Foothold traps are designed to latch onto the foot of the animal without causing it injury. These heavy-duty clamps will immobilize the animal and restrict its movement to the length of the chain or wire stake.
There are many different types of foothold traps designed to catch different types of animals such as wolf, coyote, beaver, otter, bobcat, raccoon and wild cats.
It’s important to match the correct type of leg hold trap for the right animal so as to not inflict pain or injury. Many fur trappers will regularly check on their hidden traps to make sure an animal is not trapped for too long.
Be aware that serrated tooth spring latch traps are banned in the USA and most parts of the world. It’s illegal to use these types of older injury causing foothold traps.
Let’s check out some of the legal and more common foothold traps around. Most have some sort of a spring and release mechanism that will close a set of jaws around the foot of an animal. It’s also important to get the correct size for the animal that you are targeting.
Enclosed Foothold traps for Raccoons
Enclosed foothold traps are designed to trap the hands or arms of animals like raccoons and opossums. They work by latching onto the arm of the animal when they reach inside to grab the food. As the hole is only large enough for a raccoon arm it will deter unwanted catches.
Raccoons are naturally inquisitive so they will reach in with their hand to see what goodies are down the bottom of the tube trap. The trap won’t activate until they withdraw their hand. This means it won’t activate on inserting a hand or arm only by withdrawing the raccoon or opossum arm will the trap close.
The best food bait for these types for enclosed foothold traps is dependant on the aminal you want to catch. They are also called live traps for raccoons, or raccoon leg trap. They will get a sore arm but they will be alive.
Raccoon trap bait
For raccoon, I like to use a mixture of fish, nuts, and honey. I also like to sprinkle a little around the trap to lure them in. Having the enclosed foothold trap set in some bushes or in a set of logs will encourage them to investigate further.
Sometimes I like to use my homemade fruit roll-ups. These can have a very distinctive smell depending on the fruit ingredients you use. They are perfect for rolling up and jamming down the bottom of the coon leg trap.
But you can try a whole range of trapping lures scent. Raccoons are scavengers and will investigate food that is easy to reach. Their sense of smell is excellent and they often prefer sweet food items like fruit, so that’s why some trappers like to use marshmallows or jelly beans. They last longer.
You can also buy ready-made coon bait but I like to make my own and fine-tune the recipe. Set two traps up in each area with different bait, keep a record on what works and what doesn’t.
If you hunting raccoon its best to read up all about their habits from and how to trap a raccoon in the United States. It is an excellent resource.
Why use enclosed foothold traps for Raccoons
- These traps come in various styles and are available from many different manufacturers.
- Some states require you to use enclosed foothold traps.
- They are a lot smaller than a live animal full cage trap so you can put them in tight spaces.
- They can be hidden easily and will usually only target coons and opossums.
- Built tough and will last a lifetime.
Under spring or jump traps
Under spring or jump traps is an old style of foothold trap. They have single flat spring located directly under the jaws of the trap. As its old technology, they are no longer manufactured.
They come in a range of sizes so smaller jump traps, like the #1, are still popular and used for muskrat, weasel, and marten. The larger jumps, #3 and #4, are used for beaver and otter trapping.
The drawbacks are that there is no adjustable spring setting as it relays on the one big single flat spring. Many trappers still like this type of trap as its easy to conceal as it’s not too large and fairly lightweight.
If you can find one at a garage sale at a good price they are very collectible.
Longspring foothold traps.
Longspring foothold traps have been around since the dark ages. They are simple in its design which uses either one or two long springs which provide the tension to activate the jaws.
Double springs are very fast acting but can be difficult to hide in the ground due to the extra spring on both sides.
Advantages / disadvantages
- These traps are large and heavy, especially with 2 springs. The size is a disadvantage in hiding or burring the trap. The weight is an advantage when used in a river or creek as the current shouldn’t move it.t.
- Single long spring traps are great for smaller game animals such as muskrat or mink.
- The Double long spring traps are better, faster and stronger for larger animals like beavers and wolves.
These traps are easy to use by simply putting your foot onto the spring and using your hands to open the jaws. With double springs long traps, you will need to use two feet to reset the trap. The spring tension and foot pan will lock the jaws in the open position. Once an animal with enough weight steps on the trigger pan the jaws will slam shut.
Coil-spring foothold traps
Coil-spring traps are the newer technology. With very fast response springs these are the fastest type of foothold trap around. Usually, coil trap springs are made with 1 or 2 large springs. But some trappers like to add up to 4 springs in total for extra strength and clamp stability. This modification is called four coiling.
- These foothold traps are a lot smaller than long spring traps so this is an advantage when space is limited like between rocks or trees.
- Doue to their speed in clamping shut Coil-springs are perfect for fox, coyote, and bobcats.
- Dogless bridger and Minnesota Brand MB-550 are two very respectable brands as they are built tough and heavy duty. The Dogless Bridger is considered one of the best coyote trap around.
Timber Wolf release.
John uses a fully modified dogless bridger number 3 trap set for coyote. It’s handy to add a shock spring which will prevent jarring of the wolf as he tries to pull free.
Using the backboard is definitely a safe way to release these Timber-wolves, I have seen other videos which use a lanyard noose pole and that just seems to take longer with added stress to the wolf.
Remember to take precautions and always have a gun ready in case the wild animal turns.
Guarded traps also known as a stop loss recovery trap have an extra spring-loaded guard attachment. This will pin the arm of the animal in one position so it can’t fight free.
They available in several styles, and are a much better foothold trap than an unguarded one. I don’t see too many of them around much anymore but they are an excellent trap.
They are slightly more expensive due to the added complexity and parts but they will pay for themselves quick enough with extra catches and less injury. The added metal attachment prevents a trapped animal from injuring itself while trying to escape.
These are great for hunting muskrats and mink in shallow water or dense vegetation.
Foothold Jaw Size Chart for traps
|Animal||Foothold Jaw traps open spread size in Inches|
|Badger||5 1/2 – 6|
|Beaver||5 1/2 – 7 ½|
|Bobcat||5 1/2 – 6|
|Coyote||5 1/2 – 6|
|Fisher||4 1/2 – 5 1/2|
|Otter||5 1/2 – 7 ½|
|Raccoon||5-inch or use an enclosed foothold trap|
|Weasel||3 1/2 – 4|
If you size your trap correctly, use the right foothold mechanism and use the correct bait you will have great success as long as there are animals in the vicinity.
Traps are vital in a survival situation where they can catch food for you as well as provide fur skins for clothing. They can even be used to reduce the population threat say wolves or raccoons in your local area.
The raccoon is a pest and even those they look cute and cuddly wild ones can carry diseases like rabies, roundworm, and leptospirosis. So be very careful around raccoons.
Remember to check your traps regularly and to release any unwanted animals. That way we can keep the population high for future generations.