After struggling to find a lure that would work in the conditions of my northern Maine marten and fisher trapline, I decided to make my own. My requirements? First and foremost, the lure had to hold up to the rainy spells that we have during the November season here, and keep working. It also had to continue to function during the deep freezes. That necessitated a petroleum based lure that would repel water, but wouldn’t freeze.
With active forest management taking place on most of my trapline, as well as drastic year-to-year differences in food availability, it’s difficult to pinpoint consistent marten and fisher locations. That means trappers in this area often need to call furbearers in from longer distances. And that means a loud call lure works best. I knew I would need to incorporate a healthy dose of high quality skunk essence in the lure.
Beaver is one of the best universal predator baits around, and beaver castor a great attractant. Fish oil is also a great attractant, and provides an added element to the lure. I wanted to include both of these in my lure in good quantities.
In smaller quantities, several other ingredients would provide additional attraction and fixative properties, and round out the lure. I focused on anise oil for its sweetness, and the following musk ingredients: civet musk, muscaro, ambrette musk and tonquin musk.
Deciding on the quantities of each ingredient in the lure is probably one of the greatest challenges, and it took some time to develop. In fact, I’ll probably be adjusting quantities for several years to fine tune the lure. As a base, petroleum jelly made up the majority of the mixture, fish oil and beaver castor were a large portion by volume, skunk essence was the most powerful (and most expensive) ingredient, and the anise/musks were incorporated in smaller quantities.
Once the ingredients and quantities of a lure are determined, actual formulation, in this case, is quite easy. I heated the base to its melting point and slowly stirred in the other ingredients over the course of a couple hours. The skunk essence was the worst, and for a time irritated my eyes to the point where I thought I might go blind! Be sure to work in a properly ventilated area if you try this at home.
Once properly incorporated, it was time to allow the formulation to cool, filling the glass jars prior to it solidifying. The pouring process is a huge mess! Then it’s cleaning, capping, and labeling the lure jars.
I did have one small issue with the first batch. I used chopped up beaver castor, and the castor settled out to the bottom of some of the lure before it solidified. The castor scent should be widespread throughout the lure from the cooking process, but to ensure equal amounts of castor throughout the lure jar it will need to be stirred a bit during use. I’ll be using tinctured castoreum in future batches to avoid this.
Here’s the final product:
I think this will turn out to be a great call lure, not only for mustelids like marten and fisher, but for canines and other predatory furbearers as well.
Want to try some of my long distance call lure on your trapline this season? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll give it to you at cost – all I ask for is your feedback on how the lure works for you.