Recently I’ve had the privilege of learning how to prep predator traps for trapping season from an experienced local trapper. Doug McDonald from here in Mid Michigan showed me the ropes of how to boil, dye and wax traps for the upcoming season.
We took a different approach than purchasing your typical dye for treating the traps. I happen to have a Black Walnut tree in my back yard and just so happens that the nuts from this type of tree produce an extremely dark black dye when boiled! This has been a favorite of trappers for years to use for dyeing their traps. We picked about two gallons of Black Walnuts from my tree out back and took them to his place for the dying process.
I wouldn’t suggest this if you are wearing your Sunday’s best! Make sure you have old clothes on that you’re not worried about getting stained! Place the nuts on a piece of cardboard so your garage floor doesn’t’ get stained. Next take a hammer and break the green hulls off of the nuts, you will notice a greenish white juice coming off of them and this is what will stain everything in sight!
While breaking the hulls off of the nuts, I would get your water boiling pot heating up since this will take some time to bring ten gallons or so of water to a rolling boil. Once your pot starts to get to temp, place the broken hulls in the water. You will notice that the water will quickly turn black! This is exactly the way you want it do an adequate job at dyeing your traps.
Leave your traps in the heated water to cook for about an hour or so. Then check them to make sure your traps are treated to your liking. Have another pan ready with clean water in it and bring it to a slow boil as well. Then place your wax in the hot water. Be careful not to burn the wax as this will cause a smell and that odor will remain on your traps! Once the wax is melted, take your traps from the previous pot (which is still hot, this will help your traps take the wax faster) shake them off and place them in the clean wax treated water. Leave them there in the water for a few minutes so they heat up enough to accept the wax. This should take a couple of minutes or so, and then pull them slowly through the water and out.
You should be able to see a thin coat of wax on them from this process. Be careful not to touch these traps with your hands. Doug suggested that when doing this that you bundle your traps together with a piece of wire so you can handle them without touching them. After you complete the dyeing and waxing process, take them outside and hang them in an open area for about a week, this will allow them to dry and cure until you are ready to place them in a clean container for use later in the season.
As a side note: if you have new traps like I do, make sure you leave them outside to get a thin coat of rust on them before dyeing them. This will help the trap take dye. Good Luck!