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The Bow Trap


This device does duty in India and Southern Asia, where it is known

as the tiger trap.

It is easily constructed as follows: First cut a stout board five

inches in width, two and a half feet in length and about two inches

in thickness. Shave off one end to a point so that it may be driven

into the ground. At the other extremity, in the middle of the board

and about two inches from the
dge, a hole one half an inch in

diameter and three quarters of an inch in height, should be made;

two auger holes, one directly above the other with the sides flatly

trimmed, will answer perfectly. The arrow should next be constructed.

This should be made of seasoned oak or ash, two feet in length,

perfectly straight, smooth and round, and one third of an inch in

diameter. One end should be notched for the bow string and vaned with

thin feathers after the manner of ordinary arrows. The other extremity

should be armed with a steel barb sharply pointed, and firmly riveted

in place. Any blacksmith can forge such a tip; the shape of which is

plainly seen in our engraving. The bow should consist of a piece of

stout seasoned hickory, oak or ash four feet long, if such a bow is

not at hand, a stout sapling may be used. The bow string may consist

of cat-gut, or stout Indian twine.

Before setting the trap, it is advisable to attract the game to

the spot selected as already alluded to in connection with the

gun trap, and particularly so when the Puma is the victim sought.

In our illustration we see the trap as it appears when set, and

the same precaution of aiming at some tree should be exercised

as advise with the gun trap. The bow should first be secured in

place directly beneath and one eighth of an inch from the edge of

the hole in the board, as seen at (a). Two large wire staples

may be used for this purpose, being passed over the bow through

holes in the board and clinched on the opposite side. The bend

of the bow and length of string should now be determined, one end

of the latter being attached to the tip of the bow and the other

end supplied with a loop. The board should then be driven into the

ground to the depth of about eight inches. We will next take up

the arrow. Pass the barb through the hole in the board and adjust

the notch over the bow-string, draw the arrow back and release the

string. If the arrow slide easily and swiftly, through the board,

keeping true to its aim, the contrivance is in perfect working

order and is ready to be set. This is accomplished by the very

simple and ingenious mechanical arrangement, shown at (b). On

the under side of the arrow just behind the barb, a flat notch

one eighth of an inch in depth and two and a half inches in length

is cut, with rounded ends, as seen in the illustration. The bait

stick should consist of a sapling about three feet in length, the

large end being trimmed so

as to fit in the hole over the arrow while the notch in the latter

rests in the bottom of the aperture as seen in the illustration

(b). The trap may then be set. Draw back the arrow, until the

notch rests in the hole in the board. Insert the bait stick very

lightly above the arrow as shown at (b), propping it in place

at the angle seen in the main drawing. The bait for a puma should

consist of a portion of some carcass, or if for other animals,

any of the baits given in our section on trapping may be used.

In order to secure the bait firmly to the bait stick, a small hole

and a peg at the side of the baited end will effectually prevent

its removal and the trap will thus most surely be sprung. The prop

which sustains the bait stick need be only a small crotch inserted

a little to one side of the trap. The bow should now be surrounded

by a wide pen, allowing room for the spring of the ends. The top of

the enclosure should also be guarded by a few sticks or branches

laid across. Directly in front of the trap and extending from it, a

double row of rough stakes three feet high should be constructed,

thus insuring an approach in the direct range of the arrow. Without

this precaution the bait might be approached from the side, and the

arrow pass beneath the head of the animal, whereas on the other

hand it is sure to take effect in the neck or breast of its victim.

Of course the success of this trap depends entirely upon the strength

of the bow. When a large and powerful one is used its effect is

almost surely fatal.

Another form of the bow trap, much used in the capture of the tiger,

forms the subject of our next illustration: no bait is here used.

The trap is set at the side of the beaten path of the tiger and

is sprung by the animal pressing against a string in passing. The

bow is large and powerful and is secured to two upright posts about

eight inches apart. The string is drawn back and a blunt stick is

then inserted between the bow string and the inside centre of the

bow, thus holding the latter in a bent position. A stout stick,

with a flattened end is next inserted between the end of the blunt

stick and the inside of the bow, the

remaining part of the stick extending downwards, as our illustration

shows. To the lower end of this stick a string is attached and

carried across the path in the direct range of the arrow, being

secured to a stake on the opposite side. The arrow is generally

barbed with a steel or flint point, and wound with thread saturated

with a deadly poison. This is now rested on the top of the bow

between the upright parts, and its notch caught in the bow-string.

Everything is then in readiness. The tiger soon steals along his

beaten track. He comes nearer and nearer the trap until at last

his breast presses the string. Twang, goes the bow and the arrow is

imbedded in the flesh of its victim. He writhes for a few moments,

until he is released from his torments by the certain death which

follows the course of the poison through his veins.

The use of the poison is very dangerous: a mere scratch through the

skin is likely to prove fatal, and the trapper is thus likely to

prove his own victim. Poisoned arrows are little used by trappers;

and the bow trap, when properly constructed, is sufficiently effective

without the venom.