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´╗┐Title: Deadfalls and Snares - A Book of Instruction for Trappers About These and Other Home-Made Traps
Author: Harding, A. R. (Arthur Robert), 1871-1930
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  [Frontispiece: A GOOD DEADFALL.]


A Book of Instruction for Trappers
About These and Other
Home-Made Traps

Edited by

Published by
A. R. HARDING, Publisher
106 Walnut Street
St. Louis, Mo.

Copyright 1907


  I. Building Deadfalls
  II. Bear and Coon Deadfall
  III. Otter Deadfall
  IV. Marten Deadfall
  V. Stone Deadfall
  VI. The Bear Pen
  VII. Portable Traps
  VIII. Some Triggers
  IX. Trip Triggers
  X. How to Set
  XI. When to Build
  XII. Where to Build
  XIII. The Proper Bait
  XIV. Traps Knocked Off
  XV. Spring Pole Snare
  XVI. Trail Set Snare
  XVII. Bait Set Snare
  XVIII. The Box Trap
  XIX. The Coop Trap
  XX. The Pit Trap
  XXI. Number of Traps
  XXII. When to Trap
  XXIII. Season's Catch
  XXIV. General Information
  XXV. Skinning and Stretching
  XXVI. Handling and Grading
  XXVII. From Animal to Market
  XXVIII. Steel Traps


  A Good Deadfall
  The Pole Deadfall
  Small Animal Fall
  The Pinch Head
  Board or Pole Trap
  Bait Set Deadfall
  Trail Set Deadfall
  Bear or Coon Deadfall
  Otter Deadfall
  Marten Deadfall
  Marten Trap Triggers
  Another Marten Deadfall
  High Built Marten Deadfall
  Tree Deadfall
  More Marten Trap Triggers
  Flat Stone Trap
  Stone Deadfall Triggers
  The Invitation--Skunk
  Killed Without Scenting
  Right and Wrong Way
  Bear Pen Trap
  Bear Entering Pen
  Den Set Deadfall
  Portable Wooden Trap
  The Block Trap
  The Nox-Em-All Deadfall
  Illinois Trapper's Triggers
  Trip Triggers
  Animal Entering Trip Deadfall
  Trip Trigger Fall
  Canadian Trip Fall
  The Turn Trigger
  Two Piece Trigger Trap
  String and Trigger Trap
  Trail or Den Trap
  Spring Pole and Snare
  Small Game Snare
  Wire or Twine Snare
  Snare Loop
  Path Set Snare
  Trip Pan or Plate
  Double Trail Set
  Trail Set Snares
  Path Snare
  Rat Runway Snare
  Underground Rat Runway
  Runway and Cubby Set
  Log Set Snare
  Cow Path Snare
  Lifting Pole Snare
  Bait Set Snare
  The Box Trap
  The Coop Trap
  The Pit Trap
  A Good Catcher
  Single and Three Board Stretcher
  Some Stretching Patterns
  Dakota Trappers Method
  Holder for Skinning
  Wire Coon Method
  Wire and Twig Coon Method
  Size of Stretching Boards
  Pole Stretchers
  Fleshing Board
  Stretching Frame
  Skin on Stretcher
  Hoop Stretcher
  Small Steel Traps
  No. 81 or Web Jaw Trap
  No. 91 or Double Jaw Trap
  Mink and Fox Traps
  Otter and Beaver Traps
  Otter Traps with Teeth
  Otter Trap without Teeth
  Offset Jaw Beaver Trap
  Clutch Detachable Trap
  Newhouse Wolf Trap
  Small Bear Trap
  Small Bear Trap with Offset Jaw
  Black Bear Trap
  Regular Bear Trap with Offset Jaws
  Grizzly Bear Trap
  Bear Chain Clevis
  Steel Trap Setting Clamp

  [Illustration: A. R. HARDING.]


Scattered from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico and from the
Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean are thousands of trappers who use
deadfalls, snares and other home-made traps, but within this vast
territory there are many thousand who know little or nothing of them.

The best and most successful trappers are those of extended
experience. Building deadfalls and constructing snares, as told on
the following pages, will be of value to trappers located where
material--saplings, poles, boards, rocks, etc.--is to be had for
constructing. The many traps described cannot all be used to
advantage in any section, but some of them can.

More than sixty illustrations are used to enable the beginner to
better understand the constructing and workings of home-made traps.
The illustrations are mainly furnished by the "old timers."

Chapters on Skinning and Stretching, Handling and Grading are added
for the correct handling of skins and furs adds largely to their
commercial value.

A. R. Harding.




During the centuries that trapping has been carried on, not only in
America, but thruout the entire world, various kinds of traps and
snares have been in use and taken by all classes of trappers and in
all sections the home-made traps are of great numbers. The number of
furs caught each year is large.

The above was said by a trapper some years ago who has spent upwards
of forty years in the forests and is well acquainted with traps,
trappers and fur-bearing animals. Whether the statement is true or
not, matters but little, altho one thing is certain and that is that
many of the men who have spent years in trapping and have been
successful use the deadfalls and snares as well as steel traps.

Another trapper says: In my opinion trapping is an art and any
trapper that is not able to make and set a deadfall, when occasion
demands, does not belong to the profession. I will give a few of the
many reasons why dead falls are good.

1. There is no weight to carry.

2. Many of the best trappers use them.

3. It requires no capital to set a line of deadfalls.

4. There is no loss of traps by trap thieves, but the fur is in as
much danger.

5. Deadfalls do not mangle animals or injure their fur.

6. It is a humane way of killing animals.

7. There is no loss by animals twisting off a foot or leg and getting

8. Animals are killed outright, having no chance to warn others of
their kind by their cries from being caught.

9. Trappers always have the necessary outfit (axe and knife) with
them to make and set a deadfall that will kill the largest animals.

10. The largest deadfalls can be made to spring easy and catch small
game if required.

11. Deadfalls will kill skunk without leaving any scent.

12. Deadfalls are cheap and trappers should be familiar with them.

It is a safe proposition, however, that not one-half of the trappers
of today can build a deadfall properly or know how to make snares,
and many of them have not so much as seen one.

First a little pen about a foot square is built of stones, chunks, or
by driving stakes close together, leaving one side open. The stakes
should be cut about thirty inches long and driven into the ground
some fourteen inches, leaving sixteen or thereabout above the ground.
Of course if the earth is very solid, stakes need not be so long, but
should be so driven that only about sixteen inches remain above
ground. A sapling say four inches in diameter and four feet long is
laid across the end that is open. A sapling that is four, five or six
inches in diameter, owing to what you are trapping for, and about
twelve feet long, is now cut for the "fall." Stakes are set so that
this pole or fall will play over the short pole on the ground. These
stakes should be driven in pairs; two about eighteen inches from the
end; two about fourteen farther back. (See illustration.)

  [Illustration: THE POLE DEADFALL.]

The small end of the pole should be split and a small but stout stake
driven firmly thru it so there will be no danger of the pole turning
and "going off" of its own accord. The trap is set by placing the
prop (which is only seven inches in length and half an inch thru)
between the top log and the short one on the ground, to which is
attached the long trigger, which is only a stick about the size of
the prop, but about twice as long, the baited end of which extends
back into the little pen.

The bait may consist of a piece of chicken, rabbit or any tough bit
of meat so long as it is fresh and the bloodier the better. An animal
on scenting the bait will reach into the trap--the top of the pen
having been carefully covered over--between the logs. When the animal
seizes the bait the long trigger is pulled off of the upright prop
and down comes the fall, killing the animal by its weight. Skunk,
coon, opossum, mink and in fact nearly all kinds of animals are
easily caught in this trap. The fox is an exception, as it is rather
hard to catch them in deadfalls.

The more care that you take to build the pen tight and strong, the
less liable is some animal to tear it down and get bait from the
outside; also if you will cover the pen with leaves, grass, sticks,
etc., animals will not be so shy of the trap. The triggers are very
simple, the long one being placed on top of the upright, or short
one. The long triggers should have a short prong left or a nail
driven in it to prevent the game from getting the bait off too easy.
If you find it hard to get saplings the right size for a fall, and
are too light, they can be weighted with a pole laid on the "fall."

  [Illustration: SMALL ANIMAL FALL.]

I will try and give directions and drawing of deadfalls which I have
used to some extent for years, writes a Maine trapper, and can say
that most all animals can be captured in them as shown in
illustration. You will see the deadfall is constructed of stakes and
rocks and is made as follows: Select a place where there is game; you
need an axe, some nails, also strong string, a pole four inches or
more in diameter. Notice the cut No. 1 being the drop pole which
should be about six to seven feet long. No. 2 is the trip stick, No.
3 is string tied to pole and trip stick, No. 4 is the stakes for
holding up the weight, No. 5 is the small stakes driven around in the
shape of letter U, should be one foot wide and two feet long. No. 6
is the rocks, No. 7 is the bait.

Now this is a great trap for taking skunk and is soon built where
there are small saplings and rocks. This trap is also used for mink
and coon.

  * * *

The trapper's success depends entirely upon his skill and no one can
expect the best returns unless his work is skillfully done. Do not
Attempt to make that deadfall unless you are certain that you can
make it right and do not leave it till you are certain that it could
not be any better made. I have seen deadfalls so poorly made and
improperly set that they would make angels weep, neither were they
located where game was apt to travel. The deadfall if made right and
located where game frequents is quite successful.

Another thing, boys, think out every little plan before you attempt
it. If so and so sets his traps one way, see if you can't improve on
his plan and make it a little better. Do not rush blindly into any
new scheme, But look at it on all sides and make yourself well
acquainted with the merits and drawbacks of it. Make good use of your
brains, for the animal instinct is its only protection and it is only
by making good use of your reasoning powers that you can fool him.
Experience may cost money sometimes and loss of patience and temper,
but in my estimation it is the trapper's best capital.  An old
trapper who has a couple of traps and lots of experience will catch
more fur than the greenhorn with a complete outfit.  Knowledge is
power in trapping as in all other trades.

This is the old reliable "pinch-head." The picture does not show the
cover, so I will describe it. Get some short pieces of board or short
poles and lay them on the stones in the back part of the pen and on
the raised stick in front.  Lay them close together so the animal
cannot crawl in at the top.  Then get some heavy stones and lay them
on the cover to weight down and throw some dead weeds and grass over
the pen and triggers and your trap is complete. When the animal tries
to enter and sets off the trap by pressing against the long trigger
in front, he brings the weighted pole down in the middle of his back,
which soon stops his earthly career.

  [Illustration: THE PINCH HEAD.]

This deadfall can also be used at runways without bait. No pen or
bait is required. The game will be caught coming from either
direction. The trap is "thrown" by the trigger or pushing against it
when passing thru. During snowstorms the trap requires considerable
attention to keep in perfect working order, but at other times is
always in order when placed at runways where it is used without bait.

The trap can also be used at dens without bait with success. If used
with bait it should be placed a few feet from the den or near any
place frequented by the animal or animals you expect to catch.

Of course we all admit the steel trap is more convenient and
up-to-date, says a New Hampshire trapper. You can make your sets
faster and can change the steel trap from place to place; of course,
the deadfall you cannot. But all this does not signify the deadfall
is no good; they are good and when mink trapping the deadfall is
good. To the trapper who traps in the same locality every year, when
his deadfalls are once built it is only a few minutes' work to put
them in shape, then he has got a trap for the season.

I enclose a diagram of a deadfall (called here Log Trap) which, when
properly made and baited, there is no such a mink catcher in the trap
line yet been devised. This trap requires about an hour to make and
for tools a camp hatchet and a good strong jackknife, also a piece of
strong string, which all trappers carry.

This trap should be about fifteen inches wide with a pen built with
sticks or pieces of boards driven in the ground. (See diagram.) The
jaws of this trap consist of two pieces of board three inches wide
and about three and a half feet long, resting edgeways one on the
other, held firmly by four posts driven in the ground. The top board
or drop should move easily up and down before weights are put on. The
treddle should be set three inches inside level with the top of
bottom board. This is a round stick about three-fourths inch thru,
resting against two pegs driven in the ground. (See diagram.) The
lever should be the same in size. Now put your stout string around
top board.  Then set, pass lever thru the string over the cross piece
and latch it in front of the treddle.  Then put on weights and adjust
to spring, heavy or light as desired.  This trap should be set around
old dams or log jams by the brook, baited with fish, muskrat, rabbit
or chicken.

  [Illustration: BOARD OR POLE TRAP.]

I herewith enclose a drawing of a deadfall that I use for everything
up to bear, writes a Rocky Mountain trapper, I hate to acknowledge
that I have used it to get "lope" meat with, because I sometimes
believe in firing as few shots as I can in some parts of the

  [Illustration: BAIT SET DEADFALL.]

Drawing  No. 1 shows it used for bait; a snare can be used on it at
the same time by putting the drop or weight where it isn't liable to
fall on the animal. Put the weight on the other side of tree or make
it fall with the animal to one side. In this case a pole must be
strictly used. A good sized rock is all right for small animals. The
closer spikes 1 and 2 are together and the longer the tugger end on
bottom, the easier it will pull off.

Fig. 1.--Spike driven in tree one-half inch deeper than spike No. 2
(Fig. No. 2) to allow for notch.

3--Bait on end of trigger.

4--Heavy rock or log.

5--Wire, fine soft steel.

6--Trigger with notch cut in it.

7--Notch cut in trigger Fig G. Spike No. 2 must have head cut off and
pounded flat on end.

In setting it across a trail a peg must be driven in the ground. In
this peg the spikes are driven instead of tree as in drawing No. 1.
The end of brush stick in between peg and trigger end and when an
animal comes either way it will knock the brush and it knocks out the
trigger. Good, soft steel wire should be used In setting this
deadfall along river bank a stout stick can be driven in bank and
hang out over water. This stick will take the place of a limb on
tree. One end of a pole held in a slanting position by weighing one
end down with a rock will do the same as limb on tree. If a tree is
handy and no limb, lean a stout pole up against the tree and cut
notches in it for wire to work on.

  [Illustration: TRAIL SET DEADFALL.]



3--Trigger same as for bait on top deadfall drawing.

4--Stake driven in ground with spikes driven in it same as above in

5--Spikes same as above.



8--Brush put in trail with one end between trigger and peg to knock
off trigger when touched.

This deadfall has never failed me and when trapping in parts of the
country where lynx, coyote or wolverine are liable to eat marten in
traps, use a snare and it will hang 'em high and out of reach. Snare
to be fastened to trigger.

Of course a little pen has to be built when setting this deadfall
with bait. In setting in trail it beats any deadfall I have ever used
for such animals as have a nature to follow a trail. A fine wire can
also be tied to the trigger and stretched across trail instead of a
brush and tied on the opposite side of trail. I like it, as the
weight can be put high enough from the ground to kill an elk when it



I will explain how to make the best bear deadfall, also the best one
for coon that ever was made, writes an old and successful deadfall
trapper. First get a pole six or eight feet long for bed piece, get
another sixteen or eighteen feet long and lay it on top of bed piece.
Now drive two stakes, one on each side of bed piece and pole and near
one end of bed piece. About 18 or 20 inches from first two stakes
drive two more stakes, one on each side of bed piece and fall pole.
Now drive two more stakes directly in front of your two back stakes
and about two inches in front.

Next cut a stick long enough to come just to the outside of last two
stakes driven. Then whittle the ends off square so it will work easy
between the treadle stakes and the two inside stakes that your fall
works in; next raise your fall pole about three feet high. Get a
stick about one inch thru, cut it so that it will be long enough to
rest against your treadle and that short stick is your treadle when
it is raised above the bed a piece, cut the end off slanting so it
will fit against the treadle good.

  [Illustration: BEAR OR COON DEADFALL.]

Slant the other end so the fall pole will fit good. Now five or six
inches from the top of the slanted stick cut a notch in your slanted
stick. Go to the back side, lift your pole up, set the post on the
bed piece. Place the top of the slanted stick against the fall pole.
Then place the pole off post in the notch in slant stick. Press back
on bottom of slanted stick and place your treadle against the stick.
Your trap is set. Make V shape on inside of treadle by driving stakes
in the ground, cedar or pine, and hedge it in tight all around. If
such there is not, make it as tight as you can. Cover the top tight,
the cubby should be 3 feet long, 3 feet high and wide as your treadle

Stake the bait near the back end of cubby. Be sure the treadle is
just above the bed piece. Take the pole off the cubby to set the trap
as you have set it from this side. You can set it heavy or light by
regulating the treadle. I sometimes drive spikes in the bed piece and
file them off sharp as it will hold better. You can weight the fall
poles as much as you like after it is set. Don't you see, boys, that
the old fellow comes along and to go in he surely will step on the
treadle. Bang, it was lowered and you have got him.

This is the best coon deadfall I ever saw. The fall pole for coon
should be about 14 inches high when set. Set it under trees or along
brooks where you can see coon signs. Bait with frogs, crabs or fish,
a piece of muskrat or duck for coon. Build it much the same as for
bear, only much smaller. You will find this a successful trap.

  * * *

I will describe a deadfall for bear which I use, and which works the
best of any I have tried, says a Montana trapper. I have two small
trees about 30 inches apart, cut a pole 10 feet long for a bed piece
and place in front of trees then cut a notch in each tree about 27
inches above the bed piece, and nail a good, strong piece across from
one tree to the other in the notches. Cut a long pole five or six
inches through for the deadfall, place the large end on top of bed
log, letting end stick by the tree far enough to place on poles for

Then cut two stakes and drive on outside of both poles, and fasten
top of stakes to the trees one foot above the cross piece. Then on
the inside, 30 inches from the trees, drive two more solid stakes
about 2 feet apart and nail a piece across them 6 inches lower than
the cross piece between the trees. Then cut a lever about three feet
long and flatten one end, and a bait stick about two feet long. Cut
two notches 6 inches apart, one square on the top and the other on
the bottom, and both close to the top end of bait stick.

Fasten bait on the other end and then raise up the deadfall, place
the lever stick across the stick nailed between the two trees,
letting the end run six inches under the deadfall. Take the bait
stick and hook lower notch on the piece nailed on the two stakes and
place end of lever in the top notch, then cut weights and place on
each side until you think you have enough to hold any bear. Then put
on as many more and it will be about right. Stand up old chunks
around the sides and back and lots of green brush on the outside. Get
it so he can't see the bait.

It doesn't require a very solid pen. I drive about three short stakes
in front and leave them one foot high, so when he pulls back they
will come against him, and the set is complete. You can weight it
with a ton of poles and still it will spring easy. The closer
together the two notches the easier it will spring.

This trap can be built lighter and is good for coon. In fact, will
catch other fur bearers, but is not especially recommended for small
animals, such as ermine and mink.



At the present day when steel traps are so cheap and abundant it may
sound very primitive and an uncertain way of trapping these animals
for one to advocate the use of the deadfall, especially as every
hunter knows the animal is much more at home in the water than on
land. But on land they go and it was by deadfalls the way-back
Indians killed a many that were in their packs at the end of the
hunting season.

Of course these wooden traps were not set at haphazard thru the brush
as marten traps, but were set up at the otter slide places, and where
they crossed points in river bends, or it might be where a narrow
strip of land connected two lakes. These places were known from one
generation to another and the old traps were freshened up spring and
fall by some member of the family hunting those grounds.

These special deadfalls were called otter traps, but really when once
set were open for most any animal of a medium size passing that path.
The writer has known beaver, lynx, fox and in one instance a cub bear
to be caught in one of these deadfalls. There was a simplicity and
usefulness about these traps that commended them to the trapper and
even now in this rush century some hunters might use them with

When once set, they remain so until some animal comes along and is
caught. I say "caught" because if properly erected they rarely miss.
They require no bait and therefore are never out of order by the
depredations of mice, squirrels or moose birds. I knew a man who
caught two otters together. This may sound fishy, but when once a
present generation trapper sees one of these traps set he will
readily believe this apparently impossible result is quite likely to

The trap is made thus: Cut four forked young birch about five feet
long, pointing the lower ends and leaving the forks uppermost. Plant
two of these firmly in the ground at each side of the otter path,
three inches apart between them and about twenty inches across the
path. These must be driven very hard in the ground and a throat piece
put in level between the uprights across the path from side to side.
As a choker and to support the weight of logs to kill the otter, cut
a pole (tamarac preferable) long enough to pass three feet each side
of your picket or uprights, see that this falls easy and clear.

