There are many other methods of setting the Dead-fall, several of which appear in another section of this book. The above is the one more commonly used for the capture of Bears, but the others are [Page 20] equally applicable and effective when enlarged to the proper size.
In South America and other countries, where Lions, Tigers, Leopards, and Jaguars abound, these and other rude extempore traps are almost the only ones used, and are always very successful. The pit-fall often allures the Bengal Tiger to his destruction, and the Leopard often terminates his career at the muzzle of a rifle baited as seen in our page illustration. A gun thus arranged forms a most sure and deadly trap, and one which may be easily extemporized at a few moments’ warning, in cases of emergency. The Puma of our northern forests, although by no means so terrible a foe as the Leopard, is still a blood-thirsty creature, and while he shuns the gaze of man with the utmost fear, he is nevertheless constantly on the alert to spring upon him unawares, either in an unguarded moment or during sleep. A hungry Puma, who excites suspicion by his stealthy prowling and ominous growl, may easily be led to his destruction at the muzzle of a gun, baited as we shall now describe.
After a Puma has succeeded in capturing his prey, and has satisfied his appetite by devouring a portion of its carcass, he leaves the remainder for a second meal, and his early return to a second banquet is almost a matter of certainty. Where such a remnant of a bygone feast is found, the capture of the Cougar is an easy matter. Any carcass left in a neighborhood where Pumas are known to exist is sure to attract them, and day after day its bulk will be found to decrease until the bones only remain. By thus “baiting” a certain place and drawing the Pumas thither, the way is paved for their most certain destruction. The gun-trap is very simply constructed, and may be put in working order in a very few moments. The weapon may be a rifle or shot-gun. In the latter case it should be heavily loaded with buck-shot. The stock should be first firmly tied to some tree, or secured in a stout crotch driven into the ground, the barrel being similarly supported.
The gun should be about three feet from the ground, and should be aimed at some near tree to avoid possible accident to a chance passer-by within its range. The gun should then be cocked, but not capped, due caution being always used, and the cap adjusted the very last thing after the trap is baited and set. Where a rifle [Page 21] is used, the cartridge should not be inserted until the last thing.
It is next necessary to cut a small sapling about a foot or two in length. Its diameter should allow it to fit snugly inside the guard in front of the trigger, without springing the hammer. Its other end should now be supported by a very slight crotch, as shown in our illustration. Another sapling should next be procured, its length being sufficient to reach from the muzzle of the gun to the end of the first stick, and having a branch stub or hook on one end. The other extremity should be attached by a string to the tip of the first slick.