Camp Life in the Woods and the Tricks of Trapping and Trap Making
by William Hamilton Gibson
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There is another modification of the foregoing quail-traps very commonly utilized by professional trappers of many countries. A low hedge is constructed, often hundreds of feet in length small openings are left here and there, in which the nooses are placed, as in the accompanying engraving. The bait is strewn around on both sides of the hedge, and the grouse or other game, on its discovery, are almost sure to become entangled [Page 42] sooner or later. It is a well-known fact about these birds, that they will always seek to pass under an object which comes in their way rather than fly over it; and although the hedge of this trap is only a foot or more in height, the birds will almost invariably run about until they find an opening, in preference to flying over it. It is owing to this peculiarity of habit that they are so easily taken by this method. Our illustration gives only a very short section of hedge; it may be extended to any length. The writer's experience with the hedge nooses has been very satisfactory, although never using a length greater than ten feet. It is well to set the hedge in the locality where quails or partridges are known to run. And in setting, it is always desirable to build the hedge so that it will stretch over some open ground, and connect with two trees or bushes. Cedar boughs are excellent for the purpose, but any close brushwood will answer very well. Strew the ground with corn, oats and the like. A small quantity only is necessary.

There is another noose trap commonly used abroad, and very little known here. It is a tree trap, and goes by the name of the "triangle snare." It is not designed for the capture of any particular kind of bird, although it often will secure fine and rare specimens. It consists of a sapling of wood, bent and tied in the form of a triangle, as shown in our illustration. This may be of any size, depending altogether on the bird the young trapper fancies to secure. A noose should be suspended in the triangle from its longest point. This noose should hang as indicated in our illustration, falling low enough to leave a space of an inch or so below it at the bottom of the triangle. The bait, consisting of a piece of an apple, a berry, insect, or piece of [Page 43] meat, according to the wish of the trapper, should then be suspended in the centre of the noose, after which the contrivance should be hung in some tree to await events. As they are so easily made and can be carried with so little trouble, it is an excellent plan to set out with a dozen or so, hanging them all in different parts of the woods; as, under circumstances of so many being set, scarcely a day will pass in which the trapper will not be rewarded by some one of the snares. The writer once knew of a case where a hawk was captured by one of these simple devices. In this case it had been set expressly, and the wire was extra strong. This trap, we believe, is quite common in parts of Germany, but, as far as we know, has not been utilized to any great extent in our country. We recommend it with great confidence.

For the capture of woodchucks, muskrats and house-rats, the wire noose may also be adapted to good purpose. Many a woodchuck has been secured by the aid of this simple invention. It is only necessary to arrange the loop in the opening of the burrow, securing the wire to a stout stick, firmly driven into the ground. If properly "set" the animal, on emerging from the burrow, will become entangled, and by his efforts to disengage himself will only tighten the loop and thus render escape impossible. For rats, the noose should be attached to a nail, and the wire similarly arranged over the hole.

The slipping-noose thus simply adapted becomes a most effective trap, and is always sure to hold its victim when once within its grasp, as every struggle only tends to draw the noose tighter. They are quick in their action, and produce death without much pain, and for this reason are to be commended.


Our next example of the snare, we imagine, is one which all our boy-readers will immediately recognize; for it would certainly seem that any country boy who does not know the "Twitch-up" must be far behind the times, and live in a locality where there are no rabbits, quail, or even boys, besides himself, to suggest it. This snare is a universal favorite among nearly all country boys, and our illustration will immediately bring it to mind. Its name, "The Twitch-up," conveys perfectly its method of working. Our illustration represents the trap as it appears when set. It has many varieties, of which we will select the best. They may be divided into two classes—those with upright nooses, and those in which [Page 44] the noose is spread on the ground, the latter of which are commonly called "ground snares." We will give our attention first to the "upright" style. These are rather entitled to preference on account of the harmless death which they inflict, invariably catching by the neck. Whereas the ground nooses as frequently lift their prey into the air by their feet, and thus prolong their suffering. Twitch-ups are the most successful and sure of any snares, and that, too, without being complicated. The writer, in his younger days, was quite an expert in trapping, and he can truthfully say that he found more enjoyment and had better success with these than with any other kinds of traps he employed.

They are generally set in thickets or woods where either rabbits or partridges are known to abound. Having arrived at his chosen trapping ground, the young trapper should first select some slender, elastic sapling; that of the hickory is the best, and is generally to be found in open woods—if not, some other kind will answer very well. It should be about five or six feet in length, (trimmed of its branches,) and in diameter need be no larger than an axe-handle or a broom-stick. When this is decided, some spot about five feet distant from the sapling should then be selected. The hatchet and knife will now come into excellent use, in cutting the sticks for the little inclosure shown [Page 45] in our drawing. This should be about eight or ten inches in diameter, and of about the same height. The sticks should be driven into the ground in a circle, leaving an open space of about six inches on one side. A stout switch as large as a man's little finger, and nearly two feet long, should then be cut and nicely sharpened at both ends. This should then be driven into the ground in the form of an arch, at the opening of the inclosure.

We will now ask our readers to turn their attention to the next illustration, in order to understand what is to follow. This picture shows the method of setting the trap.

After the arch is firmly fixed in its place, a short piece of stick should be cut, of a length corresponding to the height of the arch. To the middle of this stick the bait should be attached, being either tied to it or stuck on a plug driven into the stick, the latter being sharpened on one end. Next proceed to cut another stick, of about six inches in length; let this be flattened on one end. The wire noose should then be fastened to the opposite end. The noose in this case should be large enough to fill the opening of the arch. We will now go back to the sapling again. It should be bent down slightly, and a piece of the strong twine should be tied to its tip. Taking hold of the string, proceed to bend down the end of the sapling, in the direction of the inclosure, until it draws with a force strong enough to lift a rabbit if he were tied to the end of it. Thus holding it down with the string against the front of the inclosure, cut off the twine at the place where it crosses the top of the arch, as this will be the required length. It is now necessary to tie the end of this string to the same piece of wood and at the same place to which the noose was tied. When this is done the trap may be set as shown in the cut. The spring sapling should be bent as seen in the first illustration. The piece of wood holding the noose should be passed beneath the top of the arch, as far as it will go, with its long end pointing inside the inclosure. By now supporting the inside end with the bait stick, and carefully adjusting the noose so as to completely fill the arch, the trap will be set.

[Page 46] In order to reach the bait, the rabbit or bird must necessarily pass its head through the noose, after which, if the bait be scarcely touched, the animal's doom is sealed, and he is lifted into the air, generally suffering almost instant death. It is well known that in the case of a rabbit the neck is broken by a very slight blow, a strong snap of the finger being often sufficient. It is therefore safe to conclude that when thus suddenly caught and lifted by the noose, death must occur almost instantaneously from the same cause.

It is not really necessary for success that the force of the sapling should be strong enough to lift the rabbit from the ground, as a mere strong tightening of the noose would be sufficient to cause strangulation and death. But we recommend the former method as being less painful and more rapid in its effects.

If the young trapper should experience any difficulty in finding saplings of the right size, in the locality where he desires to set his traps, the difficulty may be easily mended by cutting the poles elsewhere, and carrying them to his trapping-ground, this answering the purpose equally well. They should be sharpened nicely on the large end, and firmly stuck into ground. The "Twitch-up" may be used for the capture of all varieties of game, and when set with the noose in the opening of a hollow tree, a stray coon will occasionally be entrapped.

The next figure represents another method of constructing this trap, The picture explains itself. Instead of the arch, two notched sticks are driven into the ground, one on each side of the opening of the pen, The other piece should be of the shape shown in the figure, made either in one piece or in two pieces fastened together. They may all be constructed from twigs in the woods. Let the noose and draw-string now be fastened to the middle of the cross piece, and when set it will appear as in our figure. It will easily be seen that a slight pull on the bait will turn the cross piece from beneath the notches, and allow it to fly into the air.

In our next instance the same principle is employed. The [Page 47] notched pegs are here driven in the back part of the pen, about five inches apart, with their notches towards the front. A forked bait stick of the shape shown is then procured. The draw-string should be attached near the end furthest from the fork. By now inserting the ends lightly beneath the notches in the pegs, at the same time letting the bait incline near the ground, the trap will be set on a very slight lift, as the bait will dislodge the pieces. Of course the noose must be arranged in the opening of the pen, as in the previous varieties. The bait stick in both cases should be set cautiously beneath the notches, as shown at (a), so that the slightest turn will cause it to roll out of position.

A fourth method of snaring is shown in our next figure. In this instance the original arch is used, or else some circular opening constructed in the front of the pen. Inside, at the back part of the inclosure, a smaller arch is placed. Two sticks are then to be made similar to those mentioned in our first example of the "Twitch-up." Let the draw-string be tied to the end of one of these sticks; after which it should be passed under the inside arch, being brought out in front of it, and there supported by the bait-stick, as seen in our illustration. The noose should then be attached to the draw-string above the pen, and afterward brought down and arranged in front of the opening. The trap is then set, and will be found on trial to work admirably.

