The Fourth of Chapters_
Some European Traps_
Trappers have done much, by pushing into the wilderness after fur-bearing animals and game, to advance civilization. Had the slower pursuits of logging, farming, etc., been depended upon the United States and Canada today would not be nearly so far advanced as they are.
German Fox Trap_
The cut below represents a German Trap, as made at the present time, and there are several German makers of similar traps. They are mostly hand made and vary slightly in style of construction from one another. The sizes cover all the different fur-bearing animals, but the traps are clumsily made and much more expensive than those of American Manufacture.
It will be observed that the Pan is very large, in fact, it so nearly fills the space between the jaws, that there is quite a good chance that an animal would be thrown clear of the jaws when springing it. The setting devise has no delicacy of adjustment and the fulcrum of the pan is so low down it would be very likely to freeze solid in the mud.
These traps are all provided with many large sharp teeth, and if the animal is caught high up they may do great injury to a valuable pelt.
English Rabbit Trap_
This remarkably clumsy looking concern is made in England and is used mostly in Australia and New Zealand for catching rabbits, which have become such a pest in those far away "Islands of the Sea."
The Australian rabbit trappers are mostly of English descent and like their forefathers are very conservative in their ideas, so in spite of its many defects, they stick to the use of this antiquated machine.
Notice the size of the pan almost filling the opening in the jaw, width of the dog both tending to throw out the animal's foot. The sharp toothed jaws with thin cutting edges so apt to break the bone and help the rabbit to free itself.
Note also the short half spring which the trappers say will not endure more than one or two years use and which is stationary and sets high up, thus making it hard to conceal.
That there is need of something better than this to keep down these pests, may be believed, for it is stated that in spite of the fact that over two million dollars worth of their pelts and flesh are shipped to Europe annually, they are still on the increase.
They have lately made their appearance in regions hitherto free from them. Owing to the enormous fecundity, they soon take nearly complete possession of a place as it is calculated that one pair may increase to about two million in a couple of years. Until the trappers adopt some more efficient trap it is difficult to see how they are to make much headway against this scourge of the land.
The Fifth of Chapters_
Trappers have done much, by pushing into the wilderness after fur-bearing animals and game, to advance civilization. Had the slower pursuits of logging, farming, etc., been depended upon the United States and Canada today would not be nearly so far advanced as they are. While in sections, the larger game is gone yet there is in parts of the North, West and South, much good trapping territory that will pay the hardy trapper for years to come. Even in the more thickly settled districts, trapping can be made a good paying business if the correct sizes are used and trappers pay attention to the proper season to trap.
It seems that red fox, skunk and muskrat remain about as numerous in most sections as ever. In fact, the red fox in certain sections has only made its appearance of late years — since the country has become more thickly settled. Trappers in most sections can rest assured that they will have game to trap for years to come.
In the rapid development of the country steel traps have played a wonderful part. They have subdued the monster bear and have caught millions of the small fur-bearing animals, adding largely to the annual income of the trapper. Steel traps have been in use for more than one hundred years but for many years after invented they were so expensive that they were not generally used.
Of late years they have become cheaper, owing to the increased facilities of those great trap manufacturers, the Oneida Community, who are always looking to trappers' interest by adding new and improved methods of manufacture as well as new traps to the extensive line already manufactured so that now their use has become general; in fact, the price is now so reasonable that the trapper, on his first expedition, can have a full supply. The professional trapper, who in the North, spends from seven to nine months in the woods has a supply of these traps, ranging from the smallest to the largest. His needs are such too that all of them are in use during the trapping season. A trapper can use from 50 to 250 traps.
Trappers, as a rule, know what game they are going to trap and consequently the number of each kind or size required. If he is after bear, otter or beaver, etc., he can not use and tend as many as if he were trapping smaller game, such as skunk, mink, opossum, raccoon and muskrat.
