CAMP LIFE IN THE WOODS
TRICKS OF TRAPPING
COMPREHENSIVE HINTS ON CAMP SHELTER, LOG HUTS, BARK SHANTIES, WOODLAND BEDS AND BEDDING, BOAT AND CANOE BUILDING, AND VALUABLE SUGGESTIONS ON TRAPPERS' FOOD, ETC. WITH EXTENDED CHAPTERS ON THE TRAPPER'S ART, CONTAINING ALL THE "TRICKS" AND VALUABLE BAIT RECIPES OF THE PROFESSION; FULL DIRECTIONS FOR THE USE OF THE STEEL TRAP, AND FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF TRAPS OF ALL KINDS; DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE CAPTURE OF ALL FUR-BEARING ANIMALS; VALUABLE RECIPES FOR THE CURING AND TANNING OF FUR SKINS, ETC., ETC.
BY W. HAMILTON GIBSON
AUTHOR OF "PASTORAL DAYS"
ILLUSTRATED BY THE AUTHOR
[Page 1] TO MY BELOVED FRIENDS
MR. AND MRS. F. W. GUNN,
KIND INSTRUCTORS, AND PARTICIPANTS
BRIGHTEST JOYS OF MY YOUTH,
THIS BOOK IS
AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED BY
f all the various subjects in the catalogue of sports and pastimes, there is none more sure of arousing the enthusiasm of our American boys generally, than that which forms the title of this book. Traps and Trapping, together with its kindred branches, always have been and always will be subjects of great interest among boys, and particularly so to those who live in the country.
It is a fact to be regretted that we have so few examples of "Boys' Books" published in this country. There are a few English works of this character, that are very excellent as far as they go, but are nevertheless incomplete and unsatisfactory to the wants of American boys, dwelling largely on sports which are essentially English, and merely touching upon or utterly excluding other topics which are of the utmost interest to boys of this country. In no one of these books, so far as the author of the present volume knows, is the subject of Traps considered to any fair extent, and those examples which are given, represent only the most common and universal varieties already known to the general public.
[Page 4] With these facts in mind, the author has entered with zealous enthusiasm upon the preparation of a work which shall fill this odd and neglected corner in literature, and judging from the reminiscences of his own boyish experiences, he feels certain that in placing such a volume within reach of the public, he supplies a long felt want in the hearts of his boy-friends throughout the land.
Far be it from us in the publication of this volume, to be understood as encouraging the wanton destruction of poor innocent animals. Like all kindred sports, hunting and fishing for example, the sport of Trapping may be perverted and carried to a point where it becomes simple cruelty, as is always the case when pursued for the mere excitement it brings. If the poor victims are to serve no use after their capture, either as food, or in the furnishing of their plumage or skins for useful purposes, the sport becomes heartless cruelty, and we do not wish to be understood as encouraging it under any such circumstances. In its right sense trapping is a delightful, healthful, and legitimate sport, and we commend it to all our boy-readers.
It shall be the object of the author to produce a thoroughly practical volume, presenting as far as possible such examples of the trap kind as any boy, with a moderate degree of ingenuity, could easily construct, and furthermore to illustrate each variety with the utmost plainness, supplemented with the most detailed description.
With the exception of all "clap-trap," our volume will embrace nearly every known example of the various devices used for the capture of Bird, Beast, or Fowl, in all countries, simplifying such as are impracticable on account of their complicated structure, and modifying others to the peculiar adaptation of the American Trapper.
Devices, which inflict cruelty and prolonged suffering, shall, as far as possible, be excluded, as this is not a necessary qualification in any trap, and should be guarded against wherever possible. Following out the suggestion conveyed under the [Page 5] title of "The Trapper," we shall present full and ample directions for baiting traps, selections of ground for setting, and other hints concerning the trapping of all our principal game and wild animals, valuable either as food or for their fur. In short, our book shall form a complete trapper's guide, embracing all necessary information on the subject, anticipating every want, and furnishing the most complete and fully illustrated volume on this subject ever presented to the public. In vain did the author of this work, in his younger days, search the book stores and libraries in the hopes of finding such a book, and many are the traps and snares which necessity forced him to invent and construct for himself, for want of just such a volume. Several of these original inventions will appear in the present work for the first time in book form, and the author can vouch for their excellence, and he might almost say, their infallibility, for in their perfect state he has never yet found them to "miss" in a single instance.
As the writer's mind wanders back to his boyish days, there is one autumn in particular which shines out above all the rest; and that was when his traps were first set and were the chief source of his enjoyment. The adventurous excitement which sped him on in those daily tramps through the woods, and the buoyant, exhilarating effect of the exercise can be realized only by those who have had the same experience. The hope of success, the fears of disappointment, the continual suspense and wonder which fill the mind of the young trapper, all combine to invest this sport with a charm known to no other. Trapping does not consist merely in the manufacture and setting of the various traps. The study of the habits and peculiarities of the different game—here becomes a matter of great importance; and the study of natural history under these circumstances affords a continual source of pleasure and profit.
Among the most useful, although the most cruel, of inventions used by the professional trapper are the steel traps; so much so that the author would gladly omit them. But as they are of such unfailing [Page 6] action, of such universal efficacy, and in many cases are the only ones that can be used, any book on trapping would certainly be incomplete without them. The scope of our volume not only embraces the arts of trapping and trap-making, but extends further into the subject of the wild life of a trapping campaign,—containing full directions for building log cabins, and shanties; boats and canoes; hints on food and cooking utensils; also full directions for the curing and tanning of fur skins,—in short, a complete repository of all useful information pertaining to the life and wants of a professional trapper.
In the preparation of the work no pains have been spared to insure clearness in general directions, and every point which would be likely to puzzle the reader has been specially covered by separate illustration. In this particular it stands unique in the list of boys' books. Every difficulty has been anticipated, and in every instance the illustrations will be found thoroughly comprehensive and complete. That the care and thoroughness which has been displayed throughout the work, and to which its pages will bear witness, may meet with the appreciation and enthusiastic approval of every boy-reader throughout the land, is the most earnest hope of
TRAPS FOR LARGE GAME.
Introduction.—THE DEAD FALL.—Honey as Bait for Bears.—THE GUN TRAP.—Peculiar Habits of the Puma.—"Baiting" for the Puma.—Caution required in Setting the Gun Trap.—Several Guns used.—Different Modes of Setting.—Various animals to which the Gun Trap is adapted.—THE BOW TRAP.—Vane and Barb for Arrows.—Best Wood for Bow.—A Second Example of Bow Trap.—Arrows Barbed and Poisoned.—THE DOWN FALL; or Hippopotamus Trap.—The terrible Harpoon used by the African Trapper.—Different Modes of Setting the Down Fall.—Modification of the Down Fall for small animals.—THE BEAR TRAP.—Various Methods of Setting.—Honey as Bait for Bear.—Bait for Puma.—THE PITFALL.—Use of the Trap in Asia as a means of defence against the Tiger.—Disposition of the Bait.—Wonderful agility of the Puma.—Niceties required in the construction of the Pitfall.—THE LOG COOP TRAP.—Various animals for which it is adapted.—Different Modes of Setting.—THE CORRALL OR HOPO of Africa.—Its Construction and Appalling Effects.—THE NET TRAP.—Its Use in the Capture of the Lion and the Tiger.—American animals to which it may be adapted.—Two Methods of Setting.—BIRD LIME.—Its Use for the Capture of the Lion and Tiger.
[Page iv] BOOK II.
SNARES OR NOOSE TRAPS.
General Remarks.—Requisite Materials for Snaring.—THE QUAIL SNARE.—"Sucker Wire" Nooses.—Six Quail caught at a time.—HOOP NOOSES.—HORSE HAIR NOOSES.—HEDGE NOOSES.—Peculiarities of the Grouse.—Selection of Ground.—THE TRIANGLE TREE SNARE.—A Hawk captured by the device.—The Wire Noose, as arranged for the capture of the Woodchuck, Muskrat, and House Rat.—THE TWITCH-UP.—Selection of Ground for Setting.—Various Modes of Constructing the Traps.—THE POACHERS' SNARE.—Its portability.—THE PORTABLE SNARE.—Its Peculiar Advantages.—The "Simplest" Snare.—The valuable principle on which it is Constructed.—Its Portability.—Various Adaptations of the Principle.—THE QUAIL SNARE.—Its ample capabilities of Capture.—Peculiarities of the Quail.—Successful Baits.—THE BOX SNARE.—Modification in a very small scale.—THE DOUBLE BOX SNARE.—The Animals for which it is Adapted.—GROUND SNARES.—THE OLD-FASHIONED SPINGLE.—THE IMPROVED SPINGLE.—Objections to Ground Snares.—THE FIGURE FOUR GROUND SNARE.—THE PLATFORM SNARE.
TRAPS FOR FEATHERED GAME.
