Trapper's Aids

The Best Bear Bait – Is honey smeared on fresh fish, or burnt honey comb

A Splendid Place for a Trap – Is between two logs where there is a passage way through which the animal must pass; by-paths as they are termed, natural channels, crevices or paths littered with hollow logs, etc. through which the animal must pass, or is apt to

Never Handle Traps – With bare hands, use rags or buckskin gloves. Never spit about where traps are laid

Use Scent Baits – Wherever possible. Barkstone, Fish Oil, Castorium, Musk, Assafoetida, Oil of Rhodium, Oil of Skunk, Amber, Anise, Sweet Fennel, Cummin, Fenugreek, Lavender or a compound of them all

Soak a Piece of Meat – In the scent compound and drag it along on the ground between your run of traps, it is very effective as a trail to the trap, leading animals into them

Clogs – Used On Traps Should never be secured to a tree or stake, let it be a stone or log of size and weight equal to the game you desire to trap; fasten it so it cannot be jerked off.

Always Place Your Traps – Where you can inspect them with the least difficulty. Animals often visit traps a dozen limes, smelling them suspiciously and leaving them by reason of that suspicion. If your traps are right never touch or change them. If a storm or blizzard comes, snow and cold in plenty, you will then get your reward, as the snow covers the suspicious part and the cold makes them hungry enough not to be too particular

Trapper Packs – Including traps, have the limit of weight at about 60 to 75 lbs

In Baiting Traps – Always place the bait either on stick above the trap or in an enclosure, so arranged as the animal must step on or run over the trap, or better yet, jump up to get it; never place it on the pan.

Quantity of Traps to Take – Depends on the locality you trap in. If you travel by boat or team your supply need not be limited, but if you intend to make a business of trapping, the more the better. (See packing traps.)

Season of Trapping – November to April. Furs from May to September are useless. Winter furs only are in prime.

Always Set Traps – For aquatic animals where they can take to the water, and by weight of the traps and chains drown themselves.

To Make Fish Oil – The scent used by many old trappers. Take Trout, Eels or fat fish of any kind, cut in small pieces and put them in bottles, and leave in hot sun, when an oil and putrid smell acctimulates. Use this to scent your bait.

Bird or Fish Heads are Good Bait – In cold weather; Smoke your baits to give them a stronger smell, or smear your traps with blood, using a feather to smear it over them. Fried meats smeared with honey is good trap bait.

To Capture Small Birds – Use bird lime made as follows: Take the inner bark of slippery elm which should be gathered in the early summer, scraped into a pulp and simmer slowly in just enough water to cover it, stirring and mushing it so as to extract the substance; add to it linseed oil, and when thick enough like glue, it can be smeared over limbs or trees where birds frequent. The best bird lime is made from varnish or linseed oil alone, boiled down until a thick gummy mass.

   If you can secure an owl fasten it to some spot frequented by birds, and a short distance away smear the limbs or twigs with bird lime. When the owl which is the most detested enemy of all birds is found, it will attract a veritable swarm of birds to that vicinity, when they will be caught by the quicklime that surrounds the captured owl.

An Indian Method in Winter – Of killing wild game, wolves, bears, etc. is to take a piece of flexible steel or whalebone, anything that has a bend to it, and bend it into as small a circle as possible, securing it with the sinews of the deer, this they insert in a ball of meat, flesh, fat and blood and allow the whole ball, (not a large one) to freeze. A number of these they throw out on the snow or ice, about the haunts of the animals; coming along they find them and being hungry, ravenously devour or swallow them, on account of their being hard and frozen. The heat of the stomach soon melts the frozen parts of flesh and sinews, when the spring coil straightens out piercing the stomach, causing agony, and death which in due time ensues, and by following the trail of i\\e animal they invariably find them, perhaps locating others besides. In the Arctic regions where the writer spent over three years living constantly with various tribes of Eskimos, I have often assisted in the preparation of these killing balls, and witnessed their fearful results.

To Make Traps Rustproof – Dip them in a solution of melted beeswax and rosin.

Set Traps Whenever Possible – In the runways or paths of animals.

In Rutting Season – Use for Skunk bait, musk of skunk or rotten eggs with old meat.

In Baiting With Muskrat – Use for scent musk from the rat. In baiting with fish, use fish oil for scent.

A Practical Trap – Can be made by boring a series of two-inch or larger auger holes in a water logged stump or log, and driving in two or three horse shoe nails, so that any small headed animal who thrusts in his head to secure bait behind the nails cannot withdraw his head, because the nails catch and kill him.

Set Traps for Otter – At the foot of their slides a trifle under the water. Beaver also.

The Secret of Trapping Wild Animals – My style of setting traps was most simple and very effective, although it required a good many traps to do the work. Knowing the habits of the animals I was trying to catch alive I adopted the- following methods.