Traps are made in various sizes. The smallest, No. 0, is used for catching rats principally, while the largest, No. 6, is for the grizzly bear. Other sizes and the game to which they are adapted are: No. 1, known as the muskrat trap, but will hold mink, skunk, marten, etc. The jaws spread 4 inches. No. 81, size of No. 1 with web jaws for muskrat, mink and skunk. No. 91, size No. 1 with double jaws for muskrat and skunk. No. 1 1/2 mink rat, but will hold stronger game. The jaws spread 4 7/8 inches. No. 91 1/2, size of No. 1 1/2 with double jaws for mink and skunk. No. 2 fox trap, also used for coon. No. 2 1/2 otter with teeth; No. 24 1/2 same as No. 2 1/2 without teeth; No. 3 for otter and coyote; No. 3 1/2 extra large single spring otter with teeth; No. 31 1/2 same as No. 3 1/2 without teeth; No. 23 otter with clutch; No. 4 wolf and beaver; No. 14 beaver with offset jaw and teeth; No. 24 beaver with clutch; No. 4 1/2 timber wolves and mountain lion; No. 50 small bear; No. 150 small bear with offset jaw; No. 5 black bear; No. 6 grizzly bear. These are the well known Newhouse brand being by far the best trap made. This brand is put out in twenty-five different sizes.
The weight per dozen of Newhouse traps given below will give a better idea of the relative sizes of these traps: No. 0 weighs 6 1/2 pounds; No. 1, 9 1/4 pounds; No. 1 1/2, 13 pounds; No. 2, 17 pounds; No. 3, 23 pounds; No. 4, 33 pounds; No. 2 1/2, 23 3/4 pounds; No. 4 1/2, 98 pounds; No. 50, 132 pounds; No. 5, 135 pounds; No. 6, 504 pounds. A single trap of the No. 6 weighs 42 pounds and it can be readily seen that they are very strong.
The Newhouse is the strongest trap made and in fact the best for all fur-bearing animals. A No. 1 Newhouse is equal in holding power to a No. 1 1/2 of other brands.
The following letters, from trappers of experience will be found of interest as bearing on the subject of proper sizes:
"In buying your traps, do not get too large a trap for the animal you wish to catch. I know an old trapper that has trapped for forty years and all he uses for muskrat is a No. 0 Newhouse trap."
"A rat does not gnaw the foot off as many trappers will tell you, but the forefoot is very tender and as a rat always struggles very hard when caught, it does not take very long to twist the foot off if the trap is not set so the rat will drown. Different trappers have different ways of fastening the traps when trapping for rats."
"I use a No. 1 Newhouse trap for mink and a No. 1 1/2 for skunk. I notice that the Newhouse people have a new trap called the "Webbed Jaw Trap". I think this an excellent trap to use in very cold weather."
"Yes, these otter traps are quite heavy, No. 3 1/2 Newhouse, but are sure to hold," writes a New England trapper who is being accompanied by a young trapper. "You asked me what the raise plate was for; it is for the otter to hit as he passes over, as you see he is very short legged, and the plate sets higher than the teeth on jaws of trap, and it will answer other purposes, as you will see when you set them. These otter and bear traps are alright and the animal that steps on the pan will stay or leave a foot. We have 9 otter and 4 bear traps. Let us look at fox traps. We have 25 "jumpers", No. 2 1/2; these are right for dry sets. Here are 25 No. 3 Newhouse for water sets. No. 2 Newhouse is just right for coon and fisher."
Trappers in stating the size traps that they use for a certain animal show quite a difference. Some use a No. 1 Newhouse for coon while others use the No. 2 and as this is a double spring, the holding power is fully three times as much as the No. 1.
In the Northern states where the coon grows much larger than in the South and Southwest, the No. 2 Newhouse is the trap. In the South the No. 1 1/2 Newhouse is a good mink trap as is also the No. 1 1/2 Victor and No. 2 Oneida Jump.
The proper size trap to use for a certain animal, varies under different conditions. If the trapper is reasonably certain that no other species of animal than the one trapped for frequents the place then the best size for the animal being set for is the trap to use.
On the other hand, should the trapper have out some traps for skunk, which need not be larger than No. 1 of the best or Newhouse variety, and any of the dens are visited by fox a larger trap should be used. If trapping for rats and you come to "rat signs" and also where there are coon and mink signs, a trap large enough to hold either should be set.
If blind or trail sets are made, it is well to have the trap sufficiently strong for the largest animal using it. Often different animals use the same trail or path leading from one den to another or to a log across a stream, etc.
Elsewhere a complete description of the various makes and sizes of traps to use is given and also full instructions about setting, fastening, etc. This embraces the view of the manufacture, the trapper and of the author who has had years of experience and should be of great value to inexperienced users of Steel Traps.