  [Illustration: OTTER DEADFALL.]

Now cut two short poles for the forks to lay in from side to side of
the path, being in the same direction as the choker. At the middle of
one of these short poles tie a good stout cord or rope (the Indians
used split young roots), making a loop of same long enough to lay
over the pole in front and down to the height the choke pole is going
to be. When set, next comes the trigger which must be of hard wood
and about a foot long, round at one end and flat at the other. A
groove is hacked out all around the stick at the round end. This is
to tie the cord to.

The choke stick is now brought up to say twenty inches from the
ground and rested on top of the trigger. A stick about an inch in
diameter is placed outside the pickets and the flat end of the
trigger is laid in against this. The tied stick to be about eight
inches from the ground. The tying at the end of the trigger being at
one side will create a kind of leverage sufficiently strong to press
hard against the tied stick. Care must be taken, however, to have
this pressure strong enough but not too strong for the animal to set

Now load each end of the choke stick with small laps of wood to
insure holding whatever may catch. A little loose moss or grass is
placed fluffy under tread stick when set to insure the otter going
over and not under. When he clambers over the tread stick his weight
depresses it, the trigger flies up, letting the loaded bar fall on
his body, which holds him till death.

While my description of the making of a deadfall for otters is plain
enough to me, yet the novice may not succeed in constructing one the
first time. Still if he is a trapper he will very soon perceive where
any mistake may be and correct it. I have used both steel traps and
deadfalls and altho I do not wish to start a controversy yet I must
say that a deadfall well set is a good trap. For marten on a stump
they are never covered unless with snow, nor is the marten when
caught destroyed by mice.

Of course, to set a deadfall for otter it must be done in the fall
before the ground is frozen. Once made, however, it can be set up
either spring or fall and will, with a little repairs, last for
years. I am aware the tendency of the age is to progress and not to
use obsolete methods, still even some old things have their
advantages. Good points are not to be sneered at and one of these I
maintain for spring and fall trapping in a district where otter move
about from lake to lake or river to river is the old time Indian



Having seen a good many descriptions of deadfalls in the H-T-T
lately, writes a Colorado trapper, I thought I would try to show the
kind that is used around here for marten. It is easily made, and can
always be kept above the snow.

First, cut a pole (z) five or six inches through and twelve feet
long, lay it in the crotch of a tree five feet from the ground. Then
cut two sticks two inches through and fifteen inches long, cut a
notch in each three inches from the top and have the notch in one
slant downwards (B), the other upwards (A). The sticks should be
nailed on each side of the pole (z), the top of which should be
flattened a little. Have the notches about six inches above the top
of the pole.

Cut another stick 10 inches long (F), cut the top off square and nail
it six inches farther down the pole on the same side as (B), have the
top five inches above the top of pole (Z). Now cut two more sticks
two and one-half feet long (C-D), cut a notch in each two inches from
the top and nail a stick (E) across them in the notches, so they will
be about seven inches apart. Set a straddle of the pole (Z); they
should be two inches farther down the pole than (F). Then cut another
pole (X) ten feet long, lay it under (Z), lift up one end of it and
nail the stick C and D to each side of it. See that when the sticks
C, D and E are lifted up they will fall clear and easily.

  [Illustration: MARTEN DEADFALL.]

Now cut a bait stick (G) one-half inch through and seven inches long,
sharpened at one end. Cut another stick (H) an inch through and
fifteen inches long, flatten a little on one side. To set the trap
lift up C, D, E and X, and put the end of H under E and rest it on
the top of F, hold down the other end while you put the bait stick
(G) in the notches A and B, then let the end of H come up on the
outside of B against the end of G. Put the bait on the other end of
G; when the end is pulled out of the notch the trap will spring and
spring easily if made properly. Lay a block of wood at the back end
and some small sticks on top, so the animal will have to crawl under
E to get the bait. Muskrat makes the best bait for marten.

  * * *

When you find a tall straight spruce or something that is pretty
straight (not a balsam) cut it about a foot over your head, says a
Northwestern trapper, or as high as you can. When you have cut it,
split the stump down the center two feet. Be careful doing this, for
you are striking a dangerous blow as I have good cause to know and
remember. Trim out the tree clean and taper off the butt end to make
it enter into split. Drive down into split about fourteen inches. Cut
a crotch into ground or snow solid.

Now cut the mate of this piece already in, split and put into split
and into crotch on top of other. Have the piece heavy enough to hold
wolverine. See cuts for the rest. Cover bait as shown in cut. I do
not make my trip sticks the same as others, but I am afraid that I
cannot explain it to you. See cuts for this also. Use your own
judgment. Of course you will sometimes find it is not necessary to go
to all this bother. For instance, sometimes you will find a natural
hanger for your trap. Then you don't have to have the long peg or
pole to hold it stiff.

  [Illustration: MARTEN TRAP TRIGGERS.]

This trap is used heavy enough by some "long line" trappers for
wolverine. They blacken bait and cover as shown in  No. 4. In the two
small illustrations the triggers are shown in No. 1 separate and in
No. 2 set. A is the bait and trip stick, B the lever, C is the
upright. B in No. 1 is where the bait should be.


In No. 3 A is bait, E is pin which fastens deadfall to under pole and
prevents deadfall from turning to one side. F is post to keep under
pole from bending.

In No. 4 HH are nails which fasten down a springy piece of wood to
keep cover over bait. Cover with fir or spruce boughs.

  * * *

Another deadfall much used by marten trappers is constructed by
cutting a notch in a tree about a foot in diameter, altho the size of
the tree makes little difference. The notch should be four inches
deep and a foot up and down and as high up as the trapper can
cut--four or five feet.

Only one pole is needed for this trap as the bottom of the notch cut
answers for the bed or bottom piece. (See illustration.) The pole for
the fall should be four inches or more in diameter and anywhere from
six to ten feet in length, depending upon the place selected to set.

The end fartherest from the bait or notched tree must be as high as
the notch. This can be done by driving a forked stake into the ground
or by tying that end of the pole to a small tree if there is one
growing at the right place.


If the pole for the fall is larger than the notch is deep, the end
must be flattened so that it will work easy in the notch, as a piece
of wood has been nailed over the notch to hold the fall pole in

The triggers used are generally the figure 4 and set with bait
pointing as shown. There is no place for the marten to stand while
eating bait, only in shelf, and of course when the spindle is pulled,
down comes the pole killing the animal.

  [Illustration: TREE DEADFALL.]

This shelf protects the bait and bed piece and the snow does not fill
in between and require so much attention as the one first described.

This deadfall may also be built on a stump with a small enclosure or
pen and the two-piece trigger used. Most trappers place the bait or
long trigger on bottom pole, when trapping for marten. It will be
readily seen that a marten, to get the bait, will stand between the
"fall" and bed or under pole and of course is caught while trying to
get the bait.


The height that deadfalls for marten should be built depends upon how
deep the snow gets. In the fall and early winter they can be built on
the ground or logs and other fur-bearers are taken as well.

A few inches of snow will not interfere with the workings of
deadfalls on the ground, but deep snows will. To make catches the
trapper must clean out under the fall pole each round. This is no
small task. The trapper is always on the lookout for suitable places
to construct Marten deadfalls.

When the snows get several feet deep, and the trapper makes his
rounds on snowshoes, the deadfalls constructed several feet above the
ground are the ones that make the catches.



The stone deadfall here described is used by trappers wherever flat
stones can be found and is a good trap to catch skunk, opossum, mink
and other small game in. The trap is made as follows:

The figure 4 trigger is best for this trap and is made after this
manner: standard (1) is made by cutting a stick five or six inches
long out of hard wood and whittling it to a flat point, but blunt at
one end; (2) is about five inches long with a notch cut within about
one and one-half inches of the end with the other end made square so
that it will fit in (3) which is the bait stick. This is only a
straight stick sixteen or eighteen inches long, while the other end
of the stick should have a small prong on it, a tack driven in, or
something to hold the bait in position. The best way will be to tie
the bait on also.

  [Illustration: FLAT STONE TRAP.]

After you have found a flat stone weighing from 50 to 100 pounds,
depending upon what game you expect to trap, select the place for the
trap, first place a small flat stone underneath so that your game
will be killed quicker and also so that the upright trigger will not
sink into the ground. Lift up the large, or upper stone, kneeling on
one knee before the stone resting the weight of the stone on the
other. This leaves both hands free to set the trap. This is done by
placing the triggers in the position shown in illustration and then
letting the stone down very easily on the triggers. You should keep
your knee under the stone all the time until you see that it comes
down easily and does not "go off" of its own weight. The bait should
always be put on before the trap is set. This trap will go off easy
and you must be careful that the bait you put on is not too heavy and
will cause the trap to fall of its own accord.

This trap can be made to catch rabbits which will come in handy to
bait other traps for larger game. In trapping for rabbits bait with
apples, cabbage, etc.

This trap does not take long to make, as no pen need be built, the
top stone is large enough to strike the animal, making no difference
in what position it gets when after the bait. A stone two or three
inches thick and say thirty inches across and the same length or a
little longer is about the proper size for skunk, opossum, etc., but
of course larger or smaller stones can be used--whatever you find

  * * *

This trap consists of a flat piece of stone supported by three fits
of wood, the whole trouble being in making these three fits right,
and this can be done by carefully comparing the description here
given with illustrations, whenever they are referred to. The parts
are all made of wood about three-eighths of an inch thick. Fig. 1 is
thirteen inches long, with notches about one-sixteenth of an inch
deep cut in its upper side, two of the notches near together and at
one end, and another four and a half inches from the first two. The
latter notch should be cut a little sloping across the stick.


Figure 1 represents a top view and the piece next below it is a side
view of the piece of wood as it should be made, and end fartherest
from the notches being trimmed to a point to hold the bait. This
constitutes the trigger.

The lever is shown in Fig. 2, the cut above giving a side view and
that below it a bottom view of this part of the trap. The piece of
wood needed for it is six and one-half inches long, one inch wide at
one end, and tapering down to three-sixteenths of an inch at the
other; a notch is cut across the under side one and a half inches
from the wide end. Level off the upper side of the narrow end to
about one-half the original thickness. If the flat stone to be used
is a heavy one, the notch must not be more than 1 inch from the end;
otherwise the leverage on the notches would be greater than is
desirable, tending to hold the parts together too rigidly.

The upright post, Fig. 3, is seven inches long, slightly forked at
the bottom (to make it stand firm and prevent twisting round when in
use), the upper end beveled from the front backwards at an angle of
about 45 degrees. The front of the upright is the side that would
face a person standing exactly opposite the trap when set.

On the right side cut a long notch, half the width of the wood in
depth, commencing the hollow slope of the notch one inch from the
lower end and making the square shoulder just three inches from the
bottom of the post; level the shoulder off from the front so as to
leave only a narrow edge. Place the post upright, (see Fig. 4) it's
forked end standing on a small piece of wood or flat stone, to
prevent it from sinking into the ground; bait the pointed end of the
trigger and hold it up horizontally with its middle notch, catching
behind the shoulder of the notch in the upright post; then place the
beveled end of the lever in the notch at the end of trigger, the
notch in the lever laying on the edge of the top of the upright post.

Lastly, make the stone rest on the top of the lever, arranging the
stone so that the bait will be near the lower end of the stone.

It is a good plan to hollow out the ground somewhat under where the
stone falls, to allow a space for the pieces of the Fig. 4 to lay
without danger of being broken. The bait, also, should be something
that will flatten easily and not hard enough to tilt the stone up
after it has fallen.

The trouble with most deadfalls usually set, is in the weight of
stone. When you get one heavy enough it will not trip easy when game
takes hold, and oftentimes break head piece where the head takes hold
of standard. The head piece from stone down to where standard sets in
notch should be fully 2 1/4 inches, so when stone starts to fall it
throws triggers out from under; otherwise, stone will catch and break

  [Illustration: THE INVITATION--SKUNK.]

Young trappers when you are making triggers preparatory for your
sets, tie each pair together separately as they are finished, then
when you are ready to set there are no misfits. Now we are up to the
bait stick. It should under no condition, be more than 9 inches long,
and oftentimes shorter will answer better. A slotted notch on one end
the width of triggers, and sharpened at the other, is all that is
necessary. Then the bait will lay on the foundation of trap within 5
or 6 inches of front of the trap. Don't put bait away back under
stone. You loose all the force when it falls.

In building foundations for traps the utmost caution should be
exercised in getting them good and solid. (See how well you can do it
instead of how quick.) Begin in the fall before the trapping season
is on, locate and build your trap, and be sure the top stone is
plenty heavy, raise it up and let it fall several times. If it comes
together with the bang of a wolf trap and will pinch a hair, so much
the better.

To illustrate: While squirrel shooting one morning in the fall of
1905, I was standing on a ledge where I used to trap for coons, and I
happened to remember of a trap underneath me. I just thought I would
see if it was there. I went down and kicked away the drifted leaves
and found it intact and ready for business. When I lifted it up the
foundation was as solid as the day I put it there, and that was in
the fall of 1890, and I want to say right here that it took all the
strength I had to set it.


Trappers, if you will try one or more of the above described
deadfalls for those skunk, I think you can tie their pelts about your
neck for protection cold mornings, and none will be the wiser as far
as smell goes, provided, however, you put some obstruction to the
right and left of the trap so it will compel his skunkship to enter
direct in front, and then carefully adjust the length of bait stick
so stone will crush him about the heart. I have taken quite a lot of
skunk and very few ever scented where the head and heart were under
stone, writes an Ohio trapper.

I always had a preference for above described traps for many reasons,
yet if you live where there is no stone, you are not in it.

  * * *

Deadfalls come in handy sometimes and with no cost whatever--unless
the cost is building them. Will send two illustrations of the stone
deadfalls writes a successful deadfall trapper. Will say that there
is a right and a wrong way to set the deadfall. If you want to make
sure of your catch never set your deadfall flat with short triggers
shaped like figure 4, but make long triggers instead and have the
weight or choker sit almost upright and draw the top trigger close to
the one that it rests on at the bottom. In this way you have a trap
that will be very easy to touch off.

  [Illustration: RIGHT AND WRONG WAY.]

The way that some set their deadfalls the animal can remove bait
without being caught, simply because they draw the bait out from
under the trap and stand far enough away to be out of danger of being
caught. I can take a two hundred pound weight and set a deadfall that
will catch a small field mouse but it would not do to have them knock
that easy for you will get game that is too small to handle.



I will give a description of a bear pen, writes a Canadian trapper.
The bottom of the floor is made first of two logs about (1-1) nine
feet long and nine or ten inches thick. They are placed side by side
as shown in cut and two other logs (2-2) nine feet long and eighteen
inches in thickness are placed one on each side of the bottom logs.
Then cut two short logs about twelve or fourteen inches thick and
long enough to reach across the pen and extend about six inches over
each side. Notch these down, as shown in cut (3-3) so that the top of
the logs are about three or four inches higher than the sides.

Cut notches in the top of these logs so that when logs 4-4 will lay
solid on top of the other side logs. If they don't lie solid enough
bore holes in the ends of the short logs and drive wooden pins in the
holes. The top of the short logs and the inside of the long logs
should be flattened and a short block (5) fitted loosely in one end,
and the other end should be closed by a block driven down in notches
cut in the sides of 4-4, as shown in small cut. The top of the block
(6) should be about five inches lower than the top of the side logs.
Notches are next cut in the side logs, directly over this block, so
that when the roller (7) is in place, it will fit down snugly on this
block. The roller is about five inches thick and should turn easily
in the notches.

  [Illustration: BEAR PEN TRAP.]

The next step is to make the lid. It should be made of two logs of
such a size that they will entirely close the top of the trap. They
are notches down and pinned onto the roller and block 5. These logs
should project over rear end of pen about four or five feet. Before
pinning these logs in places, a hole should be made for the bait
stick, half of it being cut in each log. Pins should be driven in the
side logs, over the roller, so that the bear cannot raise the lid.
Two crotches are then cut and set up at the sides of the trap and
spiked solid to the sides. A short pole is then placed in the
crotches and a long pole, running lengthwise of the trap, is fastened
to the lid at one end with wire and the other ends fits into a notch
in the bait stick when the trap is set. The bait stick has a spike
driven thru it on the inside of the trap to keep it from pulling

To set the trap, pile stones on the end of the lid until it will tip
easily, then put a pole thru under lid and go inside and fasten the
bait on the bait stick. Then pull the long pole down and hook it into
the notch in the bait stick. Remove the stones from lid and take the
pole from under it and the trap is set and ready for the first bear
that comes along. If the lid does not seem heavy enough, pile stone
on it. A trap of this kind may be made by two men in half a day and
will be good for a number of years.

  * * *

The log trap is one of the very best methods of taking the bear, it
beats the deadfall all to nothing, says an old and experienced Ohio
bear trapper. It is a sure shot every time; I have never known it to
fail except where the pen had stood for a number of years and become
rotten. In a case of that kind the bear would have no difficulty in
gnawing his way out. This trap or pen, as I shall call it, has been
time tried and bear tested. My father used to make these traps and
many is the time when a boy I have ridden on horseback upon a narrow
path, cut for the purpose of letting a horse pass along and on
nearing the pen heard the growling and tearing around of the bear in
the pen and the hair on my head would almost crowd my hat off.

Go about building it this way: First select the spot where you have
reason to believe that bear inhabit; now having made your selection,
get a level place and on this spot lay a course of logs with the top
flattened off; this may be eight by three feet. This being done,
commence to lay up the house of logs six to eight inches in diameter.
Three sides of each log should be flattened; these will be the top,
bottom and the inside. It is necessary this be done, for they must
fit closely together in order that the bear cannot get a starting
place to gnaw. This is why I suggest that the inside of the log be
flattened. It is a well-known fact that you can put any gnawing
animal into a square box and he cannot gnaw out for he cannot get the
starting point.

Lay a short log first, then a long one, notching each corner as you
go so the logs will fit closely together. Now for the front corners;
drive a flattened stake into the ground, letting the flattened side
come against the logs. Now as you proceed to lay on a course of logs
pin thru the stake into each log. Now go on up until you get a height
of about four feet, then lay on, for the top, a course of short logs
commencing at the back end.

Between the second and third logs cut out a little notch and flatten
the under side of this log around the notch; this is to receive the
trigger, which is made of a small pole about three inches thick. Put
this into the hole and let it come down within ten inches of the
floor. Then cut a notch in the side facing the front of the pen and
so it will fit up against the under side of the leg with the notch
in; now you may make a notch in the trigger about six inches above
the top of the pen and on the same side of the trigger that the first
notch was made. Now the trigger is ready except adjusting the bait.

  [Illustration: BEAR ENTERING PEN.]

Next lay a binder on top of the pen and upon either end of the short
course of logs; pin the binders at either end so the bear cannot
raise the top off the pen. You may also lay on three or four logs to
weight it down and make it doubly sure. You may pin the first short
top log in front to the side logs to keep the front of the pen from
spreading. Now we have the body of the pen complete.

The door is the next thing in order. The first or bottom log ought to
be twelve feet long, but it is not necessary for the balance of them
to be that length; flatten the top and bottom of each log so they
will lie tight together, also flatten off the inside of the door so
it will work smoothly against the end of the pen. Lay the logs of the
door onto the first or long log, putting a pin in each end of the
logs as you lay them on. Go on this way until you have enough to
reach the height of the pen and fully cover the opening.

