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The Clap Net


In Asia, Africa, South America and Europe, this trap is a common

resource for the capture of wild birds of various kinds. It may be

called a decoy trap, from the fact that call birds are generally

used in connection with it. They are placed at distances around the

trap, and attract the wild birds to the spot by their cries. These

birds are especially trained for the purpose, but almost any tamed

bird that chirps will a
tract its mates from the near neighborhood,

and answer the purpose very well. Sometimes the decoys are entirely

dispensed with, and the bird whistle used in their stead. This

will be described hereafter, and inasmuch as the training of a

decoy would be a rather difficult matter, we rather recommend

the use of the bird whistle. The skill and absolute perfection of

mimicry which is often attained by bird fanciers with the use

of this little whistle, is something surprising.

No matter what the species of bird--whether crow, bobolink, thrush

or sparrow, the song or call is so exactly imitated as to deceive

the most experienced naturalist, and even various birds themselves.

Of course this requires practice, but even a tyro may soon learn

to use the whistle to good advantage.

The clap net commonly used, is a large contrivance--so large that

several hundred pigeons are often caught at once. It is sprung

by the bird-hunter, who lies in ambush watching for the game. The

net is generally constructed as follows, and may be made smaller

if desired:--

Procure two pieces of strong thread netting, each about fifteen

feet in length, and five feet in width. Four wooden rods one inch

in thickness and five feet in length are next required. These may

be constructed of pine, ash, or any other light wood, and one should

be securely whipped to each end of the netting.

Now by the aid of a gimlet or a red-hot iron, the size of a slate

pencil, bore a hole through one end of every piece one inch from

the tip, taking care that the ends selected lay on the same side of

the net. The other extremities of the four poles should be supplied,

each with a large screw eye. Four pegs are next in order--one of

which is shown separate at (P). It should be about eight inches

in length, and three inches in width, and an inch in thickness, and

sharpened to a point at one end. The other end should be supplied

with a notch two inches in depth and of such a width as will easily

secure the perforated end of one of the poles already described.

By the use of the gimlet or a red-hot nail, a hole should now be

bored through the side of every peg across the centre of the notch

for the reception of a wire pin or smooth nail.

The nets may now be rolled up on the poles, and the trapper may

thus easily carry them to his selected trapping ground. This should

be smooth and free from stones and irregularities. Unroll the nets

and spread them flatly on the ground, as seen in the illustration.

Let the perforated ends of the poles be innermost, and allow a

space of six feet between the inner edges of the nets. Draw the

net flatly on the ground, and drive one of the notched pegs at

each of the inside corners, securing the poles into the slots by

the aid of the wire pins or nails. Next cut four stakes eight or

ten inches long. The places for these may be seen by a look at

our engraving. Each one should be inserted five feet distant

from the notched peg, and exactly on a line with the inside

edge of the net--one for each corner. They should slant from the

net in every case. To each one of these stakes a stay-rope should

be secured, and the other end passed through the screw eye of the

nearest pole, drawing the string tightly, so as to stretch the net

perfectly square. Next, take a piece of cord, about twenty feet

in length, and fasten it across the ends of the net into the screw

eyes in the poles. This is the loop to which the draw-string is

attached, and either end of the net may be chosen for this purpose.

To this loop and a little one side of the middle, the draw-string

should be fastened. If secured exactly in the middle of the loop,

the two nets will strike when the draw-rope is pulled, whereas

when adjusted a little to one side, the nearest net will move a

trifle faster than the other, and they will overlap neatly and without

striking--completely covering the ground between them. When the

trap is spread the draw-rope should extend to some near shelter

where the bird-catcher may secrete himself from view. Spreading the

bait on the ground between the nets, and arranging his call birds

at the proper distances, he awaits his opportunity of springing

his nets. At the proper minute, when the ground is dotted with his

game, he pulls the draw-string, and the birds are secured.

Immense numbers of wild fowl are often captured in this way.

The bird whistle, already alluded to, is often used with good

effect, it being only sufficient to attract the birds to such a

proximity to the net as will enable them to spy the bait, after

which their capture is easily effected.