where chickens will poop on it and drop feathers, so when you use it,it has that chickeny smell, which is good for those poultry taking predators. So far I have used the hay without a bunch of chicken smell all over it.
- red fox pee for foxes, coyote or red fox pee for coyotes, optional is use of a liquid gland lure, either red fox for fox, or coyote or red for for coyotes. Use good clean and foxy smelling pee. Available at a trapping supplier. The stuff sold for hunters or in the garden center may not be as good and is always more expensive than a trapper supplier.
pic 2- this shows double staking which you must use for coyotes or if there may be 1 in the area when fox trapping. You need a stake ring on the end of the traps that accepts 2 stakes. Hook both together so both traps are staked as a unit. Stakes are the 1/2" rebars with nuts welded on top, use at least 18-20" long stakes. Trap suppliers also sell a cable stake, which is a metal peice on aircraft cable that is driven into the ground and pulled up on which locks the metal peice in the ground. Its quite hard to impossible for a coyote to pull such a stake. 15-18" of cable is recomended, rocky firm soils 12". Hook the trap end to the cable end loop with a heavy j hook like those that hold the swivels to the trap chain. Close the j hook all the way. The reason for this heavy duty staking for coyotes is they can pump a single stake right out of the ground. Foxes do not do this.
This is how to set up the traps. Set so the chain lengths from trap to trap are about 18 inches. Note the stake in between. Set the traps right on level ground and be sure they are not real wobbly. You do not need to have them set down with no wobble, however if you wish, you can dig out a small depression in the ground for them to set into, and bed them solidly. I have not found a need to though. Might increase chances of catch with coyotes though.
Take a small slice of hay and set it between the traps as shown. This is where you will place the fox pee and/or gland lure when you are done making the set. The pee goes right on top in the center, gland lure to the sides facing the traps, just a few drops each side. DO NOT put the pee and gland lure on until you have finished the hay arranging, and do not let any get on the traps.
Take some hay and lightly sprinkle it over the 2 traps, breaking up the outline of the traps. When satisfied with this, apply the pee and/or gland lure. Just a squirt of the pee will do, and a few drops each of the gland lure on each side as already stated. The set is completed. Check every morning, or check before dark if you want to check more than just morning. Do not get too close to check. If you can drive up, do so, but do not get out. Or use binoculars. This is esp important if using this set for coyotes, the less fresh human odors the better.
Results of hay set!
REMAKING A HAY SET
After a catch, you can remake the set at the same spot. For foxes, this just adds to the attraction. Use both the soiled hay and some fresh hay and remake just as if you were making it fresh, however you do not need gland lure. Just add some of the fox pee you have to the top middle, or add none at all. The hay will smell of gland musk and pee from the catch. I have caught them in remakes using just the soiled hay and no new pee added. It will not hurt to add a fresh squirt though. I usually do.
hay sets and coyotes- so far not much to go on as far as how effective, but waterman here shows a double and says it was hay sets, and I have seen where zags has caught some in hay sets, as well as a Quebec trapper, plus a few other guys who got 1 or a couple this way. Maybe these guys can put some light on what they used and how the traps were set on the ground ( in a dug out shallow trap bed or just right down as for fox?), as I have zero coyote experience. 11/18/2010 IMPORTANT! Please use a cable stake if you have even the slightest chance of a coyote being caught. Do not double stake with rebar stakes like seen in one pic. I tried this and had foxes getting out- very bad- everything was bound up bad- I'm not going to go into details, PM me if you really need details. I have been using cable stakes and no problems so far- none of the extreme binding whatsoever. This season I bought some of the new heavy duty cable stakes sold by MN Traplines. These also have a hole to add cable to make them retrievable, which I have done. I tested 1 and loved it, went in smooth, pulled into place and set and I tugged all I could. The retrieval loop was great to get it back out. Now I just need it coyote tested for the hold! Rockier soils, so I went with the 12" ones.