An Overview of Trapping Lures
In the trapping world, lure is the term we use to describe scents that attract furbearers to a trap set. Lure is a critical component of many traplines, and can often play a key role in a trapper’s success. Though the importance of lure is often debated, most trappers agree that a quality lure is a good investment that pays for itself in added dollars in the fur check.
At its most basic level, there are three main types of lures: gland lures, food lures and call lures. Gland lures use animal glands as the primary attractant to get critters to the set. Glands are usually specific to the animal being targeted (for instance, coyote glands would be used in a lure to attract other coyotes), and they can trigger a variety of responses in animals. Other ingredients are often added to glands to complement their effect. Food lures attract animals to a set based on feeding instinct. In other words, they smell like food items that appeal to an animal’s hunger. In predator trapping, a formulated bait is often used instead of a food lure, but sometimes they are used in combination, with lures typically incorporating a fish or meat component. Food lures for muskrat and beaver, on the other hand, would include a plant or fruit based attractant.
Call lures can use a variety of ingredients, but their main purpose is to get an animal to the set, often from a long distance. The more common long distance calls include skunk essence, which doesn’t appeal to an instinct that either a gland or food lure would – it simply signals to an animal that something is going on at the set, and they approach to investigate.
And at the risk of further complicating things, these three types of lures can be used in different combinations for specific lure formulas.
With so many lure makers out there, dozens of potential ingredients, and enough so-called ‘secret formulas’ to make your head spin, it can be difficult to know which lure to buy. You’ll also notice that every lure maker seems to claim they have the best lure for every particular situation. In this post, I’ll go over the major lure makers and hopefully help you decide whose lures fit your needs as a trapper. I’ll also include easy links you can click on to buy many of these lures.
O’Gorman’s Long Line Lures – Craig O’Gorman is a modern day legend in the trapping industry, and perhaps the best marketer in the business. The Montana predator control trapper has made his living trapping predators, selling lure and supplies, and teaching others. He’s also the most controversial figure in trapping – people either love Craig’s lures, baits, books and instruction, or have a negative/skeptical view. His attitude and mindset are very motivating, but also off-putting to many. There’s no doubt that his lures work, though. They’re harder to find online – O’Gorman has no website and sells most items direct via mail order catalog – and more expensive than most, but many people swear by them. My trapping mentor and I have both done very well with O’Gorman’s lures in the past.
Kaatz Bros. Lures – Don’t let their youthful appearance fool you – Kyle and Kellen Kaatz have been trapping and making lures for over two decades, and they’ve built a successful lure making and trapping supply business. Kaatz Bros. are from Illinois, and have extensive experience coyote, fox, raccoon and beaver trapping. They have a great website, excellent customer service, and are just all around great guys. I buy lots of lure making supplies from them, and am very happy with the quality. Kellen has produced two videos on lure and bait making, which is unique in an industry where nobody wants to share secrets. He’s also written a short book on lure making. In just a short time, Kaatz Bros. have established quite an operation and line of trapping lures.
Lenon Lures – Herb Lenon (1902-1979) was a legend in the trapping industry. He was a professional trapper from Michigan who became a household name among trappers throughout the U.S. and Canada. In addition to catching piles of fur, instructing other trappers and writing for major trapping magazines, Herb developed Lenon Lures, a line of trapping lures that continue to catch fur to this day. Lenon’s species-specific “Super All Call” line of lures are among those formulated by Herb through experience on the trapline, and continue to put fur on stretchers.
Herb’s son Asa Lenon, a well known trapper in his own right, took over his father’s lure making business after he passed, and just recently, Asa turned the business over to John Chagnon, lifelong trapper, friend of the Lenons, and founder of PCS Outdoors. John continues to work with Asa to ensure the lure formulas are made the very same way Herb did it. John is proud to continue the tradition of Lenon Lures and serve the faithful trappers who have relied on these products for decades, as well as introducing new trappers to the products.
Predator Control Group – Clint Locklear made a big boom in the trapping industry with his ‘Teachers of the Night’ series of trapping videos where he used night vision cameras to demonstrate animal habits and responses on the trapline. Over the years, Clint has developed an extensive line of trapping lures under the name “Predator Control Group” that have gained a faithful following. He’s also known for his Trapping Radio podcast, where he shares tons of free information with other trappers, and his business course teaching trappers to stack functions and create revenue streams in the trapping industry.