  I set my traps only on the trails running through the thickest part of the woods. Here we would bury traps at intervals along the path by first digging a hole with a hatchet and removing the earth. Then we carefully laid a trap in place, laying a piece of canvas under the trap pan to keep the earth from interfering with the spring or clogging it. Next we carefully covered the trap with earth and smoothed the ground off, after securing the trap chain to limb of a bush or trunk of a tree. We were careful to place a few branches or stones on either side of the path ahead of each trap to guide the animal directly over the trap into it.

  Then all was ready but one thing and that was the secret of our great success in trapping animals. We placed a small stick across the path right in front of [he. trap. This served to guide the animal's foot directly on to the pan of the trap, as an animal in walking on a trail will never tread on a stick, but always take a short step without touching it. A stick placed at the right distance in front of the trap will always have the desired effect. All animals while prowling through the woods will follow a trail when they encounter one for some distance before taking to the woods again. Consequently a line of traps set at intervals of a few rods along the paths through the woods is pretty sure to land any wandering animal.

Wolves Will Not – Touch dead game if it is partly covered with brush, leaves, etc., as they fear a trap.

Always Suspend Your Bait – A trifle over the trap so as the animal must step on the pan to secure it.

In Skinning Hides – Keep the back of the knife close to the hide (always) and draw out the skin with the left hand, using a skinning knife to insure success.

To Salt Hides – Remove flesh or excess fat, put on plenty of salt thick, when the salt is absorbed put on more, roll up tight fur side out, cord it and is ready to ship.

To Catch Muskrat – In the female muskrat, near the vagina, is a small bag which holds 30 to 40 drops. Now all the trapper has to do, is to procure a few female muskrais and squeeze the contents of the bag into a vial. Now, when in quest of muskrats. sprinkle a few drops of the liquid on the hushes over and around ilie trap. This will atttract the male muskrats in large numbers, and if the traps are properly arranged, large numbers of them may be taken.

Never Dry Skins by a Fire – It ruins and spoils them.

A Unique Trap – Cut a small bush (spruce or pine is best) stick it up in deep snow or through the ice of a small river or stream; such a curious thing will attract animals to it, being new to them. Small pieces of meat, and several traps placed here and there about it, is pretty sure to land an animal or two after a few nights. Scent your main bait, which should hang so as the animal must put his foot on the pan of trap to reach it!

Another One – Bore holes in the ground and fill them with bait scented, in a circle, your trap in the center, is mighty apt to catch something, especially if two natural logs V shape lay near it. It is sure death to Wolves if the bait is poisoned and frozen.

Burning Sulfur or Brimstone – Placed in the hole of any animal will smother them out or kill them.

Skunks in Their Holes – Will not throw their scent. Old trappers put their hands in and pull them out by the tail, hitting them with a club the moment their head appears. They will not bite at these times, so don't be afraid.

Trap Set for Skunk – Needs no covering, they are not suspicious but go right in.

All Water Animals – Are prime while ice is in the rivers or streams.

Clean and Smoke Your Traps – Using smoke from feathers of birds. Never handle them with bare hands. Wash them well and oil them first.

Wash Traps – With weak lye or soapsuds, then grease and smoke them over burnt feathers, and never touch them with the hands.

Use Buckskin or Moosehide Moccasins – When hunting or trapping; and do not stir up the ground when setting traps, be careful to leave the ground as near as you found it as possible to do.

Tanning – Fur and Other Skins – First: Remove the legs and other useless parts and soak the skin soft; then remove the flesh substances and soak in warm water for an hour; now:

  Take for one large or two or three small skins, borax, saltpeter and glauber-salt, of each 1/2 oz. and dissolve or wet with soft water sufficiently to allow it to be spread on the flesh side of the skin.

  Put it on with a brush, thickest in the center or thickest part of the skin, and double the skin together, flesh-side in, keeping it in a cool place for twenty-four hours, not allowing it to freeze, however.

  Second: Wash the skin clean, and then: Take sal-soda, 1 oz.; borax, 1/2oz.; refined soap, 2 oz.; (white hard soap;) melt them slowly together, being careful not to allow them to boil, and apply the mixture to the flesh-side as at first - roll up again and keep in a warm place for 24 hours.

  Third: Wash the skin clean, as above, and have saleratus two ounces, dissolved in hot rain water sufficient to well saturate the skin, then:

  Take alum, 4 ozs.; salt, 8 ozs.; and dissolve also in hot rain water; when sufficiently cool to allow the handling of it without scalding, put in the skin for 12 hours; then wring out the water and hang up for 12 hours more, to dry. Repeat this last soaking and drying from 2 to 4 times according to the desired softness of the skin when finished.

  Lastly: Finish by pulling, working, etc. and firnally by rubbing with piece of pumice-stone and fine sand-paper.

  This works admirably on sheep skins as well as on fur-skins, dog, cat or wolf-skins also, making a durable leather well adapted to washing.

  Above recipes are reliable if strictly followed; if skins are however, well cleaned of meats and part of the fat well salted, rolled up and tied, they had best be shipped us at once.

