Trappers have done much, by pushing into the wilderness after fur-bearing animals and game, to advance civilization. Had the slower pursuits of logging, farming, etc., been depended upon the United States and Canada today would not be nearly so far advanced as they are. While in sections, the larger game is gone yet there is in parts of the North, West and South, much good trapping territory that will pay the hardy trapper for years to come. Even in the more thickly settled districts, trapping can be made a good paying business if the correct sizes are used and trappers pay attention to the proper season to trap.
It seems that red fox, skunk and muskrat remain about as numerous in most sections as ever. In fact, the red fox in certain sections has only made its appearance of late years — since the country has become more thickly settled. Trappers in most sections can rest assured that they will have game to trap for years to come.
In the rapid development of the country steel traps have played a wonderful part. They have subdued the monster bear and have caught millions of the small fur-bearing animals, adding largely to the annual income of the trapper. Steel traps have been in use for more than one hundred years but for many years after invented they were so expensive that they were not generally used.
Of late years they have become cheaper, owing to the increased facilities of those great trap manufacturers, the Oneida Community, who are always looking to trappers' interest by adding new and improved methods of manufacture as well as new traps to the extensive line already manufactured so that now their use has become general; in fact, the price is now so reasonable that the trapper, on his first expedition, can have a full supply. The professional trapper, who in the North, spends from seven to nine months in the woods has a supply of these traps, ranging from the smallest to the largest. His needs are such too that all of them are in use during the trapping season. A trapper can use from 50 to 250 traps.
Trappers, as a rule, know what game they are going to trap and consequently the number of each kind or size required. If he is after bear, otter or beaver, etc., he can not use and tend as many as if he were trapping smaller game, such as skunk, mink, opossum, raccoon and muskrat.
Traps are made in various sizes. The smallest, No. 0, is used for catching rats principally, while the largest, No. 6, is for the grizzly bear. Other sizes and the game to which they are adapted are: No. 1, known as the muskrat trap, but will hold mink, skunk, marten, etc. The jaws spread 4 inches. No. 81, size of No. 1 with web jaws for muskrat, mink and skunk. No. 91, size No. 1 with double jaws for muskrat and skunk. No. 1 1/2 mink rat, but will hold stronger game. The jaws spread 4 7/8 inches. No. 91 1/2, size of No. 1 1/2 with double jaws for mink and skunk. No. 2 fox trap, also used for coon. No. 2 1/2 otter with teeth; No. 24 1/2 same as No. 2 1/2 without teeth; No. 3 for otter and coyote; No. 3 1/2 extra large single spring otter with teeth; No. 31 1/2 same as No. 3 1/2 without teeth; No. 23 otter with clutch; No. 4 wolf and beaver; No. 14 beaver with offset jaw and teeth; No. 24 beaver with clutch; No. 4 1/2 timber wolves and mountain lion; No. 50 small bear; No. 150 small bear with offset jaw; No. 5 black bear; No. 6 grizzly bear. These are the well known Newhouse brand being by far the best trap made. This brand is put out in twenty-five different sizes.
The weight per dozen of Newhouse traps given below will give a better idea of the relative sizes of these traps: No. 0 weighs 6 1/2 pounds; No. 1, 9 1/4 pounds; No. 1 1/2, 13 pounds; No. 2, 17 pounds; No. 3, 23 pounds; No. 4, 33 pounds; No. 2 1/2, 23 3/4 pounds; No. 4 1/2, 98 pounds; No. 50, 132 pounds; No. 5, 135 pounds; No. 6, 504 pounds. A single trap of the No. 6 weighs 42 pounds and it can be readily seen that they are very strong.
The Newhouse is the strongest trap made and in fact the best for all fur-bearing animals. A No. 1 Newhouse is equal in holding power to a No. 1 1/2 of other brands.
The following letters, from trappers of experience will be found of interest as bearing on the subject of proper sizes:
"In buying your traps, do not get too large a trap for the animal you wish to catch. I know an old trapper that has trapped for forty years and all he uses for muskrat is a No. 0 Newhouse trap."
"A rat does not gnaw the foot off as many trappers will tell you, but the forefoot is very tender and as a rat always struggles very hard when caught, it does not take very long to twist the foot off if the trap is not set so the rat will drown. Different trappers have different ways of fastening the traps when trapping for rats."
"I use a No. 1 Newhouse trap for mink and a No. 1 1/2 for skunk. I notice that the Newhouse people have a new trap called the "Webbed Jaw Trap". I think this an excellent trap to use in very cold weather."
"Yes, these otter traps are quite heavy, No. 3 1/2 Newhouse, but are sure to hold," writes a New England trapper who is being accompanied by a young trapper. "You asked me what the raise plate was for; it is for the otter to hit as he passes over, as you see he is very short legged, and the plate sets higher than the teeth on jaws of trap, and it will answer other purposes, as you will see when you set them. These otter and bear traps are alright and the animal that steps on the pan will stay or leave a foot. We have 9 otter and 4 bear traps. Let us look at fox traps. We have 25 "jumpers", No. 2 1/2; these are right for dry sets. Here are 25 No. 3 Newhouse for water sets. No. 2 Newhouse is just right for coon and fisher."
Trappers in stating the size traps that they use for a certain animal show quite a difference. Some use a No. 1 Newhouse for coon while others use the No. 2 and as this is a double spring, the holding power is fully three times as much as the No. 1.
In the Northern states where the coon grows much larger than in the South and Southwest, the No. 2 Newhouse is the trap. In the South the No. 1 1/2 Newhouse is a good mink trap as is also the No. 1 1/2 Victor and No. 2 Oneida Jump.
The proper size trap to use for a certain animal, varies under different conditions. If the trapper is reasonably certain that no other species of animal than the one trapped for frequents the place then the best size for the animal being set for is the trap to use.
On the other hand, should the trapper have out some traps for skunk, which need not be larger than No. 1 of the best or Newhouse variety, and any of the dens are visited by fox a larger trap should be used. If trapping for rats and you come to "rat signs" and also where there are coon and mink signs, a trap large enough to hold either should be set.
If blind or trail sets are made, it is well to have the trap sufficiently strong for the largest animal using it. Often different animals use the same trail or path leading from one den to another or to a log across a stream, etc.
Elsewhere a complete description of the various makes and sizes of traps to use is given and also full instructions about setting, fastening, etc. This embraces the view of the manufacture, the trapper and of the author who has had years of experience and should be of great value to inexperienced users of Steel Traps.
Harding, A. R. Steel Traps. Columbus, OH: A.R. Harding Pub., 1907. Print.
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