Caven’s Lures – Tim Caven has been selling trapping supplies under the Minnesota Trapline Products name since 1978. He’s a trapper and has sold enough lure to trappers to understand what they are looking for. As Tim puts it, “I am in a rather unique position as I am a total trap supply dealer first, and a Caven’s Lure and Bait maker second”. Tim has plenty of lures in the Caven’s brand that will work on your line, and he isn’t afraid to use or recommend products from other lure makers as well. His “Gusto” long distance predator call lure is a favorite for marten trappers across North America.
Mark June’s Lures – Trained as a biologist, Mark June is a professional trapper and lure maker who runs the Professional Predator Trapping Academy. Mark is a humble man, and his extensive knowledge and experience trapping professionally in numerous states lends credibility to his line of lures. Mark also shares a lot of information about what’s in his lures, which is nice for a trapper looking to understand and evaluate the lures they use, not just put blind faith in a good lure.
John Graham’s Fur Country Lures – John Graham is one of those few guys who still make a good part of their living trapping and selling fur. He lives and traps in eastern Montana, where coyote and bobcat pelts still bring top dollar, and John is known for putting up numbers. He writes a column on trapping in Trappers Post magazine, sharing a lot of good insights from the trapline. He’s also made several trapping instructional videos and built his own line of Montana Traps.
Weiser Western Lures – Andy Weiser is another Montana trapper who makes a good part of his living trapping fur. He’s made lure for 30 years, and his lures are extensively tested on his line. Andy makes small batches of lure with quality ingredients, and has grown his lure selection slowly over time to ensure quality. His lures may be out of stock or difficult to find at times, but they are sure to be of consistent quality.
Hawbaker’s Lure – Stanley Hawbaker wrote the book on trapping – literally. He authored “Trapping North American Furbearers”, the book that’s used in many trapper education programs and widely distributed across the country. Hawbaker’s lure has been around forever, and it’s stood the test of time in a wide variety of habitats. For a tried and true lure it’s a good choice, but you won’t find new ingredients or formulas in this line.
Reuwsaat’s Lure – Lesel Reuwsaat wins the competition for toughest name to spell in the trapping industry. He’s a relative newcomer to the trapping lure industry, but has proven himself on the line as a professional fur trapper in South Dakota. When he caught the trapping bug, Lee was working a full time job during the day and trapping all night. It didn’t take long for him to take the leap into full time trapping. Expect to see more from Reuwsaat’s lures in the coming years.
Dunlap Lures – Jeff Dunlap is a fur trapper from northern Michigan who was raised with trapping in his blood. Long road trips to trap out of state with his dad solidified trapping as a way of life in the Dunlap family. Jeff traps avidly in Michigan and out of state, often travelling down to Louisiana to trap when the north country freezes up. He’s good friends with Clint Locklear of Predator Control Group, and often a guest on Trapping Radio. Though he doesn’t have a website, Jeff has an active following in his trapping group on Facebook. Dunlap’s Lures are simple and effective, with old-school labeling and catchy names. Jeff is a valued member of the trapping community, and his lures have developed a strong following in recent years.
Dobbins Lures – The late Charles Dobbins remains one of the best known names in trapping. He was an accomplished trapper, lure maker, trapping writer, and an all around great guy. His lure line was carried on by his son, Paul Dobbins, who today is best known for his extremely popular forum and website “Trapperman.com”, the hub of all discussions in the online trapping community. Paul continues to trap, and is especially known for his expertise as an animal damage control water trapper. Paul carries on his father’s legacy with dignity, and makes it a priority to educate young trappers.
Welch’s Lures – Scott Welch grew up trapping in Ohio, and after coming into his own on the trapline, he began formulating baits and lures. One of Scott’s mentors was Carroll Black, legendary trapper and originator of Blackie’s Blend Lures. Scott took over Blackie’s lure business in 2015, shortly before Black passed away. Scott continues to make his own line of lures as well as carrying on the legacy of Blackie’s Blend.
Other Noteworthy Lure Makers
Keg Creek Lures
Medicine Hat Lures
Oneida Fur & Trap
JR and Sons