Another way of fastening the door together is to get the logs all
ready, then lay them upon the ground and pin two pieces across the
door. Either way will do. Now the door being in readiness, put it in
its place and drive two stakes in the ground to keep the animal from
shoving the door away. If these do not appear to be solid enough to
support the door against an onslaught, you may cut a notch in the
outside of the stake near the top; get a pole eight feet in length,
sharpen the ends, letting one end come in the notch of the stake and
the other into the ground; this will hold the door perfectly solid.
Cut a slight notch in the top log of the door for the end of the
spindle and the next move is to raise the door to the proper height.
Set a stud under the door to keep it from falling. Get your spindle
ready, flatten the top of either end a little, then cut a stanchion
just the right length to set under the spindle on the first top log.

Tie your bait onto the lower end of the trigger, one man going inside
to put the trigger in the proper place. To facilitate the springing
of the trap, lay a small round stick in the upper notch of the
trigger, letting the end of the spindle come up under the stick and
as the bear gets hold of the meat on the bottom of the trigger the
least pull will roll the trigger from the end of the spindle.
However, it will spring very easily as the stanchion under the end of
the spindle is so near the end.

This kind of trap can be made by two men in one day or less, and it
often happens that the hunter and trapper wants to set a trap for
bear a long way from any settlement or road. The carrying of a fifty
pound bear trap a distance of twenty or thirty miles is no little
task. Then again, this trap costs nothing but a little time and the
trapper's whole life is given over to time. One man can make this
trap alone and set it, but it is better for two to work together in
this work, for in case the door should spring upon him while he was
inside he would be forever lost. I have caught two wildcats at once
in this pen, but it is not to be expected that you will get more than
one bear or other large animal at a time.



In describing a portable deadfall, an Indiana trapper writes as
follows: We took a piece of sawed stuff 2 x 4, say 5 feet long, then
another the same size and length. For upright pieces to hold the main
pieces so one would fall square on the other, we used sawed stuff 1 x
3, two pieces set straight up and down at each end, or about far
enough to leave the back end stick out three inches, and front end or
end where the triggers set, 6 inches.

Nail these 1 x 3 two on each end as directed above, nail to lower
piece 2 x 4 only, then at back end bore a hole through the two
uprights and also upper 2 x 4, or the piece that falls, put a bolt
through, or a wood pin if the hole in the 2 x 4 is larger than those
through the uprights; then you are ready to raise it up and let it
"drop" to see whether it works smoothly or not.

Better nail a block 2 x 4 between the tops of the uprights to keep
them from spreading apart, then it is ready all except the triggers
and string for them to run against. It is portable, you can pick it
up and move it anywhere, only a stake or two needed driven down on
each side. Where string is shown as tied to little bush should be a
small stake.

  [Illustration: DEN SET DEADFALL.]

  * * *


I send a drawing of a trap called the "Shear Trap," writes an Eastern
trapper. This is not a new trap, neither is it my own invention. I
have used this style and can recommend it to be O. K., cheap, easy
made, light to move, will last and will catch most any small animal.

This trap is made as follows: Take 4 strips of board 4 feet 4 inches
long, by 3 inches wide. Bore one inch hole two inches from end of all
four of them. Now make two rounds about 13 inches long and put two of
the boards on each side of the round. At the other end put the two
middle boards on the other round (see illustration). Make one other
round fifteen inches long, same size as the others. Put the two
outside boards on it, forming two separate frames at the other
end--so the two inside boards can turn on the round to which they are

  [Illustration: PORTABLE WOODEN TRAP.]

Take two strips three inches wide, two feet and six inches long. Bore
one inch hole two inches from the top end and put round broom stick
thru it seventeen inches long. Fasten all the rounds by wedges or
small wooden pins. Stand the two strips last mentioned on the outside
of the frame at the end they separate and make them fast so as to
stand perpendicular. For bait stick take lathe or one-half inch board
one inch wide. Bore hole as shown in cut (figure 6) cut notch (figure
2). For trigger any stick 18 inches long, 5/8 inch thick will do: tie
string 2 inches from end and tie other end at figure 1, pass the
short end under round from the outside (figure 3) and catch in notch
in bait lath (figure 2), the other end bait at figure 4. Put weight
at figure 5. Cover trap at figure 6 to keep animal from going in from
back up to figure 7. For bait I use fresh fish, muskrat, bird, etc.,
and scent with honey or blood.

  * * *


I promised in my last letter to describe the barrel trap, says a
Northwestern trapper, which I use for capturing rats. Other trappers
may have used this trap for years, but I only mean this for the young
trappers who know nothing about this trap.

Take any kind of an old barrel made of hard wood (a salt barrel makes
a good one), and fix a board on one side of the top with a hinge. Let
one end of the barrel project out directly over the barrel to within
about 5 or 6 inches of the other side. Arrange it so that the end of
the board not over the barrel is a little the heaviest so when the
rat tilts down the end in the barrel it will come back to place

Place a bit of parsnip apple, or celery near the end of the board
over the barrel so when the rat reaches his front feet over on the
board it will tilt down and let him in the barrel to stay. Bury the
barrel near a river or creek to within about 2 or 3 inches of top of
barrel, so there will be from 6 inches to 1 foot of water in the
barrel. If there is much water in the barrel the most of the rats
will be dead when you visit your traps. Several may be captured in
one night in this kind of a trap.

  * * *


Saw a small log in blocks from 4 to 6 inches long. Bore an inch hole
through the center. Take nails and drive them so that they form a
"muzzle" in one end and have the nails very sharp. Fasten your blocks
with a piece of wire and put it in the runway or on a log or anywhere
that a coon will see it, and nine out of ten will put his foot into
it. I bait with honey. I caught 75 or 80 coons this season with
"block" snares.

I put stoppers or false bottoms in one end of the block, piece of
corn cob or anything will do. Cut the foot off to get the animal out
of this snare.

  [Illustration: THE BLOCK TRAP.]

The illustration shows a square block with the hole bored in the
side. This is done to better show how it should be done, although
when set, the hole should be up. Bait with a piece of fresh rabbit,
frog, or anything that coon are fond of.

Instead of the blocks the auger hole can be bored in a log or root of
a tree if a suitable one can be found where coon frequent.

  * * *


The best material is spruce, but if spruce is not to be had, hard
wood is better than soft. Follow directions closely; never use old,
dozy wood; good, sound, straight-grained material is the cheapest to
use. A good way to get your material is to go to the saw-mill, select
good straight-grained 2 x 4 studding, have them ripped lengthwise
again, making four strips out of the original 2 x 4, each strip being
two inches wide by one inch thick; then have them cut in the
lengths--two standards (A), 14 inches long; (B) two side pieces, 2
1/2 feet long; (C) two drop bars, 2 1/2 feet. Bore a hole in each
piece with a one inch bit, two inches from the end of the piece to
the center of the hole. (D) A piece of lath about 8 inches long, with
one end beveled off to fit in slot of E; tie a piece of small rope,
about a foot long, two inches from the other end. (E) A piece of
lath, 2 1/2 feet long, with a slot cut crosswise two inches from one
end and a piece of rope tied two inch from the other end, about a
foot long.

  [Illustration: THE NOX-EM-ALL DEADFALL.]

If you get your material at the mill have four rounds (F) turned out
of oak or maple (must be hard wood), three of them being 12 inches
long, one being 8 inches long, 7/8 inch in diameter. They must be
some smaller than the hole, as they swell when wet.

Your trap is now ready to put together. Take one 12 inch round slip
on the side pieces B first, then the two standards A; next place a 12
inch round in the holes in the top of the standards. The front end of
the trap is done, except fastening the standards to the round and the
setting apparatus to the top round of standards. Next take the
remaining 12 inch round slip on the drop bars C first, then the side
pieces B outside; next place the short round G in the front end of
drop bar C.

You can drive nails thru the outside pieces and the round. Where
there are two pieces on a side on one round, fasten thru the outside
piece, always leaving the inside piece loose so that it will turn on
the round. A much better way, altho it is more work, is to bore a
hole thru the side piece and round and drive in a hard wood plug.
This is the best way, because if any part of the trap breaks you can
knock out the plug much easier than to pull out a nail. The holes
should be bored with a 1/4 inch bit.

Tie the rope attached to E to the rear round, leaving two inches
play, between E and the round. Tie the rope attached to D to the top
round of standards, leaving two inches play at top and two inches
between lower end of D and bottom round.

First place a stone on the drop bar, weighing 20 pounds. Then raise
the drop bar high enough so that you can place the short lath under
the round of drop so that the weight rests on the rope. These is the
secret of setting. The pressure on top forces the lower end to fly
up. Now place the beveled end of the short lath in the slot of the
long lath and the trap is set.

Hang your bait from the drop bars, under the weight, about eight
inches from the front. The game will then come to the side of the
trap. Never tie bait on the lath.

Set the trap in front of the hole, block up by setting up two stones
V shape on the upper side of hole, forcing game thru the trap to
enter or come out.



During my trapping experiences I remember of visiting an old
trapper's deadfalls and at that time I had never seen or used any
trigger other than the figure 4, but this trapper used the prop and
spindle. I looked at several of his traps; in fact, went considerably
out of my way to look at some eight or ten of them. Two of these
contained game--a skunk and opossum. I had often heard of these
triggers, but was skeptical about them being much good. I now saw
that these triggers were all right and on visiting my traps again set
a few of them with these triggers. Since that time I have never used
the figure 4.

The prop and spindle I know will look to many too hard to "go off,"
but they can be set so that they will go off fairly easy. It is not
necessary that the trap be set so that the least touch will make it
go off. It is best to have the trap set so that mice nibbling at bait
will not throw it.

Trappers who have never used the deadfall will, no doubt, find that
after they use them a short time and become better acquainted with
their construction and operation that they will catch more game than
at first. This is only natural as all must learn from experience
largely, whether at trapping or anything else.

The prop is a straight piece about seven inches long and about
one-half inch in diameter. The spindle, or long trigger, is about the
size of the prop, but should be sixteen or eighteen inches long with
a prong cut off within two inches of the end to help hold the bait on
more securely. See cut elsewhere showing these triggers and of the
figure likewise. These illustrations will give a better idea of how
the triggers are made to those who have never seen or used them.

  * * *

I saw some time ago where a brother wanted to know how to make a
deadfall, writes an Illinois trapper. I send a picture of one that I
think is far ahead of any that I have seen in the H-T-T yet, that is,
the triggers. I have seen deadfall triggers that would catch and not
fall when the bait was pulled at, but there is no catch to these.

Trigger No. 1 is stub driven in the ground with a notch cut in the
upper end for end of bait. Stick No. 5 to fit in No. 3 is another
stub driven in ground for bait stick No. 5 to rest on top. No. 3 is a
stick, one end laid on top of bait stick outside of stub No. 2, the
other end on top of lower pole. No. 4 is the prop stick. One end is
set on stick No. 3 about one inch inside the lower pole the other end
underneath the upper pole. The X represents the bait. When the bait
stick is pulled out of notch in stub No. 1, the upper pole comes down
and has got your animal.


If you find your bait is caught between the poles you may know the
bait is not back in the box far enough. If you find the trap down and
bait and bait stick gone, you may know that the bait is too far back.
The animal took his whole body in before he pulled the bait.

I have tried to describe this trap for the ones that don't know how
to make a deadfall.

Somebody wants to know how to make a good deadfall. Well the plans
published in back numbers of H-T-T are all right except the figure
four sticks and bait. Make your sticks like this, and you will be
pleased with the way they work, says an experienced trapper.

  [Illustration: TRIP TRIGGERS.]

No. 2 flat view. The trigger sets in the slanting cut in side of No.
2. Don't put bait on trigger. Put it in back end of pen and pin it to
the ground. Turn trigger across opening slanted slightly in, then you
get them by neck or shoulders. The longer the slot in the trigger,
the harder they will trip. Set as straight up as possible.

Make 1 and 2 of hard wood. Saw a block 3 1/2 inches long and split
into 3/4 inch squares. Make cuts square with a saw and split out the
part you don't want. Bevel ends with a hatchet. Make trigger of green
hard wood stick with bark on.

  * * *

I cut a tree from 8 to 10 inches in diameter and cut off 7 feet long.
Split the piece open and bury one piece on a level with the
earth--split side up--and place the other half on top. I hew off any
bumps and make a perfect fit. Then I cut out bushes the size of my
arm, and drive them down on each side of my fall and leave them an
inch or two higher than I expect my top log to be when set. Be sure
to begin far enough at the back to force the animals to go in at the
front. I use the figure four triggers and tie the bait to the long

Another trigger is made as follows: Cut two forks and lay pole across
just in front of the log on top of the forks. Take another piece of
timber about four feet long, tie a string to each end and let one end
have a trigger and the other be tied on your top log. I drive a nail
in the top log and tie the string to it, and I call this my Fly
trigger. It acts as a lever, for when the fly comes up over the piece
on the forks and the trigger goes over half way back by the side of
the log, and the trigger about a foot long--straight and thin, and
sticks under the log--have a short trigger tied to the fly pole and a
forked sapling the size of your finger and long enough to stick in
the ground to hold the trigger. Put the bait on long trigger and
catch the short trigger through the fork and let it catch the long
trigger. This trigger leaves the fall open in front and is the one I

Take two small logs about 10 or 12 feet long, large enough to break a
coon's back, and make a pen about midway, or one-third from front
end, to put the bait in, and the trigger. Two foot boards, or
saplings will do, and make the pen so that the animal will have to
step across the bottom log and take the bait, and be sure to set so
that the top log will fall across the mink, coon, skunk, or opossum,
as they are the animals I kill with the fall. Use fly pole triggers
as above, for this deadfall.

I make these falls near the runways of the animals I wish to catch.
When I am sure to stay at a place, I build my falls in the summer and
by the trapping time they look old and natural.



The deadfall shown here can be used at dens or in paths where animals
travel frequently. When set across the entrance of dens it will catch
an animal going in without bait. That is, it will catch an animal
going in, as the triggers are so constructed that they can only be
pushed towards the bait as shown in illustration. If the trap is to
be used at dens without bait the regular figure 4 triggers had best
be used, but set extending along the log instead of back into the
pen. An animal in entering will strike the trigger and down comes the

The trap shown here and the triggers are made as follows: Cut two
logs and lay one on the ground. This log should be at least four feet
long. Place it firmly on the ground with flat side up. This log need
not be as flat as shown in illustration, but should be flattened
slightly. Drive two stakes three feet long within a foot or so of one
end (8) and (9).

Now come to the other end and drive two more (10) and (11). Stake ten
which is directly opposite from (11) you want to be careful not to
split, as one of the triggers rests on it. The fall is now placed in
position, that is the upper log. The end of this is split and a stake
driven in the ground so that the fall will not turn between the
stakes but is held firmly. See that the fall will work easily up and
down; that the stakes are not so close together that the fall binds,
yet it wants to fit snugly.


Cut trip stick (4) and trigger (3), lifting the fall up with one knee
and place end of (3) onto (4) slightly, so that a small pressure on
(4) will spring the trap. After you have the trap set spring it to
see that it works all right. If the trap works all right and you are
setting across the entrance of a den the pen of course is not wanted.
If you are setting in paths or near dens, drive stakes in a
semi-circle as shown in illustration, but the stakes should stick
above the ground some eighteen inches or about as high as the "fall"
pole when set. It is a good plan to throw leaves or grass on the

A small notch (5) should be cut in upright post (8) for trip stick to
fit in to hold it up to that end. Be careful, however, that this
notch is not cut too deep. The bait (6) is placed back in the pen and
fastened with wire or a stake driven thru it into the ground. The
open space over bait is now covered over and the entire trap can be
made to not look so suspicious by cutting brush and throwing over it
excepting in front of the bait. An animal in going in for bait steps
on or pushes the long stick (marked 4 at one end and 5 at the other)
off of (3) and is usually caught.

  * * *

This is another good trip trigger deadfall. A short log should be
laid on the ground and the two stakes driven opposite each other as
in the trap just described. These stakes are not shown, as a better
view of the triggers and workings of the trap can be had by omitting

In the illustration the "fall" pole is weighted, but it is best to
have the pole heavy enough and not weighted. The stakes on which the
upper or cross piece is nailed should be from twelve to eighteen
inches apart. The cross piece need not be heavy, yet should be strong
so that the weight of the fall will not bend it.

  [Illustration: TRIP TRIGGER FALL.]

The pens or enclosures used cannot be covered, as this would
interfere with the workings of the triggers. If the pen is sixteen
inches or higher very few animals will climb over to get bait, but
will go in where the trapper wants and if properly made and set are
apt to catch the game.

  * * *

Along in the late seventies or beginning of the eighties, when a good
sized muskrat would bring about as much as a common prime mink, and a
steel trap was quite a prize to be in possession of, I had perhaps
two dozen traps, some old fashioned, that would be quite a curiosity
at present, besides a few Newhouse No. 0 and 1.

That was in Ontario, Canada. Skunk, mink, coon, muskrat and fox were
the furs in that part, Waterloo, Brant and Oxford Counties. Later I
used this deadfall with success in Iowa and other sections, so that
there is no doubt but that it will be found a good fur catcher in
most localities.

I used to catch a great deal with deadfalls,--picture of which I here
enclose. I have seen nearly all the different makes of deadfalls and
have tried some of them, but the one I here send you the picture of,
which can be easily understood, is the one I have had the most
success with. I believe they are the best, and an animal can't get at
the bait without striking it off, besides some animals will examine a
bait without touching it. This deadfall, if they are curious enough
just to enter inside and put their foot on the trigger stick, they
are yours if the trap is set properly.

  [Illustration: CANADIAN TRIP FALL.]

This style of deadfall can be successfully, used over skunk holes,
game runways and there you do away with the bait yard. This style of
trap is much easier made, as it requires very little skill. Just a
few straight sticks about the size round of a cane, a little twine.
You can catch most any animal from a weasel to a raccoon. The
illustration shows the "fall" or upper pole weighted. In our
experience we have found it more satisfactory to have the "fall"
heavy enough to kill the animal without the weight. It is often hard
for the trapper to find a pole of the right size and weight for the
"fall" and the next best way is to place additional weight as shown.

  * * *

First make a pen in the form of a wigwam, driving stakes well into
the ground to keep the animal away from the rear of the trap. It
should be open on one side. Place a short log in front of the opening
and at both ends of this drive stakes to hold it in place and for the
long log to work up and down in. The top log should be six or eight
feet long, according to size of animal you aim to use trap for, and
about the same size as the bottom log. Cut a forked stick about 12
inches long for the bait stick, notching one end and tapering the
other as shown in Fig. No. 2. A stick 24 inches long should then be
cut and flattened at both ends.

  [Illustration: THE TURN TRIGGER.]

To set the trap, raise one end of the upper log and stick one end of
the flattened stick under it, resting it upon the top of the stake on
the outside of the log. Place the bait stick, point downward, inside
the pen upon a chip of wood or rock to keep it from sinking into the
ground and set flat stick in the notch. When the animal pulls at the
bait it turns the bait stake and throws the cross piece out of the
notch of the bait stick and let the top log fall.



In explaining size pen some make them 2 feet long, writes a New York
trapper, while one 12 inches long (as used on this trail), is
sufficient; not only that, but it is superior for the following
reasons: A 2 foot pen would let the animal pass inside and beyond the
drop when sprung, unless the animal stepped on the treddle.

The Indians' trap is made by cutting a sapling 3 or 4 inches in
diameter off the butt end cut a piece 2 foot and place on the ground
for a bed piece; drive four stakes, two on either side of bed piece,
leaving a space between of 12 inches, using the balance of pole for
the drop to play between the stakes. For balance of pen a few stakes,
bark or slabs cut from a tree.

For a spindle, cut from a hemlock, spruce or other dry limb a piece
eight or ten inches long, sharpen one end to a point, the other end
flatten a trifle for an inch or two on the underside, so that when
placed on the bed piece it will lay steady. Now with a sharp knife,
commence 1/2 inch back, and round off top side of spindle on which to
place a standard four inches in length, cut from same material as

In setting, place the bait on the spindle so as to leave a space of
only six inches from bait to the standard; now take spindle in left
hand, standard in right hand, kneel down, raise the drop placing one
knee under it to hold it up the right height. Lay spindle onto center
of bed piece and place the standard on top of spindle, letting drop
rest on top of standard so as to keep the pieces in position. Now by
moving the standard out or in on the spindle, the spring of the trap
can be so gauged that it will set safely for weeks or months, sprung
easily, and hold anything from a weasel to a raccoon.

