To effectively place gopher traps you must uncover the mound and gain adequate access to the tunnel system. Follow the steps below and you should have a great success rate when trapping gophers.
Inspect The Gopher Mound
Gopher mounds typically have a crescent shape with the highest point being away from the originating hole. In the above image we have two gopher mounds that mirror each other. If you look closely you can make out circle shapes in the inner part of each mound. These are the plugs where the gopher sealed the holes. They are not always this easily identifiable.
Prod The Mound
Gophers tend to dig their surface holes at an angle. Follow the natural shape of the mound down to the plug and prod into the soil. You should feel it give way after a couple of inches. In the case of the mounds above, the critter made two holes right next to each other in order to clear out quite a bit of dirt.
Prepare The Site
I like to rake away all the dirt from the mound for several reasons. First, gopher mounds are an eyesore and the dirt can kill the grass underneath if left in place. Raking the dirt away makes excavating the tunnel much easier. Lastly, it’s easier to see a fresh mound if you have cleared the existing ones.
Excavating The Tunnel
Using a knife or other tool, cut a section of sod out. Try to remove one or two pieces cleanly. You will want to use them later. Clear out any loose dirt and inspect the tunnel. In this case the tunnel runs north and south as pictured.
Place The Traps
Set the traps facing both directions. Here we are using a pair of Victor Easy Set Gopher Traps in each opening. It is prudent to tie a bit of string to the traps and anchor them in the ground with a stake. This will prevent a wounded gopher from scurrying away down his tunnel with your trap attached. Pictured is my favorite tool for cutting the sod and excavating the tunnels, the Fiskars Garden Knife.
Cover The Hole
Gently place the section of sod you cut out back into the hole. Be careful not to let it go too far down and touch the traps. You will be able to hear if you trigger a trap by accident. If you do, just reset it and try again. If you are worried that something might step on it you can place a bucket over the area.
I generally like to check the traps in the afternoon on the next day. This gives the gopher plenty of time to go about his daily (or nightly) activities. If you see a new mound form in the same area that typically means the gopher isn’t done excavating that area and your traps were sprung by the dirt it was pushing around. You will just need to repeat the steps above if that happens. It can be frustrating when that happens but you will get him once he’s done remodeling.