One of the simplest as well as surest of "Twitch-up" traps forms the subject of our next illustration. Like the foregoing varieties it is of course to be surrounded by its pen, and supplied with a circular opening or arch at one side, in which to hang the noose. It is constructed of three twigs. A simple crotch (a) should be firmly inserted in the ground at [Page 48] the back part of the pen; (b) the bait stick, consists of a straight twig, five or six inches in length, and should be attached to the draw-string at about half an inch from the large end; (c) is another forked stick with unequal arms, the long one being driven into the ground near the opening of the pen and a little to one side, letting the remaining arm point directly towards the crotch-stick at the back of the pen. The noose having been attached to the draw-string, the trap may now be set. Lower the bait stick and pass the large end under the crotch at the back of the pen, catching the baited end underneath the tip of the forked stick near the pen's opening. Arrange the noose in front of the entrance, and the thing is done. A mere touch on the bait will suffice to throw the pieces asunder. It is an excellent plan to sharpen the point of the forked stick (c) where it comes in contact with the bait stick, in order to make the bearing more slight, and consequently more easily thrown from its balance.


Our next example represents one of the oldest and best snares in existence,—simple in construction, and almost infallible in its operations. It is the one in most common use among the poachers of England, hence its name. The pieces are three in number, and may be cut from pine wood, affording easy and profitable employment for the jack-knife during odd hours and rainy days, when time hangs heavily.

The pieces are so simple in form and easy of construction that a sufficient number for fifty traps might be whittled in less than two hours, by any smart boy, who is at all "handy" with his jack-knife.

If a few good broad shingles can be found, the work is even much easier,—mere splitting and notching being then all that is necessary. The bait stick should be about eight inches long, pointed at one end, and supplied with a notch in the other at about half an inch [Page 49] from the tip. The upright stick should be considerably shorter than the bait stick, and have a length of about ten inches, one end being nicely pointed, and the broad side of the other extremity supplied with a notch similar to the bait stick. About four inches from the blunt end, and on the narrow side of the stick, a square notch should be cut, sufficiently large to admit the bait stick loosely. The catch piece now remains. This should be about two and a-half inches in width, and bevelled off at each end into a flat edge. The shapes of the different pieces, together with their setting, will be readily understood by a look at our illustration.

A hundred of these pieces will make a small bundle, and may be easily carried by the young trapper, together with his other necessaries, as he starts off into the woods. He will thus be supplied with parts for thirty-three traps, all ready to be set, only requiring the stakes for the pens, which may be easily cut in the woods. Having selected a flexible sapling about five feet in length, and having stripped it of its branches, proceed to adjust the pieces. Take one of the upright sticks, and insert it firmly in the ground, with its upper notch facing the sapling, and at about four feet distant from it. Bend down the "springer," and by its force determine the required length for the draw-string attaching one end to the tip of the sapling, and the other near the end of a catch piece, the latter having its bevelled side uppermost. The wire noose should then be attached to the draw-string about six inches above the catch-piece. The pen should now be constructed as previously directed. Its entrance should be on the side furthest from the springer, and should be so built as that the peg in the ground shall be at the back part of the enclosure. The pen being finished, the trap may be set.

Insert the bait stick with bait attached into the square notch in the side of the upright peg; or, if desired, it may be adjusted by a pivot or nail through both sticks, as seen in our illustration, always letting the baited end project toward the [Page 50] opening. Draw down the catch piece, and fit its ends into the notches in the back of the upright peg and extremity of the bait-stick. By now pulling the latter slightly, and gently withdrawing the hand, the pieces will hold themselves together, only awaiting a lift at the bait to dislodge them. Adjust the wire loop at the opening of the pen, and you may leave the trap with the utmost confidence in its ability to take care of itself, and any unlucky intruder who tries to steal its property.

Most of the snares which we shall describe are constructed from rough twigs, as these are always to be found in the woods, and with a little practice are easily cut and shaped into the desired forms. If desired, however, many of them may be whittled from pine wood like the foregoing, and the pieces carried in a bundle, ready for immediate use. In either case, whether made from the rough twigs or seasoned wood, it is a good plan to have them already prepared, and thus save time at the trapping ground when time is more valuable.


This is simply a modification of the snare just described, but possesses decided advantages over it in many respects. In the first place, it requires little or no protection in the shape of an enclosure. It can be set in trees or in swamps, or in short in any place where an upright elastic branch can be found or adjusted. Like the foregoing, it is to be commended for its portability, fifty or sixty of the pieces making but a small parcel, and furnishing material for a score of traps. We call it the "portable snare" partly in order to distinguish it from the one just described, but chiefly because this particular variety is generally called by that name in countries where it is most used.

It is composed of three pieces, all to be cut from a shingle or thin board. Let the first be about eight inches long, and three-quarters of an inch in width. This is for the upright. An oblong mortise should be cut through this piece, one inch in length, and beginning at about an inch from the end of the stick. Three inches from the other end, and on one of the broad sides of the stick, a notch should be made, corresponding in shape to that shown in our illustration. The bait stick should be four or five inches long, one end fitting easily into the mortise, where it should be secured [Page 51] by a wire or smooth nail driven through so as to form a hinge, on which it will work easily. On the upper side of this stick, and two inches distant from the pivot, a notch should be cut, similar to that in the upright. The catch piece should be about two inches in length, and bevelled off to a fiat edge at each end. This completes the pieces.

To set the trap, it is only necessary to find some stout sapling, after which the upright stick may be attached to it close to the ground, by the aid of two pieces of stout iron wire, twisted firmly around both. It is well to cut slight grooves at each end of the upright for the reception of the wires, in order to prevent slipping. Tie a strong piece of twine around one [Page 52] end of the catch piece, knotting it on the beveled side. Cut the string about two feet in length, and attach the other end to the tip of the sapling. Adjust the bait stick on its pivot. By now lowering the catch piece, and lodging the knotted end beneath the notch in the upright and the other end in the notch on the bait stick, the pieces will appear as in our drawing. Care should be taken to set the catch pieces as slightly as possible in the notches, in order to insure sensitiveness. At about four inches from the catch piece, the wire noose should be attached and arranged in a circle directly around the bait. By now backing up the trap with a few sticks to prevent the bait from being approached from behind, the thing is complete, and woe to the misguided creature that dares to test its efficacy. By adjusting the drawstring so far as the upper end of the catch piece, the leverage on the bait stick is so slight as to require a mere touch to overcome it; and we may safely say that, when this trap is once baited, it will stay baited, so far as animal intruders are concerned, as we never yet have seen a rabbit or bird skilful enough to remove the tempting morsel before being summarily dealt with by the noose on guard duty.

For portability, however, the following has no equal.


This is one of the most ingenious and effective devices used in the art of trapping; and the principle is so simple and universal in its application to traps in general as to become a matter of great value to all who are at all interested in the subject. There is scarcely a trap of any kind which could not be set with the knotted string and bait stick, at the expense of a little thought and ingenuity. The principle is easily understood by a look at our engraving, which probably represents the simplest twitch-up it is possible to construct. A stout wooden peg, having a hole the size of a lead pencil near the top, is driven firmly into the [Page 53] ground. The "knot" is made on the end of the draw-string, and passed through the hole in the peg from behind, being secured in place by the insertion of the bait stick in front. The latter should be about four inches long, and should be inserted very lightly,—merely enough to prevent the knot from slipping back. The noose should be fastened to the draw-string six or seven inches from the knot, and arranged in front of the bait at the opening of the pen, which should be constructed as previously directed. The peg should be about six inches long and the hole should be made with a 1-3 inch auger. Dozens of these pegs may be carried without inconvenience, and utilized in the same number of snares, in a very short time. We have already described the so-called "portable snare;" but, for portability, there is no noose-trap to be compared with the above. We give also a few other applications of the same principle.

In the second example, a horizontal stick is used instead of the peg, the hole being made in its centre. Its ends are caught in notches in opposite sticks at the back part of the pen, and the noose arranged at the opening.

Again, by a third method (see engraving next page), these notched sticks may be driven into the ground first, and a row of twigs continued on them on both sides, thus leaving a passageway between as represented in the illustration. A noose may then be set at each opening, with the bait in the middle; so that, at whichever side it is approached, the result is the same, besides affording a chance of securing two birds at the same time.


That quails are sociable in their habits, and that they run together in broods in search of their food, is a fact well known [Page 54] to all sportsmen. A most excellent opportunity is thus afforded the hunter to secure several at one shot, and the same advantage may be gained by the trapper by specially arranging for it. For this purpose there is no invention more desirable or effective than the snare we next illustrate; and on account of the companionable habits of the quail, it is just as sure to catch six birds as one. The principle on which the trap works, is the same as in the three foregoing.

