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Finding The Perfect Stick - Post Sets

Updated: Oct 16, 2019

Year round I find myself scanning the woods edge for the "perfect stick". I'm looking for a 1" to 3" diameter stick that is straight for 12-18" and then has a crook or bend in it. These are collected and thrown into my fox pen to be chewed and urinated on. By the time season rolls around in October I have a nice collection of ready to use sticks for my urine post sets. Generally I will dope these up with coyote or red fox gland lure, beaver castor, or other favorites. I do however use some with just the scent that my fox have left on them. These non-lured sticks have added many additional lure shy adult coyote, fox, and bobcats to my truck.. I believe it will become evident in the pictures what I consider the "perfect stick" and why. By leaning your stick away from your trap you discourage an animal from working the backside. By having a stick that forks away from your trap you are virtually eliminating that problem. Positioning your trap at a post set is definitely more difficult then at a dirt hole set and to believe you won't have some misses is wishful thinking at best. When you have one main specie in your area it is much easier but many of us work areas where there is an equal chance at a coyote, fox, or bobcat.

Tim with the "perfect stick" and the results

As a general rule when in a mixed specie area I position my trap approximately 6" back and 2" offset one way or the other from the base of my stick or post. On my home turf where I live there is a 90% chance of the catch being a coyote so I go back 8" and offset 3". While I would like to catch every animal that comes to my post set, I am going to miss some. The beauty of a post set however is that if my trap was bedded properly, the animal is none the wiser and I will get another crack at it in the coming days. Post sets will make up only about 20% of my sets in October and November but in late December through February they will be my go to option and be my #1 set. If I am partner trapping and my partner is in to dirt hole and flat sets which is often the case I will go nearly 100% post sets myself. This helps the partnership in having all the bases covered.

Remake of the same set showing the "crook" in the stick which virtually eliminates the animal from working the back side of your set. Cowpies were placed there to create a walk-through effect. A post set in really a two fold set. You can catch the animal as it comes to smell your stick and/or you can catch them when they attempt to urinate on your stick. When you add bobcats to the mix, this stick can also be used as a rubbing post.

This Tom bobcat felt the need to rub the castor on the stick into his face and neck. With cats make sure your stick is anchored well and is if sufficient size to take a cats rubbing efforts.


Sometimes all you can do is laugh and admit defeat. I had a coyote at this flat set one morning. I remade the set and the next day was greeted to this:

My backing was freshly peed on, droppings and tracks were left by coyote, fox, and bobcat, and there were 3 tracks on my trap pan. I found a nice rock under my pan that I neglected to see when I did my remake. Trapping can be a very humbling experience.

Food for thought: Let's assume for a minute that you are catching your target animal by a front foot as it comes to smell your post before urinating on it. On a post that slopes away from your trap you want to adjust your trap position based on the height that you put your lure. The lower your lure, the further back you want to have your trap. If luring higher, you need to bring your trap in closer to the post. Think of your target animals feet and neck. If his neck can't stretch to put his nose in contact with your lure he will need to move his feet forward. That should keep you up at night. Enjoy yourselves and keep your eye out for that "perfect stick".

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