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Over the years of trapping, I’ve never though much about making my own lure. There were plenty of options available, they didn’t seem outrageously expensive, and I didn’t have the time or knowledge to make my own anyway. It’s one of those things that you don’t think much of, but when you start thinking about it, you can go down a huge rabbit hole you may not make it out of. And it can be fun. Kind of like tying your own fishing flies.
My first thought of making my own lure started last fall on the marten trapline. Partway through the season, I realized the lure I’d relied on for some time was running low, and I needed to order some more. Of course, I couldn’t find it. So I searched for an alternative. I needed a loud, skunky lure that would call in marten during cold weather and hold up to the rainy spells we can get up here in Maine during marten season.
I ordered Lenon’s Marten Super All Call. It smelled awesome (for a marten lure!) and I was pretty confident it would do well. I applied it to all of my sets and hoped for the best. Unfortunately, we got a rain storm the next day, and much of the lure washed away, and I couldn’t smell it when approaching the sets. A big problem.
Then I ordered Milligan’s 200 Proof LDC. An LDC, or Long Distance Call, is supposed to be strong and smelled from far away, and with a name like 200 Proof, why, how could it not draw marten from a mile away? Plus, I’d heard lots of great things about Milligan’s lures in the past, so I felt pretty good. Sadly, it didn’t work out. The consistency of the lure was like light maple syrup, and it soaked into everything I applied it to. That would be fine if it would maintain its strong odor, but it didn’t, especially in wet conditions followed by cold.
I’ve always had great luck with Tim Caven’s ‘Gusto’ for marten trapping, and also like Cronk’s “Allagash Fur Call”, but I don’t like the watery consistency of these lures, as it’s a terrible feeling to have to reapply lure to a set.
What I really wanted was a marten lure with a very loud skunky base that would hold up to the wet and super cold conditions we encounter on the northern Maine trapline. I had it once. It’s called “Magnum Marten”, made by Northwest Predator & Wildlife Control. I bought some from Scott Phillips when I trapped in Utah, and it may be the best marten lure I’ve ever used. But it’s not the easiest lure to track down. Only a couple of places carry it, and the company that makes it doesn’t take online payment. Late in the season last year, after trouble with the other lures, I didn’t have time to get some. I ended up mixing a couple of jars of petroleum jelly with pure skunk essence, and it worked. It also got me thinking about making my own lure instead of buying it next year. What kind of other ingredients could I add to formulate just the right lure that works under my trapline conditions? Could I make a better custom lure? Would it save money? Could I sell a bit of it to fellow marten trappers?
I ordered some lure making books and videos from Kaatz Bros. Lures and began my journey down the rabbit hole of lure making. I’m not sure how far down I’ll make it, but it’s guaranteed to get interesting! Stay tuned for more on lure making. And feel free to add your thoughts on making your own lures. Do you make your own lures, and if so, why?
HEY JEREMIAH!!!! I ALSO HAD NO TIME IN THE PAST TO MAKE LURE OR BAIT. BUT I HAVE RETIERED. NOW I FIND MAKEING PRODUCE EASY FUN AND SUCCESSFUL!!!!!
Devising our own “special customized” baits, lures and attractants is fun and exciting experience. Glychol works well as an anti-freeze and adds sweetness to a bait recipe. Glycerin(pure glycerin up to 25 % of overall volume) is a very good binding agent along with Xanthan gum as an emulsifying agent. Some use WalMart RV anti-freeze and it is odourless. For coon bait or chum, Glycol (RV anti) would be fine. A small amount of 100 proof vodka would prevent mould and works great.
As pure lure ingredients anise oil, bergamot oil, fennel oil, valerian extract(with a few drops of apple oil) works well. Sack oil with the castor is an easy lure mix. I once took the help of some raccoon removal services. Grind up a couple of semi-dry castors, add sac oil (a squirt or two), add a cup of glycerin to make a thick texture, then add a cupful of peppermint, schnopps, add some birch oil/ popple bud oil, bergmot oil, sodium benzoate(as a preservative).
Raccoon removal services like http://www.hawkeye.ca/raccoon-control-trapping-and-removal suggest splitting our batch in Two before adding the last ingredients and making special batches with different oil extracts. Never forget to label the jar with the name of the ingredients using the permanent marker.
At times, in the fall, if your catch is less, make a feeding station slide set to use their own small white feed sticks. Use a squirt of birch oil or popple bud oil to the mud allowing a couple of drops to get in the water and create a slick. Non-castor lures allows for to catch many wary adults, that won’t come near castor base lure anymore.
For coon lure, fish (any fish) and a sweet food scent is a good choice, use lure of your choice, set to sign. On seeing tracks, put a baited set on them. My grandpa was very successful, took up to 800 coons in 3 weeks at the water’s edge.
I make up some of my own Lynx Lure and I also use commercial lure.
I’ve never had much success with the stinky lure on Marten. Might have something to do with my location, my trapline is north of the Arctic Circle.
Thanks for the observation Jim. What kind of bait works well for Marten up there? I am currently prepping some beaver for next year’s line.
Fish, fresh to partially rotten. If it’s too rotten it doesn’t seem to attract them as good. All of my mentors used fish.
A local fur buyer had some of the stinky lure for sale at his shop. He said some trappers swear by it and others
don’t like it.
I’ve never tried Northwest Predator’s “magnum marten”. I have a mental block when it comes to that brand of lure. I tried their “Alaska Lynx” Lure one year on one of my sidelines and it didn’t attract a single Link. Another trapper I know had the same results with it.
That’s interesting. It seems like a lot of Alaska trappers use fish for marten and it’s very effective. None of the Maine marten trappers I know use fish. Popular baits here are beaver, deer, moose, muskrat, or beef scraps. I wonder how much this has to do with different marten food preferences in different geographic areas, trapper preferences and habits, or something else. I plan to use some fish component in my marten bait next year – perhaps some fish oil mixed in with ground beaver meat. Worth a shot.
I wonder if the effectiveness of Magnum Marten has to do with the fact that it is grease based and tends to hold up well to frequent rains. Our weather fluctuates so much during the season and many of the lures I’ve tried tend to get washed away. I would imagine that the dry conditions in Alaska would prevent this from being a problem for you, and maybe a lure like Lenon’s or Gusto would be more effective. So many variables – that’s what makes trapping so interesting!
Love the effort you are putting into the podcast and website! Just started a batch of your ldc recipe and love the smell so far. I was working in the attached garage so I stopped before the skunk quill step. Will move outside tomorrow and finish it up. I will let you know how it works in MN on the Ontario border.
Try sardines as a base in your marten lure. Get the non flavored type in oil. Render them down a ways before putting in your additives. Really works well on cats too. When trapping for cats with cages here in Communist Colorado I always have sardines in the back of the cage. That sardine lure I use in Wyoming for marten