THE SIEVE TRAP.—THE BRICK TRAP.—THE COOP TRAP—Improved Method of Setting.—Defects of the old style.—THE BAT FOWLING NET.—Its Use in England.—How the Dark Lantern is Used by Bird Catchers.—THE CLAP NET.—Its Extensive Use in Foreign Countries.—Decoy Birds.—The "Bird Whistle" used in place of decoy.—Wonderful Skill attained in the Use of the Bird Whistle.—Selection of Trapping Ground.—THE BIRD WHISTLE Described.—Its Use and Marvelous Capabilities.—THE WILD GOOSE TRAP.—Its Extensive Use in the Northern Cold Regions for the Capture of the Goose and Ptarmigan.—Tame Goose Used as Decoys.—Gravel as Bait.—THE TRAP CAGE.—A Favorite Trap among Bird Catchers.—Call Birds.—THE SPRING NET TRAP.—Rubber Elastic as Spring Power.—A SIMPLER NET TRAP.—Common Faults in many Bird Traps.—Complicated Construction as Unnecessary Feature.—Requisites of a good Bird Trap.—Hints on Simple Mechanism.—Different Modes of Constructing Hinge.—Hoop Iron Used as Spring Power.—Manner of Tempering Spring.—THE UPRIGHT NET TRAP.—A Second Method of Constructing Platform.—THE BOX OWL TRAP.—Ventilation a Desirable Feature in all Box Traps.—Tin Catch for Securing Cover in Place.—Peculiar Mode of Baiting for Birds.—Modification of Perch.—Baiting for the Owl.—Locality for Setting.—The Owl in Captivity.—Its Food.—Hints on the Care of the Bird.—THE BOX BIRD TRAP.—Cigar Box Used as a Trap.—THE PENDANT BOX TRAP.—Ventilation.—Simple Mechanism.—Care in Construction of Bearings.—THE HAWK TRAP.—A "Yankee" Invention.—Stiff-Pointed Wires Effectually Use in the Capture of the Hawk.—Owl also Captured by the Same Device.—THE WILD DUCK NET.—Its Use in Chesapeake Bay.—Manner of Constructing the Net.—Decoy Ducks.—Bait for the Ducks.—THE HOOK TRAP.—Its cruel Mode of Capture.—Peculiar Bait for Ducks.—THE "FOOL'S CAP" TRAP.—Its Successful Use in the Capture of the Crow.—Shrewdness of the Crow.—Strange antics of a Crow when Captured in the Trap.—Bird Lime the Secret of its Success.—Wonderful Tenacity of the Cap.—Different Modes of Setting.—BIRD LIME Described.—Its astonishing "Sticky" Qualities.—The Bird Lime of the Trade.—Various "Home-Made" Recipes.—Manner of Using Bird Lime.—Limed Twigs.—The Owl Used as a Decoy in connection with Bird Lime.—Bird Lime used in the Capture of the Humming Bird.—A Flower Converted into a Trap.—Masticated Wheat as Bird Lime.—Its Ready Removal from the Feathers.—Delicate Organization of the Humming Bird.—Killed by Fright.—Use of its Plumage.—Snares for the Humming Bird.—Blow Guns Successfully Used for its Capture.—Killed by Concussion.—Disabled by a Stream of Water.
[Page v] BOOK IV.
THE COMMON BOX TRAP.—Two Modes of Setting.—Animals for which it is Adapted.—A Modification of the Trap.—ANOTHER BOX TRAP.—THE FIGURE FOUR TRAP.—Its Advantages.—THE DOUBLE ENDER.—A Favorite Trap in New England.—Simplicity of Construction.—The Rabbit's Fondness for Salt.—Its Use as a Bait.—THE SELF SETTING TRAP.—Animals for which it is adapted.—THE DEAD FALL.—Various Methods of Construction.—Animals for which it is usually Set.—Remarkable Cunning of some Animals.—The Precautions which it Necessitates.—Bait for the Muskrat.—Various Baits for the Mink.—Skunk Baits.—A Fox Entrapped by a Dead Fall.—Slight Modification in the Arrangement of Pieces.—Live Duck used as Bait.—Another Arrangement for the Dead Fall.—Trap Sprung by the Foot of the Animal.—THE FIGURE FOUR TRAP.—Applied to the Dead Fall.—THE GAROTTE.—Its Singular Mode of Capture.—Its Common Victims.—THE BOW TRAP.—An oddity of the Trap Kind.—Its Singular mechanism.—THE MOLE TRAP.—A Much-needed Contrivance.—Subterranean Mode of Setting.—Its Unfailing Success.—A FISH TRAP.—A Section of Stove Pipe used as a Trap.—Its Various Victims.—Adjustment of the Bait.—Curious Mode of Capture.
A Chapter Dedicated to Pestered Housekeepers.—The Domestic Cat as a Household Trap.—The Rat.—Its Proverbial Shrewdness and Cunning.—THE BARREL TRAP.—Its unlimited Capabilities of Capture—Other Advantages.—"Baiting" for Rats.—A Second Form of Barrel Trap.—Various other Devices adapted to the capture of the Rat.—The Steel Trap.—Hints on Setting.—Necessary Precautions.—THE BOX DEAD FALL.—THE BOARD FLAP.—THE BOX PIT FALL.—Animals for which it may be set.—Its Extensive Capabilities of Capture.—Its Self-Setting Qualities.—The principle Utilized for the Capture of the Muskrat.—THE CAGE TRAP.—THE JAR TRAP.—A Preserve Jar Converted into a Mouse Trap.—Its Complete Success.—BOWL TRAPS.—Two Methods.—FLY PAPER.—Recipe for Making.—FLY TRAP.
STEEL TRAPS AND THE ART OF TRAPPING.
General Remarks.—Advantages of the Steel Trap.—Its extensive use in the business of Trapping.—Hints on the Selection of Traps.—REQUISITES OF A GOOD STEEL TRAP.—The Newhouse Trap.—Various sizes.—Rat Trap.—Muskrat Trap.—Mink Trap.—Fox Trap.—Otter Trap.—Beaver Trap.—"Great Bear Tamer."—Small Bear Trap.—HINTS ON BAITING THE STEEL TRAP.—The Staked Pen.—Old Method of Baiting.—Its Objections.—Advantages of the New Method.—THE SPRING POLE.—Its Service to the Trapper.—THE SLIDING POLE.—Advantages of its Use in the Capture of Aquatic Animals.—THE CLOG.—Objections against Securing the Steel Trap to a Stake.—Method of Attaching the Clog.—THE GRAPPLING IRON.—THE SEASON FOR TRAPPING.—Best condition for Furs.—THE ART OF TRAPPING.—Antiquity of the Sport.—Necessary Qualifications for Successful Trapping.—The Study of Natural History a source of pleasure and profit.—The Professional Trapper's most serious [Page vi] Obstacles.—Marvellous Cunning of many Animals.—Necessity of the Study of their Habits.—"Practical Natural History."—Trapping Without Bait.—Run-ways or By-paths.—How Utilized by the Trapper.—How Detected.—Favorable Localities for the Setting of the Steel Trap.—Natural Advantages.—Entrapping animals through their Sense of Smell.—Remarkable Power of Scent Baits.—Their great value in the Capture of the Beaver.—Caution in Handling the Steel Trap.—Effect of the Touch of the Hand.—Buckskin Gloves a Necessary Requisite.—MEDICINES, OR SCENT BAITS.—Their Great Importance in the Art of Trapping.—CASTOREUM OR BARKSTONE.—How Obtained.—Castoreum Composition.—Recipe for Making.—How Used.—MUSK—ASSAFOETIDA.—OIL OF RHODIUM.—FISH OIL.—Its General Use in the Capture of Aquatic Animals.—Valuable Recipe for its Manufacture.—OIL OF SKUNK.—How Obtained.—How Eradicated from Hands or Clothing.—OIL OF AMBER.—OIL OF AMBERGRIS.—OIL OF ANISE.—Its General Use as a "Universal Medicine."—SWEET FENNEL.—CUMMIN—FENUGREEK—LAVENDER—COMPOUND MEDICINE—THE TRAIL—Its Object and Value.—Various Modes of Making.—HOW TO TRAP.—General Remarks.—THE FOX.—Its Scientific Classification.—The Various American Species.—The Red Fox.—The Cross Fox.—Why so Named.—The Black or Silver Fox.—The Great Value of its Fur.—The Prairie Fox.—The Kit or Swift Fox.—The Gray Fox.—Similarity in the General Characteristics of the Various Species.—Food of the Fox.—Its Home.—Its consummate Craft.—Instances of its Cunning.—Baffling the Hounds.—How to Trap the Fox.—Preparation of the Trap.—Adverse Effect of Human Scent.—Necessity of handling Trap with Gloves.—The "Bed."—"Baiting" the Bed Necessary.—Precautions in Setting the Trap.—The "Tricks of the Trapper" Illustrated.—How to Proceed in case of Non-Success.—The Scent-Baits Utilized.—Various Modes of Setting the Trap.—The Baits Commonly Used.—The Dead Fall as a Means of Capture.—Common Mode of Skinning the Fox.—Directions for Stretching Skin.—THE WOLF.—The Various Species.—Fierce Characteristics of the Wolf.—Its Terrible Inroads among Herds and Flocks.—The Gray Wolf.—The Coyote or Common Prairie Wolf.—The Texan Wolf.—Home of the Wolf.—Number of Young.—Cunning of the Wolf.—Caution Required in Trapping.—How to Trap the Wolf.—Preparation of Trap.—Various Ways of Setting the Trap.—Use of the Trail and Scent Baits.—"Playing Possum."—The Dead Fall and "Twitch-up" as Wolf Traps.—Directions for Skinning the Wolf and Stretching the Pelt.—THE PUMA.—Its Scientific Classification.—Its Life and Habits.—Its Wonderful Agility.—Its Skill as an Angler.—Its Stealth.—Various Traps Used in the Capture of the Puma.—The Gun Trap.—The Bow Trap.—The Dead Fall.—Trap for Taking the Animal Alive.—Log Coop Trap.—The Pit Fall.—Bait for the Puma.—The Steel Trap.—Common Mode of Setting.—Selection of Locality for Trapping.—How to Skin the Puma.—Directions for Stretching the Pelt.—THE CANADA LYNX.—Description of the Animal.—Its Life and Habits.—Its Food.—Its Peculiar Appearance when Running.—Easily Killed.—The Dead Fall as a Lynx Trap.—Peculiar Manner of Construction for the Purpose.—The Gun Trap.—The Bow Trap.—The Twitch-up.—Young of the Lynx.—Value of its Fur.—The Steel Trap.—Various Methods of Setting.—Directions for Skinning the Animal and Stretching the Pelt.—THE WILD CAT.—Its Resemblance to the Domestic Species.—Its Strange Appetite.—Its Home.—Number of Young.—Haunts of the Wild Cat.—Its Nocturnal Marauding expeditions.—Its Lack of Cunning.—How to Trap the Wild Cat.—An Entire Colony Captured.—Ferocity of the Wild Cat.—The Twitch-up.—Its Common Use in the Capture of the Wild Cat.—Other Successful Traps.—Various Baits for the Wild Cat.—Directions for Skinning the Animal, and Stretching the Pelt.—THE BEAR.—The Various American Species.—The Grizzly.—Its Enormous Size and Power.—Its Terrible Fury.—Description of the Animal.—Food of the Grizzly.—The Black Bear or Musquaw.—Its General Description.—Bear Hunting.