Never Put the Bait – On the pan of the trap. Cover the pan with dry leaves or dirt or both, never use twigs on the pan; that is for the foot of the animal only.

Always Bed Your Traps – On bare, smooth ground then cover it with dry leaves taken from a distant spot; mixed with feathers.

In Setting Traps in Holes – Insert them well inside and scent th-ehm; don t place them outside, they can perceive the fraud. Cover with leaves.

Bait Gone – When you find this, and trap still set, arrange your bait the other side of trap; leave the trap be.

Mink can be found – Near swamps, along streams and their waterways, especially where dead wood, logs, etc. are bunched. Look for their tracks in the mud, sand, etc.

To Find Out – Positively if animals frequent a certain spot, place a small piece of bait there over night; if it is gone in the morning, set your trap right there carefully.

Remove the Pat – Of all skins; fat left on heats and spoils the hide.

To Locate Skunks – Look for their holes on rise of ground or hills near rocks, etc., examine all holes, and notice if black and white hairs are there, being lazy they choose holes already formed; look for droppings a little distance away; set traps close to holes.

To Trap Mink – Dig a hole in the bank near their haunts, place your bait inside your trap at its edge and cover it well; sprinkle water around so as to wash your traces away; before leaving it clog the trap of course, and use scent bait.

The Best Time – First stormy night, or before a storm the animals are then foraging for foods and seeking warm holes to den.

Skunks – Hole up in very cold weather in rabbit holes which they often kill and live on, until forced out by hunger or a warm spell.

When You Succeed – In catching an animal, leave your trap and reset it; it often pays well, especially at dens.

Always Remove – Bones from tails of skinned animals; it rots therein otherwise.

Bait for Mink – Any fresh meats, fish or fowl, muskrat meat, etc.

To Attract Wolves – Place bones or large chunk of meat in fire and let it smolder. Use carcasses of other animals.

Smear Traps with Blood – Or dip in thin solution of melted beeswax or tallow.

Always Sink Your Traps – To the exact level of the ground, leaving the surface as near as it was as possible.

Use Fresh Baits – Whenever possible; fasten them to a short stick and in the right position to lead feet into the trap.

Cut Up Old Baits – In small pieces and scatter them along the route of your traps.

How to Skin – Cat, Fisher, Fox, Lynx, Martin, Mink, Opossum, Wolverine, Otter, Skunk and Muskrat must be "cased," that is, not cut open. In skinning, cut at the rump and turn the skin in- side out over the body of the animal, leaving the pelt side out.

  After scraping, cleaning and drying, some dealers advise turning the skin back again, leaving the fur side out; but with the exception of Foxes, Red, Silver and Cross, the large dealers now prefer the skin left pelt side out, as the quality can be more easily determined by examining the rumps; and are better preserved and protected in the numerous handlings.

  Badger, Bear, Beaver, Raccoon and Wolf must be "open," that is, cut up the belly from rump to head. After scraping, cleaning and drying, stretch to a uniformly oblong shape to the fullest extent of the skin, but not so much as to make the fur thin. When thoroughly dry, trim off any little pieces that spoil the appearance of the skin, but leave on heads, noses and claws.

Jerked Meats – If you have the fortune to kill a deer or moose in warm weather, and have an over-supply of meat that is likely to. be tainted, you can preserve it by the following process: Cut all the flesh from the bones in thin strips, and place them for convenience, on the inside of the hide. Add three or four quarts of salt for a moose, and a pint and a half for deer, well worked in. Cover the whole with the sides and corners of the hide to keep out flies, and let it remain in this condition about two hours. Drive four forked stakes into the ground so as to form a square of about eight or ten feet, leaving the forks four feet high. Lav two poles across one way in these forks, and fill the whole space the other way with poles laid on the first two, about two inches apart. The strips of flesh should then be laid across the poles, and a small fire of clean hardwood should be started underneath, and kept up for twenty-four hours. This process will reduce the weight of the flesh more than half, bringing it to a condition like that of dried or smoked beef, in which it will keep any length of time. This is called jerked, venison. It is good eating, and always commands a high price in market. An over-supply of fish can be treated in the same manner. They should be split open on the back, and the backbone taken out.

Don't Reset – Where sprung traps are found; try a new place thereabout. If bait is gone and trap unsprung, you are at fault, so reset in these instances.

Overhanging Trees – Or inclined ones, nail your bait to. them. If your traps are set under right, are excellent places.

For Water Set Traps – (Traps set in water.) Use rubber boots and wade into the waters, avoiding the shores, or wash your tracks by throwing water on them.

Dry Set Traps – (Traps set on land.) Step always in your same tracks, using moccasins, not boots, or cover boots with skin tied on hair side out.

Wash Traps – Oil and grease them well, smoke or cover with blood, beeswax, etc. and keep, free from rust.

Use Dirt from Dens – Rotten wood, leaves, dung, small feathers, etc. for bedding down traps.

Always – Set your traps for the foot of the animal and arrange your bait so as he must set his foot on the pan to secure bait.


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