Two notched pegs are first driven into the ground, about four inches apart, and the flat stick with the hole in the centre caught beneath these summits, as just described. It should be firmly secured; several nooses are next to be attached to the drawstring, and the trap set as already directed.

The best bait consists of a "nub" of pop-corn, firmly impaled on the spindle, together with a few loose grains scattered on the ground right beneath it. The nooses should be arranged around the bait so as to touch or overlap each other, and the bait stick introduced into the hole a little more firmly than when set with one noose. The quail on reaching the trap all rush for the corn on the ground, and thus fill nearly if not all the nooses. When the supply here is exhausted, then united attacks are directed towards the "nub" on the bait stick, which soon becomes loosened: the knot is thus released and each noose will probably launch a victim in mid-air. This invention is original with the author of this work, so far as he knows; and it will be found the simplest as well as most effective quail snare in existence. Pop-corn is mentioned as bait partly on account of its being a favorite food with the quail; but particularly because the pecking which it necessitates [Page 55] in order to remove the grains from the cob, is sure to spring the trap. If pop corn cannot be had, common Indian corn will answer very well. Oats or buckwheat may also be used, as the ground bait, if desired.


This is a most unique device, and will well repay anyone who may desire to test its merits. It may be set for rabbits, coon, or feathered game, of course varying the size of the box accordingly. For ordinary purposes, it should be seven or eight inches square, leaving one end open. Place it in the position shown in the illustration and proceed to bore an auger hole in the top board, one and a half inches from the back edge.

This is for the reception of the bait stick. Directly opposite to this and an inch from the front edge of the board a notched peg should be inserted. A gimlet hole should now be bored on a line between the auger hole and notched peg, and half an inch from the latter. A small stout screw eye should next be inserted at the rear edge of the board, and another one fastened to the back board, two inches from the bottom. With these simple preparations the box is complete. The bait stick should be about five or six inches long and supplied with a notch at the upper end. It should be of such a size as to pass easily into the auger hole, and provided with a peg inserted through it at about an inch and a half from the notched end, as shown in our illustration at (a). The object of this peg is to prevent the bait stick from being drawn entirely [Page 56] through the hole by the force of the pull from above. The catch piece should be only long enough to secure its ends beneath the notches in the peg at the top of the box and the projecting bait stick. It should be bevelled off at the tips as in the instances previously described, and attached to a piece of sucker wire, the point of attachment being at about an inch from the end of the stick. The wire should be about two and a half feet in length, the catch piece being fastened at about six inches from one end. To set this neat little invention it is first necessary to procure a strong and elastic switch about four feet in length, sharpen it slightly at the large end and insert it firmly in the screw eye at the back of the box, securing it in place at the top by strings through the screw eye at that place. By now attaching the short end of the wire to the tip of the sapling, inserting the bait stick from the inside of the box, and securing the catch piece in the notches, the other pieces will be in equilibrium, and the only remaining thing to be done is to pass the long end of the wire through the gimlet hole, and form it into a slipping noose which shall completely fill the opening of the box. In order to reach the bait the animal must pass his head through the noose, and it can be easily seen that the slightest pull on that tempting morsel will release the catch piece and tighten the wire around the neck of the intruder. Where the trap is small and the captured animal is large, it will sometimes happen that the box will be carried a distance of several feet before overpowering its victim; but it is sure to do it in the end if the spring powers of the sapling are strong and it is firmly secured to the box. If desired, the box may be tied to a neighboring stone or tree to prevent any such capers; but it will generally be found unnecessary, and a few minutes' search will always reveal it with its unlucky captive.

We have described the box with its spring attached; but this is not a requisite, as it may be used with growing sapling when required.

The same trap may be constructed of a pasteboard box and whalebone, for the capture of small birds, and used with good success. The size we have mentioned is adaptable for rabbits and animals of the same size, but is really larger than necessary for feathered game.


This is another embodiment of the same principle which has already been described, viz.—the knotted string. By many it [Page 57] is considered an improvement on the box snare just mentioned, owing to the possibility of its taking two victims at the same time. It may be set for rabbits, mink, or muskrat, and will be found very efficient.

It consists of a box about eight inches square, one foot in length, and open at both ends. In the centre of the top board a hole of the diameter of a lead pencil should be bored, and a smaller aperture also made in the middle of each end near the edge as seen in the accompanying engraving. The spring is next required. This should consist of an elastic switch or small pole, three or more feet in length. It should be inserted in a slanting auger hole, made through the middle of one of the side boards near the bottom at the angle shown at (a). Should the switch fit loosely it may be easily tightened by a small wedge driven in beside it. The bait stick (b) should be about four inches in length, and large enough to fit easily into the hole in the centre of the top board. Next procure a stout bit of cord about eight inches in length. Tie one [Page 58] end to the tip of the switch and provide the other with a large double knot. A second knot should then be made, about an inch and a half above the first. A piece of sucker wire is the next necessity. Its length should be about five feet, and its centre should be tied over the uppermost knot in the string. If the bait is now in readiness, the trap may be set. Bend down the switch until the end knot will pass through the hole in the centre of the board. When it appears in the inside of the box, it should then be secured by the insertion of the top of the bait stick, as shown at (b). This insertion need be only very slight, a sixteenth of an inch being all that is sufficient to prevent the knot from slipping back. The spring is thus held in the position seen in the drawing, and the loose ends of the sucker wire should then be passed downward through the small holes and arranged in nooses at both openings of the box. Our trap is now set, and the unlucky creature which attempts to move that bait from either approach, will bring its career to an untimely end. The bait stick may be so delicately adjusted as to need only the slightest touch to dislodge it. Such a fine setting is to be guarded against, however, being as likely to be sprung by a mouse as by a larger animal. The setting is easily regulated, being entirely dependent upon the slight or firm insertion of the bait stick. Among all the "modi operandi" in the construction of traps, there is scarcely one more simple than the principle embodied in this variety, and there is none more effective.

The box snare already described may be set by the same method, and indeed the principle may be applied to almost any trap, from the simplest snare described on page (52) to the largest dead-fall.

* * * * *



This is the variety of snare which has been in very common use for ages, and has always been the one solitary example of a noose trap which our "boys' books" have invariably pounced upon for illustration. For the capture of small birds it works very nicely; and as without it our list of traps would be incomplete, we will give an illustration of it as it appears when [Page 59] set and ready for its work. In constructing the affair it is first necessary to cut a flexible twig of willow or bramble about eighteen inches in length, and form it into a loop as seen at (a), securing the tips by a few circuits of string, and allowing the larger end to project an inch or more beyond the other. This loop, which is called the "spreader," should now be laid down flat; and on the upper side of the large end and about an inch from its tip, a notch should be cut as our illustration shows. The spring should next be procured, and should consist of a pliant, elastic switch, about four feet in length. A piece of fish line about two feet long, should now be fastened to the tip of the switch, and the loose end of the cord attached to a catch piece of the shape shown at (b). This catch may be about an inch and a half long, and should be whittled off to an edge on one end, the string being attached at about its centre. A slipping noose, made from strong horse hair, or piece of fine wire about two feet long, should now be fastened to the string about two inches above the catch. Having the switch thus prepared, it is ready to be inserted in the ground at the place selected for the trap. When this is done, another small flexible twig about a foot in length should cut, and being sharpened at both ends, should be inserted in the ground in the form of an arch (c), at about three feet distant from the spring, and having its broad side toward it. Insert the notch of the spreader exactly under the top of the arc, and note the spot where the curved end of the former touches the ground. At this point a peg (d) should be driven leaving a projecting portion of about two inches. The [Page 60] pieces are now ready to be adjusted. Pass the curved end of the spreader over the peg, bringing the notched end beneath the arc with the notch uppermost. Draw down the catch piece, and pass it beneath the arc from the opposite side letting the bevelled end catch in the notch in the spreader, the other end resting against the upper part of the arc. Arrange the slipping noose over the spreader as our drawing indicates, bringing it inside the peg, as there shown, as otherwise it would catch upon it when the snare is sprung. Strew the bait, consisting of berries, bird-seed, or the like, inside the spreader, and all is ready. Presently a little bird is seen to settle on the ground in the neighborhood of the trap; he spies the bait and hopping towards it, gradually makes bold enough to alight upon the spreader, which by his weight immediately falls, the catch is released, the switch flies up, and the unlucky bird dangles in the air by the legs. If the trapper is near he can easily release the struggling creature before it is at all injured, otherwise it will flutter itself into a speedy death.