It is sure, as it kills immediately, giving them no chance to escape
by twisting or gnawing off their legs. It is not so quickly made and
set as a steel trap, and never gives "Sneakums" inducements to
approach it for future use. After the trap is set, place bark or
something suitable between the stakes above the drop and cover top of
pen so as to compel the animal to enter in front, and at the same
time ward off snow and sleet from interfering with its workings.
Weight the drop pole on either side of pen by placing on chunks of
wood or stone.

  * * *

There are several ways to set deadfalls, as different triggers are
used. The manner in constructing these traps is varied somewhat in
the different sections. The illustration shown here is of a trap that
is used to a considerable extent in all parts of America. The trapper
for marten in the far North, the opossum trapper of West Virginia,
Kentucky and Missouri, the skunk trapper of the New England States
and the mink trapper of the west have all used this trap with
success. It is for the hundreds of young and inexperienced trappers
that the deadfall is shown here.

  [Illustration: TWO PIECE TRIGGER TRAP.]

The trigger as shown, that is the one extending back into the pen, is
all one piece. This trigger is usually cut from a bush and often
requires some time to find one suited. If you intend to build a few
traps of this kind it is well to be on the lookout in advance for
suitable triggers. This trap is set with only two triggers, the one
with the straight part extending back into the pen and the prong on
which the "fall" is resting and the other trigger is driven into the
ground so that it is only a little higher than the under log of the

This trap can be set with the triggers known as figure 4 if
preferred. Coon, mink, opossum, skunk and marten are usually not hard
to catch in deadfalls, although now and then an animal for some
reason is extremely hard to catch.

In building deadfalls it is best to split the end of the pole
fartherest from the pen or bait and drive the stake there. This will
hold the upper or "fall" pole solid, so that there will be no danger
of its turning of its own weight and falling.

  * * *

I enclose plan and description of a deadfall I have used with success
on skunk and other fur animals, writes a trapper from New York State.
Never having seen anything like it described I thought it might be a
help to those using these traps. During November and December, 1897,
I caught 11 skunk in one deadfall like this one.

  [Illustration: STRING AND TRIGGER TRAP.]

Stakes are driven in the ground to form the pen same as on figure 4
or other deadfall, but no brush or sticks should be laid on top of
pen as it would prevent the vertical stick from lifting up, A small
log or board with stones on may be laid on pole for more weight. The
pole may be from ten to fifteen feet long and about three inches in
diameter. AA 18 inches or more out of the ground and one-half inch in
diameter; B 20 inches, X one-half inch; C about 16 X 3/4 inches; D 20
X 3/4 inches; E same as AA only not crotch; F 1/4 inch. Rope long
enough to go around pole and over B and tie around C. D should be
from 1 to 3 inches above ground according to what is being trapped.
Bait should be laid on ground or fastened to stake near middle of



If you have determined upon your trapping ground it is best to build
your traps in advance of the trapping season, so that they will
become old and weather beaten. This, of course, is not necessary as
traps are often built, baited and on the return of the trapper the
following morning game securely caught. While the above is often
true, deadfalls can and should be built in advance of the trapping
season. There are at least two reasons for this: first, it allows the
traps to become weather beaten and game is not so suspicious; second,
all the trapper has to do when the trapping season arrives is to
visit and set his traps.

Some object to deadfalls on the ground that they require lots of work
to build and that a trapper's time is valuable at this season of the
year. Such may be true of the amateur, but the professional trapper
usually has much idle time in August, September and early October,
when he is glad to look out for trapping grounds for the coming
winter. It is a day's work for one man to build from eight to twelve
deadfalls, depending of course upon how convenient he finds the pole
to make the fall. The other material is usually not hard to find or
make. That is stakes, chunks and rocks. If you only build six or
eight traps and construct them right they are worth twice as many
poorly built. When properly built they will last for years, requiring
but little mending each fall at the opening of the trapping season.
Taken all in all we do not know that a certain number of deadfalls
take up any more time than an equal number of steel traps. In fact
more deadfalls can be set in a day, after they are built, than steel

When it is stated that you will perhaps do as well at home as
elsewhere, this, of course, depends upon where you are located, how
many trappers there are in your section, etc. If there is but little
to be caught then you had best go elsewhere, but trappers have been
known in thickly settled sections to catch from $50 to $300 worth of
fur in a season, lasting from November 1 to March 15. Of course in
the far north, where trapping can be carried on from October 15 to
June 15, or eight months, the catch is much larger, and as the
animals caught are more valuable, the catch of a single trapper is
sometimes as high as $600 to $1,000.

The trapper who stays near home has the advantage of knowing the
territory. If he was to visit a strange section, altho a good
trapping locality, he would not do so well as if he were acquainted
with the locality and knew the locations of the best dens. Then again
his expenses are heavier if he goes into a strange section, yet If
there is but little game near your home, and you are going to make a
business of trapping, go and look up a good trapping section. Under
these conditions it is best for two or three to go together. There is
no necessity of carrying but little baggage other than your gun, for
at the season of the year that prospecting is done there is but
little difficulty in killing enough game to live on.

After you have once found a good trapping section, and built your
cabin, deadfalls and snares, you can go there fall after fall with
your line of steel traps, resetting your deadfalls with but little
repairs for years. You will also become better acquainted with the
territory each season and will make larger catches. Do not think that
you have caught all the game the first season, for generally upon
your return the next fall you will find signs of game as numerous as

In locating new trapping grounds, if two or three are together and it
is a busy time in September, let one of the party go in advance
prospecting. This will save much valuable time when you make the
start for the fall and winter trapping campaign. It will pay you to
know where you are going before you make the final start.



In determining where to set deadfalls or locate snares if you will
keep in mind the dens where each winter you have caught fur-bearing
animals, or their tracks have often been seen in the snow or mud, and
build your traps and construct snares at or near such places you are
pretty sure to not go astray.

The location, of course, depends largely upon what kind of game you
are trying to catch. If mink or coon, there is no better place than
along streams where there are dens. If there should be a small branch
leading off from the main stream, at the mouth of this is often an
excellent place to locate a trap. It should not be too near the water
as a rise would damage or perhaps float off at least part of your
trap. Sometimes farther up this small stream there are bluffs and
rocks; at such places, if there are dens, is just the place to build
deadfalls. If there are several dens, and the bluff extends along
several hundred feet, it perhaps will pay to build two or three traps

In cleared fields, woods or thickets skunk are found anywhere that
there are dens you can construct a trap. While, as a rule, the thinly
settled districts are the best trapping sections, yet skunk, muskrat
and red fox are found in greatest numbers in settled sections, while
opossum, raccoon and mink are found in fairly well settled districts.
It is therefore not necessary that you should go to the wilderness to
make fairly good catches. While the trapper in the wilderness has the
advantage of no one disturbing his deadfalls, yet he has
disadvantages. The trapper who means business need not go hundreds of
miles away, but if he will build a line of traps along some stream
where there are mink, or in the thickets and along rocky buffs for
skunk, raccoon, opossum, etc., he will be surprised at results.

In some sections land owners may not allow trapping, but usually they
will, especially if you take the pains to ask before you commence
building or setting your traps.

The fact that you have your traps scattered over a large territory
gives you better chances of making good catches, for most animals
travel quite a distance from night to night. You may have traps at
some stream that is eight or ten miles from your home and a mink may
come along that does most of its seeking for food miles farther up or
down this stream, nearer, perhaps, where it was raised, and you get
him. Thus you see by going only ten miles away you may catch animals
that really live twenty. Just how far a mink may travel up or down a
creek or river I do not know, but it is certain that they go many
miles and traps may make a catch of a mink that lives many, many
miles away. Of course along small streams they may not go so far.
Often, however, they continue their travels from one stream to

If you are an expert trapper you can very easily detect, if you are
in a good locality, especially if in the fall--September and October.
These are the two months when the most prospecting is done. Going
along streams at this season tracks are plainly seen and in the
forests at dens signs, such as hair, bones and dung. Often you will
come upon signs where some bird has been devoured and you know that
some animal has been in the locality. Old trappers readily detect all
these signs and new ones can learn by experience.

It is not absolutely necessary to build traps at or near dens. Some
years ago, I remember when doing considerable trapping in Southern
Ohio, I came upon a deadfall built near a small stream that ran thru
a woods. I looked around for dens, but saw none. Why this trap had
been built there was a puzzle to me. One day I happened upon the
owner of the trap and asked him what he expected to catch in that

In reply he pointed to a bush some rods distant in which hung the
carcasses of two opossum and one coon--caught in the trap. While
there were no dens near, it was a favorite place for animals to cross
or else they came there for water. This same trap was the means of
this old trapper taking two or three animals each winter, while other
traps at dens near caught less. There is much in knowing where to set
traps, but keep your eyes open for signs and you will learn where to
build traps and set snares sooner or later.

  * * *

Yes, boys, the deadfall is a splendid trap if made right, says an
Arkansas trapper. I will tell you how to make one that will catch
every mink and coon that runs the creek. Take a pole four feet long
and four inches through, next get a log six inches through and eight
feet long. Use eight stakes and two switches. Use the figure four
trigger, but the notches are cut different. Both of the notches are
cut on the top side of the long trigger and a notch cut in the
upright trigger and down the long trigger. The paddle part is sixteen
inches long. When the trap is set the paddle wants to be level and
one-half inch higher than small logs, then your two switches comes in
this to keep the paddle from hitting the bark on side logs.

  [Illustration: TRAIL OR DEN TRAP.]

Next is where to set. If along a creek, find a place where the water
is within three feet of the bank, set your trap up and down the creek
at edge of water, dam up from back end of paddle to bank with brush
or briars, then from front end into water three or four feet. You
will find the upright trigger has to be a good deal longer than the
notch trigger. You can use round triggers if you want to by nailing a
shingle five inches wide on the long trigger stick. Be sure and have
your paddle muddy if setting along creeks. You want to put a little
stone back beyond paddle, so when the trap falls it will not burst
paddle. Now you have a trap easy made and sure to catch any animal
that steps on paddle, which is five inches wide and sixteen long. You
don't need any bait, but you can use bait by throwing it under
paddle. This trap is hard to beat for small game.

  * * *

I make a deadfall that sets without bait, writes an Illinois trapper.
It is made like any other only different triggers. Set it across
path, over or in front of den or remove a rail and set it in the
corner of a fence where game goes thru. Use thread in dry weather,
fine wire for wet. Two logs for bottom is better than one, make
triggers high enough to suit the animal you wish to catch; if he hits
the string or wire he is yours.



Bait is sometimes difficult to get, but usually the trapper will get
enough with his gun and steel traps to keep his line of deadfalls
well baited, without difficulty. In trapping, all animals caught
after the pelt is taken off should be hung up so that other animals
cannot reach them, but will visit your traps.

There are two objects in hanging up bait: First, other animals coming
along are apt to eat them and not visit your deadfall; second, should
you run out of bait you can cut a piece from the animal hanging up,
bait your trap and go to the next. While bait of this kind is not
recommended, sometimes it comes to this or nothing. Fresh bait is
what is wanted at all times, yet the trapper cannot always get what
he knows is best and consequently must do the next best. Perhaps by
his next visit he has bait in abundance.

The writer has known trappers to use a piece of skunk, opossum,
muskrat, coon, etc., that had been caught some weeks before and hung
up in a sapling where it froze and on the next visit the trap baited
with skunk contained a skunk. This shows that when an animal is very
hungry it is not very particular what it eats.

In the early fall while food of all kinds is easy to find, any animal
is harder to entice to bait and at this season bait should be fresh
if the trapper expects to make profitable catches. The trapper should
always carry a gun, pistol or good revolver with which to help kill
game to supply bait for his traps. Steel traps set along the line
will also help to keep the supply of bait up at all times. If you are
successful in securing a great deal of bait, more than will be used
on that round, you will find it an excellent idea to leave some at
certain places where it can be secured on the next round should it be

Bait may consist of any tough bit of meat, but rabbit is an excellent
bait. Quail or almost any bird is good. Chicken also makes good bait.
Squirrel is all right. For mink, fish is excellent. Mice, frogs and
muskrat can all be used. Remember that the fresher and bloodier the
bait the better--animals will scent it much quicker. They are also
fonder of fresh bait than that which has been killed for days or
weeks as the case may be.

In baiting it is important to see that the bait is on secure. It is a
good idea to tie it on with strong thread or small cord. The amount
of bait to put on a single trap is not so important. Most trappers
use a rabbit in baiting ten traps or less; the head makes bait for
one trap, each foreleg another, the back about three and each hind
leg one, altho each hind leg can be cut to make bait for two traps.

The spindle or trigger is run thru the bait and should be fastened on
trigger near the end as shown in illustration elsewhere. The securing
of bait on the trigger is an important thing. If it is not on
securely and the trap is hard to get off, the animal may devour bait
and the trap not fall. If the trigger is only sticking loosely in the
bait, it is easy for an animal to steal the bait. Usually the
observing trapper knows these things and are on their guard, but for
those who are using deadfalls this season for the first time, more
explicit explanation is necessary.

The bait should extend back into the pen about a foot and the pen
should be so constructed that the bait touches nowhere only on the
trigger. The animal in eating the bait usually stands with its fore
feet upon the under pole, or just over it. In this condition it can
readily be seen, that if its gnawing at the bait twists the trigger
off the upright prop what the consequences will be--the animal will
be caught across the back. An animal standing in the position just
described will naturally pull down somewhat on the bait and in its
eagerness to get the bait pulls and twists the spindle, or trigger,
off the upright prop.

It is a good idea to try the trigger. That is, place the triggers
under the fall just the same as you would if they were baited and you
were going to set the trap. By doing this you will find out about how
you want to set the triggers so that they will work properly. There
is much in being acquainted with the working of traps. Study them
carefully and you will soon learn to be a successful trapper.



If you find that your traps are "down" each time you visit them and
the bait gone, the pen is perhaps too large and the animal, if a
small one like a mink, is going inside to devour bait. Animals
usually stand with fore feet upon lower log and reach into pen after
bait, but at times they have been known to go inside. In this case
the animal is not in danger as when the "fall" comes down the animal
is not under it. If such is the case, that is, the animal entirely
inside the pen, the trigger will be caught under the fall and the
trapper knows that whatever is molesting his trap is doing so from
the inside. All that the trapper has to do is lessen the size of the
pen. This can be done by placing small stones or chunks on the inside
of the pen or by driving stakes on the inside. By doing this the
outside appearance is not changed.

If, on the other hand, the trigger, that is the long one or spindle,
not the short prop, is pulled out each time and often carried several
feet, the trap is set too hard to "fall" and should be set easier. If
the prop, or upright piece, is cut square across the top, take your
knife and round off the edges so that the trigger will slip off
easier. Again the pen may be torn down and the animal takes bait from
the rear. Here is where it pays to build traps substantial. In such
cases rebuild the pen, making it stronger. Should it be torn down on
subsequent visits, the game is perhaps a fox. Of course if the pen
has been torn down by some trapper or passing hunter, you can readily
detect same by the manner in which it has been done. If the trapper
is satisfied that it is an animal that is doing the mischief, he
wants to plan carefully, and if he is an expert trapper, a steel trap
or two will come into good play and the animal will be caught in the
steel trap. The pen will not be torn down again.

When traps are down note carefully the condition that they are in;
see that the "fall" fits on the lower pole closely, and by the way,
when building this is an important thing to notice--that the fall
fits snugly on the lower or under pole.

If a snare or spring pole is up but nothing caught, simply reset.
Should many snares be up "thrown" and no catches, the trouble should
be located at once. The noose is probably too large or small or made
of limber or too stiff string or wire, or maybe it is too securely
fastened. When resetting, note all these carefully and experience
will sooner or later enable you to set just right to make a catch. If
a certain snare is bothered continually, it will do no harm to set a
steel trap where you think chances best of taking the animal. It
matters but little to the trapper how the animal is caught, as it is
his pelt that is wanted.

In using the trip triggers with or without bait, the trapper should
fasten the bait by either driving a peg through it and into the
ground or tieing.

In most instances the animal will throw the trap before getting to
the bait, but it is well to take this precaution in case, for any
reason, the animal should not step on the trip trigger at first.

Sometimes a small animal may jump over the trip trigger in order to
get the bait and in its endeavor to get bait will strike the trigger.
The animal does not know that the trigger is dangerous, but now and
then either steps or jumps over. Generally they step on the trigger,
for if the trapper is "onto his job" the bait and trigger are so
placed that the animal thinks the trip trigger is the place to put
his foot.

In using without bait the trigger is so arranged that the animal rubs
or steps on the trigger when entering or leaving the pen or if at a
trail or runway when passing along.



While the deadfall is good for most animals, there is no one trap
that fills all requirements and in all places. Some animals may be
shy of deadfalls that can be taken in spring poles, snares and steel
traps. This trap is easily and cheaply constructed. It should be made
near dens or where animals travel frequently.

If a small bush is not growing handy, cut one. Drive a stake deeply
in the ground, pull it out, stick the larger end of the bush cut into
it. The explanation of this trap is as follows: 1, bait stick; 2,
trigger; 3, noose made of wire or stout cord; 4, stay wire made of
wire or cord; 5, bait; 6, spring pole.

By noting carefully the illustration this trap can be built easily.
The size of the bush or spring pole, of course, depends upon what
sized animals you are trapping. This trap will take small game such
as mink, opossum, skunk, etc., or can be made large and strong enough
to catch mountain lion or black bear.

  * * *

  [Illustration: SPRING POLE AND SNARE.]

The snare is made by building a round fence in a place where there is
plenty of small trees. Select two about four inches apart for noose
and snare entrance, and another long springy one for spring pole 6 or
7 feet long, bend this down and trim it. Have a noose made of limber
wire or strong string and a cross piece. Having cut notches in the
sides of the trees for the same to fit, have it to spring easy. For
snaring rabbits have the fence quite high.

  [Illustration: SMALL GAME SNARE.]

Observe the above description and you can readily make.  No. 1 is the
noose, No. 2 is spring pole, No. 3 fence, No. 4 bait. This snare
already explained can be made any time in the year while the dead
fall can only be constructed when the ground isn't frozen.

  * * *

The snares can be either made of twine or wire. Many fox and lynx
snare trappers in the North use small brass wire.

  [Illustration: WIRE AND TWINE SNARE.]

Snares work well in cold weather and if properly constructed are
pretty sure catchers.

A--Spring pole.


C--Two small nails driven in tree. (Three inch nail head, end down,
with snare looped at each end with a foot of slack between. As soon
as the D--three inch nail is pulled down, it will slip past the nail
at top end, when spring pole will instantly take up the slack, also
the fox, to staple and does its work.)

E--Slack line or wire.

F--Loop should be 7 inches in diameter and bottom of loop ten inches
from the ground.

Remarks--The nails should be driven above staple so it will pull
straight down to release the snare fastening.

  [Illustration: SNARE LOOP.]

A great many foxes have been caught in this country by the plan of
the drawing outlined, writes J. C. Hunter, of Canada. A--the snare,
should be made of rabbit wire, four or five strand twisted together.
Should be long enough to make a loop about seven inches in diameter
when set. Bottom side of snare should be about six inches from the
ground. E--is a little stick, sharp at one end and split at the
other, to stick in the ground and slip bottom of snare in split end,
to hold snare steady.

B--is catch to hold down spring pole. C--is stake. D--is spring pole.
Some bend down a sapling for a spring pole, but we think the best way
is to cut and trim up a small pole about ten feet long; fasten the
big end under a root and bend it down over a crotch, stake or small
tree. Snare should be set on a summer sheep path, where it goes
through the bushes.

  [Illustration: PATH SET SNARE.]

Stake might be driven down a foot or more back from the path, where a
branch of an evergreen bush would hang over it so as to hide it and a
string long enough from stake or trigger to snare to rest over path.

