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The Bear Trap


This trap is constructed after the idea of the old-fashioned box

or rabbit trap, and has been the means of securing many a hungry

bear, or even puma, whose voracity has exceeded its cunning. The

lynx and wild-cat are also among its occasional victims; and inasmuch

as its prisoners are taken alive great sport is often realized

before the captive is brought under control.

Our illustration gives a very clear
idea of the affair. The sides

are built of stout young tree-trunks, cut into sections and firmly

driven into the ground close together. For a large animal,--a bear,

for instance,--the enclosure should be about seven feet deep, two

and a half feet wide, and four feet high. The top should be built

in with the sides, after the manner of the log cabin, described

in page (244.) The two posts at the entrance should be first set

up. On the back side of each, near the end, a deep notch should be

cut for the reception of the cross piece at the top. This should

likewise be notched in a similar manner on both sides of each end,

so as to fit singly into the notches in the uprights on the one

side, and into the second pair of uprights

on the other. These latter should next be inserted firmly into

the ground, having been previously notched on both sides of their

upper ends, as described for the cross piece. They may either be

fixed in place and the cross piece sprung in between them at the

top, or the latter may be held in the notches of the first pair,

while the second are being inserted. Continue thus until the full

length of the sides are reached, when the end may be closed by

an upright wall of plain logs, either hammered into the ground,

after the manner of the sides, or arranged one above another in

notches between the two end uprights. The sliding door is next

required. This should be large enough to cover the opening, and

should be made of stout board slabs, firmly secured by cross pieces.

It should be made to slide smoothly into grooves cut into perpendicular

logs situated on each side of the opening, or may be arranged to

slip easily between the flattened side of one log on each side

and the front of the pen. Either way works well. In the latter

an additional upright or short board should be inserted in the

ground at the edges of the sliding door, to prevent the latter

from being forced to either side by the efforts of the enclosed


There are two or three ways of setting the trap, depending upon

the desired game. For a bear it is arranged as in our illustration.

An upright post, two feet in length, should be cut

to an edge at one end, and wedged in between the logs at the top

of the trap, near the middle. Across the top of this, a pole seven

feet in length, should be rested; one end being attached by a loop,

or secured in a notch in the sliding door, and the other supplied

with a strong string about four feet in length, with a stick eight

inches in length secured to its end. Through the centre log, in

the back of the pen, and about two feet from the ground, an auger

hole should be made. The bait stick with bait attached should be

inserted through this hole from the inside, and the spindle caught

on the outside between its projecting end and a nail driven in

the adjoining upright. This principle is clearly illustrated on

page 105 at (a), and, if desired, the method (b) may be used

also. For a bear, the bait should consist of a piece of meat scented

with burnt honey-comb. The odor of honey will tempt a bear into

almost any trap, and even into such close quarters as the above

he will enter without the slightest suspicion, when a feast of

honey is in view.

For the cougar, or puma, the best bait is a live lamb or a young

pig, encaged in a small pen erected at the end of the trap. A fowl

is also excellent. When thus baited, the setting of the trap is

varied. The upright post at the top of the trap is inserted nearer

the front, and the cross pole is stouter. The auger hole is bored

in the top of the trap, through the centre of one of the logs, and

about twenty inches from the back end of the trap. The spindle is

dispensed with and the end of the string is provided with a large

knot, which is lowered through the auger hole, and is prevented

from slipping back by the insertion of a stick beneath. This stick

should be about three feet in length, and of such a size at the

end as will snugly fit into the auger hole. It should be inserted

delicately, merely enough to hold the knot from slipping back, and

so as to be easily released by a slight movement in any direction.

This mode of setting is more fully detailed on page 52. As the

puma steals in upon his prey he dislodges the stick, the lid falls,

and he finds himself imprisoned with his intended victim. This

trap is much used in India and Asia for the capture of the tiger,

and the jaguar of South America is frequently entrapped by the

same devices.