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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?