Our illustration gives a very correct idea of the general construction of the “dead-fall,” although differing slightly in its mode of setting from that usually employed.
[Page 112] A pen of rough sticks is first constructed, having an open front. A log about seven or eight feet in length, and five or six inches in diameter, should then be procured. An ordinary fence rail will answer the purpose very well, although the log is preferable. Its large end should be laid across the front of the pen, and two stout sticks driven into the ground outside of it, leaving room for it to rise and fall easily between them and the pen, a second shorter log being placed on the ground beneath it, as described for the bear-trap, page (17). A look at our illustration fully explains the setting of the parts. A forked twig, about a foot in length, answers for the bait-stick. The lower end should be pointed, and the fork, with its bait, should incline toward the ground, when set. The upper end should be supplied with a notch, square side down, and directly above the branch which holds the bait. Another straight stick, about fourteen inches in length, should then be cut. Make it quite flat on each end. A small thin stone, chip of wood, or the like, is the only remaining article required. Now proceed to raise the log, as shown in the drawing, place one end of the straight stick beneath it, resting its tip on the flat top of the upright stick on the outside of the log. The baitstick should now be placed in position inside the inclosure, resting the pointed end on the chip, and securing the notch above, as seen in the illustration, beneath the tip of the flat stick. When this is done, the trap is set, but, there are a few little hints in regard to setting it finely,—that is, surely,—which will be necessary. It is very important to avoid bringing too much of the weight of the log on the flat stick, as this would of course bear heavily on the bait-stick, and render considerable force necessary to spring the trap. The leverage at the point where the log rests on the flat stick should be very slight, and the log should be so placed that the upright shall sustain nearly all the weight. By this method, very little pressure is brought to bear on the bait-stick, and a very slight twitch will throw it out of poise. The fork of the bait-stick should point to the side of the inclosure, as, in this case, when the bait is seized by the unlucky intruder, the very turning of the fork forces the notch from beneath the horizontal stick, and throws the parts asunder.