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The Coop Trap


This is another excellent device for the capture of birds and large

feathered game, and is used to a considerable extent by trappers

throughout the country. Like the brick trap, it secures its victims

without harm and furnishes the additional advantage of good ventilation

for the encaged unfortunate. Any ordinary coop may be used in the

construction of this trap, although the homely one we illustrate

is most commonly e
ployed on account of its simplicity and easy

manufacture. It also does away with the troublesome necessity of

carrying a coop to the trapping ground, as it can be made in a

very few minutes with common rough hewn twigs by the clever use

of the jack knife. The only remaining requisites consist of a few

yards of very stout Indian twine, several small squares of brown

pasteboard, a dozen tacks and a number of pieces of board five

inches square, each one having a hole through its centre, as our

engraving (b) indicates. Having these, the young trapper starts

out with material sufficient for several coops, and if he is smart

will find no difficulty in making and setting a dozen traps in a


In constructing the coop, the first thing to be done is to cut

four stout twigs about an inch in thickness and fifteen inches

in length and tie them together at the corners, letting the knot

come on the inside as our illustration (a) explains and leaving

a loose length of about two feet of string from each corner. This

forms the base of the coop. Next collect from a number of twigs of

about the same thickness, and from them select two more corresponding

in length to the bottom pieces. Having placed the base of the coop

on the ground, and collected the strings inside proceed to lay

the two selected sticks across the ends of the

uppermost two of the square, and directly above the lower two.

Another pair of twigs exactly similar in size should then be cut

and laid across the ends of the last two, and directly above the

second set of the bottom portion, thus forming two squares of equal

size, one directly over the other. The next pair of sticks should

be a trifle shorter than the previous ones and should be placed a

little inside the square. Let the next two be of the same size as

the last and also rest a little inside of those beneath them, thus

forming the commencement of the conical shape which our engraving

presents. By thus continuing alternate layers of the two sticks

cob-house fashion, each layer being closer than the one previous,

the pyramid will be easily and quickly formed. After ten or a dozen

sets have been laid in place, the arm should be introduced into

the opening at the top, and the four cords drawn out, letting each

one lay along its inside corner of the pyramid. Taking the strings

loosely in the left hand and having the twigs in readiness, proceed

to build up the sides until the opening at the top is reduced to

only four or five inches across. The square board will now come

into play. Pass the ends of the cords through the hole in its centre

and rest the edge of the board on the top pair of sticks, taking

care that it is the tip of the grain of the wood instead of its

side, as otherwise it would be likely to crack from the pressure

that is about to be brought upon it. Have ready a stout peg of

hard wood, and laying it over the hole in the board, and between

the strings, proceed to tie the latter as tightly as possible over

it. By now turning the peg, the cords will be twisted and tightened

and the various pieces of the coops will be drawn together with

great firmness, in which state they may be secured by the aid of

a tack driven in the top board against the end of the peg as shown

at (b). Thus we have a neat and serviceable coop, which will

last for many seasons. To set the affair it is necessary to cut

three sticks of the shapes shown in our illustration. The prop

piece is a slender forked twig about ten inches in length from

the tip to the base of the crotch. The spindle is another hooked

twig of the same length: the bait piece is quite similar to the

latter, only an inch shorter and supplied with a square notch at

the tip. It is also slightly whittled off on the upper side to

receive the square of pasteboard or tin, which is to hold the bait

and which may be easily fastened in place by a tack. All of these

twigs may be easily found in any thicket by a little practice in

searching. In setting the trap, it is only necessary to raise up

one side of the coop to the height of the prop stick, insert the

short arm of the spindle through the fork and beneath the edge of

the coop. While holding it thus in position, hook the crotch of the

bait stick around the lower piece at the back of the coop, and

pushing the end of the spindle inside the coop, catch it in the notch

of the bait stick where it will hold, and the trap is ready to be

baited. The bait may consist of oats, wheat, nannie berries or the

like, and should be strewn both on the platform and over the ground

directly beneath and around it. If properly set, a mere peck at the

corn will be sufficient to dislodge the pieces and the coop will fall

over its captive. It is not an uncommon thing to find two or even

three quail encaged in a trap of this kind at one fall, and after

the first momentary fright is over, they seem to resign themselves

to their fate and take to their confinement as naturally as if

they had been brought up to it.

The method of setting the coop trap above described is a great

improvement on the old style of setting, and is an improvement

original with the author of this work. In the old method a semi-circular

hoop of rattan is used in place of the bait stick above. The ends

of the rattan are fastened to one of the lower back pieces of the

coop, and the hoop is just large enough to fit inside the opening of

the coop. This rattan rests just above the ground, and the spindle

catches against its inside edge in place of the notch in the bait

stick already described, the bait being scattered inside the hoop.

When the bird approaches, it steps upon the rattan, and thus pressing

it downward releases the spindle and the coop falls; but experience

has shown the author that it does not always secure its intruders,

but as often falls upon their backs and sends them off limping

to regain their lost senses. By the author's improvement it will

be seen that the whole body of the bird must be beneath the

coop before the bait sticks can be reached and that when properly

set it is absolutely certain to secure its victim. The author can

recommend it as infallible, and he feels certain that anyone giving

both methods a fair trial will discard the old method as worthless

in comparison.