Securing an animal caught in your trap is one of the critical elements of successful trapping, and there are three basic ways to do it. You can attach the trap chain to a solid object (tree or post), stake it down, or use a drag. Drags are an important tool on the trapline, and their proper use is an art that can provide a great deal of benefit to the trapper and the animal being pursued.
At it’s most basic level, a trap drag is an object, usually in the shape of a grapple or hook, that is not fastened to anything but the trap chain, and allows the animal to leave the area and drag it along away from the trap bed. After being caught in a foothold trap, an animal will attempt a getaway, usually toward some brush or other cover where it seeks safety. Drags are designed to become easily entangled in brush and allow the animal to be secured in a vegetated area away from the trap bed, but not too far to avoid being discovered by the trapper.
So what’s the advantage of using trap drags? Recently I gave away some new AuSable Rotating Trap Drags from PCS Outdoors as part of a contest at Trapping Today, and asked readers to provide some input on why they use drags. Thanks to everyone who commented. Here’s a short overview on some of the benefits of trap drags.
Drags leave the set area undisturbed. Instead of tearing up the set area and making a catch circle common in staked sets, the animal leaves the catch area and doesn’t disturb the ground or urinate there. This means the natural set is much easier to remake for another catch.
Drags hide the target animal in brush or trees, instead of leaving it out in the open where the trap set was. Though animals like coyote and fox are much easier to trap in open areas, catching and holding them there can often be a disadvantage. The drag allows the animal to hide from aerial predators, hunters and trap/fur thieves. They also are less likely to be seen by other passersby, including some folks who may misunderstand or dislike trapping and might be disturbed by seeing a wild animal caught.
Drags reduce stress in many cases. When an animal is able to hide from predators and man, it tends to be more calm and less stressed. And stress is something that should be avoided whenever possible.
Drags prevent pullout. On a long chain, caught up in brush that has spring and give to it, an animal has very little leverage or ability to apply force to get out of the trap. This allows trappers to hold animals that may have otherwise pulled out. On the flip side, some might argue that getting the trap chain tangled around brush and trees can cause other issues, but I haven’t seen evidence of that myself.
Drags are quick and relatively easy to set up. Other than digging a deeper trap bed for fox/coyote sets, it’s pure simplicity to make a drag set. Bury or set the drag in place and you’re done. No pounding on stakes and working them out of the ground at the end of the season.
Drags allow trappers to make sets in places that aren’t possible to stake. In areas with shallows soils, lots of bedrock, heavy clay, or frozen ground, it can be impossible to drive a stake into the ground. Instead of passing by an opportunity to make a set, oftentimes using a drag can turn an impossible situation into a successful one.
Drags may not be a great option for all trappers, but they certainly provide advantages in many situations. Where legal, you should give drags a try on your trapline. They’re one of the many tools we can use to make ourselves better trappers!