—Danger of the Sport.—Food of the Bear.—Its Fondness for Pigs.—Honey Its Special Delight.—The Cubs.—The Flesh of the Bear as Food.—"Bears' Grease."—Hibernation of the Bear.—Traps for the Bear.—The Dead [Page vii] Fall.—Pit-fall.—Giant Coop.—Gun Trap.—The Steel Trap.—The Clog and Grappling-Iron.—Their Advantages.—How to Trap the Bear.—Various Methods of Adjusting Traps.—Natural Advantages.—Honey as Bait.—Other Baits.—Scent Baits.—Skinning the Bear.—Directions for Stretching the Pelt.—THE RACCOON.—Classification—Cunning and Stealth of the Animal.—Characteristic Features.—The "Coon Chase."—How the Raccoon is Hunted.—The "Tree'd Coon."—Varied Accomplishments of the Raccoon.—Its Home and Family.—The "Coon" as a Pet.—Its Cunning Ways.—Its Extensive Bill of Fare.—Life and Habits of the Raccoon.—Remarkable Imprint of its Paw.—Season for Trapping the Coon.—How to Trap the Coon.—Various Modes of Setting the Trap.—Use of the "medicines" or "Scent Baits."—Other Traps for the Animal.—Directions for Removing the Skin, and Stretching the Pelt.—THE BADGER.—Its Peculiar Markings.—Use of the Hair.—Nest of the Badger.—Number of Young.—Food of the Animal.—Its Remarkable Fondness for Honey.—Its Cunning.—Remarkable Instincts.—Its Shrewdness.—How to Trap the Badger.—Various Baits.—Use of "Medicine."—Capture of the Animal by Flooding its Burrow.—How to Skin the Badger.—Directions for Stretching the Pelt.—THE BEAVER.—Description of the Animal.—Its Nature and Habits.—The Beaver Village.—The "Lodges," or Beaver Houses.—Remarkable Construction of the Huts.—The Dam of the Beaver.—Wonderful Skill shown in its Construction.—Nocturnal Habits of the Beaver.—Remarkable Engineering Instincts of the Animal.—How the Beaver Cuts Timber.—How the Dam is Constructed.—The Formation of "Reefs."—The Tail of the Beaver as a Means of Transportation.—Subterranean Passage to the Huts.—How Beavers are Hunted.—Young of the Beaver.—How to Trap the Beaver.—The Necessary Precautions.—Castoreum or Bark Stone.—Its Great Value in the Capture of the Beaver.—Various Methods of Setting the Trap.—How to Apply the Castoreum.—Use of the Sliding Pole.—Food of the Beaver.—Directions for Skinning the Animal and Stretching the Pelt.—THE MUSK-RAT.—General Description of the Animal.—Its Beaver-like Huts.—Its Nocturnal Habits.—Its Food.—The Flesh of the Musk-rat as an Article of Diet.—Description of the Hut.—Extensive Family of the Musk-Rat.—Its Home.—How the Musk-Rat swims beneath Unbroken Ice.—How it is Killed by being Driven Away from its Breath.—Spearing the Musk-Rat.—Construction of the Spear.—How to Trap the Musk-Rat.—Use of the Sliding Pole.—Various Modes of Setting Trap.—The Spring Pole.—Scent Baits.—Various Devices for Capturing the Musk-Rat.—The Barrel-Trap.—Remarkable Success of the Trap.—The Trail.—Skinning the Musk-Rat.—How to Stretch the Pelt.—THE OTTER.—Description of the Animal.—Beauty of its Fur.—How the "Otter Fur" of Fashion is Prepared.—Food of the Otter.—Its Natural Endowments for Swimming.—Habitation of the Otter.—Its Nest and Young.—The Track or "Seal" of the animal.—How the Otter is Hunted.—Its Fierceness when Attacked.—The Otter as a Pet.—Fishing for its Master.—The Otter "Slide."—How Utilized by the Trapper.—Playfulness of the Otter.—How the Animal is Trapped.—Various Modes of Setting Trap.—The Sliding Pole.—The Spring Pole.—Scent Baits.—How Applied.—Necessary Precautions.—How to Skin the Otter.—Directions for Stretching the Pelt.—THE MINK.—Its Form and Color.—Value of the Fur.—Habits of the Animal.—Its Diet.—Its Perpetual Greed.—Ease with which it may be Trapped.—Habitation of the Mink.—Its Nest and Young.—How to Trap the Mink.—Various Methods of Setting the Trap.—Baits.—The Sliding Pole.—"Medicine."—The Runways of the Mink.—How Utilized in Trapping.—The Trail.—Various Traps Used in the Capture of the Mink.—How to Skin the Animal.—THE PINE MARTEN.—Description of the Animal.—Its Natural Characteristics.—Its Nocturnal Habits.—Its Wonderful Stealth and Activity.—Its "Bill of Fare."—Its Strange mode of Seizing Prey.—The Marten as a Pet.—Its Agreeable Odor.—Various Traps Used in the Capture of the Marten.—Baits for the Marten.—The Steel Trap.—Several Modes of Setting.—Directions for Skinning the Animal.—THE FISHER.—Its Form and Color.—Its Habitation and Young.—How the Animal is Trapped.—Various Methods.—The Spring Pole.—Baits for the Fisher.—Principal Devices Used in its Capture.—The Skin.—How [Page viii] Removed and Stretched.—THE SKUNK.—Its Fetid Stench.—Origin of the Odor.—Its Effect on Man and Beast.—"Premonitory Symptoms" of Attack.—Acrid Qualities of the Secretion.—Its Terrible Effect on the Eyes.—Interesting Adventure with a Skunk.—"Appearances are often Deceitful."—The Skunk as a Pet.—Color of the Animal.—Habits of the Animal.—Its Food.—Its Young.—"Alaska Sable."—How to Trap the Skunk.—Various Traps Used.—The Steel Trap.—Different Modes of Setting.—Baits.—The Dead Fall.—Modifications in its Construction.—The Twitch-up.—Its Peculiar Advantages for the Capture of the Skunk.—Chloride of Lime as Antidote.—Method of Eradicating the Odor from the Clothing.—Directions for Removing and Stretching the Skin.—THE WOLVERINE.—Its Desperate Fierceness and voracity.—Its General Characteristics.—Its Form and Color.—Food of the Wolverine.—Its Trap-Robbing Propensities.—How to Trap the Wolverine.—Baits.—Use of the "Medicine."—The Gun Trap and Dead Fall.—The Steel Trap.—Various Modes of Setting.—Home and Young of the Animal.—How the Skin should be Removed and Stretched.—THE OPOSSUM.—Description of the Animal.—Its Nature and Habits.—Its Home.—Remarkable Mode of Carrying its Young.—Nocturnal Habits of the Animal.—Its Food.—Its Especial Fondness for Persimmons.—Its Remarkable Tenacity as a Climber.—"Playing Possum."—How the Opossum is Hunted.—How Trapped.—Various Devices Used in its Capture.—Scent Baits.—How the Skin is Removed and Stretched.—THE RABBIT.—Wide-spread Distribution of the Various Species.—Their Remarkable Powers of Speed.—Nest of the Rabbit.—Its Prolific Offspring.—Food of the Rabbit.—Its Enemies.—Various Devices Used in Trapping the Animal.—Necessary Precautions in Skinning the Rabbit.—THE WOODCHUCK.—Description of the Animal.—Its Habits.—Its Burrows.—Its Food.—Toughness of the Skin.—Its Use.—Nest of the Animal.—The Woodchuck as Food.—How the Animal is Trapped.—The Steel Trap.—The Spring Pole.—The Twitch-up.—How the Woodchuck is "Drowned Out."—The Turtle as a Ferret.—Smoking the Burrows.—Directions for Skinning the Animal.—THE GOPHER.—Its Burrows.—Its Food.—Remarkable Cheek Pouches of the Animal.—Their Use.—How to Trap the Animal.—How the Skin is Removed.—THE MOLE.—Its Varied Accomplishments.—Its Remarkable Dwellings.—Complicated Structure of the Habitation.—The Fury and Voracity of the Mole.—Peculiarities of Its Fur.—A Waistcoat of Mole Skins.—Odor of the Mole.—Mole Traps.—Various Species of the Mole.—The Mole of the Cape of Good Hope.—Marvellous Beauty of Its Fur.—SQUIRRELS.—Their General Peculiarities of Form and Habit.—Their Food.—Their Provident Instincts.—"Nutting" in Midwinter.—The Nest of the Squirrel.—Burrowing Squirrels.—The Various American Species.—The Grey Squirrel.—The Chipmunk.—The Chickaree.—The Flying Squirrel, &c.—How Squirrels are Trapped.—Various Traps Used in their Capture.—Removal of Skin.—THE DEER.—Difficulty of Hunting the Animal in Dry Seasons.—Various American Species of the Deer.—How the Deer is Trapped.—Peculiar Construction of the Trap.—Scent Bait for the Deer.—Various Methods of Setting the Trap.—Violence of the Deer when Trapped.—The Clog.—Dead Falls.—Food of the Deer.—Deer "Yards."—Natural Enemies of the Deer.—How the Deer is Hunted.—"Still Hunting."—The Deer's Acute Sense of Smell.—How to Detect the Direction of the Wind.—Natural Habits of the Deer.—"Night Hunting."—Luminosity of the Eyes of the Deer at Night.—Hunting the deer with dogs.—"Deer Licks."—How Salt is used in Hunting the Deer.—Hunting from a Scaffolding.—Peculiar Sight of the Deer.—"Salt Licks" used in Night Hunting.—Head Lantern.—How made.—How used.—The fiery Eyes of the Deer.—"Fox Fire" or Phosphorescent wood.—How used by the Hunter.—Seasons for Deer Hunting.—How to skin the Deer.—THE MOOSE.—Description of the animal.—Immense size of its Horns.—Moose yards.—Hunted on Snow shoes.—The dangers of Moose Hunting.—Exquisite sense of Smell.—How the Moose is Trapped.—Directions for removing the Skin of the Animal.—ROCKY MOUNTAIN SHEEP.—Description of the Animal.—Its enormous Horns.—Habits of the creature.—Its flesh as Food.—How the Animal is Trapped.—THE BUFFALO.—Its Habits.—Its Food.—Buffalo-grass.—How the Animal is Hunted and Trapped.—Buffalo [Page ix] flesh as Food.—Buffalo skins.—THE PRONG HORN ANTELOPE.—Description of the Animal.—Peculiarity of Horn.—How the creature is Hunted and Destroyed by the Indians.—Remarkable sense of Smell of the Animal.—Its Beauty and grace.—Flesh of the Antelope a Food.—How the Animal is Trapped.—Various Traps used in their Capture.—The Dead-fall.—Pit-fall.—How to remove the Hide of the Animal.—SHOOTING AND POISONING.—"Shot furs."—"Poisoned furs."—"Trapped furs."—Their relative Value in the Fur Market.—Effect of grazing shot on fur.—Effect of Poison on Fur.—Remarks on the use of Poison.—Strychnine.—Poisoning Wolves.—Recipe for mixing the Poison.—Poisoning the Bear.—How the Dose is Prepared.
