If the trap is set for muskrats, minks, skunks, or animals of similar size, the weight of the log will generally be found sufficient to effect their death; but, if desired, a heavy stone [Page 113] may be rested against it, or the raised end weighted with other logs (see p. 18), to make sure. When set for a coon or fox, this precaution is necessary. To guard against the cunning which some animals possess, it is frequently necessary to cover the top of the pen with cross-sticks, as there are numerous cases on record where the intended victims have climbed over the side of the inclosure, and taken the bait from the inside, thus keeping clear of the suspended log, and springing the trap without harm to themselves. A few sticks or branches laid across the top of the inclosure will prevent any such capers; and the crafty animals will either have to take the bait at the risk of their lives, or leave it alone.
For trapping the muskrat, the bait may consist of carrots, turnips, apples, and the like. For the mink, a bird’s head, or the head of a fowl, is the customary bait; and the skunk may usually be taken with sweet apples, meats, or some portion of a dead fowl.
In the case of the fox, which we have mentioned, the setting of the trap was somewhat varied; and in case our readers might desire to try a similar experiment, we will devote a few lines to a description of it. In this instance, the flat stick which supported the log was not more than eight inches in length; and instead of the bait-stick, a slight framework of slender branches was substituted. This frame or lattice-work was just large enough to fill the opening of the pen, and its upper end supported the flat stick. The duck was fastened to the back part of the pen, which was also closed over the top. The quacking of the fowl attracted the fox; and as he thrust his head through the lattice to reach his prey, the frame was thrown out of balance and Reynard paid the price of his greed and folly.
There is another mode of adjusting the pieces of the dead-fall, commonly employed by professional trappers, whereby the trap is sprung by the foot of the animal in quest of the bait. This construction is shown correctly in the accompanying cut, which gives the front view, the pen being made as before. The stout crotch represented at (a) is rested on the summit of a strong peg, driven into the ground beneath the outside edge of the suspended log; (b) is the treacherous stick which seals the doom of any animal that dares rest his foot upon it. This piece should be long enough to stretch across and overlap the guard-pegs at each side of the opening. To set the trap, rest the short crotch of (a) on the top of the peg, and lower the log upon it, keeping the leverage slight, as directed in our last example, letting much of the weight come on the [Page 114] top of the peg. The long arm of the crotch should be pressed inward from the front, and one end