The Art Of Trapping
Categories: STEEL TRAPS AND THE ART OF TRAPPING.
From time immemorial, and in every nation of the world, the art
of trapping has been more or less practised. By some as a means
of supplying their wants in the shape of daily food, and by others
for the purpose of merchandise or profit.
To be a clever and successful trapper, much more is required than
is generally supposed. The mere fact of a person's being able to
set a trap cleverly and judiciously form
but a small part of his
proficiency; and unless he enters deeper into the subject and learns
something of the nature and habits of the animals he intends to
catch, his traps will be set in vain, or at best meet with but
indifferent success. The study of natural history here becomes
a matter of necessity as well as pleasure and profit. And unless
the trapper thoroughly acquaints himself with the habits of his
various game, the sagacity and cunning of his intended victim will
often outwit his most shrewd endeavors, much to his chagrin. The
sense of smell, so largely developed in many animals, becomes one
of the trappers most serious obstacles, and seems at times to amount
almost to positive reason, so perfectly do the creatures baffle
the most ingenious attempts of man in his efforts to capture them.
A little insight into the ways of these artful animals, however,
and a little experience with their odd tricks soon enables one
to cope with them successfully and overcome their whims. For the
benefit of the amateur who has not had the opportunity of studying
for himself, the peculiarities of the various game, the author
appends a comprehensive chapter on Practical Natural History,
in which will be found full accounts of the peculiar habits and
leading characteristics of all the various animals commonly sought
by the trapper, together with detailed directions for trapping
each variety, supplemented with a faithful portrait of the animal
in nearly every instance. A careful reading of the above mentioned
chapter will do much towards acquainting the novice with the ways
of the sly creatures, which he hopes to victimize, and will thus
prepare him to contend with them successfully.
In the art of trapping the bait is often entirely dispensed with,
the traps being set and carefully concealed in the runways of
the various animals. These by-paths are easily detected by an
experienced trapper, and are indicated either by footprints or
other evidences of the animal, together with the matted leaves and
broken twigs and grasses.
Natural channels, such as hollow logs or crevices between rocks
or fallen trees, offer excellent situations for steel traps, and a
good trapper is always on the qui vive for such chance advantages,
thus often saving much of the time and labor which would otherwise
be spent in the building of artificial enclosures, etc.
The most effective baits used in the art of trapping are those
which are used to attract the animal through its sense of smell, as
distinct from that of its mere appetite for food. These baits are
known in the profession as medicine, or scent baits and possess
the most remarkable power of attracting the various animals from
great distances, and leading them almost irresistibly to any desired
spot. Such is the barks tone or castoreum, of such value in the
capture of the beaver, and the oil of anise, so commonly used for
the trapping of animals in general. These various substances will
presently be considered under their proper heading.
Many detailed and specific directions on the subject of trapping
will be found in the long chapter following; and, in closing our
preliminary remarks, we would add just one more word of general
caution, which the young trapper should always bear in mind.
In all cases avoid handling the trap with the bare hand. Many an
amateur has set and reset his traps in vain, and retired from the
field of trapping in disgust, from the mere want of observing this
rule. Animals of keen scent are quick in detecting the slightest
odors, and that left by the touch of a human hand often suffices to
drive the creature away from a trap which, under other circumstances,
would have been its certain destruction. To be sure the various
scent baits already alluded to, will in a measure overcome human
traces, but not always effectually, and in order to insure success no
precautions so simple should be neglected. A pair of clean buckskin
gloves are valuable requisites to the trapper, and should always
be on hand when setting or transporting traps.