Trapping Techniques for Survivalists Pt 1
If you haven’t read my blog to this point, go and read here first or what I am talking about won’t make much sense.
Trapping Techniques for Survivalists
Ok, I’m going to reiterate here first that this will bite you if you loose sight of what you are doing for a second. Your brain must be in gear before engaging any type of activity with traps. Injuries can go from sore fingers to a trip to the ER.
A story if you don’t mind about how a seemingly insignificant ” Hold my beer and watch this” turned into a week in the hospital.
I was cleaning gear one day, minding my own business in the shop.
An aquiantence dropped by, seeing a light in the shop. He gets out of the truck with an open beer, and 2 more in his pockets in case he got too far away from the cooler and got lost.
I’m all about being prepared for all eventualities.
He sits down and apparently had very little experience with Conibear type traps, so I took down a 110 and showed him how it worked. I pretty much ignored him until he got quiet, I looked over and he has manged to get his arm in the 110, through the trap center.
Up to his elbow.
So I get the trap off his arm, it took a little skin off where the trigger fingers ( heavy stiff wires) got him but he’s drinking his beer and happy he is no longer restrained. At this point I should have just given up any thoughts of gear and gone inside because whats next is a tear jerker.
He watched me use a rope, to cycle the springs on a 330 before hanging them on a rack in the shop. I will cover this technique in this post later.
So, while I was distracted he set the springs on a 330, and put it on the floor, flat.
Trigger set, safeties off.
Just sitting there. Armed and Dangerous. Minding its own business.
I looked over just as the wheels in his head stopped turning, and he stepped into the center of the 330, the trap having a hard smooth surface to push against, jumped up his leg to midway up his thigh before fully closing.
To this day I’m not sure if he did it on purpose or just had a case of the stupids but the result was the same. He jumped and started yelling.
Because I’m pretty sure it hurt a lot.
At some point he noticed on the end of one spring there was a chain, and being fairly intoxicated his first thought was to get the trap off his leg.
So the fool steps on the chain with his unrestrained leg and kicks with the leg held by the trap.
And drives both trigger fingers into the ligaments on the outside of his knee up to the trap body. Close to 6 inches of nasty rusted wire.
Aaaaaannnnd that’s how you can spend a week of vacation in the hospital with an infection.
That’s the end of today’s safety brief. Proceed at your own risk and your friends sense of humor.
Before I get into specific ways to set up a trap for a specific animal I need to cover a few things. I’ve got the safety end covered I think. So from here I will start with…
Ways to secure a trap to where its set.
It seems intuitive but it really isn’t when someone takes the time to secure a body grip type trap ( Conibear, Duke, etc) to the set site.
To answer the obvious question, yes the animal is normally dead when the trap fires.
What isn’t so obvious is another animal will rarely turn down a free meal, which your trap has thoughtfully provided.
You need to have your trap secured so the animal cannot go anywhere, either on its own or in the jaws ( or talons) of something else. No, it is not much fun if something eats what you were going to eat, but its worse when your trap is gone as well.
Snares of course need to be secured to a solid object in order for it to function at all, but you really need to double what you think is good for a tie point. A rabbit goes completely nuts in a snare and most of the time kinks up the cable so bad you have to rebuild the snare. A larger animal will break the connection, either by twisting or by brute strength.
For small animals- 2-4 wraps of 12 gauge or larger baling wire around a live tree, I prefer 4-6 inch diameter on the level of the snare.
Medium animals, up to 30 ish pounds- 6-8 wraps of baling wire, again on a live tree.
A fence post or other well secured item like a large rock will also work.
This predicates using a commercial game snare AND it having a swivel end to keep the animal from twisting and breaking the wire or the snare.
Underestimating how strong an animal is , I believe the major cause of lost catches. Even rabbit sized animals.
Body Gripping Traps
Body gripping traps, again known as Conibear or duke, etc.
I have never owned one which did not have a chain attached to the spring on the side. I do not have any with the chain on the trap body.
Strangely, I have seen some in the last few years with the chain on the body, which is terrible for retaining the animal. With enough time and leverage the trap body could pull open and release the animal, if it survived the trap firing.
If you buy any with the chain so, remove it and attach it to the spring. Check your chains every year, and give it a quick look before you set it to be sure. Rust is funny, and most chains are glorified dog chain anyway. I have chains with rings or swivels, I use both and prefer swivels for use with a wire attachment, rings for use with trap stakes.
Of course either the ring or swivel will work regardless. I like the stake through the ring , then driven into the ground, and a swivel for traps set above ground and wired to a tree or pole.
Personal preference again, its what I am comfortable with.
The most important thing to take away here is make sure your trap/snare won’t go anywhere until you get back.
I’ve beaten that to death now, it works for everything in the trap kit.
Setting the body grip trap
In a previous post I referenced trap tongs which I stated were good for showing how not to set a trap. Before I knew what not to do I lost a couple fingernails and pinched more then 1 blood blister before I regulated them to the scrap pile.
Very simply they are a pair of steel rods hinged in the middle, you hook the spring loops with the notches in the ends and squeeze, like scissors.
I received my first set as a young trapper. I think it is a write of passage to tear up your hands with them, then give them to someone new so you can feel like you aren’t the only fool in the world who tried them.
So, if the tongs don’t help? What now? I have a simple, easy and much safer way to set one. All you need is 3 feet of light rope or in a pinch 550 cord. No, 550 is not my first choice for this task, it has too small a diameter and it will slip out of the spring loops on occasion.
This is a simple procedure. First look at your trap. Untangle the chain, get the trigger fingers out of the way, have them facing into the center of the trap and the trigger hook somewhere centered on its side of the trap. Make sure nothing is hooked or tangled with the opposite side of the trap.
Fold the springs out so the whole trap lays flat, springs out like wings. On each spring you will see a small metal hook. Make sure it is free and not attached to anything but the eye at one end. The hook end should be free.
These are your safeties and should be used often to keep your hands happy. When the springs are compressed they hold them until you can get your trap closed all the way and triggers set. A trap is difficult to set without them, at least larger sizes than the 110.
Tie a loop for your foot to fit in on one end of the rope. Make it a large loop so your rubber boots will fit in it without a struggle.
With the trap laying flat, run the end without the loop through the ring end of the spring on one side. Go through both loops.
Then bring the rope back over the trap and go through both spring loops again. Make sure the safety is not tangled in the rope, you will need it in a minute.
Step through your foot loop, and pull on the other end of the rope, the spring will compress nicely. reach down and clip the safety over the spring and the spring will stay compressed. Do it again on the other side and set the safety on both sides.
Here is where it gets touchy. You have to open the trap with the safeties on the compressed springs. The spring loops will be on either side of the trap hinge as shown in the picture. Compress the trap into the open position. From here on keep your hand in the position you see my hand in holding the trap fully open. With the springs compressed it it very easy to hold and set the trap trigger bar in the notch on the trigger fingers.
Keep tension on the trap with your hand and position it where you want it set, then release the safeties if they haven’t fallen off the springs already. Carefully attach the trap chain if you didn’t already to your anchor with a stake or wire.
In part 2 I will discuss particular sets for specific animals, after reading this you should be able to set a trap without injuries or ambulance