The Sixth of Chapters_
In or about 1823 the first Newhouse traps were made. At that early date only a few of the smaller sizes were manufactured but these have been added to until now the famous Newhouse trap is manufactured in twenty-five different sizes. The smallest, No. 0, for rats and the largest, No. 6, for grizzly bear. These with the various intermediate sizes are adapted to catching all varieties of the fur-bearing and game animals of the world. In fact, it is said that the No. 6 will hold any living animal excepting the elephant.
Under this heading the various makes of this trap are described; excepting the Double and Webbed Jaw, which are described in another chapter.
Considerable of the description as given here is from the trap catalog of the Oneida Community, Oneida, N. Y., manufacturers of the Newhouse trap. For we believe that inasmuch as they have for more than half a century manufactured traps (during which time they have kept up a large correspondence with trappers in all parts of North America) much weight should be given their views.
This, the No. 0, is the smallest size made. Spread of Jaws, 3 1/2 inches. It is used largely for catching gophers and house rats. It has a sharp grip and will hold larger game, but should not be overtaxed.
This, the No. 1, has a spread of jaws of 4 inches. This trap is used for catching muskrat and other small animals and sold in greater numbers than any other size. Its use is well understood by professional trappers and it is the most serviceable size for catching skunks, weasels, rats and such other animals as visit poultry houses and barns.
This trap is one that can be used to good advantage for other small fur-bearing animals. Trappers use large numbers of this size for muskrat, mink, opossum, civet and marten. Fox, coon, lynx and wild cat are often caught in this trap but we do not advise its use for these large animals.
This trap, No. 1 1/2, has a spread of jaws of 4 7/8 inches. This size is called the "Mink Trap" but it is, however, suitable for catching woodchucks, skunks, coon, etc. Professional trappers often use it for catching foxes. It is very convenient in form and is strong and reliable.
In some states where skunks grow very large, such as in parts of Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Dakotas, as well as other Northwestern sections this trap is much used.
One advantage in using a trap of this size for mink is that they are caught high up and if by one of the front legs they are pretty sure to be dead before the arrival of the trapper. If used for mink at a water set, the animal generally soon drowns.
This trap, the No. 2, has a spread of jaws of 4 7/8 inches, being the same as No. 1 /2, but having two springs, it is, of course, much stronger. This size is commonly known as the "Fox Trap." This trap is often used for taking badger, fisher and coyote.
Trappers sometimes remove one spring and use it for large coon, woodchuck and even for fox as some think with two springs the trap is too strong.
This, the No. 3, has a spread of jaws of 5 1/2 inches. It is designated as the "Otter Trap." It is a very powerful trap and will hold almost any game smaller than a bear.
This trap is used for taking beaver and also to some extent for small wolves and coyotes.
This, the No. 4, has a spread of jaws of 6 1/2 inches. This is the regular form of Wolf Trap. It is longer than the No. 3 and has one inch greater spread of jaws. It is a favorite with those who trap and hunt for a living in the Northwest and Canada. It is extensively used for trapping the wolves and coyotes in the western stock raising regions.
This, the No. 2 1/2, has a spread of jaws of 6 1/2 inches. This is a single spring trap as shown. In some localities the otter grows to an unusual size, with great proportional strength, so that the manufacturers have been led to produce an especially large and strong pattern. The parts are heavier than the No. 3, the spread of jaws is greater and the spring stiffer.
The jaws are equipped with teeth to keep the otter from getting free when once caught. The pan is also furnished with a raised plate which can be taken off if desired.
This, the No. 3 1/2, has a spread of jaws of 5 inches. This trap is for otter, but is used more especially for catching them on their "slides." For this purpose a thin raised plate of steel is adjusted to the pan so that when the trap is set the plate will be a trifle higher than the teeth on the jaws. The spring is very powerful, being the same as used on the No. 4 Newhouse Trap. If desired, the raised plate can be detached, making the trap one of general utility.
Single Spring No. 21 1/2 has a spread of jaws of 5 1/4 inches. This trap is the same as No. 2 1/2 but is without teeth or Raised Plate as some trappers prefer it in this style.
No. 31 1/2 Newhouse Trap is also a single spring being same as No. 3 1/2 but without Teeth or Raised Plate. Spread of jaws 6 1/2 inches.