  * * *

The setting of a snare is done thus: A good sound tamarac or other
pole fifteen or twenty feet long is used for the tossing. The butt
end of this must be five or six inches in diameter and the small end
about three inches. A tree with a crotch in it is then selected to
balance the pole upon. Failing to find such a tree in the proper
place, an artificial fork is made by crossing two stout young birch
or tamarac, firmly planted in the ground, and the two upper points
tied together six or ten inches from the top. The balancing or
tossing pole is lodged in this fork so that the part towards the butt
would out-weigh a bear of two or three hundred pounds suspended from
the small end.

Next a stout little birch or spruce is selected and a section of
three or four cut off. From this all the branches are removed, except
one, the small end is pointed and driven deep into the ground a few
inches at one side of the bear road. The snare is made of three
twisted strands of eighteen thread cod line and is firmly tied to the
tossing pole. A few dried branches are stuck in the ground each side
of the path, the pole is depressed so the very end is caught under
the twig on the stick driven in the ground for that purpose and the
noose is stiffened by rubbing balsam branches which leave enough gum
to make it hold its shape.

The noose is kept in the proper position (the bottom being about
sixteen inches above the road and the diameter being about eleven
inches) by blades of dry grass looped to it and the ends let into a
gash on sticks at each side, put there for that purpose. No green
branches are used in the hedge about the road because this would make
the bear suspicious. The snare is now complete and the hunter stands
back and examines it critically. His last act is to rub some beaver
castor on the trunk of some tree standing near the road, ten or
twelve feet from the snare. This is done on another tree at the same
distance on the opposite side of the snare.

Bears are attracted by the smell of the castor and rub themselves
against the tree in the same way as a dog rubs on carrion. When
finished rubbing on one tree he scents the other and in going to get
at the fresh one tries to pass thru the snare. He feels the noose
tighten about his neck and struggles; this pulls the end of the
tossing pole from under the branch trigger, up goes the pole and old
Bruin with it.

  * * *

My way, according to a Massachusetts trapper, to trap skunk without
scenting, and it is successful, is to snare them. Use a spring pole
and if one does not grow handy, cut one and set it up as firmly as
possible about four or five feet from the burrow and to one side.
Probably the ground is frozen and you will have to brace it up with
logs or stones or perhaps lash it to a stump or root. When the top of
the pole is bent down it should be caught under the end of a log or
rock on the opposite side of the hole so that it can easily be
dislodged by an animal, either going in or out of the burrow.

The snare or noose is attached to the spring pole directly over the
center of the burrows and the bottom of the noose should be an inch
and a half or two inches from the ground to allow the animal's feet
to pass under it and his little pointed nose to go thru the center.
Set the noose as closely over the entrance of the hole as possible
and one or two carefully arranged twigs will keep it in place.

Strong twine is better for the noose than large cord as the skunk is
less liable to notice it.  When a skunk passes in or out of the hole
the noose becomes tightened about his neck and a slight pull releases
the spring pole which soon strangles him. While this may seem an
elaborate description of so simple a trap, still, like any other
trap, if set in a careless, half-hearted manner, it will meet with
indifferent success and, tho simple the snare, with a little thought
and ingenuity can be applied in almost any situation for the capture
of small game.



Many of the boys, writes an Indiana trapper, have come forth with
their particular snares and methods of making same, all of which I
believe are good, but most of them require to be baited, which is one
bad feature as applied to certain districts, for such has been my
experience that in many localities it is utterly impossible to get
animals to take bait. This snare may be used as a blind or set with
bait as your trapping grounds, or rather the animals, may require.

It is very inexpensive and so simple any boy can make it. First get a
strip of iron one-eighth inch thick, three-eighths or one-half wide.
Cut it in nine inch lengths and bend in the shape of Fig. 2, having
drilled a one-fourth inch hole in either end. Next secure some light
sheet iron, or heavy tin, cut in pieces 2 3/4 inches by 5 3/4 inches
for the pan, and drill a one-fourth inch hole in center of same as
shown in Fig. 3. It is now a very easy matter to rivet the pan or
Fig. 3 to Fig. 2. This done, take some 20 penny spikes and cut off
the heads as per Fig. 1.

  [Illustration: TRIP PAN OR PLATE.]

Now brass, or preferably copper wire, can be had on spools at most
any hardware store, which is used for the loops, as it is so pliable
yet sufficiently strong to hold any of the small fur bearers, as it
is made in many sizes. Use the brass or copper wire only for the
loops, as ordinary stove pipe wire is just the article for the
finishing of the snare.

For a blind set to be placed in the run of the animals, make a double
loop, that is, two loops for each snare. Now, take a bunch of these
with you and find the runs or follow the ravines and creeks where
they feed. If you can find a tree in a favorable spot on their runs,
take one of your headless spikes and drive in the base of the tree a
few inches from the ground.

Now take No. 2 with the pan riveted thereon and hook bent and over
spike, driving spike into tree until pan is level and until there is
just room enough to hook loop of wire over head of spike. (See
illustration.) Dig out under pan so same can fall when stepped upon.
Then secure a rock or chunk of sufficient weight and fasten to other
end of wire. Throw this over limb of tree and hook loop over head of
a spike, having first put No. 2 in place.

Put one loop on one side of the pan and the other loop on the other
side, so that an animal coming either way will step upon the pan to
his sorrow. This done, drive a staple in tree over wire running from
spike to limb, which will prevent the animal being pulled over the
limb and escaping.

  [Illustration: DOUBLE TRAIL SET.]

Having covered everything up with the natural surroundings and left
no signs, you may claim the first furrier that happens that way and
he will be waiting for you. This snare may also be used with the
ordinary spring pole by driving spike in a stake, then the stake in
the ground, in which case it is best to make the usual V-shaped pen
with stakes or stones, covering same over at top and setting so the
pan will be right in the mouth of the pen and the single loop just
between pan and bait. In this way they tread upon the pan just before
they reach the bait.

You find this snare easily thrown. They will not cost you over three
cents a piece, and any man can easily carry one hundred of them and
not be half loaded.

  * * *

In many ways the snare is splendid for lynx. Here in Western Ontario,
says a well known trapper, where the lynx seldom take bait, they may
be taken quite easily in snares set on snowshoe trails. Fig. 1 shows
a wire snare set on such a trail. I go about it in the following
manner: Having found a suitable place along the edge of some swamp or
alder thicket, I cut a spruce or balsam tree, about ten or twelve
feet long, and throw it across the trail. I press the tree down until
the stem of the tree is about twenty inches above the trail, and make
an opening in the trail by cutting a few of the limbs away on the
under side of the trail. Then I set a couple of dead stakes on each
side so as to leave the opening about ten inches wide and hang my
snare between these stakes and directly under the stem of the tree.

  [Illustration: TRAIL SET SNARES.]

The snare should be about nine inches in diameter and should be
fastened securely to the tree. It should also be fastened lightly to
the stakes on either side, so it will not spring out of shape. The
best way is to make a little split in the side of each stake, and
fasten the snare with a very small twig stuck in the split stake.

I make the snares of rabbit wire, about four or five plies thick,
twisted. Some trappers prefer to use a cord. The dark colored codfish
line is best, and it is best to use a spring pole snare, and Fig. 3
shows the method of tieing and fastening to the stakes. It will be
seen that when the lynx passes his head through the snare he only
needs to give a slight pull to open the slip knot and release the
spring pole.

To prevent the rabbits from biting a cord snare, rub it well with the
dropping of the lynx or fox and also, never use any green wood other
than spruce or balsam, as any fresh green wood is sure to attract the
rabbits. You may also put a small piece of beaver castor along the
trail on each side of the snare, and you will be more sure of the
lynx, as beaver castor is very attractive to these big cats.

  * * *

We will now proceed to make another spring pole snare, altho the one
described before is more practical, says a Colorado trapper. It is
made like the preceding one except the trigger, etc. This one is to
be used on a runway without any bait whatever. The illustration shows
the trigger as it appears in the runway. No. 1 is the trip stick; No.
2, the stay crotch; No. 3, the trigger; No. 4, the loop; No. 5, the
pathway, and No. G, the stay wire.

  [Illustration: PATH SNARE.]

The animal in coming on down the path (5) passes its body or neck
thru the loop made of stout soft insulated wire (4); in passing it
steps on the trip stick (1) which settles with the animal's weight,
releasing the trigger (3) which in turn releases the stay wire (6)
and jerks the loop (4) around the animal; the spring pole onto which
the stay-wire it attached lifts your game up into the air, choking it
to death and placing it out of reach of other animals that would
otherwise destroy your fur. A small notch cut in the stay crotch
where the end of the trip stick rests will insure the trigger to be
released. This will hold the trip stick firm at the end, making it
move only at the end where the animal steps.



This snare I consider good for such animals as will take bait. (See
page 141.)

No. 1 and 2, headless wire nails driven horizontally into tree about
ten inches from ground.

No. 3, a No. 10 or 12 wire nail with head used to catch under No. 1
and 2.

No. 4, bait stick or trigger. No. 3 passes through No. 4.

No. 5, bait, frog tied to bottom of No. 4.

No. 6's snare, fastened to No. 3 by two half hitches, then fastened
to No. 3 by two half hitches, then fastened to seven or spring pole.

No. 7, spring pole.

Nos. 8, 8, small stakes driven in ground to form a pen.

Nos. 9, 9, two small twigs split at top to hold snare loop in place.

Nos. 1 and 2 should be about 4 inches apart.

No. 3 goes through a gimlet hole in No. 4. About three inches from
the top use any small round stick from 1/2 to 1 inch in thickness,
not necessary to flatten No. 4 as in illustration. Use it natural
bark on. From hole in No. 4 to bottom end should be about 7 inches.


Snare loop about 6 inches in front of bait, held in place by 9, 9,
slightly leaning against 8,8.

It can be plainly seen that if an animal takes No. 5 in its jaws and
tries to remove it, it moves out the bottom of No. 4, moving forward
No. 3 until, flip! up she goes. The top of No. 4 must be tight
against the tree when set.

  [Illustration: LIFTING POLE SNARE.]

No. 3 should just catch under No. 1 and 2, then it takes but 1/2 inch
to pull on bait to spring it. Bait with frogs, fish, tainted meat for
skunk, and pieces of rabbit, muskrat or bird, for mink.

The lynx, like the wolverine, is not afraid of a snowshoe track, and
will follow a line of rabbit snare for long distances, and when he
sees a bunny hanging up, he, without the least compunction,
appropriates it to himself, by right of discovery.

When he does this once he will come again and the Indian hunter,
knowing this, at once sets a snare for "Mister Cat." Sometimes when
the thief has left a portion of the rabbit, a branch house is built
up against the trunk of some tree, the remains of the rabbit placed
at the back and the snare set at the doorway.

  [Illustration: BAIT SET SNARE.]

A stout birch stick is cut about three or four feet long and lodged
on a forked stick at each side of the door and about two and a half
feet high. To the middle of this crossbar the end of the twine is
tied; No. 9 Holland is generally used, or No. 6 thread cod line. This
is gummed by rubbing balsam branches up and down the twine in the
same way as the bear snare. The noose is held in shape in one or two
places at each side by a light strand of wood or blade of grass and a
couple of small dry sticks are placed upright under the snare to
prevent the cat from passing beneath.

The loop is almost as large as for a bear and as high from the
ground, if not higher. The lynx has long legs and carries his head
straight in front of him and takes a snare by pushing thru it, or by
a rush, never crouching and then springing.

As the resort of rabbits is a young growth of country, there are also
lynx in the greatest numbers. Rabbits and partridges are their
principal food. When the Indian enters a new piece of country to set
rabbit snares to support his wife and family and sees signs of lynx,
he combines the two kinds of hunting and as he goes along, once in a
while, he bars his snowshoe track by placing a lynx snare in the way.
The lynx are fond of the smell of castor, as indeed are most animals,
so the hunter rubs a little on a tree at each side of his snare for
the cat to rub against when he comes that way.

The snare is never tied to anything immovable, as they are very
powerful and would break the twine. As soon as the noose tightens the
cross piece comes readily away from the supports and the cat springs
to one side. The stick, however, either knocks him a blow or gets
tangled in his legs. This he tries several times, but with the same
result, that bothersome stick is always hanging to his neck. About
the last effort he makes to free himself is to ascend a tree. This,
however, is nearly always fatal, for after he gets up a certain
distance this trouble some stick is sure to get fast back of some
limb. The lynx by this time, having become a pretty cross cat, makes
matters worse and the hunter finds him hanging dead, at times twenty
or thirty feet from the earth.



This trap is put to various uses. The beginner usually has one or two
with which he traps for rabbits. In fact they are great for that for
the animal is not injured, which is often the case when shot or
caught by dogs. Rabbits caught in box traps are therefore the best
for eating.

The trapper who wants to secure fur-bearers alive to sell to parks,
menageries or to start a "fur ranch" usually uses the box trap.

The size for rabbits is about 30 inches long by 5 wide and 6 high.
The boards can be of any kind but pine, poplar, etc., being light is
much used. The boards need only be a half inch thick. To make a trap
you will need four pieces 30 inches long; two of these for the sides
should be six inches wide; the other two for top and bottom should be
5 inches. These pieces should be nailed on the top and bottom of the
sides. This will make the inside of the trap six inches high by four
wide. It is best to have your trap narrow so that the animal you are
trapping cannot turn in the trap.

In one end of the trap wires or small iron rods should be placed (see
illustration). These should be about an inch apart. In the other end
the door is constructed. This can be made out of wire also. The
bottom of door should strike about eight inches inside. It will be
seen that an animal pushing against the door, from the outside,
raises it, but once on the inside the more they push against it the
tighter it becomes.

  [Illustration: THE BOX TRAP.]

The trap can be set at holes where game is known to be, or can be
placed where game frequents and baited. If bait is used place a
little prop under the door and place bait back in trap a foot or
more. Bait to use of course depending upon what you are trapping.

The trap described is about right size for the common rabbit and
mink. For skunk and opossum a trap a little larger will be required.

For mink and other animals that are gnawers the traps should be
visited daily for they may gnaw and escape. If impossible to visit
traps daily they should be lined with tin.

In many places these traps, with a door at each end, are used for
catching muskrat. They are set in their dens under water and either
tied or weighted down. The rats are caught either going in or

In making these traps the beginner is apt to make them too wide--so
the animal can turn within. This is a mistake for it gives the game
more freedom and room to gnaw to liberty.

The animal simply goes in and is there until the trapper comes along
and removes the game. Skunk can be drowned when caught in this trap
without scenting if the trapper knows how to go about it.

The trap should be handled carefully. Take to water sufficiently deep
to cover the trap and slowly sink and then either weight the trap or
hold down until the animal is drowned.

The box trap is a humane trap if visited daily. They are rather
unhandy to carry about and few trappers want many, yet under certain
conditions they are very useful. They can be made during idle time.
For mink and other shy animals they should be handled as little as
possible. They should be made of old boards or at least avoid all
appearances of newness.

  * * *

Some sections saplings to make deadfalls cannot be had and for the
benefit of such, a wooden trap, three feet long and six inches wide
and deep, is a good manner to take muskrat, writes a Western trapper.
The boards can be cut out of any old lumber. In each end is a wire
door, hung on hinges at the top. These doors rise at the slightest
push on the outside, but will not open from the inside. The trap is
sunk in the water at the entrance to the den and is fastened there. A
muskrat in entering or leaving the den is sure to enter the trap.

The animal, of course, could gnaw out, but will drown before it has
time to accomplish this. Several rats are often taken, where they are
numerous, in a night. Traps of this kind can be used to best
advantage in lakes and ponds or where the height of the stream does
not vary much. If they are set along creeks and rivers you want to
fasten them securely or take them up before heavy rains, as they are
almost sure to be washed away.

  * * *

I see in a recent number where George Walker wanted some one to tell
through H-T-T how to make box trap to catch muskrat. Here is a good

First take four boards 36 inches long, nail together leaving both
ends open. Next a small gate, consisting of a square piece of wood
supplied with a few stiff wires is then pivoted inside of each
opening so as to work freely and fall easily when raised. The bait is
fastened inside the center of the box. The animal in quest of the
bait finds an easy entrance, as the wires lift at slight pressure,
but the exit after the gate has closed is so difficult that escape is
almost beyond question. To insure further strength it is advisable to
connect the lower ends of the wires by a cross piece of fine wire
twisted about each. If you have good luck you can catch two and three
in this trap each night. Set in two or three inches of water where
muskrat frequents, or set in skunk dens.



This trap is used with great success for catching wild turkey,
pheasants, quail and other feathered game. In some states the law
forbids the use of this and similar traps.

The trap is built like an ordinary rail pen. In fact, some use small
rails when constructing this trap for wild turkey, while others build
of small straight poles. The pen is usually six feet or more square
and about three high. The "coop" is stronger if drawn in from bottom
to top (see illustration). The top must be covered and weighted.

A ditch is now dug about a foot wide. This ditch should begin about
three feet from coop and lead within. Corn or other grain is
scattered on the outside and in the trench leading into the coop. On
the inside considerable should be scattered in the leaves and small
but short twigs.

The turkeys once on the inside will eat the grain and scratch among
the leaves which generally partly fill the trench and as the birds
are usually looking up, when not eating, they do not think of the
trench thru which they entered.

The same trap will catch quail, but of course is built much smaller.
About three feet square being large enough and a foot high is
sufficient.  Some have built quail coops out of cornstalks and report

  [Illustration: THE COOP TRAP.]

The quail coop should have the ditch leading to the inside the same
as described for turkey. Of course the ditch should be much
smaller--only large enough for one bird to enter at a time. On the
inside of coop it is a good idea to lay a board six inches or wider
over the ditch. The bait should be wheat or other small grain or
seeds that the birds like. Scatter thinly on the outside and in the
trench, but on the inside place more liberally. Chaff or leaves
should be placed on the inside so that the birds in scratching for
the grain will partly fill up the hole thru which they came.

Quail, turkey and other feathered game once on the inside and after
eating the bait never think of going down into the ditch and out, but
walk round and round the coop looking thru the chinks and trying to

The largest catches are made by baiting where the birds frequent for
some days or even weeks before trying to make a catch. It is well to
make the coops long in advance so that the birds will be accustomed
to them, especially wild turkey.

These traps are some times used with the figure 4 trigger, but when
thus set seldom more than one or two birds are caught at a time.



This method of catching game and fur bearing animals is not much
used, as the labor in connection with making a pit trap is
considerable. The method, however, is an excellent one for taking
some of the larger animals, especially when they are wanted for
parks, menageries, etc., uninjured.

The pit should be several feet deep and bait placed as shown. Another
way is to cover the top with rotten limbs, leaves, etc., and place
the bait on this. The animal in trying to secure the bait breaks

The dirt from the pit should be removed in baskets. Catches are made
by digging a pit across animal runways or trails. When the ground is
not frozen or during rainy weather it is well to place a board
several inches wide at top. The animal in going over its usual trail
steps upon the frail covering and falls thru.

While the pit trap is mostly used for capturing large game, it can be
used to advantage for taking many of the smaller fur bearers.

Where muskrat are numerous, instead of digging a pit, secure a box
about three feet deep. The width and length make no difference. Place
a few flat rocks in the bottom and place in the water where rats
frequent. Make the box solid. The box must be water tight. The weight
should bring the top of box to within a few inches of water. A couple
of boards or chunks should be so placed that the rats will climb up
them and to the box along the edge of which the bait is placed.

  [Illustration: THE PIT TRAP.]

The pit trap can be used where skunk and other animals frequent. Bait
the place for some days before the pit is dug.

If the pit is to be used without bait, then find the runways of the
animal and dig the pit. While some animals may not be shy, if a
little fresh dirt is lying around, yet it is best to be very careful
and carry all earth taken out of pit a few rods to one side. Pits of
this kind should be several feet deep.

The success the hunter or trapper has in using this method will
depend largely upon his knowledge of the game he is after. Unless the
animal or animals are wanted alive, the work to make a pit is too
great and the chances of a catch never certain. This way is not
practicable under ordinary circumstances, yet where the game is
wanted alive and sound, is worth trying.



