Springpole Deadfall Trap

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 Muma's website.

The trap is a deadfall trap, as is the figure four trap, and the Paiute trap, meaning that a heavy weight is set up so 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 loop.

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 this 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.

Springpole Deadfall Trap Overview Overview of the springpole deadfall trap, with trigger set but no weight set up.

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 would use a heavy weight, such as a large rock. The trigger is the (almost) vertical stick in the lower centre of the photo with cordage tied to each end of it.

Springpole Deadfall Trap with Weight Close-up of the business end of the trap with cardboard box used as dummy weight.

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.

Springpole Deadfall Trap - Stakes Close-up of the three stakes that are hammered into the ground.

Springpole Deadfall Trap Trigger This is a close-up of the trigger piece. It has a flat side cut into it and a small notch as shown.

Springpole Deadfall Trap Trigger This is the trigger piece shown from a different angle to above.

Springpole Deadfall Trap - Set Trigger 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.

Springpole Deadfall Trap - Cheap Cordage 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.

Springpole Deadfall Trap - 550 Paracord 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.

Recommended Reading

Ultimate Guide to Wilderness Living: Surviving with Nothing But Your Bare Hands and What You Find in the Woods, John & Geri McPherson 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."

Purchase from Australia (Booktopia)

Purchase from Australia (Angus & Robertson)

Purchase from Australia (The Nile) $28.40 AUD (free shipping)

Click here to purchase from Australia (Fishpond)

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See Also

Overview of Animal Foods
Figure Four Trap
Paiute Trap
Survival and Wilderness Skills Books
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