Trap types for Survivalists
Basic Equipment for a Survivalist trapper here
Graphic descriptions follow, not safe for weaker stomachs.
Survival is a full contact sport, things die.
There are many trap types on the market today. I intend to give a very basic overview of the common types so if you get lucky at a yard sale and there is a garbage can full you can at least have an idea of what you are looking at. The first is the common leg hold trap. There are tons of variations to these with coils springs, leaf style and flat springs. They are all the same in the regard they are designed to hold the animals leg in the trap until the Trapper returns.
What these Do NOT do is cut off the animals leg, they don’t cause undue harm, and the majority of new manufactured leg hold trap jaws are machined so they don’t close flush with the opposite jaw. Some states have passed laws against fully closing leg hold traps.This is not in all cases, it depends on the game laws in your particular state. If you look closely you can see this type of trap jaw on the traps here.
Unless you have found a very old jaw trap, the jaws do not lock shut. This is so if a human steps in it, or gets their hand caught, they can easily pull out the limb or compress the springs and self release. Locking jaw traps are antiques and very valuable. Best sold online at auction houses or put on a wall over a fireplace.
Cows or other hoofed animals just pull their leg out, because the hoof portion is smaller than the leg at ankle height. Normally.
The advantages of these kinds of traps? The animal is alive until the trapper gets there to either dispatch or release the animal. Most of the time in my experience the animal is laying down and not stressed at all, if I was quiet approaching. This is good because in Az the desert very quickly starts the process of decomposition. As well as the animals and insects start to eat the animal as soon as it stops moving and defending itself. In the colder northern states this is a huge advantage as animals are far easier to skin when they are warm.
Also if trapping for food its fresh as can be until dispatched by the trapper.
The disadvantages? Well, the animal is alive and waiting for you. Some animals don’t take very kindly to being held up from their appointed rounds. And sometimes you catch things you didn’t intend to catch.
Family pets, half grown mountain lions, the list goes on. I have released dogs, cats ( house cats not the feral ones) and have been in close encounters with Raccoons, Skunks, Martens, and Coyote’s. A close encounter with a Raccoon is not to be underestimated, but catching something like a Cougar or as AZGF found in a live trap recently, a Jaguar, is not something you will safely release alone. A small Bear is also a possibility.
Bears and the larger cats can pull free without injury, but a bear cub or young Cougar or Jaguar may have an adult in the area . Something to keep in mind when approaching
All of these are edible in a survival situation, but until then I would steer clear of the larger leg hold traps if any of the larger animals are possible. During trapping seasons, Bears are normally hibernating in the northern climes, and the larger cats are not normally an issue.
Remember where I warned about things in the first post on trapping. This is not the time to open a beer and say to your friends ” Watch this”.
Releasing an animal requires the catch pole to restrain the head, while you compress the springs with a foot or the assistance of a helper. The animal will pull its foot out, then the trapper releases the catch poles locking mechanism.. The animal will normally run off at that point. Normally….
A variation of the leg hold trap I dearly love is this one, and its found under different brand names everywhere there are large numbers of Raccoons
The tool is very handy to have, if you aren’t experienced in setting these. They will bite you if you don’t know what your doing. These are awesome for Raccoons and you CANNOT catch a dog with it so pets are safe. The trick to them is this, you put a marshmallow or a peppermint hard candy inside. The stake on the bottom gets pushed in the ground where its sits like a little landmine, the raccoon walks by, smells the sugar and sticks its little monkey hand inside, tripping the release. And there he will be, waiting for you like a 2 year old with his hand in the cookie jar. Pretty much the same look on his face as well.
Leg hold traps have a place in the trappers arsenal, but with the exception of the Raccoon trap at the end they are NOT survival traps.
For staying alive and fed, these are the Nuclear weapon of trapping. They are known by the brand name Conibear, after the inventor but are made by a bunch of different companies so it really doesn’t matter.
The MOST useful size is the #110 which will catch everything rabbit sized and smaller almost to mouse size. Suffice to say if it can get it’s body into the trap, it will be there , dead , when you get back.
They are death on squirrels when set properly. These are also able to be rigged to catch fish, which makes them doubly useful. I will cover that in the techniques section in another post.
The #220 size is used for animals up to Raccoon size, as well as Badgers, Opossum, (eeegh) and small dogs. Don’t judge, we are surviving here. They are called the 420 by Duke but its all the same. Do not waste money on the single spring trap ( Duke 0400) in this size, you need the power and speed of the double spring
The #330– if you have never set one of these I’d recommend you don’t. These are very unforgiving to mistakes. They are also illegal in the majority of states above the high water line because of their effectiveness in killing things.
They are meant as Beaver traps, for animals up to 60lbs ish, but there is not a dog alive which can survive an encounter with one of these. These are whispering death on Otters as well. I really like these for a specific set on Beaver dams.
I hesitate to post this next item because I use a different technique for setting this type of trap I feel is much safer and less effort. Most men have the hand strength to set a 110, but a 220 and 330 need a tool.
Im not a fan of these but I have a pair I demonstrate the danger of them to my classes I do on trapping.
This is the end of my Trap types for Survivalists post. I will be looking at techniques in a later post