CAMPAIGN LIFE IN THE WILDERNESS.
Introductory Remarks.—"Amateur Trapping."—PLAN OF CAMPAIGN.—Selection of Trapping-ground.—Advantages of a Watered District.—Labor of transportation lightened by Boating.—Lakes, Ponds and Streams.—The Adirondacks and Alleghanies.—Remarks on the "Home Shanty."—Selection of Site for building.—Value of a good Axe.—Remarks on the Bark Shanty.—Its value in case of Storms.—Wise fore-sight.—Remarks on the Indian Birch-bark Canoe.—Dug-out and Bateau.—Commencement of Trapping Season.—Advantages of preliminary preparation.—Extensive route of the Professional Trapper.—Sixty pounds of Personal Luggage.—How the traps and provisions are distributed among the Trapping lines.—Use of the "Home Shanty."—"Keeping Shanty."—Necessity of its being Guarded.—Wolves and Bears as thieves.—Steel Traps considered.—Number used in a Professional Campaign.—Number for an Amateur Campaign.—Their Probable Cost.—The average size of Trap.—Dead-falls, Twitchups, &c., considered.—Requisite Tools for a Campaign.—A "House-wife" a valuable necessity.—"Cleanliness next to Godliness."—The Trappers' Light.—Comparative value of Lanterns and Candles.—The Trappers' Personal outfit.—The jack-knife.—The Pocket-Compass.—Necessity of preparing for Emergencies.—Shot guns and Rifles.—Both combined in the same weapon.—Oil for Fire Arms.—Fat of the Grouse Used on Fire Arms.—Fishing tackle.—The Trappers' portable stove.—The Stove versus The Open Fire.—The Trapper's Clothing.—The Material and Color.—Boots.—High-topped Boots.—Short Boots.—Their Relative Qualities.—Waterproof Boot Dressing.—Recipe.—The Trapping Season.—Hints on Trapping-lines.—The "Wheel" plan.—Mode of following the lines.—"Trap Robbers" or "Poachers."—How to guard against them.—Hiding furs.—How to store Traps from Season to Season.—Gnats and Mosquitoes.—The "Smudge."—How made.—FOOD AND COOKING UTENSILS.—"Roughing it."—"A chance Chip for a Frying Pan."—A "happy medium" between two extremes.—Cosy and Comfortable living on a Campaign.—Portable Food.—Combined Nutriment and lightness in weight to be desired.—The Trappers' Culinary Outfit.—Indian meal as Food.—The Trappers' "Staff of Life."—Wheat flour.—Salt Pork.—Seasoning.—Pork Fritters a luxury.—Cooking Utensils.—The "Telescope" drinking cup.—Recipe for making Pork Fritters.—"Chop Sticks" a la "Chinee."—A Flat Chip as a Plate.—Boiled Mush.—Old "Stand by."—Recipe.—Fried Mush.—Indian meal Cakes.—Recipe.—Johnny Cake.—Recipe.—Hoe Cakes.—Recipe.—Fresh fish.—How to Cook fish in a most Delicious manner.—Prof. Blot, and Delmonico, out-done.—The "NE PLUS ULTRA" of delicacies.—All the sweet Juices of the Fish preserved.—Disadvantages of the ordinary method of cooking.—Partridge, Duck, Quail, Cooked deliciously.—Roasting unrivalled!—Hints on Broiling.—An extemporized Spider or Toaster.—Roasting on a spit.—Venison, Bear, and Moose Meat broiled in the best style.—Venison cutlets.—The Camp fire.—Usual mode [Page x] of building Fire.—How the Kettle is suspended.—"Luxuries" considered.—The Knapsack a desirable Acquisition.—Matches.—The Bottle Match-safe.—Waterproof Matches.—How made.—Lucifer Matches.—Recipe for Waterproof preparation.—The Pocket Sun Glass.—A necessary adjunct to a Trapper's Outfit.—Its Advantages in case of Emergency.—"Touch wood" or "Punk Tinder," valuable in lighting fires.—How to light Fires without matches or Sun glass.—How to light a fire without Matches, Sun Glass, Powder, or Percussion Caps.—A last Resort.—Matches best in the long run.—The Portable Camp Stove described.—Its accompanying Furniture.—The Combination Camp-knife.—Hint on Provisions.—Potatoes as food.—Beans.—"Self raising" Wheat flour.—Light Bread, Biscuit and Pancakes in Camp.—Various accessories.—Olive Oil for purpose of Frying.—Pork.—Indian meal.—Crackers.—Wheaten Grits.—Rice and Oatmeal.—Tea and Coffee.—Soups.—Liebig's Extract of Beef.—Canned Vegetables.—Lemonade.—Waterproof bags for provisions.—Painted bags.—Caution!—Waterproof preparation.—Air-tight jars for Butter.—Knapsack or Shoulder Basket.—Venison as food.—To preserve the overplus of meat.—"Jerked Venison" Recipe and Process.—Moose and Bear meat and Fish, similarly prepared.—How to protect provisions from Wolves.—The Moufflon and Prong-horn as food.—"Small game," Squirrels, Rabbits, and Woodchucks.—"Skunk Meat" as a delicacy.—The Buffalo as food.—Grouse, the universal Food of Trappers and Hunters.—Various species of Grouse.—The Sage Cock.—The Ptarmigan.—How they are trapped by the Indians in the Hudson's Bay Country.—Waterfowl.—Sea and Inland Ducks.—Various species of Duck.—Mallard.—Muscovy.—Wigeon.—Merganser.—Canvass Back.—Teal, &c.—Wild Geese.—Fish as food.—Angling and Spearing.—Salmon Spearing in the North.—Description of the Salmon Spear used by the Indians.—Salmon Spearing at night.—Requisites of a good Spearsman.—Fishing through the Ice.—Cow's udder and Hogs liver as Bait.—Other Baits.—Assafoetida and Sweet Cicely as fish Baits.—Trout fishing with Tip-up's.—Pickerel fishing in Winter.—Pickerel Spearing through the Ice.—The Box Hut.—The "Fish Lantern" or Fish Trap.—Fish Attracted by light.—Light as Bait.—How the Fish Lantern is made and used.—THE TRAPPER'S SHELTER.—Introductory remarks.—The Perils of a Life in the Wilderness.—A Shelter of some form a Necessity.—The Log Shanty.—Full directions for building.—Ingenious manner of constructing roof.—How the Chimney is built.—Spacious interior of the Shanty.—THE BARK SHANTY.—A Temporary structure.—Full directions for its construction.—Selection of building site.—TENTS.—Advantages of their use.—Various kinds of Tents.—The House Tent.—The Fly Tent.—The Shelter Tent.—Directions for making the Tent.—Tent Cloth.—How to render tents Water and Fire-resistant.—Valuable recipe.—BEDS AND BEDDING.—Perfect rest and comfort to the tired Trapper.—A portable Spring bed for the woods.—A Hammock bed.—Bed Clothes.—The Canton Flannel Bag.—Hammocks.—TENT CARPETING.—Spruce and Hemlock boughs as bedding.—How to cover the ground evenly.—The Rubber Blanket.
THE TRAPPER'S MISCELLANY.