The accompanying cut illustrates an improvement on the last mentioned trap, whereby it can be used for the capture of larger game, and with most excellent success. In place of the "spreader" a crotched stick is used, the crotch of which catches around the peg, the other end being supplied with a notch as in the case of the spreader. On the upper side of this stick a small pasteboard platform is tacked, over which and beneath which the bait is thrown. Instead of the arc, a stout crotch stick is substituted. The noose should be at least ten inches in diameter and constructed of sucker wire. It should be arranged on the ground around the bait and inside of the peg. When the snare is set, the crotched end of the bait stick will thus rest near the earth, the notched end only being lifted in order to reach the catch piece. It is well to insert a few small sticks inside the edge of the noose in order to keep it in correct position. If properly set, the quail or partridge [Page 61] in approaching the trap will have to step inside the noose in order to reach the bait, and while thus regaling itself with a choice meal of oats, berries, or other delicacies, will be sure to press upon the bait stick either by pecking, or treading upon it, and will thus set the catch piece free, only to find itself secured by a grasp from which he will never escape alive. This is a very effectual snare; but on account of its securing its victim by the legs and thus torturing them to death, it is to be deprecated. We would recommend in preference, those varieties already described as being fully as successful, and far less cruel. They effect almost instant death, either by broken necks or strangulation, and are in this regard among the most humane traps on record.


For simplicity in construction there are few snare traps which can compare with this variety, although it is somewhat similar to those last mentioned, and like them, catches by the feet. The trap consists of three pieces. A catch piece about three inches long, a bait stick of about six inches, and a stout crotch of the proportionate size shown in our illustration, a glance at which will make the setting too clear to need description. Be careful that the bait stick is set fine and rests just beneath the tip of the catch-piece so that a mere touch on the bait will release it. Arrange the noose as in the instance last described, and bait either as therein directed or with an apple or nubbin of corn, as our accompanying cut indicates. Always remembering that the noose should be sufficiently large to require the birds to step inside of it in order to reach the bait.


This odd invention will be found to work capitally as a game trap, and the only extra requisite necessary consists of a slab or light board about seven inches wide, and a foot in length. Having selected the spot for the trap, proceed to cut a stiff [Page 62] switch about five feet in length, and having sharpened the larger end to a nice point, insert it firmly into the ground in a slanting direction as our drawing illustrates. Next bend down the tip of the sapling, and resting one end of the board on the ground, catch the tip of the switch against the other end, as our illustration also shows. A little experimenting will soon determine the right place for the board, after which two pegs should be driven in the ground at its edge to hold it against the pressure on the opposite end. This being done fasten a wire noose to the tip of the switch, after which the pen is the only thing required. This should be built of simple little twigs arranged around three sides of the board, leaving the front end open. To set the snare, lower the switch and raising the board slightly at the back end, catch the tip of the springer behind it, afterwards arranging the noose over the platform, and scattering the bait inside. If the trap has been constructed properly and set "fine" it will take but a very slight weight on the platform to lower it from its bearing, the weight of an ordinary bird being sufficient, and the springer thus released will fly forward either catching its victim by the neck or legs, as the case may be. It may sometimes be found necessary to cut a slight notch in the end of the springer to receive the board, but in every case it should be tried several times in order to be sure that it works sensitively.

[Page 63]

[Page 65] BOOK III.


mong the following will be found the various net and cage traps commonly used in the capture of winged game, besides several other unique devices in the shape of box traps, etc., many of which are original with the author of this work and appear in the present volume for the first time in book form. Commonest among bird-catching machines, is the well known invention of


This device certainly possesses one great advantage:—it is not complicated. Any one possessed of a sieve and a piece of string can get up the trap at two minutes' notice, and provided he has patience, and can wait for his little bird, he is almost sure to be rewarded for his pains,—if he wait long enough. This of course depends upon circumstances: when the birds are plenty and are not shy, it is a common thing to secure three or four at once in a very few minutes, while at other times an hour's patient waiting is unrewarded.

The trap consists only of a sieve tilted up on edge and thus propped in position by a slender stick. To this stick a string or thread is attached and the same carried to some near place of concealment, when the trapper may retire out of sight and watch for his "little bird." The ground beneath the sieve is strewn with bread crumbs, seed or other bait, and while the unsuspecting birds are enjoying their repast, the string is pulled and they are made prisoners. The sieve may be arranged with a spindle as described for the coop trap, page (68), and may thus be left to take care of itself. Where [Page 66] the birds are plenty and easily captured, the former method answers the purpose perfectly, but when tedious waiting is likely to ensue the self-acting trap is better.


This is a very old invention, and has always been one of the three or four stereotyped specimens of traps selected for publication in all Boys' Books. It is probably well known to most of our readers.

Take four bricks, and arrange them on the ground, as seen in our engraving, letting them rest on their narrow sides. If properly arranged, they should have a space between them, nearly as large as the broad surface of the brick. A small, forked twig of the shape shown in the separate drawing (b) having a small piece cut away from each side of the end, should then be procured. Next cut a slender stick, about four inches in length, bluntly pointed at each end. A small plug with a flat top should now be driven into the ground, inside the trap, about three inches from either of the end bricks and projecting about two inches from the ground. The trap is then ready to be set. Lay the flat end of the forked twig over the top of the plug, with the forks pointing forward, or toward the end of the enclosure nearest the plug. The pointed stick should then be adjusted, placing one end on the flat end of the fork, over the plug, and the other beneath the fifth brick, which should be rested upon it. The drawing (b) clearly shows the arrangement of the pieces. The bait, consisting of berries, bird-seed, or other similar substances should then be scattered on the ground on the inside of the enclosure. When the bird flies [Page 67] to the trap he will generally alight on the forked twig, which by his weight tilts to one side and dislodges the pieces, thus letting fall the sustained brick.

It is not intended to kill the bird, and when rightly constructed will capture it alive. Care is necessary in setting the topmost brick in such a position that it will fall aright, and completely cover the open space. This is a very simple and effectual little contrivance, and can be made with a box instead of bricks, if desired. A piece of board may also be substituted for the top brick, and the enclosure beneath made larger by spreading the bricks further apart, thus making a more roomy dungeon for the captive bird.


This is another excellent device for the capture of birds and large feathered game, and is used to a considerable extent by trappers throughout the country. Like the brick trap, it secures its victims without harm and furnishes the additional advantage of good ventilation for the encaged unfortunate. Any ordinary coop may be used in the construction of this trap, although the homely one we illustrate is most commonly employed on account of its simplicity and easy manufacture. It also does away with the troublesome necessity of carrying a coop to the trapping ground, as it can be made in a very few minutes with common rough hewn twigs by the clever use of the jack knife. The only remaining requisites consist of a few yards of very stout Indian twine, several small squares of brown pasteboard, a dozen tacks and a number of pieces of board five inches square, each one having a hole through its centre, as our engraving (b) indicates. Having these, the young trapper starts out with material sufficient for several coops, and if he is smart [Page 68] will find no difficulty in making and setting a dozen traps in a forenoon.

In constructing the coop, the first thing to be done is to cut four stout twigs about an inch in thickness and fifteen inches in length and tie them together at the corners, letting the knot come on the inside as our illustration (a) explains and leaving a loose length of about two feet of string from each corner. This forms the base of the coop. Next collect from a number of twigs of about the same thickness, and from them select two more corresponding in length to the bottom pieces. Having placed the base of the coop on the ground, and collected the strings inside proceed to lay the two selected sticks across the ends of the [Page 69] uppermost two of the square, and directly above the lower two. Another pair of twigs exactly similar in size should then be cut and laid across the ends of the last two, and directly above the second set of the bottom portion, thus forming two squares of equal size, one directly over the other. The next pair of sticks should be a trifle shorter than the previous ones and should be placed a little inside the square. Let the next two be of the same size as the last and also rest a little inside of those beneath them, thus forming the commencement of the conical shape which our engraving presents. By thus continuing alternate layers of the two sticks cob-house fashion, each layer being closer than the one previous, the pyramid will be easily and quickly formed. After ten or a dozen sets have been laid in place, the arm should be introduced into the opening at the top, and the four cords drawn out, letting each one lay along its inside corner of the pyramid. Taking the strings loosely in the left hand and having the twigs in readiness, proceed to build up the sides until the opening at the top is reduced to only four or five inches across. The square board will now come into play. Pass the ends of the cords through the hole in its centre and rest the edge of the board on the top pair of sticks, taking care that it is the tip of the grain of the wood instead of its side, as otherwise it would be likely to crack from the pressure that is about to be brought upon it. Have ready a stout peg of hard wood, and laying it over the hole in the board, and between the strings, proceed to tie the latter as tightly as possible over it. By now turning the peg, the cords will be twisted and tightened and the various pieces of the coops will be drawn together with great firmness, in which state they may be secured by the aid of a tack driven in the top board against the end of the peg as shown at (b). Thus we have a neat and serviceable coop, which will last for many seasons. To set the affair it is necessary to cut three sticks of the shapes shown in our illustration. The prop piece is a slender forked twig about ten inches in length from the tip to the base of the crotch. The spindle is another hooked twig of the same length: the bait piece is quite similar to the latter, only an inch shorter and supplied with a square notch at the tip. It is also slightly whittled off on the upper side to receive the square of pasteboard or tin, which is to hold the bait and which may be easily fastened in place by a tack. All of these twigs may be easily found in any thicket by a little practice in searching. In setting the trap, it is only necessary to raise up one side of the coop to the height of the prop stick, insert the [Page 70] short arm of the spindle through the fork and beneath the edge of the coop. While holding it thus in position, hook the crotch of the bait stick around the lower piece at the back of the coop, and pushing the end of the spindle inside the coop, catch it in the notch of the bait stick where it will hold, and the trap is ready to be baited. The bait may consist of oats, wheat, "nannie berries" or the like, and should be strewn both on the platform and over the ground directly beneath and around it. If properly set, a mere peck at the corn will be sufficient to dislodge the pieces and the coop will fall over its captive. It is not an uncommon thing to find two or even three quail encaged in a trap of this kind at one fall, and after the first momentary fright is over, they seem to resign themselves to their fate and take to their confinement as naturally as if they had been brought up to it.

