Every trapper, like all other classes, have many things to contend with. One of the worst, perhaps, is the trap stealer, who having once found one of your traps will follow up your line and take them all. If he can not find them by your tracks, he is apt to hide close by and wait until you go the round, then follow up and take your entire outfit of traps. To be sure that they are your property you should mark each and every trap before the trapping season or just as soon as they are bought, at any rate before they are set.
There are several ways to mark traps. One of the easiest and best ways is with a file. Select your mark or marks and file on each trap. Several notches filed on the under side of the trap will not injure the trap and will be a good means of identifying your property, should you ever happen upon them again. Place all the notches in the same position and at the same place on each trap and you have a good mark. The notches may be filed almost any place, excepting on the spring, and they should be filed on two or three different parts of the trap. Should the person who stole the traps attempt to file out the notches, you can tell from the places filed if they are your traps, as all have been marked exactly alike.
The trap stealer, if he knows that they are marked with the owner's private mark, is not so apt to take them, for he knows that the owner, should he find them in his possession, can easily prove property. Whereas if there was no mark on the trap, the thief could not be convicted unless seen taking them. The thief also knows that if he is discovered, his trapping grounds will be watched. So having all traps marked in some way it lessens the chances of their being stolen as well as helps to identify them after they are taken. By all means mark all your traps — you may happen on some of them unexpectedly that have been missing for years. After you have marked a trap never trade or sell it, as you would then not be able, should you happen upon traps bearing your mark, to tell whether they had been sold or stolen.
Many trappers who lose traps by "Sneakum" each year do not have them marked. Often your traps are stolen by some one in your own vicinity as they know they can set them.
How about this if your traps are stamped with your own initials? The thief will know that you can identify your property, and will not be so apt to steal as he will be afraid to set them.
When you mark your traps, never sell them, so that you know every trap bearing your initial is your property, making no difference where found.
Harding, A. R. Steel Traps. Columbus, OH: A.R. Harding Pub., 1907. Print.
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