Warning to the Novice.—Winged Cannibals of the Woods.—INSECT OINTMENTS.—Mosquitoes and Gnats.—Their aversion to the scent of Pennyroyal.—Pennyroyal Ointment.—Recipe.—Mutton tallow Ointment.—Tar and Sweet Oil Liniment.—Recipe.—Its effect on the Complexion.—Invasions of Insects by night.—Their pertinacity and severity.—The experience of our Adirondack guide.—The bloodthirsty propensities of the Mosquito admirably depicted.—The "Smudge" Smoke versus Insect Bites.—"Punkeys" and "Midgets."—Their terrible voracity.—Painful effects of their Bites.—Pennyroyal an effective Antidote.—Depraved [Page xi] appetite of the mosquito.—A Warning to the Intemperate.—Use and abuse of Alcohol.—A Popular error corrected.—A substitute for Whiskey and Brandy.—Red Pepper Tea.—Its great value as a remedy in Illness.—The Mosquitoes' favorite Victim.—Result of the bite of the insect.—The Mosquito Head-Net.—Directions for making the Net.—Netting attachment for the Hat.—Portable Sun Shade or Hat brim.—Netting attachment for the Hat brim.—BOAT BUILDING.—A Boat of some kind a necessity to the Trapper.—The "Dug-Out" or Log-Canoe.—Requisite Tools for its Manufacture.—Selection of the Log.—Directions for making the boat.—Remarkable thinness to which they may be reduced.—Lightness of the boat.—How to gauge the thickness.—How to stop leaks.—THE INDIAN OR BIRCH BARK CANOE.—The Indian as a Canoe-maker.—His remarkable skill.—Perfection of the Indian made Canoe.—Description of the Canoe.—Capacity of the various sizes.—How to construct a Bark Canoe.—Selection of Bark.—How to prevent Leaks.—Material used by the Indians in sewing the Bark.—Advantages of the Birch Bark Canoe.—Basswood, Hemlock, and Spruce Bark Canoes.—A LIGHT HOME-MADE BOAT.—Selection of Boards.—Directions for making the Boat.—Caulking the seams.—Value of Pitch for waterproofing purposes.—How it should be applied.—THE SCOW.—How to construct the ordinary Flat-bottomed Boat.—The Mud-stick.—SNOW SHOES.—A necessity for winter travel.—The "Snow Shoe Race."—The mysteries of a Snow Shoe.—"Taming the Snow Shoe."—How to make the Snow Shoe.—Complicated Net-work.—Two methods of attaching the Net-work.—How the Snow Shoe is worn.—THE TOBOGGAN OR INDIAN SLEDGE.—Its value to the Trapper.—Winter Coasting.—Great sport with the Toboggan.—How to make a Toboggan.—Selection of Boards.—How the Sledge is used.—CURING SKINS.—Importance of Curing Skins properly.—Valuable hints on Skinning Animals.—How to dry Skins.—How to dress Skins for Market.—Astringent preparations.—Recipe.—STRETCHERS.—How skins are stretched.—The Board Stretcher.—How it is made and used.—The Wedge Stretcher.—How made and used.—The Bow Stretcher.—The Hoop Stretcher.—TANNING SKINS.—To Tan with the hair on.—Preparation of Skin for Tanning.—Tanning Mixture.—Recipe.—Second Mixture.—Recipe.—Third Mixture and Recipe.—How the Skin is softened and finished.—HOW TO TAN MINK AND MUSKRAT SKINS.—Preparation of Skin.—Tanning Mixtures.—Various Recipes.—"Fleshing."—The Fleshing-knife.—Substitute for the Fleshing-knife.—HOW TO TAN THE SKINS OF THE BEAVER, OTTER, RACCOON, AND MARTEN.—Tanning Mixtures.—How to soften the Skin.—Simple Tanned Skin.—Recipe for removing the fur.—How to finish the Skin.—OBSERVATIONS ON THE HISTORY OF FURS AND THE FUR TRADE.—Some bits of History in connection with Furs.—Ancient use of Furs.—Furs a medium of Exchange.—Furs and Fashion.—Extravagance in Fur Costume.—Choice Furs as Badges of Rank.—Their use restricted to Royal Families.—The Early Fur Trade of Europe.—A Tribute paid in Furs.—Early History of the Fur Trade in America.—Origin of the Hudson's Bay Company.—Hostility of the French Canadian Traders.—Establishment of the North West Company.—Competition and War.—Consolidation of the two Companies.—Great sales of the Hudson's Bay Company.—Importance of the Fur Trade.—Cities founded by the enterprise of the Trapper.—St. Paul.—Montreal and Mackinaw.—Fortunes built up on Fur Traffic.—John Jacob Astor.—Mink and Muskrat Skins.—Their extensive use in America.—Estimated value of the annual yield of Raw Furs throughout the World.—Classification of Furs by American Dealers.—"Home" Furs.—"Shipping" Furs.—Table of Sales of Hudson's Bay Company, in 1873.—March Sale.—September Sale.—Price according to Quality.—Estimated average per Skin.—List of American "Shipping" Furs.—List of American "Home" Furs.—MARKET VALUE OF FUR SKINS.—Eccentricities of the Fur Market.—Demand governed by Fashion.—How Fashion runs the Fur Trade.—The Amateur Trapper and the Fur Trade.—Difficulty of a profitable disposal of Furs.—Advice to the Novice.—How to realize on the sale of Furs.—TABLE OF VALUES OF AMERICAN FUR SKINS.—A complete list of American Fur bearing Animals.—Various prices of Skins according to Quality.—USES OF AMERICAN FURS AT HOME AND ABROAD.—The Silver Fox.—Fifty Guineas for a Fur Skin.—Red Fox Fur.—Its [Page xii] use in Oriental Countries.—Beaver Fur.—Its various uses.—Raccoon Skins, a great Staple for Russia and Germany.—Bear Skins and their various uses.—Lynx, Fisher, and Marten Skins.—The Mink.—Use of its hair for Artists pencils.—Muskrat Skins.—Three millions annually exported to Germany alone.—Their extensive use among the American poorer classes.—Otter Fur.—Sleigh Robes from Wolf Skins.—Rabbit Fur.—Its use in the Manufacture of Hats.—Breeding Rabbits for their Fur.—The Wolverine.—Skunk Fur, dignified by the name of Alaska Sable.—Large shipments to Foreign Countries.—How the Fur of the Badger is used.—Opossum, Puma, and Wild Cat Fur.—Robes for the Fashionable.—Squirrel and Mole skins.
1. Caught at last. 2. Traps for Large Game. 3. Snares or Noose Traps. 4. Traps for Feathered Game. 5. Miscellaneous Traps. 6. Household Traps. 7. Steel Traps, and the art of Trapping. 8. Almost Persuaded.—to face. 9. The Campaign. 10. Trapper's Miscellany.
[Page xiv] ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE TEXT.
11. "Preface". 12. Initial to Preface. 13. End piece to Preface. 14. "Contents". 15. "Illustrations". 16. Initial to Book I 17. Dead fall for large Animals. 18. Explanatory drawing of pieces. 19. The Gun Trap. 20. The Bow Trap 21. " " " arrangement of parts. 22. " " " Section. 23. Foot String Bow Trap. 24. The Down fall. 25. The Bear Trap. 26. End piece to Book I. 27. Initial to Book II. 28. Quail Nooses. 29. Hedge Nooses. 30. The Triangle Snare. 31. The Twitch-up. 32. Method of Setting. 33. " " " No. 2. 34. " " " No. 3. 35. " " " No. 4. 36. " " " No. 5. 37. The Poacher's Snare. 38. The Portable Snare. 39. The "Simplest" Snare. 40. Modification No. 2. 41. " " 3. 42. The Quail Snare. 43. The Box Snare. 44. The Double Box Snare. 45. The Old fashioned Springle. 46. The Improved Springle. 47. The Figure Four Ground Snare. 48. The Platform Snare. 49. End piece. 50. Initial to Book III. 51. The Brick Trap. 52. Method of Setting. 53. The Coop Trap. 54. The Bat fowling Net. 55. The Clap Net. 56. The Bird Whistle. 57. The Trap Cage. 58. Diagrams of Cage. 59. The Spring Net Trap. [Page xv] 60. Section of Spring Net Trap. 61. A Simpler Net Trap. 62. The Upright Net Trap. 63. Second Method " 64. The Box Owl Trap. 65. The Box Bird Trap. 66. The Pendant Box Bird Trap. 67. The Hawk Trap. 68. The Wild Duck Net. 69. The Hook Trap. 70. The Fool's Cap Trap. 71. The Limed Twig. 72. Humming-bird Trap. 73. Initial to Book IV. 74. The Common Box Trap. 75. Two Modes of Setting. 76. Box Trap. 77. The Figure Four Trap. 78. Parts of " 79. The "Double Ender". 80. The Self-Setting Trap. 81. The Dead fall. 82. Method No. 2. 83. The Garotte. 84. Arrangement of "Setting". 85. The Bow Garotte Trap. 86. A Fish Trap. 87. End Piece "Maternal advice". 88. Initial to Book V. 89. The Barrel Trap. 90. The Box Dead Trap. 91. The Board Flap. 92. The Box Pit-fall. 93. Diagram of " 94. Cage Trap. 95. Initial to Book VI. 96. Steel Trap. No. (0) or Rat Trap. 97. Steel Trap. No. 1, or Muskrat Trap. 98. " " No. 2, or Mink Trap. 99. " " No. 2-1/2, or Fox Trap. 100. " " No. 3, or Otter Trap. 101. " " No. 4, or Beaver Trap. 102. "The Great Bear Tamer," Steel Trap. 103. Steel Trap No. 5, or Small Bear Trap. 104. Steel Trap set in pen. 105. The Spring Pole. 106. The Sliding pole. 107. The Grappling Iron. 108. The Wolf. 109. The Puma. 110. The Canada Lynx. [Page xvi] 111. The Wild Cat. 112. The Bear. 113. The Raccoon. 114. The Badger. 115. The Beaver. 116. The Otter. 117. The Mink. 118. The Marten. 119. The Skunk. 120. The Wolverine. 121. The Opossum. 122. The Squirrel. 123. The Moose. 124. Initial to Book VII. 125. Portable Drinking Cup. 126. The Home Shanty. 127. The Shelter tent. 128. The Trapper's Bed. 129. End Piece. 130. Initial to Book VIII. 131. Head Net. 132. Portable Hat-brim. 133. Hat-brim with netting attachment. 134. The Dug-out or Log Canoe. 135. The Birch-Bark Canoe. 136. A Light Home-made Boat. 137. Diagram view of Boat——. 138. The Snow Shoe. 139. The Toboggan or Indian Sledge. 140. The Board Stretcher. 141. The Wedge Stretcher. 142. The Bow Stretcher. 143. "The End".
[Page 17] BOOK I.
TRAPS FOR LARGE GAME.
owever free our forests may be from the lurking dangers of a tropical jungle, they nevertheless shelter a few large and formidable beasts which are legitimate and deserving subjects of the Trapper's Art. Chief among them are the Puma, or Cougar, Bear, Lynx, Wolf and Wolverine.
Although commonly taken in steel traps, as described respectively in a later portion of this work, these animals are nevertheless often captured by Deadfalls and other devices, which are well known to the professional Trapper, and which serve excellently in cases of emergency, or in the scarcity of steel traps.
There are several varieties of this trap, some of which are described in other parts of this volume. In general construction they all bear a similarity, the methods of setting being slightly changed to suit the various game desired for capture. For large animals, and particularly the Bear, the trap is sprung by the pressure of the animal's foot, while reaching for the bait. Select some favorite haunt of the Bear, and proceed to construct a pen of large stakes. These should consist of young trees, or straight branches, about three inches in diameter, and should be of such a length as to reach a height of four or five feet when set in the ground, this being the required height of the pen. Its width should be about two and a half or three feet; its depth, four feet; and the top should be roofed over with cross pieces of timber, to prevent the [Page 18] bait from being taken from above. A straight log, about eight inches in diameter, and six feet in length should now be rolled against the opening of the pen, and hemmed in by two upright posts, one on each side, directly on a line with the sides of the enclosure. Another log, or tree trunk, of the same diameter, and about fifteen or twenty feet in length, should next be procured. Having this in readiness, we will now proceed to the construction of the other pieces. In order to understand the arrangement of these, we present a separate drawing of the parts as they appear when the trap is set (a). An upright post, is supplied at the upper end with a notch, having its flat face on the lower side. This post should be driven into the ground in the left hand back corner of the pen, and should be three feet or more in height. Another post (b) of similar dimensions, is provided with a notch at its upper end, the notch being reversed, i. e., having its flat side uppermost. This post should be set in the ground, outside of the pen, on the right hand side and on a line with the first. A third post (c), is provided with a crotch on its upper end. This should be planted outside of the pen on the right hand side, and on a line with the front. The treadle piece consists of a forked branch, about three feet [Page 19] in length, supplied with a square board secured across its ends. At the junction of the forks, an augur hole is bored, into which a stiff stick about three feet in length is inserted. This is shown at (h). Two poles, (d) and (e), should next be procured, each about four feet in length. These complete the number of pieces, and the trap may then be set. Pass the pole (d) between the stakes of the pen, laying one end in the notch in the post (a), and holding the other beneath the notch in the upright (b). The second pole (e) should then be adjusted, one end being placed in the crotch post (c), and the other caught beneath the projecting end of the pole (d), as is fully illustrated in the engraving. The dead-log should then be rested on the front extremity of the pole last adjusted, thus effecting an equilibrium.