The method of setting the coop trap above described is a great improvement on the old style of setting, and is an improvement original with the author of this work. In the old method a semi-circular hoop of rattan is used in place of the bait stick above. The ends of the rattan are fastened to one of the lower back pieces of the coop, and the hoop is just large enough to fit inside the opening of the coop. This rattan rests just above the ground, and the spindle catches against its inside edge in place of the notch in the bait stick already described, the bait being scattered inside the hoop. When the bird approaches, it steps upon the rattan, and thus pressing it downward releases the spindle and the coop falls; but experience has shown the author that it does not always secure its intruders, but as often falls upon their backs and sends them off limping to regain their lost senses. By the author's improvement it will be seen that the whole body of the bird must be beneath the coop before the bait sticks can be reached and that when properly set it is absolutely certain to secure its victim. The author can recommend it as infallible, and he feels certain that anyone giving both methods a fair trial will discard the old method as worthless in comparison.


With English bird-catchers this contrivance is in common use, but so far as we know it has not been utilized to any great extent in this country. It is chiefly used at night by the aid of a lantern, and large numbers of sparrows and other birds are often secured.

[Page 71]

Our illustration gives a very clear idea of the net, which may be constructed as follows: Procure two light flexible poles, about eight feet in length; to the tip of each a cord should be attached, and the same secured to the middle of the pole, having drawn down the tip to the bend, shown in our engraving. The two bent ends should now be attached together by a hinge of leather. A piece of mosquito netting is next in order, and it should be of such a size as to cover the upper bent halves of the poles, as seen in the illustration—the bottom edge being turned up into a bag, about ten inches in depth. The contrivance is now complete, and is used as follows: Three persons are generally required, and a dark night is chosen. Hay stacks, evergreens, and thick bushes offer a favorite shelter to numerous small birds, and it is here that they are sought by the bird-hunters. A breezy night is preferable, as the birds perch low, and are not so easily startled by unusual sounds.

Great caution, however, is used in the approach. One party holds the light, which is generally a dark lantern, another takes the net, and the third arms himself with a switch with which to beat the bushes. The net is first held upright about a foot from the bush, and the light thrown upon the back of it. The bush is then moderately beaten, and the birds affrighted and bewildered fly against the net, which is instantly closed. The bird is thus captured, and when a full roost can be discovered a large number may be taken in a single night. The lantern should be closed while not in actual use, and everything should be done as quietly as possible. The dark lantern in itself is useful without the net. The light often so bewilders the bird that it flies directly in the face of the lantern and flutters to the ground, where it may be easily taken with the hand.

[Page 72] THE CLAP NET.

In Asia, Africa, South America and Europe, this trap is a common resource for the capture of wild birds of various kinds. It may be called a "decoy" trap, from the fact that "call birds" are generally used in connection with it. They are placed at distances around the trap, and attract the wild birds to the spot by their cries. These birds are especially trained for the purpose, but almost any tamed bird that chirps will attract its mates from the near neighborhood, and answer the purpose very well. Sometimes the "decoys" are entirely dispensed with, and the "bird whistle" used in their stead. This will be described hereafter, and inasmuch as the training of a "decoy" would be a rather difficult matter, we rather recommend the use of the bird whistle. The skill and absolute perfection of mimicry which is often attained by bird fanciers with the use of this little whistle, is something surprising.

No matter what the species of bird—whether crow, bobolink, thrush or sparrow, the song or call is so exactly imitated as to deceive the most experienced naturalist, and even various birds themselves. Of course this requires practice, but even a tyro may soon learn to use the whistle to good advantage.

The clap net commonly used, is a large contrivance—so large that several hundred pigeons are often caught at once. It is "sprung" by the bird-hunter, who lies in ambush watching for the game. The net is generally constructed as follows, and may be made smaller if desired:—

[Page 73] Procure two pieces of strong thread netting, each about fifteen feet in length, and five feet in width. Four wooden rods one inch in thickness and five feet in length are next required. These may be constructed of pine, ash, or any other light wood, and one should be securely whipped to each end of the netting.

Now by the aid of a gimlet or a red-hot iron, the size of a slate pencil, bore a hole through one end of every piece one inch from the tip, taking care that the ends selected lay on the same side of the net. The other extremities of the four poles should be supplied, each with a large screw eye. Four pegs are next in order—one of which is shown separate at (P). It should be about eight inches in length, and three inches in width, and an inch in thickness, and sharpened to a point at one end. The other end should be supplied with a notch two inches in depth and of such a width as will easily secure the perforated end of one of the poles already described. By the use of the gimlet or a red-hot nail, a hole should now be bored through the side of every peg across the centre of the notch for the reception of a wire pin or smooth nail.

The nets may now be rolled up on the poles, and the trapper may thus easily carry them to his selected trapping ground. This should be smooth and free from stones and irregularities. Unroll the nets and spread them flatly on the ground, as seen in the illustration. Let the perforated ends of the poles be innermost, and allow a space of six feet between the inner edges of the nets. Draw the net flatly on the ground, and drive one of the notched pegs at each of the inside corners, securing the poles into the slots by the aid of the wire pins or nails. Next cut four stakes eight or ten inches long. The places for these may be seen by a look at our engraving. Each one should be inserted five feet distant from the notched peg, and exactly on a line with the inside edge of the net—one for each corner. They should slant from the net in every case. To each one of these stakes a stay-rope should be secured, and the other end passed through the screw eye of the nearest pole, drawing the string tightly, so as to stretch the net perfectly square. Next, take a piece of cord, about twenty feet in length, and fasten it across the ends of the net into the screw eyes in the poles. This is the loop to which the draw-string is attached, and either end of the net may be chosen for this purpose. To this loop and a little one side of the middle, the draw-string should be fastened. If secured exactly in the middle of the loop, the two nets will strike when the draw-rope is pulled, whereas [Page 74] when adjusted a little to one side, the nearest net will move a trifle faster than the other, and they will overlap neatly and without striking—completely covering the ground between them. When the trap is spread the draw-rope should extend to some near shelter where the bird-catcher may secrete himself from view. Spreading the bait on the ground between the nets, and arranging his call birds at the proper distances, he awaits his opportunity of springing his nets. At the proper minute, when the ground is dotted with his game, he pulls the draw-string, and the birds are secured.

Immense numbers of wild fowl are often captured in this way.

The "bird whistle," already alluded to, is often used with good effect, it being only sufficient to attract the birds to such a proximity to the net as will enable them to spy the bait, after which their capture is easily effected.


This instrument, also known as the prairie whistle, is clearly shown in our illustration. It is constructed as follows: First, procure a piece of morocco or thin leather. From it cut a circular piece one inch and a quarter in diameter. Through the centre of this disc, cut a round hole, one-third of an inch in diameter. A semi-circular piece of tin is next required. It should be of the shape of an arc, as seen in our illustration; its width across the ends being about three-quarters of an inch, and its entire length being pierced with a row of fine holes. Next procure a piece of thin sheet India rubber or gold beater's skin. Cut a strip about an inch in length by half an inch in width, and lay one of its long edges directly across the opening in the leather disc. Fold the leather in half (over the rubber), and draw the latter tightly. Next lay on the arc of tin in the position shown in the illustration, and by the aid of a fine needle and thread sew it through the holes, including both leather and rubber in the stitches. When this is done, the whistle is complete. If the gold beater's skin is not attainable, a good substitute may be found in the thin outer membrane of the leaf of a tough onion or leak, the pulp being scraped away.

[Page 75] To use the whistle, place it against the roof of the mouth, tin side up, and with the edge of the rubber towards the front. When once wet, it will adhere to the roof of the mouth, and by skilful blowing, it can be made to send forth a most surprising variety of sounds. The quack of the duck and the song of the thrush may be made to follow each other in a single breath, and the squeal of a pig or the neigh of a horse are equally within its scope. In short, there is scarcely any animal, whether bird or quadruped, the cry of which may not be easily imitated by a skilful use of the prairie whistle, or, indeed, as it might with propriety be called, the "menagerie whistle."