In some localities there are not many dens and trappers make use of
about all when trapping that section, but in other parts of the
country dens are so numerous that to place a trap at each is
impossible. In states where groundhogs (woodchucks), are numerous
there are often a hundred or more dens along a single bluff or rocky
bank. To have enough steel traps to set one at each is something few
trappers do, yet two or three deadfalls in connection with a line of
steel traps is all that is necessary and the trapper can move on to
the next bluff where dens are numerous and set another trap or two.
As a rule it is where there are many dens, close together, that
deadfalls make the best catches, yet when you find a good den
anywhere, set or construct a deadfall.

All trappers have noticed when tracking animals in the snow that they
visit nearly every den along their route, not always going in but
just sticking their head in. When thus investigating, the animal
smells the bait and is hungry (as nine times out of ten the animal is
hunting something to eat), and if your trap is set properly you are
reasonably sure to make a catch.

In the North, Canada, Alaska and some of the states on the Canadian
border where trapping is made a business, it is no uncommon thing for
one man to have as many as one hundred and fifty traps and some have
out twice that many, or three hundred. Marten trappers in the
trackless forests often blaze out a route fifty or more miles in
length, building shelters along the line where nights are spent.

The trapper who only spends a few hours each day at trapping and
lives in thickly settled districts will find that it is hard for him
to locate suitable places perhaps for more than thirty to fifty
traps, yet if these will be looked at properly during the season the
catch will justify the time and labor in building.

The number of deadfalls and snares that each trapper should construct
in his section must largely be determined by himself, depending upon
how large a territory he has to trap over without running into other
trappers' grounds. It will be little use to build traps where there
are other trappers as trouble will occur, traps may be torn to
pieces, etc. Yet there are many good places to build traps in your
immediate locality no doubt. If there are any creeks near and woods
along the banks you will find good places at both creek and in the
woods. If in sections where there is no forest, like some western
states, deadfalls trapping may be difficult from the fact that there
is nothing to build them with.

In such cases the portable traps, (described elsewhere) in this book,
can probably be used to advantage, but best of all in such places is
steel traps.

The number of deadfalls and snares that a trapper can attend to is
large, from the fact that the game is killed and as the weather is
usually cold, the traps need not be looked at only about twice each

In the North, many trappers have such long lines that they do not get
over them only once a week. The trouble where deadfalls are only
looked at once in seven days is that other animals are apt to find
the game and may injure the fur, or even destroy the pelt.

Where snares with spring pole attachment are used, and the weather is
cold, the trapper need not make the rounds only once a week, as all
animals will be suspended in the air and out of the reach of flesh

South of 40 degrees where the weather is not severe, it is policy to
look at traps at least twice a week, and in the extreme South the
trapper should make his rounds every day.

It will thus be seen that a trapper in the North can attend more
deadfalls and snares than one in the South or even in the Central
States. No trapper should have more traps or longer lines than he can
properly attend to. The fur bearing animals are none too numerous
without having them caught and their pelts and fur spoiled before the
arrival of the trapper.



The proper season to begin trapping is when cold weather comes. The
old saying that fur is good any month that has an "r" in does not
hold good except in the North. Even there September is too early to
begin, yet muskrat and skunk are worth something as well as other
furs. In the spring April is the last month with an "r." In most
sections muskrat, bear, beaver, badger and otter are good all thru
April, but other animals began shedding weeks before.

The rule for trappers to follow is to put off trapping in the fall
until nights are frosty and the ground freezes.

Generally speaking in Canada and the more Northern States trappers
can begin about November 1 and should cease March 1, with the
exception of water animals, bear and badger, which may be trapped a
month later. In the Central and Southern States trappers should not
begin so early and should leave off in the spring from one to four
weeks sooner--depending upon how far South they are located.

At the interior Hudson Bay posts, where their word is law, October 25
is appointed to begin and May 25th to quit hunting and trapping with
the exception of bear, which are considered prime up to June 10.
Remember that the above dates are for the interior or Northern H. B.
Posts, which are located hundreds of miles north of the boundary
between the United States and Canada.

The skunk is the first animal to become prime, then the coon, marten,
fisher, mink and fox, but the latter does not become strictly prime
until after a few days of snow, says an old Maine trapper. Rats and
beaver are late in priming up as well as otter and mink, and tho the
mink is not strictly a land animal, it becomes prime about with the
later land animals. The bear, which is strictly a land animal, is not
in good fur until snow comes and not strictly prime until February or

  * * *

With the first frosts and cool days many trappers begin setting and
baiting their traps. That it is easier to catch certain kinds of
fur-bearing animals early in the season is known to most trappers and
for this reason trapping in most localities is done too early in the

Some years ago when trapping was done even earlier than now, we
examined mink skins that were classed as No. 4 and worth 10 or 15
cents, that, had they been allowed to live a few weeks longer, their
hides would have been No. 1 and worth, according to locality, from
$1.50 to $3.50 each. This early trapping is a loss to the trapper if
they will only pause and think. There are only so many animals in a
locality to be caught each winter and why catch them before their fur
is prime?

In the latitude of Southern Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, etc., skunk
caught in the month of October are graded back from one to three
grades (and even sometimes into trash), where if they were not caught
until November 15th how different would be the classification. The
same is true of opossum, mink, muskrat, coon, fox, etc.

  * * *

Skunk are one of the animals that become prime first each fall. The
date that they become prime depends much on the weather. Fifteen
years ago, when trapping in Southern Ohio, the writer has sold skunk
at winter prices caught as early as October 16, while other seasons
those caught the 7th of November, or three weeks later, blued and
were graded back. Am glad to say that years ago I learned not to put
out traps until November.

That the weather has much to do with the priming of furs and pelts
there is no question. If the fall is colder than usual the furs will
become prime sooner, while if the freezing weather is later the pelts
will be later in "priming up."

In the sections where weasel turn white (then called ermine by many),
trappers have a good guide. When they become white they are prime and
so are most other land animals. In fact, some are fairly good a week
or two before.

When a pelt is put on the stretcher and becomes blue in a few days it
is far from prime and will grade no better than No. 2. If the pelt
turns black the chances are that the pelt will grade  No. 3 or 4, In
the case of mink, when dark spots only appear on the pelt, it is not
quite prime.

Trappers and hunters should remember that no pelt is prime or No. 1
when it turns the least blue. Opossum skins seldom turn blue even if
caught early--most other skins do.



The reason that many trappers make small catches, each season, is
from the fact that they spend only an hour or so each day at
trapping, while at most other business the party devotes the entire
day. The trapper who looks out his grounds some weeks in advance of
the trapping season is not idling his time away. He should also have
a line of traps constructed in advance of the trapping season.

There is a fascination connected with trapping that fills one with a
strange feeling when all alone constructing deadfalls and snares or
on the rounds to see what success has been yours. I have often
visited traps of old trappers, where from two to five carcasses were
hanging from a nearby sapling.

There are several instances on record where two animals have been
caught in one deadfall at the same time. A well-known trapper of Ohio
claims to have caught three skunk in one deadfall at one time a few
years since. Whether such is an actual fact or not we are unable to
say. The cases on record where two animals have been caught are so
well substantiated that there is little room left to doubt the truth
of same.

The catching of two animals at the same time is not such an
extraordinary occurrence as many, at first, think. If two animals
should come along at the same time and, smelling the bait, begin a
meal, the result is easily seen.

While trapping with deadfalls is a humane way of catching fur-bearing
animals, another thing in their favor is that skunk are usually
killed without "perfuming" themselves, trap and trapper as well.
Then, again, if once caught, there is no getting away.

Trappers in the forest always have the necessary tools, axe or heavy
hatchet and knife, with which to build a deadfall, while their steel
traps may all be exhausted and none set within miles. A deadfall is
built and perhaps on the trapper's return an animal is lying dead
between the poles.

  * * *

During extreme cold weather there is but little use to look at traps
set for skunk, raccoon, etc., as they do not travel. Before a thaw or
warm spell the entire line should be gone over and all old bait
removed and replaced with fresh bait.

Like many another trapper you will visit your traps time after time
without catching much if any fur, yet if your traps are properly
constructed and are spread over a large area, you will catch
considerable fur during the season.

Deadfalls and snares can be strung out for miles and while they
should be looked at every other day, in good trapping weather, they
can be neglected, if the trapper cannot get around more than twice a
week, without game escaping. If you visit your traps frequently there
will be no loss from injury to fur. While it is true, should a small
animal be caught in a heavy trap, one built for much larger game, it
will be considerably flattened out, yet the skin or fur is not
damaged. There is nothing to damage your catch, in most sections,
unless you do not visit your traps often enough in warm weather, when
they may be faintly tainted. Most trapping is done, however, in cool
weather, but occasionally there may come a warm spell when skins
become tainted. If found in such condition skin as soon as possible
and place upon boards or stretchers.

Another thing greatly to the advantage of the deadfall and snare
trapper is the fact that a trapper never knows just when he will be
able to visit his traps again; the unexpected often happens, and
should it be a day or so longer than expected the deadfall or snare
still securely holds the game.

As all experienced trappers know, the first night of a cold spell is
a splendid one for animals to travel (they seem forewarned about the
weather) and a good catch is the result. If the trapper is a "weather
prophet" his traps are all freshly baited and in order, for this is
the time that game is on the move--often looking up new and warm dens
and generally hungry. Should the next days be cold and stormy the
trapper should get over the line as promptly as possible. After once
getting over the line after the "cold spell," it is not so important
that traps be looked at for some days again.

The successful trapper will always be on the watch of the weather.
Some animals, it is true, travel during the coldest weather, but
there are many that do not, so that the trapper who sees that his
deadfalls are freshly baited when the signs point to warmer weather.
After days and nights of severe weather most animals are hungry and
when the weather moderates they are on the move.

  * * *

"I have more than one hundred deadfalls and catch large numbers of
skunk," writes a Connecticut trapper. "A few years ago a trapper
within two miles of here caught more than 60 coon in deadfalls. Since
then coon have been rather scarce, but I am going to try them this
coming fall. I prefer red squirrel for skunk bait to anything else,
and extract of valerian for scent. Try it, trapper--it can't be beat.
I have used it for twenty years and can catch my share every time."

  * * *

The trapper that makes the largest catches usually is the one that
has deadfalls and snares in addition to steel traps. Recently two
trappers wrote of their season's catch and added that a good
proportion was caught in deadfalls and snares. These trappers were
located in Western Canada; marten 54, lynx 12, mink 19, ermine 71,
wild cat 11, foxes 18.

While these trappers did not say, it is presumed that the foxes were
caught in snares or steel traps, for it is seldom that one is caught
in a deadfall. In Canada and the New England States, where foxes are
plentiful, the snare is used to a considerable extent.

Skunk, mink, ermine, weasel and opossum are easily caught in
deadfalls. One trapper in a southern state is said to have caught 94
mink, besides 38 coon and 57 opossum, in 28 deadfalls, from November
25th to February 25th, or three months.



Early in September, 1906, the editor spent a couple of days at his
home in Southern Ohio, where in the '80's along and near a small
stream known as Kyger Creek, considerable trapping was done.

If readers are curious and have a good, large map of Ohio, and look
at the southern border, some fifty miles above the mouth of the
Scioto river, on a direct line or about double that by following the
winding of the river, they will find Kyger Creek. The stream is about
ten miles long and empties into the Ohio river below the village of
Cheshire. The country is rather rough and rocky, but the timber has
mainly disappeared.

A quarter of a century ago, opossum, muskrat, skunk, and fox were
more numerous than now. Mink at that time were few, but in the early
'80's they seemed to become fairly plentiful all at once. The high
price has caused considerable trapping, and their number has
decreased of recent years.

In trapping we found deadfalls, properly made, set and baited to be
an excellent trap for mink, skunk and opossum. As there were few coon
where we were trapping, but few were caught, yet an old trapper
nearby caught several in both deadfalls and steel traps each season.

There is no doubt but that a trapper who expects to remain months at
the same place should have a few deadfalls. These traps, like steel
traps, to make catches, do not depend upon numbers so much as correct
and careful construction and setting. A half dozen deadfalls located
at the right places, carefully built and properly set, are worth
probably as much as fifty carelessly constructed and located at

Some object to deadfalls because fox are seldom caught in them. It is
true that few fox are taken in deadfalls, although in the far North
some are, and especially Arctic and White fox.

The deadfall trapper, however, who gives care and attention to his
traps finds them fur takers. They can be built small for weasel or a
little larger for mink, marten and civet cat; or larger for opossum
and skunk; still heavier for coon and wild cat and even to a size
that kills bear.

Some trappers find the mink hard to catch. At some seasons they are
easy to take in deadfalls. Long in the '80's in five winters eight
mink were caught in one deadfall. The first winter one was caught;
second, two; third, three; fourth and fifth, each one.

If our memory serves us right, the trap was first built in the fall
of 1887, and was located on the bank about ten feet to the left of a
sycamore, which at that time was standing. There was a den under the
tree entering near the water, with an outlet on the bank only a few
feet from the trap, and near where the pen and bait were located.

This deadfall was built much like the illustration shown here. While
the fall was of hickory, not a vestige remained when looking at the
place in September, 1906.

The pen should be built strong and tight so that the animal will not
tear it to pieces and get at the bait from the rear. The "fall" or
top pole can be of any kind of wood, but hickory, oak, beech, maple,
and other heavy wood are all good. The pole should be heavy enough to
kill the animal without placing any weights on it. When building it
is a good idea to let the top pole extend about a couple of feet
beyond the pen. This will give more weight on the animal when the
trap falls.

  [Illustration: A GOOD CATCHER.]

The two piece triggers may work hard, especially if the log used for
the fall has rough bark on. In this case it might be well to smooth
with your axe or hatchet. In setting with the two piece trigger make
them out of as hard wood as can be found. The long piece can be
slightly flattened on the under side, or the side on which the upper
end of the upright or prop sets. The prop should be cut square on the
lower end while the upper end might be a little rounding, as this
will tend to make the top or bait trigger slip off easier.

In setting raise up the top pole and hold in position with the knee.
This gives both hands free to adjust the triggers. When you think you
have them right, gradually let the weight off your knee and then try
the trigger. You will soon learn about how they are to be set.

The bait should be tied on or the bait trigger may have a prong on to
hold the bait. If you find the bait gone and the trap still up the
chances are that it was set too hard and the animal stole the bait.

Of late years in some sections, mice have been very troublesome,
eating the bait. In other places birds are bait stealers, and for
this reason it is best to set traps rather hard to throw.

The location of a deadfall has much to do with the catch. Old
trappers know if they were to set a steel trap in a place not
frequented by fur bearers that their catch would be next to nothing.
The same applies to all sets, whether steel traps, snares or

In the illustration it will be noticed that the opening or the side
which the animal enters for bait is facing the creek. When building
these traps it will be found best to leave the open side toward the
water if trapping for mink or coon, as they generally leave the edge
of the water going directly to dens along and near the bank.

The under log in the deadfall shown does not extend but a few inches
beyond the two end stakes. It should extend eight or ten inches
beyond. The four stakes at pen must be of sufficient length that when
the trap is set they extend above the top or fall pole. If they did
not, the trap in falling, might catch on the end of one of the stakes
and not go down.

Along streams these traps need not be close. A couple to the mile is
plenty. Of course, if there are places where dens are numerous more
can be built to advantage, while along other stretches of water it
may be useless to build them at all. It all depends upon whether
animals travel there. You cannot catch them in any kind of trap if
they are not there.

For opossum, skunk, mink, civet cat, coon, ermine, etc., find where
the animals live or where they go frequently searching for food. If
building where there are dens, either locate within a few feet of the
one that appears best or just off the path that the animal takes in
going from one to the other. Have the open part next to path and say
only three feet off.

Marten trappers, while placing traps on high ground, do not pay so
much attention to dens and paths, for these animals spend much time
in trees looking for squirrels, birds, etc., but go through the
forest "spotting a line" and locate a deadfall in likely ground about
every 200 yards, or about 8 to the mile.



Much importance should be attached to the skinning and stretching of
all kinds of skins so as to command the highest commercial value. The
fisher, otter, foxes, lynx, marten, mink, ermine, civet, cats and
skunk should be cased, that is, taken off whole.

Commence with the knife in the center of one hind foot and slit up
the inside of the leg, up to and around the vent and down the other
leg in a like manner. Cut around the vent, taking care not to cut the
lumps or glands in which the musk of certain animals is secreted,
then strip the skin from the bone of the tail with the aid of a split
stick gripped firmly in the hand while the thumb of the other hand
presses against the animals back just above. Make no other slits in
the skin except in the case of the skunk and otter, whose tails
require to be split, spread, and tacked on a board.

Turn the skin back over the body, leaving the pelt side out and the
fur side inward, and by cutting a few ligaments, it will peel off
very readily. Care should be taken to cut closely around the nose,
ears and lips, so as not to tear the skin. Have a board made about
the size and shape of the three-board stretcher, only not split in
halves. This board is to put the skin over in order to hold it better
while removing particles of fat and flesh which adheres to it while
skinning, which can be done with a blunt-edged knife, by scraping the
skin from the tail down toward the nose--the direction in which the
hair roots grow--never scrape up the other way or you will injure the
fiber of the skin, and care should be taken not to scrape too hard,
for if the skin fiber is injured its value is decreased.


Now, having been thoroughly "fleshed," as the above process is
called, the skin is ready for stretching, which is done by inserting
the two halves of the three-board stretcher and drawing the skin over
the boards to its fullest extent, with the back on one side and the
belly on the other, and tacking it fast by driving in a small nail an
inch or so from each side of the tail near the edges of the skin;
also, in like manner the other side. Now insert the wedge and drive
it between the halves almost its entire length. Care should be taken,
however, to not stretch the skin so much as to make the fur appear
thin and thus injure its value. Now put a nail in the root of the
tail and fasten it to the wedge; also, draw up all slack parts and
fasten. Care should be taken to have both sides of the skin of equal
length, which can be done by lapping the leg flippers over each
other. Now draw up the under lip and fasten, and pull the nose down
until it meets the lip and tack it fast, and then the skin is ready
to hang away to cure.

Do not dry skins at a fire or in the sun, or in smoke. It often burns
them when they will not dress and are of no value. Dry in a
well-covered shed or tent where there is a free circulation of air,
and never use any preparation, such as alum and salt, as it only
injures them for market. Never stretch the noses out long, as some
trappers are inclined to do, but treat them as above described, and
they will command better values. Fur buyers are inclined to class
long-nosed skins as "southern" and pay a small price for them, as
Southern skins are much lighter in fur than those of the North.

The badger, beaver, bear, raccoon and wolf must always be skinned
"open;" that is, ripped up the belly from vent to chin after the
following manner: Cut across the hind legs as if to be "cased" and
then rip up the belly. The skin can then be removed by flaying as in
skinning a beef.

  * * *

Another experienced trapper says: The animals which should be skinned
open are bear, beaver, raccoon, badger, timber wolf and wolverines.
The way to do this is to rip the skin open from the point of the
lower jaw, in a straight line, to the vent. Then rip it open on the
back of the hind legs, and the inside of the front legs, and peel the
skin carefully off the body. Beaver, however, should not have the
front legs split open and the tail, having no fur, is of course cut
off. If the skin is a fine one, and especially in the case of bear,
the feet should not be cut off, but should be skinned, leaving the
claws on. I would also advise saving the skull, and the proper way to
clean it is to scrape the flesh off with a knife. When the animal is
skinned, roll the skin up with the fur side out and put it in your

See that there are no burrs or lumps of mud in the fur, before you do
any fleshing. My way of fleshing furs--there may be better ways--is
to draw the skin over a smooth board, made for the purpose and
scraping, or peeling, with a blunt edged knife. Commence at the tail,
and scrape towards the head, otherwise you may injure the fibre of
the hide. Over the back and shoulders of most animals is a thin layer
of flesh. This should be removed, and when done, there should be
nothing remaining but the skin and fur. Raccoon and muskrat are
easily fleshed by pinching the flesh between the edge of the knife
and the thumb.