The treadle-piece should now be placed in position over a short stick of wood (f), with its platform raised in front, and the upright stick at the back secured beneath the edge of the latch pole (d).
The best bait consists of honey, for which Bears have a remarkable fondness. It may be placed on the ground at the back part of the enclosure, or smeared on a piece of meat hung at the end of the pen. The dead-log should now be weighted by resting heavy timbers against its elevated end, as seen in the main drawing, after which the machine is ready for its deadly work.
A Bear will never hesitate to risk his life where a feast of honey is in view, and the odd arrangement of timbers has no fears for him after that tempting bait has once been discovered. Passing beneath the suspended log, his heavy paw encounters the broad board on the treadle-piece, which immediately sinks with his weight. The upright pole at the back of the treadle is thus raised, forcing the latch-piece from the notch: this in turn sets free the side pole, and the heavy log is released falling with a crushing weight over the back of hapless Bruin.
There are many other methods of setting the Dead-fall, several of which appear in another section of this book. The above is the one more commonly used for the capture of Bears, but the others are [Page 20] equally applicable and effective when enlarged to the proper size.
In South America and other countries, where Lions, Tigers, Leopards, and Jaguars abound, these and other rude extempore traps are almost the only ones used, and are always very successful. The pit-fall often allures the Bengal Tiger to his destruction, and the Leopard often terminates his career at the muzzle of a rifle baited as seen in our page illustration. A gun thus arranged forms a most sure and deadly trap, and one which may be easily extemporized at a few moments' warning, in cases of emergency. The Puma of our northern forests, although by no means so terrible a foe as the Leopard, is still a blood-thirsty creature, and while he shuns the gaze of man with the utmost fear, he is nevertheless constantly on the alert to spring upon him unawares, either in an unguarded moment or during sleep. A hungry Puma, who excites suspicion by his stealthy prowling and ominous growl, may easily be led to his destruction at the muzzle of a gun, baited as we shall now describe.
THE GUN TRAP.
After a Puma has succeeded in capturing his prey, and has satisfied his appetite by devouring a portion of its carcass, he leaves the remainder for a second meal, and his early return to a second banquet is almost a matter of certainty. Where such a remnant of a bygone feast is found, the capture of the Cougar is an easy matter. Any carcass left in a neighborhood where Pumas are known to exist is sure to attract them, and day after day its bulk will be found to decrease until the bones only remain. By thus "baiting" a certain place and drawing the Pumas thither, the way is paved for their most certain destruction. The gun-trap is very simply constructed, and may be put in working order in a very few moments. The weapon may be a rifle or shot-gun. In the latter case it should be heavily loaded with buck-shot. The stock should be first firmly tied to some tree, or secured in a stout crotch driven into the ground, the barrel being similarly supported.
The gun should be about three feet from the ground, and should be aimed at some near tree to avoid possible accident to a chance passer-by within its range. The gun should then be cocked, but not capped, due caution being always used, and the cap adjusted the very last thing after the trap is baited and set. Where a rifle [Page 21] is used, the cartridge should not be inserted until the last thing.
It is next necessary to cut a small sapling about a foot or two in length. Its diameter should allow it to fit snugly inside the guard in front of the trigger, without springing the hammer. Its other end should now be supported by a very slight crotch, as shown in our illustration. Another sapling should next be procured, its length being sufficient to reach from the muzzle of the gun to the end of the first stick, and having a branch stub or hook on one end. The other extremity should be attached by a string to the tip of the first slick.
Now take a portion of the carcass and draw it firmly over the hook in the long stick. Prop the latter in such a position as that the bait shall hang directly in front of the muzzle. The crotch supporting the bait stick should be firmly implanted in the ground in order to hold the bait from being drawn to either side of the muzzle.
The gun-trap is now set, and its merits may be tested. Before adjusting the cap the pieces should be tried several times to insure their perfect working. A slight pull on the bait from the front will draw the short stick forward. This immediately [Page 22] acts on the trigger and causes the hammer to snap. By a few trials, the sticks can be arranged so as to spring the trigger easily, and where a hair trigger is used, a mere touch on the bait will suffice to discharge the gun. When all is found to work perfectly, the trap should be surrounded by a rude pen of sticks and branches, extending two or three feet beyond the muzzle, in order to insure an approach directly in the aim of the gun. The cap should now be placed on the nipple, after which the deadly device may be left to do its certain work. The remaining portion of the carcass should be removed, and where the locality is likely to be frequented by other hunters or trappers, it is well to put up a "danger" signal to guard against accident. If desired two or three guns may be arranged like the spokes of a wheel, all aiming near the bait. Even with one gun the victim stands but little chance, but where two or three pour their contents into his body, his death is an absolute certainty.
By fastening the gun three feet above ground the load is discharged upward into the mouth of its victim, and thus directly through the brain. Where two or more guns are used, it is advisable to aim at least one in such a direction as will send its charge into the breast of the animal.
The Indian Panther is very commonly taken by the gun trap, and even Lions are sometimes secured by the same device, only increased in power by a larger number of guns.
There are several other methods of setting the gun trap. One way consists in attaching a string to the finger piece of the trigger, passing it back through a small staple or screw eye inserted in the under side of the stock for that purpose, and then drawing the string forward and attaching it to the top of the bait stick. This latter is stuck in the ground directly in front of the muzzle and the bait secured to its extremity. When the tempting morsel is grasped, the bait stick is drawn forward and the string pulled, the result of course being the discharge of the gun. By still another method, an elastic is passed through the screw eye in the stock and over the finger piece of the trigger, thus tending continually to draw it back and spring the hammer. To set the gun a short stick is inserted behind the finger piece, thus overcoming the power of the elastic. It should be very delicately adjusted, so that a mere touch will dislodge it. Its length should be about six inches, and to its other end the bait stick should be attached and arranged as first described. Although a rather dangerous trap to be set at random it is nevertheless often utilized and has brought many a [Page 23] dreaded marauder to his doom.
The bear, lynx, and other large animals are sometimes taken by the gun trap, but it is most generally set for the Puma.
THE BOW TRAP.
This device does duty in India and Southern Asia, where it is known as the tiger trap.
It is easily constructed as follows: First cut a stout board five inches in width, two and a half feet in length and about two inches in thickness. Shave off one end to a point so that it may be driven into the ground. At the other extremity, in the middle of the board and about two inches from the edge, a hole one half an inch in diameter and three quarters of an inch in height, should be made; two auger holes, one directly above the other with the sides flatly trimmed, will answer perfectly. The arrow should next be constructed. This should be made of seasoned oak or ash, two feet in length, perfectly straight, smooth and round, and one third of an inch in [Page 24] diameter. One end should be notched for the bow string and vaned with thin feathers after the manner of ordinary arrows. The other extremity should be armed with a steel barb sharply pointed, and firmly riveted in place. Any blacksmith can forge such a tip; the shape of which is plainly seen in our engraving. The bow should consist of a piece of stout seasoned hickory, oak or ash four feet long, if such a bow is not at hand, a stout sapling may be used. The bow string may consist of cat-gut, or stout Indian twine.
Before setting the trap, it is advisable to attract the game to the spot selected as already alluded to in connection with the gun trap, and particularly so when the Puma is the victim sought. In our illustration we see the trap as it appears when set, and the same precaution of aiming at some tree should be exercised as advise with the gun trap. The bow should first be secured in place directly beneath and one eighth of an inch from the edge of the hole in the board, as seen at (a). Two large wire staples may be used for this purpose, being passed over the bow through holes in the board and clinched on the opposite side. The bend of the bow and length of string should now be determined, one end of the latter being attached to the tip of the bow and the other end supplied with a loop. The board should then be driven into the ground to the depth of about eight inches. We will next take up the arrow. Pass the barb through the hole in the board and adjust the notch over the bow-string, draw the arrow back and release the string. If the arrow slide easily and swiftly, through the board, keeping true to its aim, the contrivance is in perfect working order and is ready to be set. This is accomplished by the very simple and ingenious mechanical arrangement, shown at (b). On the under side of the arrow just behind the barb, a flat notch one eighth of an inch in depth and two and a half inches in length is cut, with rounded ends, as seen in the illustration. The bait stick should consist of a sapling about three feet in length, the large end being trimmed so [Page 25] as to fit in the hole over the arrow while the notch in the latter rests in the bottom of the aperture as seen in the illustration (b). The trap may then be set. Draw back the arrow, until the notch rests in the hole in the board. Insert the bait stick very lightly above the arrow as shown at (b), propping it in place at the angle seen in the main drawing. The bait for a puma should consist of a portion of some carcass, or if for other animals, any of the baits given in our section on "trapping" may be used. In order to secure the bait firmly to the bait stick, a small hole and a peg at the side of the baited end will effectually prevent its removal and the trap will thus most surely be sprung. The prop which sustains the bait stick need be only a small crotch inserted a little to one side of the trap. The bow should now be surrounded by a wide pen, allowing room for the spring of the ends. The top of the enclosure should also be guarded by a few sticks or branches laid across. Directly in front of the trap and extending from it, a double row of rough stakes three feet high should be constructed, thus insuring an approach in the direct range of the arrow. Without this precaution the bait might be approached from the side, and the arrow pass beneath the head of the animal, whereas on the other hand it is sure to take effect in the neck or breast of its victim. Of course the success of this trap depends entirely upon the strength of the bow. When a large and powerful one is used its effect is almost surely fatal.
Another form of the bow trap, much used in the capture of the tiger, forms the subject of our next illustration: no bait is here used. The trap is set at the side of the beaten path of the tiger and is sprung by the animal pressing against a string in passing. The bow is large and powerful and is secured to two upright posts about eight inches apart. The string is drawn back and a blunt stick is then inserted between the bow string and the inside centre of the bow, thus holding the latter in a bent position. A stout stick, with a flattened end is next inserted between the end of the blunt stick and the inside of the bow, the [Page 26] remaining part of the stick extending downwards, as our illustration shows. To the lower end of this stick a string is attached and carried across the path in the direct range of the arrow, being secured to a stake on the opposite side. The arrow is generally barbed with a steel or flint point, and wound with thread saturated with a deadly poison. This is now rested on the top of the bow between the upright parts, and its notch caught in the bow-string. Everything is then in readiness. The tiger soon steals along his beaten track. He comes nearer and nearer the trap until at last his breast presses the string. Twang, goes the bow and the arrow is imbedded in the flesh of its victim. He writhes for a few moments, until he is released from his torments by the certain death which follows the course of the poison through his veins.
