Deer Traps to Catch Skittish Lost Dogs?

Most people are probably not even aware that there are such a thing as deer traps, but wildlife biologists use a variety of traps to capture deer including box traps, Clover traps (a netted-box trap), drop nets, and drive nets..  Deer, like many trap-shy dogs, are generally not comfortable entering enclosed spaces, so the design of some of these traps might be useful for capturing shy dogs as well.  These are mostly just ideas at this point since I don’t yet have experience using these traps and some may not prove to be practical.  However, I wanted to share the variety of trap designs available in scientific research journals.  In this article, I’m going to focus on Clover traps and box traps, and next I’ll look at designs for net traps.

Clover Trap

The Clover trap is what first caught my attention when I was trying to think of a way to improve dog enclosure traps.  The Clover trap, which is named after its designer, is a netted-box trap.  Here is a demo video of a Clover trap.  You really only need to watch the first 2 minutes of the video, and I would not suggest wrestling any trapped dogs to subdue them.

Clover Trap
Close up of guillotine door mechanism

I do think this trap would require some modifications to securely trap a dog, but it does offer some interesting possibilities.  The netting makes the trap appear much more open than the traditional wire cage trap.  On the downside you probably would need to supervise the trap closely because a dog could likely chew through the netting.  The trip-wire mechanism might also need to be modified.  However, a very useful feature of this trap is that it doesn’t require the dog to duck under the door to enter the trap.  Many dogs (even non-trap-shy dogs) are somewhat leery of the overhanging door on many cage traps.  The Clover trap has a netted guillotine door that rolls up at the top of the trap.

Enclosure Trap designed by On Track Pet Tracking (

This type of netted-guillotine door might also be modified to attach to a larger dog enclosure trap like this one.  This enclosure trap is meant to be monitored and manually triggered when the dog enters, so chewing through the netting wouldn’t be a concern.  This particular trap uses a large wire-fence door, which makes the trap very comfortable to enter, but the door takes up more space within the trap and is slower to close than a guillotine door.  Here’s a video of my dog being caught in the trap.  Other enclosure traps often use a solid guillotine door, which can be intimidating for the dog to walk under.

For design instructions for the Clover Trap see VerCauteren’s (1999) research paper.  Clover traps can also be bought from online suppliers such as Wildlife (sold as parts or as complete traps).

Stephenson Box Trap

Stephenson box trap

The original deer box trap is the Stephenson box trap, which is basically a large wooden box with two guillotine type doors so it looks like a tunnel.  While it is an enclosed space, the sheer size of the trap (approximately 10 ft L x 4 ft W x 9 ft H) might make them comfortable for many dogs to enter.  These traps would be useful in a location where constant monitoring is not possible since they are very secure and offer some protection from adverse weather.  Anderson and Nielsen (2002) provide an updated design and instructions for anyone who might be interested in exploring this option further.

Literature Researched

Anderson, R. G. and C. K. Nielsen.  2002.  Modified Stephenson trap for capturing deer.  Wildlife Society Bulletin 30(2): 606-608.

Clover, M.R.  1954.  A portable deer trap and catch-net.  California Fish & Game 40: 367-373.

Thompson, M.J.K., R.E. Henderson, R.O. Lemke, and B.A. Sterling.  1989.  Evaluation of a collapsible clover trap for elk.  Wildlife Society Bulletin 17: 287-290.

VerCauteren, K., J. Beringer, and S. Hygnstrom.  1997.  Use of netted-cage traps in population management and research of urban white-tailed deerGreat Plains Wildlife Damage Control Workshop Proceedings.  Paper 380.

VerCauteren, K., J. Beringer, and S.Hygnstrom.  1999.  Use of netted cage traps for capturing white-tailed deerUSDA National Wildlife Research Center – Staff Publications. Paper 833.

4 thoughts on “Deer Traps to Catch Skittish Lost Dogs?”

  1. I work with a volunteer group and am interested in this method to catch dogs who are on the run. Could you send me information on This?

    1. Besides what is on my website, I don’t have instructions on building dog traps. I would recommend checking out this volunteer group: The Retrievers ( Look for the instructions on the Missy Trap. Their enclosure trap design is even better than the deer trap designs in this article. You might also consider asking to join their private Facebook group: Lost Dog Trapping (

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