Most of those who have never done any trapping know practically nothing regarding the use of traps I will outline briefly the methods usually employed for the capture of fur-bearing animals.
Most of the animals which are caught in traps are decoyed by means of a bait,--some thing in the line of food which appeals to its appetite,--so placed that in attempting to reach it the animal places its foot in the trap. The most common way is by setting the trap in the entrance to some natural enclosure, such as a hollow log or stump, a hollow between trees, or a hole in the rocks, or under a stump the bait being placed in the enclosure beyond the trap. Failing to find a natural enclosure, the trapper constructs one, using such material as may be found on the spot, It is advisable as a rule to make as little disturbance as possible and to give the enclosure a natural appearance.
It sometimes happens that an animal can not be induced to approach a bait and in such cases the “blind set” is resorted to, -- in other words the trap is set without bait in a trail where the animal travels or at the entrance of its de,. Failing to find such a place the trapper carefully studies the route of the animal and selects a place where some natural or artificial obstruction will crowd it into a certain spot where he carefully sets his trap in such a way as to catch the animal the next time it comes along. These blind sets are as a rule very successful and many trappers use such methods exclusively.
In setting steel traps, great care is advised for the one who learns to do this most neatly, leaving everything natural is, as a rule, the most successful. One should always be certain to get the trap in the right position for to miss catching an animal not only means its loss for the time being but many of them will become wiser from such experiences and their capture will be more difficult afterwards. The trapper is wise also who gives sufficient attention to the fastening of the trap, thus reducing the animal’s chances of escape after it is once caught.
To properly set a steel trap on dry land one should dig a “nest” for the trap, deep enough to allow the covering to be flush with the surroundings and just a little larger than, and of the same shape as the trap when set. This hollow should be lined with dry leaves or moss and the trap placed therein, To make the trap rest solidly so that there is no danger of it being tipped over also to make the jaws set level, the spring should be twisted around towards the jaw which is held down by the trigger or “dog”. The trap should then be covered with some light, dry material in keeping with the surroundings, a few dead leaves of a sheet of paper being used first to prevent the covering from rolling under the pan and in that way prevent the trap from springing. Instead of doing this some trappers place a bunch of cotton or dry moss under the pan but I do not think this advisable.
In all cases when setting traps at dens, on trails or at entrances of enclosures the trap should be so placed that the jaws will be lengthwise of the animal’s approach so that it will step between the jaws and not over one of them. If setting is reversed the rising jaw will sometimes throw the animal’s foot out of the trap.
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