How Do I Get Started Furbearer Trapping?

The state of Missouri, unlike many other states, does not require trappers to attend a mandatory trapper education class before they are allowed to trap. So, it can be difficult for a new trapper to learn the ropes. Here are a few good ideas for new trappers to investigate when searching for information on how to get started.

Learn more about trapping

Attend a free MDC trapping clinic

MDC offers many free trapping clinics throughout the year. Classes vary, but many offer hands-on trapping, skinning, and fur preparation. Contact your Regional MDC office for information on free trapping clinics in your area.

Join the Missouri Trappers Association

The Missouri Trappers Association is a fine resource for new trappers. Consider joining the MTA for access to trapping publications and regular meetings. Many members are willing to mentor new trappers.

Find educational resources online

An internet search using the term “Trapper Education Manual” will yield many in-depth educational materials. Just keep in mind that these manuals may come from states whose trapping regulations vary from those in Missouri.

Basic equipment

Beginning trappers should start out with basic gear needed to trap one or two species. Buying new equipment for a variety of species can be expensive, so you should learn to be successful with basic gear before you invest too much. As you gain experience you will develop a better sense of the gear needed for other types of trapping.

Trap tags

State law requires the trapper to have his or her name and address or conservation ID number attached to each trap in a permanent way. A laminated or weatherproof tag with permanent marker can be used.

Trap stakes and grapples

Steel stakes are needed to anchor traps. Know the length and size you need for specific furbearers and soil conditions. You may also need to use grapples in certain conditions.

Pliers and cable cutters

Pliers are needed for trap adjustments and cutting and bending wire. If aircraft cable is used for snares or anchoring systems you will also need cable cutters.


A hatchet is used for cutting limbs, driving stakes, chopping ice, and making certain types of sets.

Wire or aircraft cable

Wire or aircraft cable (3/32- or 1/8-inch) can be used to make submersion sets and fasten traps.

Trapping staff/walking stick

A staff has many uses. Use it to check water depths when wading, detect underwater dens, and retrieve traps from water. A heavy staff may also be used to dispatch animals caught in some traps.


Trowels are used to make dirt holes or pocket sets in water.

Pack basket, bucket, or heavy bag

Any of these items can be used to carry all your traps and other equipment.


Folding and locking knives are recommended for trappers. Their uses are endless on the trapline.

Dirt sifter

A dirt sifter is a frame about 8 inches square and 3 inches deep with a quarter inch mesh screen on the bottom and is used to cover traps with fine soil.

Pan Covers

A pan cover is recommended to keep dirt and debris from getting under the trap pan on land sets. Wax paper, screen, plastic, and clean cloth patches are used for pan covers.


A catchpole is used to hold an animal so it can be safely released or dispatched. It is essential for a land trapper.


Trappers need a variety of gloves. Latex gloves are used when skinning animals. Water trappers use gauntlet gloves that cover the arm to the shoulder to keep dry in cold weather. Land trappers use rubber or cotton gloves to keep human scent off of their traps.


Water trappers need either hip or chest waders as they will often find themselves working in water depths that would overtop boots.

Related Content

Record-Weight Furbearers

View the list of Missouri's record-weight furbearers, and let us know if you think you've trapped a record-breaking furbearer.

Check the Code

This is NOT a legal document. Regulations are subject to revision during the current year.
Refer to the Wildlife Code.