In our northern cold regions, where the wild geese and ptarmigan flock in immense numbers, this trap is commonly utilized. It consists merely of a large net fifty feet in length, and fifteen in width, arranged on a framework, and propped in a slanting position by two poles, after the manner of the sieve trap. It is generally set on the ice; and the trapper, after attaching his strings to the props, and sprinkling his bait at the foot of the net, retires to a distance to await his chances. Tame geese are often used as decoys, and sometimes the bird whistle already described is used for the same purpose. For the capture of the ptarmigan, the bait consists of a heap of gravel. It is hard to imagine a less tempting allurement, but as the food of the birds during the winter is sapless and hard, it becomes necessary for them to swallow a considerable amount of gravel to promote digestion. The great depth of the snow renders this commodity very scarce during the winter season; and the Indians, taking advantage of this fact, succeed in capturing immense numbers of the game in nets by the use of that simple allurement. The gravel is packed on the surface of a pile of snow, placed under the centre of the net, and the draw-string is carried to some neighboring shrubbery or place of concealment, where the trapper can always get at it without being seen by the birds under the net.

When everything is thus prepared, the hunters start out into the adjacent woods and willows, and drive their game toward the nets. This is generally an easy matter, and, no sooner do the birds come in sight of the heap of gravel, than they fly towards it en masse, and the ground beneath the net is soon covered with the hungry game. [Page 76] The hunter then goes to the end of the line, and, with a sudden pull, hauls down the stakes: the net fans over the birds, and they are prisoners.

Hundreds of ptarmigan are often thus caught by a single sweep of the net. The trap is simply arranged, and may be constructed on a reduced scale for smaller birds, if desired.


Among bird-catchers generally, this is the favorite and most universal trap; and, where a decoy bird is used, it is particularly successful. The cage is arranged in two compartments, [Page 77] one above the other,—the lower one being occupied by the call-birds. The making of the cage requires considerable ingenuity and much patience; and, for the benefit of those who may desire to exercise that patient ingenuity, we will subjoin a few hints, which may help them along in their efforts. For an ordinary cage, the height should be about one foot, the broad sides the same, and the top and other two sides eight inches. First cut four corner uprights. These should be three-quarters of an inch square, and one foot in length. Next cut a bottom board of pine, twelve inches by eight inches, and one inch in thickness. From each of its corners, cut a small cube of the wood, exactly three-quarters of an inch square, thus leaving four notches, which will exactly receive the ends of the uprights, as seen at (a). Before adjusting these pieces, the four sides of the boards should be pierced with small holes, as is also shown in the diagram (a). These may be punched with a brad-awl, and should be about half an inch apart, and three-eighths of an inch from the edge of the board. Each one of the uprights may then be secured in place by two long brads, one being hammered each way into each side of the notch. Next proceed to cut four more of the square sticks. Two of these should be one foot in length, and the remaining two eight inches. The corners of these should now be neatly bevelled off, so as to fit after the manner of a picture-frame. They should then be attached to [Page 78] the upper ends of the uprights by a brad through the corner of each, as seen at (b), the dotted lines indicating the end of the upright beneath. These sticks should likewise be pierced with holes to correspond with those in the bottom board, and running up and down in the direction of the wires.

The middle tier of braces are next required. Two of these should be ten and a half inches in length, and the other two six and a-half, and the ends should be perfectly smooth. These should now be punched with holes corresponding with those above, after which they may be inserted between the uprights as seen in the engraving, and secured by a brad at each end.

The trap door is shown separate at (c). The side sticks should be eight inches in length, and one-half an inch square, and the top and bottom sticks five inches in length. They should be set in between the side sticks, and the lower one should be secured about half an inch above the lower ends of the uprights, as seen in the illustration. The holes should be made in the side pieces, and the wire run across from side to side, as shown. Annealed iron, or copper wire is best for this purpose. The door should now be pivoted or hinged at the top of the cage, between the long sides, in such a position as that the top end shall rest on one of the narrow upper edges of the cage. A stiff wire should be used for the hinge, being passed through the top pieces of the cage into the lower ends of the door pieces. The cage may now be wired throughout. This is an easy matter, if the holes are properly made. About thirty yards of the wire will be required: iron wire is generally used. It should be about the size of a hair-pin, and should work easily. Commence by passing it from the under side of the bottom board through one of the holes next to the corner. Pass the wire upward, through the centre braces, again upward through the top piece and across to the opposite broad side and corresponding hole. From this point it should pass downwards, through centre brace, and again through the bottom. Draw the wire tightly and passing it upward through the hole next to it, bring it over the top of the cage and around again to the bottom edge from which it started. Continue thus until the hinge of the door is reached; after which the wire should be passed up and down on the same side and thus carried around the small end of the cage until it finally meets at the door hinge on the opposite side. The two halves of the cage should now be separated by a grating of wire, as seen in the main [Page 79] illustration. This may be accomplished either by passing the wire from side to side, around the base of each upright wire, or an additional horizontal row of holes below the others may be punched for the purpose. The door through which the call-bird is introduced should next be made in the bottom section. There are two ways of doing this: one method consists in sawing a hole three inches square in the bottom board of the cage; and a cover consisting of a piece of tin is made to slide beneath the heads of four tacks, two of which are placed on each side of the opening. This form of door is perhaps the simplest of the two. The other is shown separate at (f), together with its mode of attachment.

It consists of two side pieces of wood, about a third of an inch square, and three inches in length, and two shorter ones, two inches in length. These are arranged into a square framework by a board in each corner. Four holes are to be pierced in each side piece, at equal distances. Commencing at the top, the door should then be wired as directed for the cage. The lowest hole on each side should be left open for a separate piece of wire. The cage should now receive attention. The broad side is generally selected for the door. Find the seven centre wires and connect them across the middle by another horizontal bit of wire. This may be easily done with a pair of pincers, by compressing a loop at each end of the wire around the two which run perpendicularly at its ends. When this is performed the five intermediate wires should be cut off about a quarter of an inch below the horizontal wire, and the projecting tips looped back over the cross piece, and made fast by the pincers. The lower parts of the upright wires may now be cut off close to the board. We will now take up the door. Pass a piece of wire through the holes at the bottom, clap the door over the opening, and loop the ends of the projecting wire loosely around the upright wires at each side. This will allow the door to slide easily up and down. Another wire should now be interlaced downwards through the centre of the door, and bent into a ring at the top. Let the door rest on the bottom of the cage, and, while in this position, adjust the ring at the top around the central wire directly behind it. The door is then complete, and, if properly made, will look neat and work easily.

The "trap" at the top of the cage is next in order. To complete this it is first necessary to interweave a stiff wire loop, as seen at (d). The loop should extend on the inside of the lower piece of the door and about two inches below it. The [Page 80] spring power consists of a piece of stiff hoop-skirt wire, interwoven between the wires of the top of the cage, and those of the door, while the latter is shut. The force of this will be sufficient to bring down the door with a snap; and for further security a catch, such as is described in page (88), may be added if desired.

The spindle is next required. This is shown at (g), and consists of a small perch of wood seven inches in length, and notched at each end. In setting the trap, the door should be raised as seen in the main illustration. One of the notches in the spindle should now be caught beneath the loop and the other around one of the central wires in the end of the cage. The bait, consisting of a berry, bird-seed, or what-not, may be either fastened to the spindle or placed beneath on the wires. The call-bird having been introduced, the trap may now be left to itself. If the call-bird is well trained it will not be many minutes before the birds of the neighborhood will be attracted to the spot by its cries. Ere long one less cautious than the rest will be seen to perch upon the top of the cage. He soon discovers the bait, and alighting upon the perch, throws it asunder, and in an instant the trap door closes over its captive. The cage is sometimes constructed double, having two compartments beneath for call-birds, and two traps above, in general resembling two of the single traps placed side by side. The decoy bird is not an absolute necessity to the success of the trap. Many birds are caught simply by the bait alone. The trap cage, when constructed on a larger scale, is often successfully employed in the capture of the owl. In this case it is baited with a live mouse or bird, and set during the evening in a conspicuous place. A trap working on this principle, being especially adapted to the capture of the owl, will be noticed hereafter.


Although slightly complicated in construction, our next illustration presents one of the prettiest bird traps on record, and may be made in the following manner, and by frequently referring to the picture, our explanation will be easily understood.

The first step is to make or procure a low flat box, about fifteen inches long, by ten inches in width, with a depth of about two inches. Next fasten an interior box, of the same [Page 81] height, leaving a space of about three-quarters of an inch between them all round. A platform should now be made. Let it be of such a size that it will just fit in the interior box, with a very slight space all around its edge. It should then be pivoted in the upper part of this box by two small slender pins, one being driven through into its edge, at the centre of each end. Let it be sensitively poised. The next thing to be done, is to arrange the spindle and catch. The latter should consist of a tack or small bit of wood fastened on the middle of the platform, about an inch from one end, as seen both in the main illustration and in the diagram at (b).

