Moles are fascinating little creatures and the occasional hill in the lawn is best scattered and ignored - after all, think of the improvement to the soil's drainage.  However, there are times when they become a real pest, destroying a whole row of vegetables at a time or seriously affecting the use of a small paddock. When that happens, the only effective solution is to trap them. As far as I know there are no effective live traps.

By the way, you can forget about Renardine, caper spurge, milkbottles with open tops, pieces of rhubarb and all the other old wives' tales. They have all been tried, tested, and failed miserably. I'm not sure about the latest type of electronic deterrent devices, but I suspect that you might need a lot of these (and even more batteries) to cover a large area.

The best type of trap by far is the "Duffus" tunnel trap, which I have found much more effective than the "scissors". Apart from one (or more) of these, obtainable from agricultural merchants (e.g. SCATS), all you need is a small hand trowel, a spare roof tile and a mole stick. This is a T-shaped stick of about half-inch diameter or a little more, which you can either find in a hedgerow or you can use the handle of a child's seaside spade. It should be about 18" long and four or five inches across the end of the "T". An "L" shaped end of about 3" will do just as well. Point the longer end of the stick, but leave it slightly blunt to give a better "feel"..

Spread the existing molehills, either by digging them up (the soil is useful as a basis for potting compost) or by spreading them using a garden fork "wiped" flat against the soil. When new hills appear, start probing the ground with the stick in a circle, at two-inch intervals, at least 2ft away from a fresh mole hill. Suddenly you'll hit a point where the stick suddenly "gives", then "bottoms" firmly beneath the tunnel. Some catchers say that you can never catch moles this close to a hill and that you have to find a deep main run (which is far from easy). Don't believe them!

Determine the direction of the run with a couple more prods, then dig a round hole about four inches across and roughly the depth to which the stick was sunk. Probe its sides until you find the two ends of the tunnel, then insert the "L" or "T" of the stick into and along these to make a smooth, continuous run right across your hole. Try the trap in place without setting it, just to check that it fits - if not, dig a little more soil away, but not too much as it must be a tight fit.

Set the trap, and don't worry too much about adjusting it to a "hair trigger" - moles are powerful diggers and will easily release a firmly set trap. And don't bother to use gloves (which is almost impossible anyway) as the latest research shows that moles actually have quite a poor sense of smell. Cover the top of the hole with the roof tile, mark the position with a stick (if in a large field), and leave for at least a couple of hours - preferably all day or overnight (once I succeeded within ten minutes, but that was very much the exception!).

If you're lucky, you'll find a mole inside. My average rate of success is about 25%, so the more traps you set the better your chance of success. Death is virtually instantaneous, so don't worry about having to deal with an injured animal. If you're less fortunate, the trap will be untouched, so leave it - for up to two or three days altogether, after which there is a reduced chance of success. The worst thing that can happen is that the hole you patiently dug will be crammed full of soil, in which case you must dig out the trap, refill the hole and try again elsewhere; you could try again in the same place, but this rarely seems to work.

If you're serious about your self-sufficiency and don't want to see the results of your labours going to waste, you could cure the skins - but I hate to think how many you'd need for a pair of trousers!