These are the traps of our childhood cartoons.... the one where the baddie gets hauled into the air by his ankle.
Before you read further, please be aware that these traps are deadly to animal life and welfare. They should not be set unless somebody is going to check them early every day, and preferably more than once a day. There are photos below of trapped animals. Like many human generations before me, and like many of the other creatures on this planet, I am a meat eater and a hunter. I hunt with compassion and respect. If you are offended by the hunting of animals, please don't read any further.
Although it is possible (and maybe necessary sometimes) to have a trap which will lift an animal off the ground, I think that often all the spring mechanism needs to do is simply pull the noose shut around the animal to hold it securely.
It may be necessary to pull the animal off the ground if:
- The target animal is likely to be eaten by predators before the trapper gets to the trap
- The animal is likely to get at the snare cord to chew it or break it.
- The cord being used is relatively weak. While the cord might hold the dead weight of the animal suspended in the air, it might not withstand the force created by the animal struggling and lunging on the ground.
- You want to quickly kill the animal by strangulation (this requires care to ensure the animal is caught by the neck). Not recommended for beginners.
I have seen many designs for spring-ups. One old book containing some designs to consider is "Camp Life in the Woods and the Tricks of Trapping" by W. Hamilton Gibson. You can download this from the internet. Here is one link that hopefully will work on your computer:
I have had success with two basic designs. One I saw first in my orange-colored childhood 'bible' "How to Survive in the Bush, On the Coast, In the Mountains of New Zealand" by B. Hildreth. I have since seen a very similar trap that is said to have been used by natives in the Pacific area. The basic mechanism is shown at the bottom left of the page of diagrams below:
Whereas the above spring-up has a vertical noose and requires a 'cubby' to be built around the bait to ensure the animal accesses the bait through the noose, the second design has a horizontal noose and may not require much of a 'barrier' to be built. This trap is pretty much identical to the San Bushman bird trap (which you should be able to find reference to on the 'net). The noose is supported by split sticks which are pushed into the ground in a circular arrangement.... and the bait is in the middle of the noose, generally in a hollow dug into the ground. The trigger mechanisms of these two traps are fairly similar. In practice it might be desirable to pile up some earth, rocks or twigs around the outside of the noose to ensure that the bait is approached through the noose and that the noose is not easily knocked out of position.
In the picture below, the anchor 'hoop' is actually a live pine root which has been pulled up from the ground with both ends still under the ground.
In one location there was a danger of catching domestic animals, so I made the nooses only just big enough for a possum to get its paw into. I have only tried this a time or two, but I was very encouraged with the results. Here are pics of a possum and a wild cat both taken with spring-up traps. The cat was huge!! The possum looks like it is having its arm stretched, but actually there was only enough spring to just pull the snare shut, so the possum could curl up comfortably on the ground. However, when I got there with my camera it ran to the extreme limit of the cord which of course had the effect of lifting the paw up.
To give you some idea of the size of the cat, the knife in the picture is a cut-down Cold Steel Bushman with an overall length of approximately 225mm. Actually, in thinking about this particular cat, I think it may have been caught by the 'neck' rather than the 'paw' spring up. I'm fairly sure I caught another cat by the paw because I recall being impressed that the cat had been curious enough about the possum lure to stick its foot into the hole.
Below is a diagram for a foot spring-up for bigger animals. I've never caught any game with this design, although I once caught a farm dog with one while trying to trap some mysterious pigs on the property. Anticipating this possibility, I had ensured that there was only just enough spring to lightly close the noose, so there was very little chance of causing injury. The farmer was with the dog at the time. I did get one of the pigs eventually, but it was in a simple snare. That is another story though.
Below is an interesting spring-up trap evidently used by our early Maori people to catch rats. This cunning design does not have a conventional sliding noose. The 'noose' is a simple stirrup of plant material that lifts the animal up against the top hoops of the structure. This would clamp the rat in place where it would lack the manouverability (and probably the will) to chew at the noose cord. This is also a good design to use in conjunction with fibres that don't take a knot well, or which may be too rough to easily slide through a noose eye. I have found that dried strips of flax break relatively easily if knotted. The noose hoop can be fixed to the spring stick with relatively strong 'wrapping'-type knots, but a conventional noose eye-knot could be relatively weak. The drawing is based on an illustration in the book "Forest Lore of the Maori" by Elsdon Best. I am yet to try using one of these traps, but I thought it worthy of a mention in this blog.