The Springpole Deadfall Trap
This is the first trap featured in the book "Naked
Into the Wilderness - Primitive Wilderness Living & Survival
Skills" by John & Geri McPherson. It is described in the
book on pages 152 to 158, plus a line drawing at the bottom of page
168. It is also shown on Walter
The trap is a deadfall trap, as is the figure
four trap, and the Paiute trap, meaning
that a heavy weight
that it will fall on the prey animal when the trigger is sprung. The
advantage of this trap over the figure four trap, and many other deadfall
traps, is that the trigger system is set up independantly to the weight—meaning
that it is much easier to set up the weight. The trap can
also be used as a trigger for many other situations (other than to
let a weight fall as in a deadfall trap), such as to release a snare
The trap consists of a long, springy piece of wood (which I will
refer to as the spring), three stakes to hammer into the ground,
a stick to hold the weight, a shorter stick which
functions as the trigger, some cord, and a weight. The spring must
be made of old, dead wood, not green, freshly picked wood as
will not have sufficient spring to it.
The trap is shown below, with the spring and trigger set but with
no weight set. The weight would be supported by the stick that is
seen lying down in the bottom left corner of the photo. The trigger
is shown just to the right of this stick. When the trigger is disturbed,
the spring is released, and moves (up in this picture), pulling the
stick out from under the weight, allowing the weight to fall. The
spring is held in place at three points—tied at one end with
the cord (left of picture), and by the two stakes shown at the upper
right and centre. The position of the stakes is such that they hold
the spring when it is pulled towards the bottom of the picture. It
is helpful to hammer in these two stakes at a slight angle, so that
the upper end of the stake slopes slightly towards the spring. This
has the effect of pushing the spring towards the ground, holding
it firmly in place.
of the springpole deadfall trap, with trigger set but no weight set
The photo below shows a close-up of the business end of the trap,
set up and with a cardboard box used as a weight. In reality you
rock. The trigger is the (almost) vertical stick in the lower centre
of the photo with cordage tied to each end of it.
of the business end of the trap with cardboard box used as dummy
A close-up of the three stakes that are hammered into the ground
is shown below. I used the middle stake as the one supporting the
trigger piece as the forked part on the left of the stake made it
easier to set up the trigger, however this forked part is not essential
and is not present (i.e. the end of the stake is straight, like the
other two stakes) in the actual book version of the trap.
of the three stakes that are hammered into the ground.
This is a close-up of the trigger piece. It has a flat side
cut into it and a small notch as shown.
This is the trigger piece shown from a different angle to above.
This is the set trigger. It is balanced precariously on the stake
that is hammered into the ground, and held under tension by the
cord at the upper left (which is attached to the moving end
of the spring). Note that the assembled and set trigger does not
itself touch the ground. The loop of cordage at the lower end of
the trigger is not tied tightly. The bait would be placed at the
top of the trigger piece, or in any fashion so that when an animal
nears the trap, the trigger is disturbed.
When I first made the springpole deadfall trap, I used this cord, which was very cheap
(maybe $2) from a supermarket. This cord was not very good, because
knots tied in it came undone by themselves very easily.
This is "550 paracord", which I used for the springpole deadfall
trap after discovering that the cord shown above was not much
good. It takes knots very easily, and is supposed to have a
breaking strain of 550 pounds, which is 250 kilograms, quite
impressive considering how thin and
pliable it is. It consists of an outer sheath and about 7 inner strands,
which can be pulled apart and used for many survival purposes, such
as sewing or fishing. You can get it here from LEGEAR in Australia.
Ultimate Guide to Wilderness Living: Surviving with Nothing But Your Bare Hands and What You Find in the Woods, John & Geri McPherson. This is a new version of this important wilderness survival book, under a different title. If you have this book already, don't get the new one since its almost the same content. If you don't have "Naked Into the Wilderness" yet, then this new one is the one to get.
From the publishers, "In-depth instructions and step-by-step photos of real survival skills — exactly what one needs to stay alive in the woods. The book first covers immediate needs like starting a fire, erecting temporary shelter, and finding food. Then it goes beyond other survival books by explaining advanced techniques for long-term living in the wild — using only those things found in nature. The authors show how to make tools by chipping stones, fashion a bow-and-arrow out of tree branches, weave baskets, fire primitive pots, build a semi-permanent shelter, and even tan hides. Finally, the authors explain how to bring all these skills together to live in the wilderness for days, weeks, months, or even years."
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