Land Trapping Part II continued
The third type of set commonly used for predators is the cubby. Again, there are probably as many variations of this set as there are individuals who make them. A cubby can be constructed of wood, stone or whatever comes to hand. Some are nothing more than an old metal or plastic bucket laid on it's side with a little bait thrown in the back and a trap set in the front so that the animal has to pass over it to get to the bait. Others, where deep snow is a consideration, are constructed of logs as much as 4' high, six or eight feet long and look as if they were made to last for the ages. In putting a cubby together for demonstration purposes I used some 18" firewood because that is what was handy. (See photo #14)
When I lived in another part of the state, my cubbies were all constructed of stone and I could use a nice big flat rock for the top. In this area flat rocks are almost unheard of so I for this cubby I used branches from a near by balsam. What I am saying, is use whatever is natural to the section where you live or happen find yourself. (See photo #15)
Photo #16 shows the finished set. With your bait in the back of the cubby and a few feathers or a bit of rabbit fur scattered near the entrance (assuming you have some of one or the other) and you are on your way. One last hint: if snow or rain are causing problems with the trap at your cubby set, it is very easy to extend the top out a bit so it is almost like a little porch covering the trap. The trap covering will stay dry and snow free and be in good working order when your customer shows up.
Land Trapping Part III
In parts I and II have dealt exclusively with sets for the foot hold trap. In part III, we will look at the #120 and 160 body gripping or Conibear type trap. Before we do, a bit of warning, these traps are designed to kill. They are equipped with safety catches on the springs - use them! If you pinch your finger in a number one long spring your will say "@# Ouch!" If you catch a finger in a 1 1/2, you will say "Son-of-a-@#% that hurt" If it is a #3 or 4 coil spring, the air will turn blue and so will your unlucky digit. Sticking your hand in a #160 probably won't break anything major but the larger Conibears can cause very severe injury. I repeat myself "Use the safety catch!"
In photo #16 I show how you use your thumb to depress the dog against the trap jaw when setting the trap and adjusting the pan. Photo #17 shows how you must always, always always
reach under the free jaw when setting or adjusting foothold traps. In practice you will be doing both things at the same time but I had no way to do both at once while simultaneously taking a photo.
Back in part one of this series I posted a photograph of a typical game trail at the back of our property.
Here is that same game trail set up with a #160 body gripping trap. (Photo #18)
As you can see, the two jaws where the trigger is attached are at the top while the bottom two jaws rest directly on the ground. If there is snow and ice, I will lay a couple small twigs about a 1/4" or so in diameter and about 4" long on the ground and rest the lower jaws on top of them. (I do that to keep the trap from freezing to the ground.)
The trap is held firmly in place by sticks driven into the ground, one on each side, and at least one of which will angle up between the jaws at the top corner. Since this stick or pair of sticks also extend above the top of the trap, they also serve to keep animals from stepping or hopping over the trap. Note: any dog, Beagle size or larger will walk right over a 160. Traps larger than the 160, the #220 and #330 in particular, should never be used on the ground. The larger traps will kill a dog that comes wandering through every time.
Do not forget to carefully unhook the safety catch on both springs before leaving the set. Nothing is more discouraging than to return to a set, discover that it has been visited and that the target animal has gone on its way with a good scare and an even better education.
A long time favorite of the wilderness trapper, the leaning pole set is about as close to "dog proof" as you can get with the added advantage of being semi-snow proof and eliminating a lot of the trash animals such as skunk and rabbits. Although the set can be made with foothold traps, this is one place where the body gripper truly comes into its own.
After finding a good location, the first thing a trapper needs to do is to select the right tree. You want one that is large enough for the animals to climb but not so large that the animal can go around the trap on one side or the other. Most importantly, you must select a tree that is angled sufficiently that the animals won't go up the back side. (see Photo #19)
After selecting the tree, the trapper drives three nails to hold the lower jaws of the trap. In the picture below, I used common nails for photographic purposes. When actually making the set you will want to use finishing nails because when the trap is snapped, you don't want it to hang up on a nail head. ( See Photo # 20)
Next, set the trap in place and carefully bend the nails so that they grip the trap. The head of the two upper nails point up the tree, the lower nail points down. Do not bend them to the point that they start to go around the curve of the jaw or the trap will not fire properly. (See Photo #21)
With the trap attached, the next step is to construct a cover for the bait that will be wired to the tree above the trap. This is very important as birds , Blue jays in particular, will go after the bait if it is visible. Trim any branches back that might interfere with the trap closing, and you are on your way. (For bait in this set a skinned muskrat or grey squirrel carcase or a large chunk of beaver all work well. When it starts to go below zero, fat animals such as skunk or raccoon will give out more odor and be a bit more attractive. (See Photos #22 and 23)
Before closing, someone has asked how to taint meat. The simplest method I know of is to chop a road killed woodchuck or house cat (both of which make fine bait) into chunks about the size of a walnut, hair and all. Place in a clean jar with a lid. Do not tighten the lid - give it a half turn at most, and bury it in the ground about 16" deep. After a week or two at the most, dig it up and it will be ready to use. Be very careful, if you have overly tightened the lid the gasses that formed will expand violently and it will take a while before you are once again accepted into polite society.