The spindle should consist of a flat piece of wood, secured with a leather hinge to the edge of the outside box, directly opposite the catch. Let it be long enough to reach and barely hold itself beneath the catch. When thus in its position, two small plugs should next be driven into the edge of the inner box, one on each side of the spindle, thus holding it in place. A glance at our illustration makes this clear. The netting and "hoop" are next in order. The hoop should consist of an iron wire of the diameter of common telegraph wire.

For a box of the size we have given, a length of about twenty-eight inches will be found to answer. Before making the hoop, however, its hinges should be ready for it. Two screw eyes, or staples of bent wire should be driven into the bottom of the box between the two walls, one in the exact middle of each side. The iron wire should now be bent so as to fit round and settle into the space between the boxes, letting each end rest [Page 82] over the screws in the bottom. It will be found that there will be enough surplus wire on each end to form into a loop with the pincers. These loops should be passed through the screws or rings already inserted, and then pinched together; the hinge will thus be made, and will appear as at (c). If properly done, they should allow the hoop to pass freely from one end of the box to the other, and settle easily between the partitions. If this hinge should prove too complicated for our young readers, they may resort to another method, which, although not so durable, will answer very well. In this case the wire will only need to reach to the exact middle of the long sides. No surplus being necessary, a length of twenty-six inches will be exactly right. On each end a short loop of tough Indian twine should be tied. By now fastening these loops to the bottom of the box with tacks, in the place of screws, it will form a hinge which will answer the purpose of the more complicated one.

The netting should consist of common mosquito gauze, or, if this cannot be had, any thin cloth may be substituted. It should be sewed fast to the iron wire, from hinge to hinge, and then, with the hoops resting in its groove, the netting should be drawn over the platform, and tacked to the bottom of the groove, on its remaining half. It should rest loosely over the platform to allow plenty of space for the bird.

But one more addition, and the trap is finished. We have mentioned the use of elastics in other varieties: they are of equal use here, and should be attached to the hoop as seen at (a) in the section drawing, the remaining ends being fastened to the bottom of the groove, as there indicated. These elastics should be placed on both sides, and stretched to such a tension as will draw the hoop quickly from one side to the other.

It will now be easy to set the trap. Draw the hoop back to the opposite end, tucking the netting into the groove; lower the spindle over it, resting it between the two little plugs, and securing its end beneath the catch on the platform. If the bait, [Page 83] consisting of bread-crumbs, berries, insects, or the like, be now sprinkled on the platform, the trap is ready for its feathered victim. It will easily be seen that the slightest weight on either side of this poised platform will throw the catch from the end of the spindle, and release the hoop and the platform in an instant is covered by the net, capturing whatever unlucky little bird may have chanced to jump upon it. This is a very pretty little trap, and will well repay the trouble of making it.


Much ingenuity has been displayed in the construction of bird traps of various kinds, but often the ingenuity has been misplaced, and the result has been so complicated as to mar its usefulness for practical purposes. The examples of net traps presented in this volume are so simple that the merest tyro can readily understand them. What can be more so than the present example, and yet it is as sure in its effect, and surer than those other varieties of more complicated construction. One necessary element in a trap of any kind is, that the bearings are slight and that they spring easily. To obtain this requisite it is necessary to overcome friction as much as possible, using only a small number of pieces, and having as few joints and hinges only as are absolutely necessary. The present variety possesses advantages on this account. It is constructed somewhat on the principle of the ordinary steel trap, and also resembles in other respects the one we have just described, although much simpler. We give only a section drawing, as this will be sufficient. The long side of a flat board of about eight by sixteen inches is shown at (a); (b) indicates the loops of a bent wire, to which the netting is attached, as in the trap just described, [Page 84] the loops being fastened to the board as in the other variety; (g) consists of a small bit of wood an inch or so in length and half an inch in width. It should be tacked on to the middle of the one end of the board and project about a half inch above the surface. To the top of this the spindle (c) should be attached by a leather or staple hinge. The spindle should be of light pine, five inches in length and a quarter of an inch square, bevelled; on the under side of one end (d) is the catch or bait piece, and should be whittled out of a shingle or pine stick of the shape shown, the width being about a half an inch or less. One side should be supplied with a slight notch for the reception of the spindle, and the other should project out two or three inches, being covered on the top with a little platform of pasteboard, tin, or thin wood either glued or tacked in place. To attach this piece to the main board, two small wire staples may be used, one being inserted into the bottom end of the piece and the other being hooked through it, and afterward tacked to the bottom of the trap, thus forming a loop hinge. Another method is to make a hole through the lower tip of the bait piece by the aid of a red-hot wire, as seen at (d), afterwards inserting a pin and overlapping its ends with two staples driven into the bottom board, as shown at (e). In our last mentioned net trap the spring power consisted of rubber elastic, and the same may be used in this case, if desired, but by way of variety we here introduce another form of spring which may be successfully employed in the construction of traps of various kinds. It is shown at (o) and consists merely of a piece of tempered hoop iron, so bent as to act with an upward pressure. It should be about three inches long by half an inch wide. About three-quarters of an inch should be allowed for the two screws by which it is to be attached to the board. The rest should be bent upward and thus tempered by first heating almost to redness, and then cooling in cold water.

One of these springs should be fastened to the board on each side, directly under the wire and quite near the hinge, in the position shown in the main drawing. Now draw back the net, lower the spindle and catch its extremity in the notch of the bait piece, and the trap is set as in our illustration. Sprinkle the bait on the platform, and lay the machine on the ground where birds are known to frequent; and it is only a matter of a few hours or perhaps minutes, before it will prove its efficacy. In order to prevent the bird from raising the wire and thereby escaping, it is well to fasten a little tin [Page 85] catch (f) at the end of the board. This will spring over the wire and hold it in its place.


The following is another novelty in the way of a bird-trap, somewhat similar to the one we have just described, in its manner of working.

Procure two pieces of board about a foot square. Nail one to the edge of the other, as represented in our engraving. A stout wire is the next requisite. It should be about thirty inches long, and bent either into a curve or into two corners, making three equal sides. Each end of the wire should then be bent into a very small loop for the hinge. On to this wire the netting should then be secured as in the two previous examples, after which the ends of the wire may be tied with string or hinged on wire staples into the angle of the two boards, as seen in our illustration. Allow the wire now to lie flat on the bottom board, and then proceed to tack the netting around the edges of the upright board. Two elastics should next be fastened to the wire on each side, securing their loose ends to the bottom of the trap. They should be tightly drawn so as to bring the wire down with a snap. The spindle of this trap should be about eight or nine inches long, square and slender,—the lower end being flattened, and the upper end secured to the top edge of the upright board by a hinge of leather or string. An excellent hinge may be made with a piece of leather an inch and a half long, by half an inch in width, one half of the length being tied around the end of the spindle, and the other tacked on to the upper edge of the board.

The platform is given by itself at (a) in the same picture. It may be made of very thin wood—cigar box wood, for instance, or even thick pasteboard. It consists of three pieces. The piece which is hinged into the angle of the boards should be about three inches in length; the platform piece ought not to be more than four inches square, and the upright piece only long enough to reach the tip of the spindle when the platform is raised, as shown in our engraving. The hinge piece should be cut to an edge on that end where the leather is fastened, the opposite end being bevelled off in order that the platform may rest and be tacked or glued firmly upon it. The diagram (a) will make this all very clear.

When the platform is all made and fastened in its place, the [Page 86] trap may be set. Draw the hoop back as far as possible, and lower the spindle over its edge, catching it behind the upright stick on the platform. If the trap is properly constructed, the pressure of the spindle on the platform will suffice to hold it up as seen in our illustration. The upright stick on the back of the platform should never be more than an inch and a half from the back of the trap. If need be, a slight notch may be made in the end of the spindle and a small tack driven into the back of the upright stick to correspond to it. By thus fitting the notch under the head of the tack, it will be sure to hold the platform in the right position. But it should be carefully tested before setting, to see that it springs easily.

When thus set sprinkle the bait on the platform, scattering a little also on the bottom of the trap and on the ground directly around it. The little birds will soon spy the tempting morsels, and alighting on the trap are misled, and the slightest peck or pressure on the platform where the bait is most bounteously spread brings down the wire and net with a snap, and the little creature is secured without harm.

