There are several ways of doing this, one of which we here illustrate.
A pen of stakes, in the shape of the letter V, is first constructed. The trap is then set in the angle, and the bait attached to the end stake directly over it. Another method is shown in the picture on our title-page to this section, the bait being suspended on a stick above the trap. There are various other methods on the same principle, which will be described hereafter, under the titles of the various game.
This is nearly always used in connection with the steel trap, in the capture of the smaller land animals. It not only lifts the creature into the air, and thus prevents its becoming a prey to other animals, but it also guards against the escape of the victim by the amputation of its own leg. This is a very common mode of release with many kinds of game—notably the mink, marten, and muskrat; and for the successful trapping of these, as well as many other animals, the spring and sliding pole are absolute necessities. It is a simple contrivance, consisting merely of a pole inserted in the ground near the trap. The pole is then bent down, and the trap chain secured to its end. A small, notched peg is next driven into the ground and the top of the pole caught in it, and thus held in a bent position. When the animal is caught, its struggles release the pole, and the latter, flying up with a jerk, [Page 145] lifts the trap and its occupant high in the air, out of the reach of marauders, and beyond the power of escape by self-amputation. Even in the capture of large game the spring pole often serves to good purpose. The struggles of a heavy animal are often so violent as to break a stout trap or chain; and the force of the spring pole, although not sufficient to raise the animal from its feet, often succeeds in easing the strain, and often thus saves a trap from being broken to pieces. The power of the pole must of course be proportionate to the weight of the desired game.
The first impulse with almost every aquatic animal when caught in a trap, is to plunge headlong into deep water. With the smaller animals, such as the mink and muskrat, this is all that is desired by the trapper, as the weight of the trap with the chain is sufficient to drown its victim. But with larger animals, the beaver and otter for instance, an additional precaution, in the shape of the “sliding pole,” is necessary. This consists of a pole about ten feet long, smoothly trimmed of its branches, excepting at the tip, where a few stubs should be left. Insert this end obliquely into the bed of the stream, where the water is [Page 146] deep, and secure the large end to the bank by means of a hooked stick, as seen in our illustration. The ring of the chain should be large enough to slide easily down the entire length of the pole. When the trap is set, the ring should be slipped on the large end of the pole, and held in place by resting a stick against it. The animal, when caught, plunges off into deep water, and guided by the pole, is led to the bottom of the river. The ring slides down to the bed of the stream, and there holds its victim until drowned.