The use of the poison is very dangerous: a mere scratch through the skin is likely to prove fatal, and the trapper is thus likely to prove his own victim. Poisoned arrows are little used by trappers; and the bow trap, when properly constructed, is sufficiently effective without the venom.
This is the famous harpoon trap, so commonly used in Africa for the capture of the hippopotamus. There is no reason why [Page 27] it may not be successfully employed in our own country for taking large game, or modified on a reduced scale for smaller animals.
The hippopotamus makes his daily rounds in regular beaten pathways; and the trapper, knowing this peculiarity, turns it to advantage. This is a common habit with many animals; and these "runways" are easily detected by the matted leaves and grass and the broken twigs. Over such a beaten track the harpoon-trap is suspended.
The harpoon used by the native African trappers somewhat resembles a double-barbed arrowhead, and has a reflexed prong on the shaft just behind the barbs,—a sort of combination between a spear and a fish-hook. It is a terrible weapon; and, when once launched into the flesh of its victim, its withdrawal is impossible, on account of the reflexed barb. Any sharp steel shaft will answer the purpose of the harpoon; it should be eight or ten inches in length, and filed to a keen point. We will now construct the trap. The first requisite is a straight section of the branch of some tree. This should be about four inches in diameter, and four feet in length. Into one end of this beam the harpoon should be firmly imbedded, allowing the point to project about six inches. This beam should [Page 28] then be weighted with two large stones, attached firmly by a rope, about eighteen inches above the harpoon. At about six inches from the other end of the log a notch should be cut, having its flat side uppermost, as shown plainly in our illustration. The implement is now ready.
Select some favorably situated tree, whose branches extend over the pathway chosen for the trap. By the aid of a rope secured to the log, and thrown over the limb, the weighted beam may be drawn up into the tree. While thus held by a person below, the trapper should climb the tree to complete operations. For this purpose, a smaller branch about three feet in length should be cut. One end should be flattened off on both sides, so as to fit in the notch in the beam; and the part which rests on the limb, as seen in the illustration, should also be flattened to prevent turning. A piece of stout Indian twine should next be fastened to the unwhittled end of the stick, which may then be adjusted in the notch of the harpoon beam, as seen in the engraving. The string may then be thrown down, and grasped by the companion below, who holds it firmly, after which the original rope may be removed. It will be noticed that the weight of the harpoon and accompaniments rests on the short arm of the lever which passes over the limb of the tree, and the tension on the string from the long arm is thus very slight. This precaution is necessary for the perfect working of the trap. To complete the contrivance, a small peg with a rounded notch should be cut, and driven into the ground directly plumb beneath the long end of the lever. It should be inserted into the earth only sufficiently to hold the string without pulling out, and the side of the notch should face the path; its height should be about a foot. Into the notch the string should be passed, being afterwards drawn across the path and secured on the opposite side at the same height. The trap is now set; and woe to the unlucky quadruped that dares make too free with that string! A very slight pressure from either side is equally liable to slip the string from the notch, or loosen the peg from the ground; and the result is the same in either case,—down comes the weighted harpoon, carrying death and destruction to its victim.
For large animals, this mode of setting will be found to work perfectly. When constructed on a smaller scale, it may be slightly modified. It will be noticed that, when the string is approached from one side, it is merely slipped out of the notch,—a slight pressure being sufficient to dislodge it,—while the pressure [Page 29] from the opposite direction must be strong enough to lift the peg out of the ground bodily. This is easily done when the peg is lightly inserted; but, to insure success, even with light pressure from either side, an additional precaution may be used, if desired. Instead of fastening the end of the string securely to some object on the further side of the path, it is well to provide the end of the cord with a ring or loop, which should be passed over a nail or short peg driven in some tree or branch, or fastened into an upright stake, firmly embedded into the ground. The nail should point in the opposite direction from the notch in the peg, and its angle should incline slightly toward the path. It will thus be seen that an approach from one side forces the string from the notch in the peg, while an opposite pressure slides the ring from the nail.
This mode of setting is especially desirable for small animals, on account of its being more sensitive.
Such a trap may be successfully used for the puma, bear, and the lynx. When constructed for smaller animals, the harpoon may be dispensed with, a large stone being equally effective in its death-dealing qualities
THE BEAR TRAP.
This trap is constructed after the idea of the old-fashioned box or rabbit trap, and has been the means of securing many a hungry bear, or even puma, whose voracity has exceeded its cunning. The lynx and wild-cat are also among its occasional victims; and inasmuch as its prisoners are taken alive great sport is often realized before the captive is brought under control.
Our illustration gives a very clear idea of the affair. The sides are built of stout young tree-trunks, cut into sections and firmly driven into the ground close together. For a large animal,—a bear, for instance,—the enclosure should be about seven feet deep, two and a half feet wide, and four feet high. The top should be built in with the sides, after the manner of the log cabin, described in page (244.) The two posts at the entrance should be first set up. On the back side of each, near the end, a deep notch should be cut for the reception of the cross piece at the top. This should likewise be notched in a similar manner on both sides of each end, so as to fit singly into the notches in the uprights on the one side, and into the second pair of uprights [Page 30] on the other. These latter should next be inserted firmly into the ground, having been previously notched on both sides of their upper ends, as described for the cross piece. They may either be fixed in place and the cross piece sprung in between them at the top, or the latter may be held in the notches of the first pair, while the second are being inserted. Continue thus until the full length of the sides are reached, when the end may be closed by an upright wall of plain logs, either hammered into the ground, after the manner of the sides, or arranged one above another in notches between the two end uprights. The sliding door is next required. This should be large enough to cover the opening, and should be made of stout board slabs, firmly secured by cross pieces. It should be made to slide smoothly into grooves cut into perpendicular logs situated on each side of the opening, or may be arranged to slip easily between the flattened side of one log on each side and the front of the pen. Either way works well. In the latter an additional upright or short board should be inserted in the ground at the edges of the sliding door, to prevent the latter from being forced to either side by the efforts of the enclosed captive.
There are two or three ways of setting the trap, depending upon the desired game. For a bear it is arranged as in our illustration. An upright post, two feet in length, should be cut [Page 31] to an edge at one end, and wedged in between the logs at the top of the trap, near the middle. Across the top of this, a pole seven feet in length, should be rested; one end being attached by a loop, or secured in a notch in the sliding door, and the other supplied with a strong string about four feet in length, with a stick eight inches in length secured to its end. Through the centre log, in the back of the pen, and about two feet from the ground, an auger hole should be made. The bait stick with bait attached should be inserted through this hole from the inside, and the spindle caught on the outside between its projecting end and a nail driven in the adjoining upright. This principle is clearly illustrated on page 105 at (a), and, if desired, the method (b) may be used also. For a bear, the bait should consist of a piece of meat scented with burnt honey-comb. The odor of honey will tempt a bear into almost any trap, and even into such close quarters as the above he will enter without the slightest suspicion, when a feast of honey is in view.
For the cougar, or puma, the best bait is a live lamb or a young pig, encaged in a small pen erected at the end of the trap. A fowl is also excellent. When thus baited, the setting of the trap is varied. The upright post at the top of the trap is inserted nearer the front, and the cross pole is stouter. The auger hole is bored in the top of the trap, through the centre of one of the logs, and about twenty inches from the back end of the trap. The spindle is dispensed with and the end of the string is provided with a large knot, which is lowered through the auger hole, and is prevented from slipping back by the insertion of a stick beneath. This stick should be about three feet in length, and of such a size at the end as will snugly fit into the auger hole. It should be inserted delicately, merely enough to hold the knot from slipping back, and so as to be easily released by a slight movement in any direction.
This mode of setting is more fully detailed on page 52. As the puma steals in upon his prey he dislodges the stick, the lid falls, and he finds himself imprisoned with his intended victim. This trap is much used in India and Asia for the capture of the tiger, and the jaguar of South America is frequently entrapped by the same devices.
The tiger is the scourge of India and Southern Asia and some sections of these countries are so terribly infested with [Page 32] the brutes that the inhabitants are kept in a continual state of terror by their depredations. Many methods are adopted by the natives for the destruction of the terrible creatures, some of which have already been described. The pit-fall is still another device by which this lurking marauder is often captured and destroyed. It sometimes consists of a mere pit covered and baited in the haunts of the tiger, or is constructed in a continuous deep ditch surrounding the habitations of the natives, and thus acting as a secure protection. The pit is about twelve feet deep and ten feet in width, and its outside edge is lined with a hedge five or six feet in height. As the fierce brute steals upon his intended prey, he nears the hedge and at one spring its highest branch is cleared. He reaches the earth only to find himself at the bottom of a deep pit, from which there is no hope of escape, and where he speedily becomes the merciless victim of a shower of deadly arrows and bullets.
Happily we have no tigers in the United States, but the puma and the lynx are both fit subjects for the pit-fall. These animals cannot be said to exist in such numbers as to become a scourge and a stranger to the inhabitants of any neighborhood, and for this reason the "Moat" arrangement of the pit-fall is not required. The simple pit is often used, and when properly constructed and baited is a very sure trap. The hole should be about twelve feet in depth and eight feet across, widening at the bottom. Its opening should be covered with slicks, earth and leaves, so arranged as to resemble the surroundings as much as possible, but so lightly adjusted as that they will easily give way at a slight pressure. One edge of the opening should now be closely built up with stakes firmly inserted into the ground, and so constructed as to form a small pen in the middle, in which to secure the bait, generally a live turkey, goose, or other fowl. The other three sides should also be hedged in by a single row of upright stakes three or four feet in height, and a few inches apart in order that the hungry puma may whet his appetite by glimpses between them.
They should be firmly imbedded in the earth directly at the edge of the pit, and as far as possible trimmed of their branches on the inside. There will thus be a small patch of solid ground for the feet of the fowl, which should be tied by the leg in the enclosure. Our trap is now set, and if there is a puma in the neighborhood he will be sure to pay it a call and probably a visit.
