After last week’s post about the Ojibwa bird snare, I wanted to follow up with some more details and options for this unusual trap. One of the most fascinating parts of trapping (for me anyway) is the variation that you can employ with your traps. This bird trap is no exception. Change up the “engine” that drives this simple machine, or place it in an unexpected location, and the Ojibwa bird snare can act like a whole new trap. Try out these two options on your next adventure.
Change the Engine
Don’t be afraid to mix things up. The classic Ojibwa bird trap is powered by a stone counterweight. When the trigger is tripped, the stone falls freely, thereby tightening the noose and catching your quarry. Change out this sluggish stone engine, and you’re trap’s action will become faster.
To modify the trap to utilize a spring pole mechanism, first cut a 2- to 3-foot-long flexible sapling or branch. Choose hardwood for its durability and natural springy wood fibers. Select dry wood rather than live wood, as it will spring back even more quickly than the wetter living wood. This spring pole can be finger diameter if you’re using this trap for birds. Cut a spring pole that’s thumb thick if you’re going after larger birds or small game mammals. Whichever you choose, tie the thicker end of your spring pole near the top of the bird staff with strong cordage. I prefer to tie it in two spots instead of one continuous wrapping, as it seems to be more stable. Next, tie the end of your line to the narrower end of the spring pole. You’ll have to experiment a little to get the cord length just right. You’ll still need a knot in this line near the noose, to act as part of the trap trigger. If you can pull the line through the hole in the staff and get a bend on the spring pole while still being able to get the cord knot and perch trigger stick to engage, then you did it right. Make sure you tie the knot (which is part of the trigger) in a position on your snare line that allows the trap to set easily, yet receive the full action of the spring pole.
HANDY TIP: While you’re getting the knot and perch stick trigger system figured out, allow the noose to stay closed, clasping a small stick as a toggle. This will keep your spring pole from sucking your noose through the hole in the staff, and it will save you from having to rethread the noose through the staff.
Change the Set
So maybe you don’t like making soup out of little birds. This trap doesn’t have to be a bird trap! Prop the pole on its side, next to a run, so that the perch trigger is off the ground, but in the animal’s way. Now you have a portable snare for very small game (rat-sized is about right). Or lay the pole completely on the ground, with the noose wrapped around the mouth of a burrow or hole, to catch rodents and other small game as they enter or exit their dens and tunnels. You could even change the perch stick from being a trigger that is bumped out of place by the animal’s passage to a trigger with bait attached that lures your game into the path of the noose.
Have you ever modified or re-invented a trap? Tell us what you tried, and how it worked, in the comments.