For stretching boards, I prefer a three board stretcher, but a plain
board will answer. For muskrats, use a single board. Open skins are
best stretched in frames or hoops, but it is all right to stretch
them on the wall on the inside of a building. The boards shown in the
cut are, to my notion, the proper shapes, and I would advise making a
good supply of them before the season commences.


To use these three board stretchers, insert the two halves of the
board in the skin, draw the skin down and fasten the hind legs, with
tacks, to the edges of the boards. This stretches the hide long. Then
insert the wedge between the two boards, which will stretch the skin
out to its fullest extent, and give it the proper shape. Finish by
fastening with tacks, pulling the nose over the point of the board,
and drawing the skin of the lower jaw up against the nose. Hang the
furs in a cool, dry place and as soon as they are dry, remove them
from the boards. Fox skins should be turned with the fur side out,
after removing from the board.

In using the hoop stretcher, the hide is laced inside the hoop, with
twine, the skin of the coon being stretched square and the beaver
round. All other furs should be stretched so as not to draw them out
of their natural shape. If the weather is warm and the furs are
likely to taint, salt them. A salted skin is better than a tainted
one. Put salt in the tail, and punch a hole in the end of the tail,
with a pointed wire, to let the water drain out, or split the tail up
about one-half inch from tip.

The skin of the bear is, perhaps, more likely to spoil than any
other, and the ears especially, are likely to taint and slip the fur.
To prevent this, slit the ears open on the inside, skin then back
almost to the edge and fill them with salt, also salt the base of the
ears, on the flesh side of the hide.

  * * *

  [Illustration: DAKOTA TRAPPERS' METHOD.]

In stretching, says a North Dakota trapper, we use a one board
stretcher as follows: Put on the fur after you have fleshed it, the
four feet on one side and the tail on the other. Tack down the hind
feet and the tail, then take a piece of board about 1 x 1/4 inches
(this would be about the correct size for a mink) rounded off except
on one side. Put it below the fur on the side where the feet are, tie
the front feet. When you are going to take off the fur, pull out the
small board and the fur will come off easy.

  [Illustration: HOLDER FOR SKINNING.]

A contrivance which I have found useful in skinning is made of a
piece of stiff wire 18 inches long. Bend this at the middle until it
has the shape of V with the ends about 8 inches apart. Bend up an
inch at each end to form a hook and when skinning, after cutting
around the hind feet, hook into the large tendons, hang on a nail or
over limb, etc., and go ahead with both hands. The wire must be
nearly as large as a slate pencil and will work all right from foxes
down to mink. Trappers will find this a great help in skinning
animals after they have become cold. Young trappers should use this
simple device as they will be less liable to cut holes in the skin.
It pays to be careful in skinning animals properly as well as to
stretch them correctly, for both add to their market value.

How many trappers save the skulls of their larger game? All the
skulls of bear, puma or mountain lion, wolves, foxes and sometimes
those of lynx and wild cat are of ready sale if they contain good
sets of teeth. Several parties buy these skulls for cash.

To prepare them the bulk of the flesh should be removed and the brain
and eyes also. Probably the easiest way to accomplish this is to boil
the skull with flesh on in an old pot until the meat begins to get
tender. Then, while hot, it may easily be cut away, and by enlarging
the hole at the back of the skull the brain may be scooped out. They
should be watched carefully as if boiled too long the teeth drop out,
bones separate and render the skull worthless. It is safe, but more
tedious to clean them with a sharp knife without boiling.

The dealers pay from 50 cents for a bear skull to 15 cents for a fox,
tho taxidermists and furriers often pay much more. The British
Columbia Government pays bounties upon the skulls, only I think this
is a good idea as the skins are not mutilated and depreciated by
scalping, punching or cutting as usual. Save a few good skulls and
add dollars to the value of your catch.

  * * *

Take two pieces of No. 9 fence wire about 30 inches long, writes an
Ohio coon hunter and trapper, file one end sharp, then commence at
each hind foot and punch the wire thru close to the edge as in
sewing, taking stitches an inch or so long until you get to the front
foot, then pull the hide along the wire just far enough so the top
and bottom will stretch out to make it square, or a few inches longer
than the width is better.

  [Illustration: WIRE COON METHOD.]

Put 3 or 4 nails in each side, then commence at the top and tack all
but the head, then pull the bottom down even with the sides, not
tacking the head, which lets it draw down into the hide, then tack
the head. This is an easy and good way to handle coon skins making
them nearly square when stretched.

Many inexperienced trappers stretch coon skins too long and draw out
the head and neck. This can be avoided by following instructions
given here. Coon can be cased but most dealers prefer to have them
stretched open.

  * * *

Get a lot of steel wire, says a Missouri trapper who uses old
umbrella wires, the round solid ones. Sharpen one end, take your coon
skin and run one wire up each side and one across each end.

In putting these wires in do it like the old woman knits, that is,
wrap the hide around the wire and stick it thru about every inch. Now
cut six small twigs, make them the proper length and notch the ends,
and you will soon have your hide stretched expert trapper style.

  [Illustration: WIRE AND TWIG COON METHOD.]

The advantage of this is you can carry stretchers enough for
twenty-five skins in one hand and don't have to hunt up a barn door
and box of tacks and hammer every time you want to stretch one. You
can stretch in one-fourth the time it would take to tack up on a
board, and you will have it in first class style the first time and
not have to pull out a tack here and stretch a little more there.

  * * *

I have always used the whole board (not split into two pieces and
wedged shape piece as some do), writes a Massachusetts trapper, and
made as follows:

For mink I use a 3/8 inch board about 40 inches in length, 4 inches
wide at the large end, tapering to about 2 1/2 inches at the small
end with the edges planed down from near the middle of the board to
the edge, leaving a thin edge and sandpapered down smooth. I make the
board of this length for the reason that it sometimes happens that a
mink may have laid in a trap for several days before being taken out,
and if under water it is not always easy to determine the exact
length of time it has been in the trap, and there may be a
possibility that if put on the board to dry that having laid so long
it will taint before it will get thoroughly dry. I have seen them in
a case of this kind where several and perhaps nearly all the hairs on
the end of the tail would shed or pull out thereby damaging the skin
to a greater or less extent.

Now when I get a mink in this condition after pulling on the board
and tacking all around, I split the tail open after which I lay it
open and tack all around the same way you would with an otter skin.
By employing this means you will often save the loss of the tail by
thus tainting and a corresponding loss on the value of the skin. The
value of the mink skin is in no way damaged by this process. Some
dealers prefer to have all the skins they buy cured in this manner.

For stretching the muskrat skin I also use a board of the same
thickness as for mink, about 20 inches in length, 6 1/2 or 7 inches
at the large end with a slightly rounding taper to a width of about 3
inches at small end, the sides planed down to a thin edge the same as
for the mink boards; in fact, I prefer the same manner of stretching
all cased skins, using care not to have the boards so wide as to
stretch the skins to a width much exceeding the natural width before
it was placed over the board, but giving them all the strain they
will stand with reason, lengthwise. If stretched too wide it tends to
make the fur thinner and lessens the value of it.

I usually pull the skins, especially muskrats, onto the boards far
enough so that the smaller end will extend through the mouth of the
skin for perhaps 1/2 inch, and when the skins are sufficiently dry to
remove, all that is required is to take hold of them with a hand on
either edge of the skin and give it a sharp tap on the small end,
when the skin will come off at once. By stretching the skins on the
boards with the back on one side, belly on the opposite side, they
come off the boards looking smooth and uniform in width, and command
a great deal better price than if thrown on in a haphazard way on a
shingle or an inch board badly shaped, as a great many beginners do.
I have seen some shameful work done in this respect.

It is always necessary to remove all surplus grease and fat which can
readily be done immediately after the skin is stretched, otherwise
they will heat, sweat and mold to a certain extent after they are
removed from the boards, which injures both the appearance and sale
of them. It is well to look after all these little details. These
descriptions are given with the desire to help some of the beginners.
If they will start in by using a little care in stretching and having
pride in their work they will find the business both more pleasant
and profitable.

  * * *

If convenient when going into camp, writes an old successful trapper
who has pursued the fur bearers in many states, you should take
several stretching boards for your different kinds of fur with you.
If not, you can generally find a tree that will split good and you
can split some out. It is usually hard to find widths that are long
and straight enough to bend so as to form a good shaped stretcher.
You should always aim to stretch and cure furs you catch in the best

In skinning you should rip the animal straight from one heel across
to the other and close to the roots of the tail on the under side.
Work the skin loose around the bone at the base until you can grasp
the bone of the tail with the first two fingers of the right hand
while you place the bone between the first two fingers of the left
hand. Then, by pulling you will draw the entire bone from the tail
which you should always do.

Sometimes when the animal has been dead for some time the bone will
not readily draw from the tail. In this case cut a stick the size of
your finger about eight inches long. Cut it away in the center until
it will readily bend so that the two ends will come together. Then
cut a notch in each part of stick just large enough to let the bone
of the tail in and squeeze it out. It is necessary to whittle one
side of the stick at the notch so as to form a square shoulder.

You should have about three sizes of stretching boards for mink and
fox. For mink they should be from 4 1/2 inches down to 3 inches and
for fox from 6 1/4 inches down to 5 inches wide, and in length the
fox boards may be four feet long, and the mink boards three feet

The boards should taper slightly down to within 8 inches of the end
for fox, and then rounded up to a round point. The mink boards should
be rounded at 4 or 5 inches from this point. You will vary the shape
of the board in proportion to the width. Stretching boards should not
be more than 3/8 inch thick. A belly strip the length or nearly the
length of the boards 1 1/4 inches at the wide end, tapering to a
point at the other end and about 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick. Have the
boards smooth and even on the edges. Other stretching boards should
be made in proportion to the size and shape of the animal whose skin
is to be stretched.

You should not fail to remove all the fat and flesh from the skin
immediately after the skin is on the board. If a skin is wet when
taken from the animal it should be drawn lightly on a board until the
fur is quite dry. Then turn the skin flesh side out and stretch.

  * * *

Beginning at the left, dimensions and skins stretched on the various
boards are given:

No. 1. Mink board, length 28 inches and 4 wide.

No. 2. Mink board, length 28 inches and 3 1/2 wide.

No. 3. Weasel board length 20 inches and 2 1/2 wide.

No. 4. Muskrat board, length 21 inches and 6 inches wide.

No. 5. Opossum board, (small), length 20 inches and 6 1/2 inches

No. 6. Skunk or opossum, (medium), length 28 inches and 7 inches

No. 7. Skunk and opossum, (large), length 28 inches and 8 inches


Old and experienced hunters and trappers know about the shape and
size to make the various stretching boards for the fur bearers, but
for the guidance of beginners and those who are careless about
stretching pelts, the above description is especially meant.

Trappers in Southern sections will no doubt find the boards as
described here too large for most of their skunk. In the Northeast
the mink boards will also be too large, but for this section (Ohio),
they are about correct. The general shape of the boards can be seen
from the illustration.

  * * *

One of the best ways, writes a Minnesota trapper, to take off the
skin of an animal is by cutting the skin around the hind legs or
feet, and then slitting the skin down inside the hind legs to the
body joining the two slits between the hind legs, then remove the
skin on the tail by pushing up the thumb nail, or a thin flat piece
of wood against the bone of the tail and draw off the skin.

Now commence to draw the body of the animal through the slit already
made without enlarging it, drawing the skin over itself, the fur side
within. When the forefeet are reached, cut the skin away from them at
the wrists, and then skin over the head until the mouth is reached
when the skin should be finally removed at the lips.

One thing to be borne in mind when stretching a skin to dry, is that
it must be drawn tight; another, that it must be stretched in a place
where neither the heat of a fire or that of the sun will reach it too
strongly, and it should not be washed. Large skins may be nailed on a
wall of a shed or barn.

The board stretcher should be made of some thin material. Prepare a
board of bass wood or some other light material, two feet three
inches long, three inches and a half wide at one end, and two inches
and an eighth at the other, and three-eighths of an inch thick.
Chamfer it from the center to the sides almost to an edge. Round and
chamfer the small end about an inch upon the sides. Split the board
through the center with a knife or saw, finally prepare a wedge of
the same length and thickness, one inch wide at the large end, and
taper to a blunt point. This is a stretcher suitable for a mink, or a

Two large sizes with similar proportions are required for the large
animals, the largest size suitable for the full grown otter and wolf,
should be five feet and a half long, seven inches wide at the large
end when fully spread by the wedge, and six inches at the small end.
An intermediate size is required for the fisher, raccoon, fox and
some other animals, the proportions of which can be easily figured

These stretchers require that the skin of the animal should not be
ripped through the belly, but should be stripped off whole. Peel the
skin from the body by drawing it over itself, leaving the fur inward.
In this condition the skin should be drawn on to the split board
(with the back on one side and the belly on the other), to its utmost
length, and fastened with tacks, and then the wedge should be driven
between the two halves. Finally, make all fast by a tack at the root
of the tail, and another on the opposite side. The skin is then
stretched to its utmost capacity and it may be hung away to dry.

  * * *

Not alone the skulls of the larger animals, but the skulls of any
game, the skeleton of any bird, or fish, has a ready market, provided
such specimens are properly cleaned, and in perfect condition.
However, the hunter or trapper must bear in mind the fact that it is
the perfect specimen that is in demand, and that a bruise on the bone
literally spoils it for the curator.

If you will look carefully at any skull, you will notice that some of
the bones are very thin and frail, almost like a spider web. These
fine bones must be preserved if they are to be of any value to the
Comparative Anatomist, and boiling or scraping simply ruins them. So
much for the explanation. Now the method of cleaning, is by "rotting"
rather than scraping or boiling. Take the skull (or whole head) and
fix it solid in some can or jar, then fill it, or cover with water
and put away for three or four weeks. At the end of that time, pour
off the water and the bulk of the flesh will go too. Fill in with
clear water again, and repeat as often as necessary. I have found
that twice will do the work, and leave the bone in good condition.

There is a market for most animal skulls, if not damaged, and it may
pay to preserve all. In the Hunter-Trader-Trapper, published at
Columbus, Ohio, usually will be found advertisements of parties who
buy them.

  * * *

I have never had much luck with two-piece stretchers, but use thin
board stretchers in one piece with a "sword stick" on each side to
fully stretch and admit the air to both sides of the skin. This cures
the skin faster and better than when only one side is exposed to the
air, says a Maryland trapper.

  [Illustration: POLE STRETCHERS.]

When off from home, I use stretchers made from saplings, as boards
suitable are not to be had everywhere, and cannot be bothered with
when going light. To make these, cut osier, willow or hickory
switches, straight and thick as the finger, about four feet long; cut
two short pieces for rats 4 and 6 inches long and carefully bending
the long piece. Nail these in with a small wire nail at each end. A
handful of shingle or lath nails and a clump of osier sprouts will
make a full outfit of stretchers for a temporary camp.

  * * *

I know it is as much value in stretching your furs and preparing them
for market as it is in trapping, writes a trapper. If you have no
boards, go to your grocer or dry goods store and you can get all the
boxes you want for 5 or 10 cents apiece. They must not be over 3/8 of
an inch thick; if they are, plane them down smooth on both sides.

I make what I call the two piece stretcher with a wedge for muskrats.
Take a board 20 inches long, 3/8 inch thick, 6 inches wide large end,
2 1/2 inches small end. Taper back 5 inches from small end. Now take
block plane and chaffer off each side an inch or more up and round it
off. Round and chaffer small end the same, almost to an edge. Now
draw a line thru the center of the board and saw it thru.

Make a wedge the same length and thickness, 3/8 of an inch wide and
tapering down to 1/10 of an inch. If a large skin, push it in between
the halves. Bore a hole in large end and hang up in a cool ventilated
place to dry. After three days pull out wedge, and your fur will slip
right off without tearing. If the boards should warp over, tack a
strip across the large end.

The mink stretchers are made on the same plan. A board the same
thickness, 30 inches long, 3 1/2 inches wide, taper down 2 1/8 small
end round chaffer. For large mink insert wedge made one inch wide.
Taper down to 2/8. For skunk and coon they are also good, only they
are made on a larger scale.

Now a word about casing. Pull your hide on so the back is on one side
and the belly on the other. Pull nose over small end 1/2 inch. Put
two tacks on each side, now pull down tight to large end and put two
tacks each side, lay board on bench and take an old case knife,
scrape off all meat and fat and be careful not to scrape too thin, so
as not to cut the fibre of the skin. After you have scraped the flesh
off, insert the wedge and your skin will be tight. Do not stretch
your hide so it will make your fur look thin.

  * * *

This is my way of stretching coon hide; use four-penny nails and use
either the inside or outside of some old building, inside is the
best. Drive the first nail thru nose. This holds the hide for
starting. Pull each forward leg up (not out) on a level with nose and
about seven or eight inches from nose according to size of the coon.
Drive next nail at root of tail, and pull down, moderately tight.

Now pull each hind leg out about one inch wider than the fore legs
and a little below the tail nail. Now use a nail every inch and pull
the hide up between the forward legs and nose, until it comes
straight across. Next, treat the bottom of the hide the same as the
top. Use plenty of nails. To finish down the sides, drive a nail
first on one side and then on the other until finished. You will find
when done that the hide is nearly square with no legs sticking out
the sides and no notches in the skin.



MINK should be cased fur side in and stretched on boards for several
days or until dry.

SKUNK should be cased fur side in and stretched on boards for several
days. The white stripe cut out, blackened, etc., reduces the value.

RACCOON should be stretched open (ripped up the belly) and nailed on
boards or the inside of a building. Some dealers allow as much for
coon cased, from any section, while others prefer that only Southern
coon be cased.

FOXES of the various kinds should be cased and put on boards fur side
in for a few days, or until dry. As the pelt is thin they soon dry,
when they must be taken off and should be turned fur side out. In
shipping see that they are not packed against furs flesh side out.

LYNX should be cased and after drying properly are turned fur side
out, same as foxes.

OTTER are cased and stretched fur side in. The pelt being thick and
heavy, takes several days to dry properly. They are shipped flesh
side out. Sea otter are handled the same as fox, lynx and marten,
that is, fur side out.

BEAVER are split but stretched round and should be left in the hoop
or stretcher for several days.

BEAR should be handled open and stretched carefully. In skinning be
careful and leave nose, claws and ears on the hide.

WOLVES can be handled same as bear, also wolverine.

FISHER should be cased and stretched flesh side out, but may be sent
to market same as foxes or fur out.

MARTEN should be stretched and dried on boards, fur side in, but
turned as soon as dried.

OPOSSUM are stretched on boards fur side in and are left in that
condition after removing the boards. Cut the tails off when
skinning--they have no value.

MUSKRAT should be stretched fur side in and a few days on the boards
is sufficient. They are left as taken off, that is, fur side in. Cut
the tails off when skinning--they are worthless.

WEASEL should be cased, fur side in. The pelts are thin and soon dry.
Leave fur side in after taking off boards.

BADGER are split and should be nailed to the inside of a building to

CIVET CAT should be cased and stretched on boards fur side in. When
dry remove boards and leave fur side in.

RING TAIL CATS should be cased and after removing boards are
generally left fur side in for market.

WILD CAT are cased and stretched on boards. They may be turned fur
out or left as taken from the stretchers, fur side in.

HOUSE CAT are cased and stretched on boards fur side in. They are
sent to market usually fur side in.

RABBITS are cased fur in and, as the pelt is thin, soon dry. They are
shipped fur side in.

PANTHER are treated much the same as bear. Care should be taken in
skinning to leave claws, ears, nose, etc., on the skin for mounting

  * * *

My experience has been that the house which makes only four grades of
prime goods is the house that you will receive the largest checks
from for your collection, writes a Michigan collector of 50 years'
experience. So many grades quoted makes it possible for a firm to
successfully squelch you a little every time you ship and yet you can
have no reasonable excuse to complain for when you ship, you know
that in some houses there is a grade for nearly every skin you send.
So I, for one, would rather risk the fewer grades.