Spying his game, he uses every effort to reach it through the [Page 33] crevices between the stakes. The cries of the frightened fowl arouse and stimulate his appetite, and at last exasperated by his futile efforts to seize his victim, he springs over the fence of stakes and is lodged in the depths of the pit.
The puma is very agile of movement, and unless the pit is at least twelve feet in depth there is danger of his springing out. Any projecting branch on the inside of the stakes affords a grasp for his ready paw, and any such branch, if within the reach of his leap, is sure to effect his escape. For this reason it is advisable to trim smoothly all the projections and leave no stub or knot hole by which he could gain the slightest hold. The construction of a pit-fall is a rather difficult operation on account of the digging which it necessitates. On this account it is not so much used as many other traps which are not only equally effective but much more easily constructed. The following is an example:—
THE LOG COOP TRAP.
This is commonly set for bears, although a deer or a puma becomes its frequent tenant. As its name implies it consists of a coop of logs, arranged after the principle of the Coop Trap described on page 67. The logs should be about eight feet in length, notched at the ends as described for the Log Cabin, page (244). Lay two of the logs parallel about seven feet apart. Across their ends in the notches, lay two others and continue building up in "cob-house" fashion until the height of about six feet is reached. The corners may be secured as they are laid by spikes, or they may be united afterward in mass by a rope firmly twisted about them from top to bottom. Logs should now be laid across the top of the coop and firmly secured by the spikes or rope knots. There are several ways of setting the trap. A modification of that described on page 67 works very well, or an arrangement of spindle and bait stick, as in the Box Trap, page 105, may also be employed. In the latter case, the bait stick is either inserted between the logs at the back of the coop, or a hole is bored through one of them for this purpose. For this mode of setting, the coop should be constructed beneath some tree. It is set by means of a rope attached to the upper edge of one of its sides the rope being thrown over a limb of the tree and the loose end brought down and secured to the bait stick by a spindle, as described [Page 34] for the trap on page (195). The limb here acts in place of the tall end piece of the Box Trap, and by raising the coop up to such an angle as that it will be nearly poised, the setting may be made so delicate that a mere touch on the bait stick from the interior will dislodge the pieces and let fall the enclosure. The simplest mode of setting the trap is that embodied in the "snare" method on page (52). The rope is here provided with a knot, which must pass easily between the logs, or through the hole at the back of the coop, the length of rope being so arranged as that the coop shall be sufficiently raised where the knot projects into the interior. The introduction of the bait stick beneath the knot will thus prevent the latter from being drawn back, and thus our trap is set. The bait stick in any case should be about two feet in length; and with this leverage but a slight touch will be required to spring the pieces. In the latter method the limb of the tree is not necessary. A stout crotched stake driven into the ground about twenty feet, at the back of the coop, will answer every purpose, and the coop may be constructed wherever desired. This is a most excellent trap for large animals. It secures the game alive, and is thus often productive of most exciting sport. For the bear, the bait should consist of honey or raw meat. Full directions for baiting all kinds of American game are given under their respective heads in another part of this book. The Coop Trap may be constructed of any dimensions, from the small example on page (67) to the size above described.
There are several other inventions commonly used for the capture of large animals in various parts of the globe, which would be of little avail in this country. Such is the African Corrall, or Hopo, by which whole herds of quaggas, elands, and buffalo are often destroyed. The trap consists of two hedges in the form of the letter V, which are very high and thick at the angle. Instead of the hedges being joined at this point, they are made to form a lane about two hundred feet in length, at the extremity of which a giant pit is formed. Trunks of trees are laid across the margins to prevent the animals from escaping. The opening of this pit is then covered with light reeds and small green boughs. The hedges often extend miles in length and are equally as far apart at these extremities. The tribe of hunters make a circle, three or four miles around the country adjacent to the opening, and gradually closing up are almost sure to enclose a large body of game, which, by shouts and skilfully hurled Javelins, they drive into the narrowing [Page 35] walls of the Hopo. The affrighted animals rush headlong to the gate presented at the end of the converging hedges and here plunge pell-mell into the pit, which is soon filled with a living mass. Some escape by running over the others; and the natives, wild with excitement, spear the poor animals with mad delight, while others of the brutes are smothered and crushed by the weight of their dead and dying companions. It is a most cruel and inhuman device, and its effects are sometimes appalling.
THE NET TRAP.
The lion and tiger are often taken in a net, which is secured to a frame work and suspended over a tempting bait. When the latter is touched the net falls, and the victim becomes entangled in the meshes and is securely caught. So far as we know, this mode of capture is never tried in this country. For the puma, lynx and wild-cat we fancy it might work admirably. The net should be of stout cord, and should be secured to a heavy square frame work, tilted as in the coop trap, already described. There should be plenty of slack in the net, and the looseness should be drawn flat over the framework in folds. The contrivance may be set by a large figure four trap, page (107), or the device described under the coop trap, page (67).
The use of bird lime, for the capture of a tiger, certainly seems odd; but it is, nevertheless, a common mode of taking the animal, in the countries where this marauder abounds. The viscid, tenacious preparation known as bird lime is described on page (97) and is familiar to most of our readers. For the capture of birds it is unfailing, when once their delicate plumage comes in contact with it. Its effect on the tiger is surprising, and many a hunter has secured his striped foe by its aid. For this purpose, the cans of the preparation are arranged on elevated boards around a bed of leaves, in which the bait is placed. A small platform is so placed that the tiger shall step upon it in reaching for the bait, which, by the aid of strings, tilts the boards and tips off the cans. The lime spills on its victim and over the bed of leaves, and the tiger, in his endeavors to free himself from the sticky substance only succeeds in spreading it, and as he rolls and tumbles on the ground he soon becomes completely smeared and covered with the dry leaves, from which it is impossible for him to extricate himself.
In his frantic rage he writhes upon the ground and becomes an easy [Page 36] prey to the hunter, who is generally on hand for the fray.
Steel traps are much used for the capture of large game, and are made in sizes especially adapted for the purpose. These are described under the proper head, in another portion of this work; and the various baits and modes of setting required for the different animals, are clearly set forth under their respective titles of the latter, in the section "Art of Trapping."
[Page 39] BOOK II.
SNARES OR MOOSE TRAPS.
hese devices, although properly coming under the head of "traps," differ from them in the sense in which they are generally understood. A snare naturally implies an entanglement; and for this reason the term is applied to those contrivances which secure their victims by the aid of strings or nooses. Inventions of this kind are among the most useful and successful to the professional Trapper, and their varieties are numerous. The "Twitch-up" will be recognized as a familiar example by many of our country readers, who may have seen it during their rambles, cautiously set in the low underbrush, awaiting its prey, or perhaps holding aloft its misguided victim.
Snares are among the most interesting and ingenious of the trap kind, besides being the most sure and efficacious. They possess one advantage over all other traps; they can be made in the woods, and out of the commonest material.
Let the young trapper supply himself with a small, sharp hatchet, and a stout, keen edged jack-knife,—these being the only tools required. He should also provide himself with a coil of fine brass "sucker wire," or a quantity of horse-hair nooses (which will be described further on), a small ball of tough twine and a pocket full of bait, such as apples, corn, oats and the like, of course depending upon the game he intends to trap. With these, his requirements are complete, and he has the material for a score of capital snares, which will do him much excellent service if properly constructed. Perhaps the most common of the noose traps is the ordinary
which forms the subject of our first illustration. This consists of a series of nooses fastened to a strong twine or wire. They [Page 40] may be of any number, and should either consist of fine wire, horse-hair, or fine fish-line. If of wire, common brass "sucker wire," to be found in nearly all hardware establishments and country stores, is the best. Each noose should be about four inches in diameter. To make it, a small loop should be twisted on one end of the wire, and the other passed through it, thus making a slipping loop, which will be found to work very easily. Fifteen or twenty of these nooses should be made, after which they should be fastened either to a stout string or wire, at distances of about four inches from each other, as seen in our illustration. Each end of the long string supporting the nooses should then be fastened to a wooden peg. After selecting the ground, the pegs should be driven into the earth, drawing the string tightly, as seen in our illustration. The ground around the nooses should then be sprinkled with corn, oats, and the like, and the trap is set. As a general thing, it is advisable to set it in a neighborhood where quails are known to abound; and as they run all over the ground in search of food, they are sure to come across the bait strewn for them, and equally as certain to be caught and entangled in the nooses. The writer has known as many as six quails to be thus caught at a time, on a string of only twelve nooses. Partridges and woodcock will occasionally be found entangled in the snare, and it will oft-times happen that a rabbit will be secured by the device.
This is a variation from the above, the noose being attached to a barrel hoop and the latter being fastened to two stout posts, which are firmly driven into the ground. By their scattering the bait inside the hoop, and adjusting the loops, the contrivance is complete.
This is a very old and approved method.
In the initial (T) at the head of this section we give also [Page 41] another suggestion for a noose trap. The cross pieces are tacked to the top of the upright, and a noose suspended from each end,—the bait adjusted as there seen.
We have mentioned horse-hair nooses as being desirable, and they are commonly used; but, as it takes considerable time to make them, and the wire answering the purpose fully as well, we rather recommend the wire in preference. We will give a few simple directions, however, for the making of the horse-hair nooses, in case our readers might desire to use them instead.
Select long, stout hairs from the tail of any horse, (we would recommend that it be a good tempered horse), take one of the hairs and double it in the middle, hold the double between the thumb and fore-finger of the left hand, letting the two ends hang from the under side of the thumb, and keeping the hairs between the thumb and finger, about a third of an inch apart. Now proceed to twist the two hairs toward the end of the finger, letting them twist together as the loop emerges on the upper side of the thumb.
A little practice will overcome what at first seems very difficult. To keep the two hairs between the fingers at the right distance of separation, and at the same time to twist them and draw the loop from between the fingers as they are twisted, seems quite a complicated operation; and so it will be found at first. But when once mastered by practice, the twisting of five nooses a minute will be an easy matter. When the entire length of the hairs are twisted, the ends should be cut off even and then passed through the small loop at the folded end. The noose is then ready to be fastened to the main string of support. Horse-hair nooses are commonly used in nearly all snares as they are always to be had, and possess considerable strength. The fine brass wire is also extensively used, and the writer rather prefers it. It is very strong and slips easily, besides doing away with the trouble of twisting the loops, which to some might be a very difficult and tedious operation. We recommend the wire, and shall allude to it chiefly in the future, although the horse-hair may be substituted whenever desired.