These traps, Nos. 21 1/2 and 31 1/2, are the largest smooth jaw, single spring sizes that are made. Professional trappers will find them especially valuable when on a long trapping line, as they are more compact and easier to secrete than double spring traps. The springs on these traps are made extra heavy.
The No. 21 1/2 is practically a single spring No. 3 and the No. 31 1/2 a single spring No. 4. These traps are used for such animals as otter, beaver, wolf, wolverine, fisher and have been known to catch and hold Mountain Lion.
This trap is known as No. 14 and has a spread of jaws of 6 1/2 inches. This trap is the same in size as No. 4 Wolf but has heavier and stiffer springs and offset jaws, which allow the springs to raise higher when the animals leg is in the trap, and it is furnished with teeth sufficiently close to prevent the animal from pulling its foot out. The weight of this style is about 3 1/2 pounds each.
This trap is known as "Detachable Clutch Trap." The trap can be used with or without it. It is made in two sizes Nos. 23 and 24. No. 23 known as the "Otter Clutch" has a spread of jaws of 5 1/2 inches; No. 24 known as the "Beaver Clutch" has a spread of jaws of 6 1/4 inches.
This trap is known as the No. 4 1/2 or "Newhouse Special Wolf Trap." It was put on the market to meet the demands of trappers for a new model of the Newhouse Trap especially designed for capturing the large timber wolves and mountain lions of the stock raising sections of the West.
This trap has a spread of jaws of 8 inches. It is substantially made thruout and is provided with a pronged "drag," a heavy snap, an extra heavy steel swivel and a chain, five feet long, warranted to hold 2,000 pounds. This trap complete with chain and "drag" weighs about 9 pounds.
This trap is known as No. 50, spread of jaws 9 inches. It is intended for catching small sized bears. In design it is exactly like the standard No. 5 Bear Trap, only that the parts are all somewhat smaller. Weight, 11 1/4 pounds each. This trap is also used for catching Mountain Lion.
This trap is known as No. 150, spread of jaws, 9 inches. It is similar to No. 50, excepting that the jaws are offset, making a space five-eights inch between them. This allows the springs to come up higher when the bear's foot is in the trap and thus secure a better grip. The chance of breaking the bones in the foot are also lessened. Weight, 11 1/4 pounds each.
This trap is known as No. 5 or Black Bear. The spread of jaws is 11 3/4 inches. Weight of trap 19 pounds. It is furnished with a very heavy and strong cable chain.
Bear trappers whether in the Canadian Wilds, the Swamps of the Southern States or among the Rocky or Appalachian Mountains, speak of the No. 5 as the Standard Trap. They are used principally for catching the Black Bear.
This trap is known as No. 15, spread of jaws 11 3/4 inches. To meet the views of certain trappers whose judgement is respected, the manufacturers designed a style of jaw for the No. 5 trap, making an offset of 3/4 of an inch so as to allow the springs to come up higher when the bear's leg is in the trap. This gives the spring a better grip. This trap weighs about 19 pounds.
This is known as the No. 6 or Grizzly Bear Trap and has a spread of jaws of 16 inches. It weighs complete, 42 pounds. This is the strongest trap made. The manufacturers say they have never heard of anything getting out of it when once caught. It is often called "the Great Bear Tamer."
This trap is also used in Asia and Africa for catching lions and tigers. In fact the trap will hold any animal with the exception of the elephant and it will hold even that animal excepting possibly the larger ones.
This cut illustrates Bear Trap Chain Clevis and Bolt, intended as a substitute for the ring on the end of the trap chain, when desired.
With this clevis a loop can be made around any small log or tree without the trouble of cutting to fit the ring. The chain is made five feet long suitable for any clog and the prices of bear traps fitted with it are the same as with the regular short chain and ring.
There is danger attached to setting the large traps when alone in addition to its being rather difficult, especially in cold weather, when the fingers are stiff. Should the trapper be in a boat the setting is still more difficult.
A clamp (as shown) applied to each spring will, by a few turns of the thumb-screws, bend the springs to their places, so that the pan may be adjusted without difficulty. No. 4 clamp can be used on any trap smaller than No. 4 1/2. No. 5 and 6 are strong clamps, carefully made and especially adapted to setting the large traps Nos. 4 1/2, 50, 150, 5, 15 and 6. They do away with the inconvenience and dangerous use of levers. With clamps a trapper can easily and safely set these powerful traps. These clamps also come handy about the camp for other purposes.