A trapper from Wisconsin says: For sample, say mink are worth from 25
cents to $3.00. There would be 275 prices between the extremes. Now
if he is a fur buyer I certainly pity the trappers that would have to
take those 275 different prices for their mink. A man should be able
to know the difference between grades No. 1, 2, 3 and 4, and when he
does he is then able to give a fair and honest price for every skin
he buys. If he doesn't know the difference then, he had better get a
job clerking in a hotel or sawing wood.

  * * *

Many have requested that the difference in the various grades of
skins be explained and for their benefit, as well as others of little
experience, the following may prove instructive.

Raw furs are assorted into four grades, viz: No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and
No. 4. With the exception of skunk and muskrat most houses subdivide
the No. 1 skins into large, medium and small. In addition to this
many firms quote a range of prices about as follows: Mink, Northern
New York, large $6.00 to $8.00. Would it not be more satisfactory to
quote one price only?

It is generally known that Minnesota mink are large. From that state
a No. 1 medium mink is as large as a No. 1 large from Maine, where
mink are rather small. But as the dealers on their price lists quote
the various states and sections, why not quote one price only as


Large,   Medium,  Small,  No. 2,   No. 3,   No. 4,
$7.00.   $5.00.   $3.00   $1.50.   $0.75.   $0.20

These figures, of course, are only given for illustration and are not
meant to show value.

Furs from the various parts of North America have their peculiar
characteristics and it is easy for the man of experience to tell in
what part of the country a pelt was caught. It may be shipped by a
collector hundreds of miles from where caught, but if there are many
in the collection the expert will soon detect it. This knowledge,
however, only comes with years of experience.

Prime skins are those caught during cold weather and the pelt after
drying a few days is bright and healthy appearing.

Unprime skins are those that turn blue or black after being stretched
for a time. Usually the darker the pelt the poorer the fur. If only
slightly blued the pelt may go back only one grade, while if black it
is apt to be no better than No. 3 or No. 4 and may be trash of no

Springy skins, as the name indicates, are those taken toward the last
of the season or in the spring and tho often prime pelted, have begun
to shed. The beginner is often deceived, for he thinks if the pelt is
prime, the fur is. Foxes and other animals are often "rubbed" toward
spring, which of course lessens their value.

A No. 1 skin must be not only average in size but free from cuts,
etc. No unprime skin will grade better than No. 2.

Skunk, to be No. 1 or black, must be prime in pelt, fair size and
stripe not extending beyond the shoulders. The day that only "star
black" were taken for No. 1 is passed, for most trappers and shippers
know better now.

A No. 2, or short striped skunk, is prime and the stripes, if narrow,
may extend nearly to the tail. A small No. 1 or a blued No. 1 is
graded No. 2.

A No. 3 or long stripe has two stripes extending the entire length,
but there must be as much black between the stripes as either of the
white stripes.

In some of the states, such as Minnesota, Iowa, the Dakotas, etc.,
skunk are large and are nearly all striped the same--long narrow
stripes--but owing to their size they are worth about the same as the
eastern short stripe or No. 2.

A No. 4, broad or white skunk, is prime but has two broad stripes
extending down the back. Most dealers class skunk as No. 4 if either
white stripe contains more white than there is black between the two

All unprime skunk are graded down to No. 2, 3 and 4 according to
depth of fur and stripe. A No. 1 skunk in stripe, but blue, becomes a
No. 2, or if badly blued No. 3 or 4; a No. 2 skunk in stripe but blue
becomes a No. 3; a No. 3 in stripe but blue, a No. 4; a No. 4 in
stripe but blue generally goes into trash. In fact, if badly blued,
any of the grades may be thrown to trash.

Muskrat are assorted into four grades--spring, winter, fall and
kitts. Spring rats are known as No. 1; winter, No. 2; fall, No. 3;
Kitts, No. 4.

No. 1 or spring rats are those taken in March and April. The pelt is
then of a reddish color and is entirely free from dark spots. A few
spring rats may be caught earlier than March, but so long as they
show dark spots they are not No. 1.

No. 2, or winter rats, are pretty well furred, but there are dark
streaks and spots in the hide usually on the back.

No. 3 or fall are not full furred and the pelt is far from prime. The
dark streaks show much more than later in the season.

No. 4, or kitts, are only partly grown or if larger are badly

Opossum is the only animal that may have a "prime" pelt but an
"unprime" coat of fur. This makes opossum rather difficult to assort
unless turned fur side out.

If opossum have been properly skinned and stretched they will, when
unprime, show a dark blue spot on the under side at the throat. The
plainer this spot the poorer the fur.

Good unprime skins are No. 2; poor unprime skins, No. 3; the very
poor and stagey, no fur, are No. 4, generally known as trash and of
no value.

The other fur-bearers, such as mink, otter, beaver, fox, wolves,
lynx, wild cat, fisher, raccoon, bear, badger, civet cat, weasel,
etc., are graded much the same that is, all skins to be No. 1 must be
caught in season, when the fur is prime, at which time the "pelt" is
healthy appearing--never blue or black--must be of average size,
correctly skinned, handled and free of cuts or shot holes.

Skins may be unprime from several causes, viz: caught too early,
improperly handled, under size, etc. Unprime skins are graded No. 2,
3 and 4 according to how inferior they are. The fairly well furred
unprime skins are graded No. 2; the low furred unprime skins are
thrown to No. 3; the poorly furred are thrown to No. 4, while low
stagey skins go to trash.

Some skins altho prime are so small that they grade No. 3. This,
however, is the exception rather than the rule. Usually if prime, the
under size will only put the skin down one grade.

  * * *

I have bought some for a number of years, writes a collector, and
know that some trappers are like some farmers, they want as much
money for a bushel of dirty wheat as their neighbor gets for a bushel
of clean wheat. I have had skunk and opossum hides offered me that
had a pound or two of tainted fat on them, and skins that were taken
out of season, for which they expect to get No. 1 prices.

There are some who stretch their skins in the shape of an oblong
triangle and leave flesh enough on to make their dinner. Stretch your
hides as near the shape of the animal as possible; don't try to make
a muskrat hide as long as a mink, or a mink as wide as a muskrat.
Catch in season, flesh carefully, stretch in good shape, always take
bone out of tails, keep in an airy building until dry and then you
will not have to grumble so much at the buyer in regard to prices.



Under this title, says an experienced Western trapper, I shall
endeavor to show my brother trappers how to handle pelts:

As soon as I get in from my traps (I use a team and wagon), I feed
team, dogs and self, then I proceed to skin the game in the usual
manner; when game is all skinned I put on my fleshing suit, made of
rubber cloth like that buggy curtains are made of, get out my
fleshing boards, of which I have three sizes--large, medium and
small--for each kind of cased skins except rat, which I flesh with
thumb and knife. The fleshing boards are like Fig. 1 on enclosed
diagram, made of 1 inch pine free from knots and dressed on both
sides, 3 feet 6 inches long, and for skunk 3/4 in. and 10 in. wide,
tapered up to a blunt point, edges rounded and sandpapered smooth.
These boards can be made of other sizes so as to fit larger or
smaller pelts of other kinds.

  [Illustration: FLESHING BOARD.]

For a flesher I have tried nearly everything imaginable, dull knives,
hardwood scrapers, etc., but have abandoned them all for the hatchet.
I use an old lath hatchet head and use it tolerably sharp; I proceed
as follows: Put pelt on board but do not fasten, grip lower edge with
left hand, pull down hard, place point of board against breast and
use hatchet with right, pushing down and holding hatchet nearly flat;
use plenty of elbow grease; as fast as you get a strip cleaned off
turn hide a little but do not flesh on edge of board. It may not work
good at first and you may cut one or two hides, but you will soon get
the knack.

  [Illustration: STRETCHING FRAME.]

If possible take a bitch skunk for the first as they flesh easier,
and be sure there are no burrs or chunks of mud in the fur, or you
will cut a hole the size of the burr. Now for the stretchers. In Fig.
2 is what I use; it is something of my own invention, and there is no
patent on it. It is made of any wood that will split straight, and
the dimensions are as follows: Pieces are 4 ft. long by 1 3/8 in.
dressed smooth; pieces are 1 1/2 X 3/8 in.; will say for large skunks
here they would be 10 in. and 4 1/2 in. To frame you must soak or
steam the long pieces; mitre the ends and fasten with 3d finishing
nails clinched. Then place in position 1 in. from ends and fasten
with two 6d finishing nails; place in position and pull up to 8 in.
from nose and fasten: now chamfer off edges and sandpaper smooth.

I like this stretcher, as it airs both sides of pelt and will dry
them in half the time. Fig 3 shows manner of fastening pelt; on belly
side it can be drawn down and fastened to tail pieces with sack
needle and twine; it is made of two or more poles fastened in the
shape of a hoop.

In shipping furs, bale tight; do not ship loose in sack; place mink
and rat inside of skunk and other fur, and always place the toughest
pelts on outside. By bailing tight you will avoid crinkling and they
will not look mussy and will bring from 5 to 10 per cent more. Now,
brother trappers, fleshing pelts, as I understand it, is not merely
taking the fat off, but in going deeper and taking the flesh clean
from the pelt so that if skunk, the stripe will show clear the full
length and reducing the weight by half. On February 2nd. I shipped 15
skunk, all large; the lot only weighed 9 pounds including sack.

  [Illustration: SKIN ON STRETCHER.]

When stretching skunk and otter skins, if the weather is warm, split
the tails, open and tack flat. Split open half way all others that
have fur tails. Open pelts can be stretched in hoops made of one or
more poles an inch or so in diameter, and sewed in with a sack needle
and heavy twine.

In stretching do not get the pelt so wide that the fur looks thin, or
so long and narrow that it looks as if a horse had been hitched to
each end. Keep the natural shape of the animal as much as possible,
dry in a cool, airy place inside, or on the north side of a building
and away from fire.

Baling--here is where the expert trapper shows his craft, and in
baling you will see him wipe off all surplus fat and dirt and place
the heavy pelts on the outside of his pack. The lighter furs, such as
mink, marten, cat, etc., will be placed inside of the skins that are
heavier. For instance: From four to eight rats or mink, inside of a
fox or skunk. He will place the head of one to the tail of another,
the tails folded in. He now ties a cord tightly around each end,
placing them on a square of burlap, and with sack needle and twine
draws up the sides as tight as he can; then he folds in the ends and
sews up snug. Furs thus packed reach the market in good shape, and
not such as they would if crammed promiscuously into a sack.

  [Illustration: WRAP WITH WIRE AT JOINTS.]

In conclusion, boys, let me suggest a maxim or two for your guidance:
"Prime caught and well handled furs always bring top prices." "Take
pride in your catch, no matter how small."

While the heading of this chapter is "From Animal to Market" it is
well when shipping to request the dealer to grade and send value. If
satisfactory, write to send on check. If not satisfactory, have
dealer return furs.

When shipping furs under these conditions see that no green skins are
sent--only properly cured ones.

While some dealers offer to pay expressage both ways we hardly think
this fair and if no deal is made the dealer should pay the expressage
one way and the shipper the other.

The Hunter-Trader-Trapper, published at Columbus, Ohio, in the
interests of hunters, trappers and dealers in raw furs contains a
great deal of information that will be of value along the line of
shipping furs as well as trapping methods, etc.



This book would not be complete without at least a few pages devoted
to steel traps. While a few steel traps were in use prior to 1850,
yet it has only been since that date that they have come into general
use. During recent years they have become cheaper and trappers in all
parts of America are using them in greater numbers.

Professional trappers in the North, Northwest and Southwest often
have out lines many miles long and use 200 to 350 steel traps of the
various sizes.

Each of the three main sets--land, water and snow are used in various
ways and to describe all of these would require a book.

Steel traps are made in various sizes from No. 0 to No. 6, to meet
the requirements of trappers for the various animals. The best traps
manufactured are the Newhouse made by the well-known trap
manufacturers--Oneida Community, Ltd., Oneida, N. Y. A brief
description of these follows:

  [Illustration: Newhouse No. 0 Trap]

Spread of Jaws, 3 1/2 inches. This, the smallest trap made, is used
mostly for catching the gopher, a little animal which is very
troublesome to western farmers, and also rats and other vermin. It
has a sharp grip and will hold larger game, but should not be

  [Illustration: Newhouse No. 1 Trap]

Spread of Jaws, 4 inches. This Trap is used for catching muskrats and
other small animals, and sold in greater numbers than any other size.
Its use is well understood by professional trappers and it is the
most serviceable size for catching skunks, weasels, rats and such
other animals as visit poultry houses and barns.

  [Illustration: Newhouse No. 81 Trap]

Spread of Jaws, 4 inches. Occasionally animals free themselves from
traps by gnawing their legs off just below the trap jaws, where the
flesh is numb from pressure. Various forms of traps have been
experimented with to obviate this difficulty. The Webbed Jaws shown
above have proved very successful in this respect.

Noting the cross-section of the jaws, as illustrated at the left, it
is plain the animal can only gnaw off its leg at a point quite a
distance below the meeting edges. The flesh above the point of
amputation and below the jaws will swell and make it impossible to
pull the leg stump out of the trap.

The No. 81 Trap corresponds in size with the regular No. 1 Newhouse.

  [Illustration: Newhouse No. 91 Trap]

Spread of Jaws--91, 5 1/4 inches; 91 1/2, 6 1/4 inches. The double
jaws take an easy and firm grip so high up on the muskrat that he can
not twist out. A skunk cannot gnaw out either.

These traps are especially good for muskrat, mink, skunk and raccoon.

All parts of the No. 91 except the jaws are the same size as the
regular No. 1 Newhouse, while the 91 1/2 corresponds to the regular
No. 1 1/2.

  [Illustration: Newhouse No. 1 1/2 Trap]

Spread of Jaws, 4 7/8 inches. This size is called the Mink Trap. It
is, however, suitable for catching the woodchuck, skunk, etc.
Professional trappers often use it for catching foxes. It is very
convenient in form and is strong and reliable.

  [Illustration: Newhouse No. 2 Trap]

Spread of Jaws, 4 7/8 inches. The No. 2 Trap is called the Fox Trap.
Its spread of jaws is the same as the No. 1 1/2 but having two
springs it is, of course, much stronger.

 [Illustration: Newhouse No. 3 Trap]

Spread of Jaws, 5 1/2 inches. This, the Otter Trap, is very powerful.
It will hold almost any game smaller than a bear.

  [Illustration: Newhouse No. 4 Trap]

Spread of Jaws, 6 1/2 inches. This is the regular form of Beaver
Trap. It is longer than the No. 3 Trap, and has one inch greater
spread of jaws. It is a favorite with those who trap and hunt for a
living in the Northwest and Canada. It is also extensively used for
trapping the smaller wolves and coyotes in the western stock raising

  [Illustration: Newhouse No. 2 1/2 Trap]

Spread of Jaws, 6 1/2 inches. In some localities the otter grows to
an unusual size, with great proportionate strength, so that the
manufacturers have been led to produce an especially large and strong
pattern. All the parts are heavier than the No. 2 1/2, the spread of
jaws greater and the spring stiffer.

  [Illustration: Newhouse No. 3 1/2 Trap]

Spread of Jaws, 5 inches. The above cut represents a Single Spring
Otter Trap. It is used more especially for catching otter on their
"slides." For this purpose a thin, raised plate of steel is adjusted
to the pan so that when the trap is set the plate will be a trifle
higher than the teeth on the jaws. The spring is very powerful, being
the same as used on the No. 4 Newhouse Trap. The raised plate can be
readily detached if desired, making the trap one of general utility.

  [Illustration: Newhouse No. 21 1/2 Trap]

Single Spring. Same as No. 2 1/2 but without Teeth or Raised Plate.


Single Spring. Same as No. 3 1/2 but without Teeth or Raised Plate.

Spread of Jaws--No. 21 1/2, 5 1/4 inches; No. 31 1/2, 6 1/2 inches.
These Traps are the largest smooth jaw, single spring sizes that are
made. Professional trappers will find these especially valuable when
on a long trapping line, as they are more compact and easier to
secrete than the large double spring traps. The springs are made
extra heavy.

Note.--The 21 1/2 is practically a single spring No. 3 and the 31 1/2
a single spring No. 4.

  [Illustration: Newhouse No. 14 Trap]

Spread of Jaws, 6 1/2 inches. This Trap is the same in size as the
No. 4 Beaver, but has heavier and stiffer springs and offset jaws,
which allow the springs to raise higher when the animal's leg is in
the trap, and is furnished with teeth sufficiently close to prevent
the animal from pulling its foot out.

  [Illustration: Clutch Detachable Trap]

Clutch Detachable--Trap can be used with or without it.

Spread of Jaws, No. 23, 5 1/2 inches; No. 24, 6 1/4 inches. The
inventor of this attachment claims to have had wonderful success with
it in taking beaver. The trap should be set with the clutch end
farthest from shore. The beaver swims with his fore legs folded back
against his body, and when he feels his breast touch the bank he puts
them down. The position of the trap can be so calculated that he will
put his fore legs in the trap, when the clutch will seize him across
the body and hold him securely.

  [Illustration: Newhouse No. 4 1/2 Trap]

In response to a demand for a new model of the Newhouse Trap
especially adapted to catching wolves, the manufacturers have
perfected a trap which is numbered 4 1/2 and is called the "Newhouse
Wolf Trap."

This trap has eight inches spread of jaw, with other parts in
proportion, and is provided with a pronged "drag," a heavy snap and
an extra heavy steel swivel and chain, five feet long, warranted to
hold 2,000 pounds. The trap complete with chain and "drag" weighs
about nine pounds.

  [Illustration: Newhouse No. 50 Trap]

Spread of Jaws, 9 inches. This trap is intended for catching small
sized bears. In design it is exactly like the standard No. 5 Bear
Trap, only that the parts are all somewhat smaller. Weight, 11 1/4
pounds each.

  [Illustration: Newhouse No. 150 Trap]

Spread of Jaws, 9 inches. This trap is identical with No. 5 excepting
that the jaws are offset, making a space five-eighths inch between
them. This allows the springs to come up higher when the bear's foot
is in the trap, and thus secure a better grip. Also there is less
chance of breaking the bones of the foot. Weight, 11 1/4 pounds each.

  [Illustration: Newhouse No. 5 Trap]

Spread of Jaws, 11 3/4 inches. This trap weighs nineteen pounds. It
is used for taking the common black bear and is furnished with a very
strong chain.

  [Illustration: Newhouse No. 15 Trap]

Spread of Jaws, 11 3/4 inches. To meet the views of certain hunters
whose judgment is respected, the manufacturers designed a style of
jaw for the No. 5 trap, making an offset of 3/4 of an inch, so as to
allow the springs to come up higher when the bear's leg is in the
trap. This gives the spring a better grip. Those wishing this style
should specify "No. 15."

  [Illustration: Newhouse No. 6 Trap]

Spread of Jaws, 16 inches. Weight, complete, 42 pounds. This is the
strongest trap made. We have never heard of anything getting out of
it when once caught. It is used to catch lions and tigers, as well as
the great Grizzly Bears of the Rocky Mountains.

  [Illustration: Bear Chain Clevis and Bolt]

This cut illustrates Bear Chain Clevis and Bolt, intended as a
substitute for the ring on the end of the trap chain, when desired.

With this clevis a loop can be made around any small log or tree
without the trouble of cutting to fit the ring. The chain is made
five feet long, suitable for any clog, and the prices of bear traps
fitted with it are the same as with the regular short chain and ring.

  [Illustration: Steel Trap Setting Clamp]

Every trapper knows how difficult it is to set a large trap alone in
the woods, especially in cold weather, when the fingers are stiff,
and the difficulty is greatly increased when one has to work in a
boat. One of these clamps applied to each spring will by a few turns
of the thumb-screws, bend the springs to their places, so that the
pan may be adjusted without difficulty. No. 4 Clamp can be used on
any trap smaller than No. 4 1 /2. No. 5 and 6 are strong clamps,
carefully made and especially adapted to setting the large traps Nos.
4 1/2 to 6. They dispense with the inconvenient and dangerous use of
levers. With them one can easily set these powerful traps. These
clamps are also useful about camp for other purposes.


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