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The Pit-fall


The tiger is the scourge of India and Southern Asia and some sections

of these countries are so terribly infested with

the brutes that the inhabitants are kept in a continual state of

terror by their depredations. Many methods are adopted by the natives

for the destruction of the terrible creatures, some of which have

already been described. The pit-fall is still another device by

which this lurking marauder is
ften captured and destroyed. It

sometimes consists of a mere pit covered and baited in the haunts of

the tiger, or is constructed in a continuous deep ditch surrounding

the habitations of the natives, and thus acting as a secure protection.

The pit is about twelve feet deep and ten feet in width, and its

outside edge is lined with a hedge five or six feet in height.

As the fierce brute steals upon his intended prey, he nears the

hedge and at one spring its highest branch is cleared. He reaches

the earth only to find himself at the bottom of a deep pit, from

which there is no hope of escape, and where he speedily becomes

the merciless victim of a shower of deadly arrows and bullets.

Happily we have no tigers in the United States, but the puma and

the lynx are both fit subjects for the pit-fall. These animals

cannot be said to exist in such numbers as to become a scourge

and a stranger to the inhabitants of any neighborhood, and for

this reason the Moat arrangement of the pit-fall is not required.

The simple pit is often used, and when properly constructed and

baited is a very sure trap. The hole should be about twelve feet

in depth and eight feet across, widening at the bottom. Its opening

should be covered with slicks, earth and leaves, so arranged as

to resemble the surroundings as much as possible, but so lightly

adjusted as that they will easily give way at a slight pressure.

One edge of the opening should now be closely built up with stakes

firmly inserted into the ground, and so constructed as to form a

small pen in the middle, in which to secure the bait, generally

a live turkey, goose, or other fowl. The other three sides should

also be hedged in by a single row of upright stakes three or four

feet in height, and a few inches apart in order that the hungry

puma may whet his appetite by glimpses between them.

They should be firmly imbedded in the earth directly at the edge

of the pit, and as far as possible trimmed of their branches on the

inside. There will thus be a small patch of solid ground for the

feet of the fowl, which should be tied by the leg in the enclosure.

Our trap is now set, and if there is a puma in the neighborhood he

will be sure to pay it a call and probably a visit.

Spying his game, he uses every effort to reach it through the

crevices between the stakes. The cries of the frightened fowl arouse

and stimulate his appetite, and at last exasperated by his futile

efforts to seize his victim, he springs over the fence of stakes

and is lodged in the depths of the pit.

The puma is very agile of movement, and unless the pit is at least

twelve feet in depth there is danger of his springing out. Any

projecting branch on the inside of the stakes affords a grasp for

his ready paw, and any such branch, if within the reach of his

leap, is sure to effect his escape. For this reason it is advisable

to trim smoothly all the projections and leave no stub or knot

hole by which he could gain the slightest hold. The construction

of a pit-fall is a rather difficult operation on account of the

digging which it necessitates. On this account it is not so much

used as many other traps which are not only equally effective but

much more easily constructed. The following is an example:--