Wire manufacturers add a ‘shelf-life lubricant’ to their product to prevent rusting. To eliminate the eye-catching shine of the wire and to remove the smell of the lubricant, you need to remove this before use. Coil the snares and place them in a large pan with plenty of water. Add a small cupful of automatic (low froth) washing powder or washing soda crystals. Boil for at least an hour. The lubricant will collect on the water surface as globules. Do not pour off the water or lift the snares out until you have first removed these surface globules with a spoon.
Once degreased, the snares can be coloured to reduce the shine. The wire will darken and dull by oxidation if the snares are left outside in the weather or buried, but it takes a long time, and rust formation will interfere with the free-running properties of the snare. It’s quicker and better to boil snares again in water containing plenty of chips of oak bark, oak leaves or tea (save old tea bags/leaves!). Bring to the boil, simmer for five minutes and leave to stand in the liquid for 24 hours if they need darkening. When dark enough, hang up to drain and dry. The resulting brown colour blends beautifully with natural vegetation, and the boiling process serves to remove human scent. Plastic or rubber components will probably not survive boiling, one reason why we don’t favour them.
We advise that you regularly repeat the boiling and colouring process for snares in use. Snares that you regularly handle to reset them are easily detected by foxes, and snares detected for this reason or because they are visible are often marked by them with urine, making them still more obvious. When catching foxes for radio-tagging in our research work we re-boil snares every 10-14 days. After colouring, it’s a good idea to bundle snares in fives or tens, using a twist of gardening wire, to prevent tangles. After this, handle the snares as little as possible, and keep them away from sources of scent from humans, dogs, dead animals, petrol, cigarettes, scented soap and aftershave.
Some types of snare run best when lubricated. We think this step is unnecessary in a well-designed snare, but if you wish to re-wax your snares after boiling, we suggest you use paraffin wax, which has very little odour. Waxing also helps to allow raindrops and condensation to run off. Do not use any mineral oil or aerosol lubricant.
As discussed earlier, we think the best tealers are made of copper wire of 2-3mm thickness. Copper rods can be bought from some snare suppliers, from metal distributors or, sometimes found at scrap dealers in the form of powerline cable. Copper oxidises to a very unobtrusive brown colour. If you buy from scrap dealers, make sure they haven’t burned off the insulating material, as heat weakens the wire. Boil tealers periodically, in the same way that snares are prepared.
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