Our next illustration shows another method of constructing the platform. It should be about three or four inches square, [Page 87] and on the middle of one of its edges the upright catch piece should be fastened. This piece, as will be seen in our engraving, should be cut spreading at the bottom so as to admit of being secured to the platform by two brads, the tip being cut to a point. The total length of this piece should not be over two and a half inches. When tacked in place, a third brad should be inserted between the other two and exactly in the centre of the side of the platform. This latter brad is to act as the pivot, or hinge, and should project about a quarter of an inch, as seen at (a). On the opposite edge of the platform another larger brad should be driven, having its end filed to a blunt point, as in (b). If the filing would be too tedious, a plug of hard wood of the required shape would answer every purpose. The upright props which support the platform should be cut of thin wood. Let one be an inch and a half long and half an inch wide, the other being an inch in length. Each should have one end whittled to a point, which will admit of its being inserted in a gimlet hole in the bottom of the trap. These gimlet holes should be made at least half an inch in depth. Make the first at about an inch or so from the back of the trap. Into this insert the shorter pieces, broadside front. Lay the pivot brad of the platform on the top of this piece and insert over it a small wire staple, as seen at (a). Elevate the platform evenly and determine the spot for the other gimlet hole, which should be directly beneath the point of the filed brad. Be sure that it is in the middle of the board, so that the platform may set squarely, and be perfectly parallel with the sides. Insert the remaining prop in its place, and the platform is complete. The overhanging spindle now requires a little attention. This should be whittled off on each side, bringing it to a point at the tip. On each side of the spindle a long plug should then be driven into the back piece, as our illustration shows. These should be far enough apart to allow the spindle to pass easily between them. The setting of the trap is plainly shown [Page 88] in our engraving. The spindle being lowered between the plugs is caught finely on the tip of the catch-piece. The blunt point at the opposite end of the platform should have a slight hollow made for it in the prop against which it presses. If the platform be now strewn with bait, the little machine is ready. It is certainly very simple and will be found very effective.


The use of a box trap for the capture of an owl is certainly an odd idea, but we nevertheless illustrate a contrivance which has been successfully used for that purpose.

The box in this case should be of the proportions shown in our engraving, and well ventilated with holes, as indicated. (This ventilation is, by-the-way, a good feature to introduce in all traps.) Having made or selected a suitable box—say, fourteen or more inches wide, provided with a cover, working on a hinge—proceed to fasten on the outside of the lid a loop of stiff wire, bent in the shape shown at (e). This may be fastened to the cover by means of small staples, or even tacks, and should project over the edge about two inches. When this is done, the lid should be raised to the angle shown in our illustration, and the spot where the end of the wire loop touches the back of the box should be marked and a slit cut through the wood at this place, large enough for the angle of the loop to pass through. Two elastics should now be fastened to the inside of the box, being secured to the bottom at the side, and the other to the edge of the cover, as seen in the illustration. They should be sufficiently strong to draw down the cover quickly. The perch, or spindle, should consist of a light stick of wood, as shown at (b,) one end provided with a slight notch, and the other fastened to the inside of the front of the box by a string or leather hinge, (c,) keeping the notch on the upper side of the stick. It will be now seen that by opening the cover, until the loop enters through the groove, and by then hooking the notch in the spindle under the loop as seen at (a) the trap will be set, and if properly done it will be found that a very slight weight on the spindle will set it free from the loop and let the cover down with swiftness.

To secure the cover in place a small tin catch should now be applied to the front edge of the box, as shown in the illustration. A piece of tin two inches in length by a half an inch in breadth will answer for this purpose. One end should be bent [Page 89] down half an inch at a pretty sharp angle, and the other attached by two tacks, to the edge of the box, in the position shown in the cut. This precaution will effectually prevent the escape of whatever bird, large or small, the trap may chance to secure. It is a necessary feature of the trap, as without it the elastics might be torn asunder and the lid thereby easily raised.

This trap may be baited in a variety of ways. As it is particularly designed for a bird trap, it is well to sprinkle the bottom of the box with berries, bird-seed, small insects, such as crickets, grasshoppers, etc. These latter are very apt to jump out, and it may be well to fasten one or two of them to the bottom with a pin through the body, just behind the head.

There are many kinds of birds which live almost exclusively on insects; and as this bait is of rather a lively kind, there is scarcely any other method to retain them in their position. A bird on approaching this trap will almost irresistibly alight on the perch, and if not at first, it is generally sure to do so before long. If desired, a pasteboard platform may be fastened on the [Page 90] top of the perch with small tacks, and the bait scattered upon it. This will act in the same manner, and might, perhaps, be a trifle more certain. We will leave it to our readers to experiment upon.

We have given this variety the name of "owl-trap," because it may be used with success in this direction. When set for this purpose, it should be baited with a live mouse, small rat or bird, either fastened to the bottom of the trap, if a bird, or set in with the trap inclosing it, if a mouse. A small bird is the preferable bait, as it may be easily fastened to the bottom of the box by a string, and as a general thing is more sure to attract the attention of the owl by its chirping.

The trap should be set in an open, conspicuous spot, in the neighborhood where the owls in the night are heard to "hoot." The chances are that the box will contain an owl on the following morning.

This bird is a very interesting and beautiful creature, and if our young reader could only catch one, and find rats and mice enough to keep it well fed, he would not only greatly diminish the number of rats in his neighborhood, but he would realize a great deal of enjoyment in watching and studying the habits of the bird.

Should it be difficult to supply the above mentioned food, raw meat will answer equally well. The bird should either be kept in a cage or inclosure and in the latter case, its wings will require to be clipped.


Here we have another invention somewhat resembling the foregoing. Our engraving represents the arrangement of the parts as the trap appears when set.

The box may be of almost any shape. A large sized cigar box has been used with excellent success, and for small birds is just the thing. The cover of the box in any case should work on a hinge of some sort. The trap is easily made. The first thing to be done is to cut an upright slot, about two inches in length, through the centre of the backboard, commencing at the upper edge. To the inside centre edge of the cover a small square strap, about four inches in length, should then be secured. It should be so adjusted as that one-half shall project toward the inside of the box, as seen in the illustration, and at the same time pass easily through [Page 91] the slot beneath where the cover is closed. The lid should now be supplied with elastics as described in the foregoing. Next in order comes the bait stick. Its shape is clearly shown in our illustration, and it may be either cut in one piece or consist of two parts joined together at the angle. To the long arm the bait should be attached and the upright portion should be just long enough to suspend the cover in a position on a line with the top of the box. The trap may now be set, as seen in our illustration, and should be supplied with the necessary tin catch, described in the foregoing.


This invention is original with the author of this work, and when properly made and set will prove an excellent device for the capture of small birds.

The general appearance of the trap, as set, is clearly shown in our illustration. A thin wooden box is the first requisite, it should be about a foot square and six inches in depth, and supplied with a close fitting cover, working on hinges. The sides should then be perforated with a few auger holes for purposes of ventilation.

Two elastics are next in order, and they should be attached to the cover and box, one on each side, as shown at (a.) They should be drawn to a strong tension, so as to hold the cover firmly against the box.

The mechanism of the trap centres in the bait stick which differs in construction from any other described in this book.

It should be made about the size of a lead pencil, and eleven [Page 92] inches or so in length, depending of course upon the size of the box.

It should then be divided in two pieces by a perfectly flat cut, the longer part being six inches in length. This piece should be attached to the back board of the box by a small string and a tack, as shown at (c), its end being bluntly pointed. Its attachment should be about five inches above the bottom board, and in the exact centre of the width of the back.

Near the flat end of the other piece the bait consisting of a berry or other fruit, should be secured, and the further extremity of the stick should then be rounded to a blunt point. The trap is now easily set. Raise the lid and lift the long stick to the position given in the illustration. Adjust the flat end of the bait stick against that of the former, and allow the pressure of the lid to bear against the blunt point of the short stick at (d), as shown in the illustration, a straight dent being made in the cover to receive it, as also in the back of the box for the other piece. If properly constructed, this pressure will be sufficient to hold the sticks end to end, as our engraving represents, and the trap is [Page 93] thus set. The slightest weight on the false perch thus made will throw the parts asunder, and the cover closes with a snap.

The greatest difficulties in constructing the trap will be found in the bearings of the bait sticks (b), the ends of which must be perfectly flat and join snugly, in order to hold themselves together. The box may now be suspended in a tree by the aid of a string at the top. The first bird that makes bold enough to alight on the perch is a sure captive, and is secured without harm. If desired, the elastic may be attached to the inside of the cover, extending to the back of the box, as seen in the initial at the head of this chapter. If the elastic in any event shows tendencies toward relaxing, the tin catch described on page 88 should be adjusted to the lower edge of the box to insure capture.


Our illustration represents a hawk in a sad plight. The memory of a recent feast has attracted it to the scene of many of [Page 94] its depredations: but the ingenious farmer has at last outwitted his feathered foe and brought its sanguinary exploits to a timely end. This trap is a "Yankee" invention and has been used with great success in many instances where the hawk has become a scourge to the poultry yard. The contrivance is clearly shown in an illustration, consisting merely of a piece of plank two feet square, set with stiff perpendicular pointed wires.

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