Ancient Chicken Trap




About: A lowly employee of a super secret organization by day and a digital adventurer by night!

Alas! I have researched the web and found no information on this trap, fortunately, I still remember it when it was taught to me by a cousin 28 years ago while I was on summer vacation in the countryside. What better place to document it than! So here goes...

Imagine being stranded on an island or trying to rebuild a community after a zombie apocalypse and you find some chickens! Hunting them would be simple for most, but you want to capture and domesticate them for the eggs! Here I present to you the knowledge on how to build a simple chicken trap, the ancient way!

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Step 1: Gather the Materials

You will need the following:

1. A coconut or other bowl-shaped container (half a coconut if you are stranded on an island, an ordinary bowl or even a ramen noodle plastic bowl would do for urban setting)

2. the spring mechanism, coconut frond midrib (pickup the dried fronds, not fresh as they are flexible, mostly used for weaving) or fashion some from bamboo or wooden skewers or twigs. plastic pickup sticks would also do! you can find and improvise on a lot of materials for this once you see the assembled trap.

3. a string or light rope. for the island scenario, you can gather some from local flora or fashion a rope from the coconut husk strands as shown in the picture below. for urban setting, you can find a lot to use ranging from making some from your shirt, using shoelaces, paracord, etc. also shown is the dried coconut husk where you can get the fibers.

Step 2: Prepare the Main Body and Spring Mechanism

Here are the materials I have gathered for my trap. Half a coconut, some dried frond midribs, and a red string.
The next step would be to cut the spring mechanism so that it would form parabolas on your bowl as shown in the pictures. 

You can use a coconut half with a husk, my sample here has its husk removed (I got it from a local wet market outside our place)

Do not put the edges of the spring mechanism too deep inside the bowl. The sticks/ midribs would just bend downwards when touched by the chicken and will not flick/jump when touched by the chicken.

Do be careful when working with this part! We don't want the midribs to jump up and poke your eyes!

Step 3: Set the Snare

Next step would be to prepare your string or rope by creating a noose that would tighten on the chicken's neck. For the chicken's safety, add a stopping knot somewhere along the string so the noose will not full close and choke the chicken :D
Put it on top of the spring mechanism as shown in the picture. The trap is done! Oh yeah, you would need bait, hopefully you have saved some of the coconut meat, shred it using a shell or rock and sprinkle some on the area near your trap. Not too close to it as the chicken's scratching motion might disturb the trap and prematurely trigger it. Put some inside the bowl as bait. For urban setting, use some rice or dried corn bits or even bread crumbs as bait. Secure the other end of the string using a stake driven to the ground or tie it up to a tree or sapling.

Be careful with the spring mechanism! They might jump and poke your eyes!

Add the stopping knot so the rope or string will not fully close on the chicken's neck. You are going to leave the trap, you want the chicken alive to domesticate it!

Secure the other end. Do not underestimate the power of wild chickens! Once snared, they will run and even try to fly away! They can easily pull or even break the string/ rope you used.

Step 4: Working Mechanism

Now you know how to make the ancient chicken trap. It works by flicking the string over the chicken's neck once the chicken pecks on the bait you set inside the bowl. The trap works by relying on the chicken's pecking behavior, the upward movement of its head would bump on the fronds and cause them to spring out  and ensnare the neck. The sudden jerk would cause the chicken to panic and run, tightening the noose around its neck. It'll be ready for you to subdue and capture it for domestication. 

Some final notes on the chicken trap:

Always be careful in making the trap, simple may it seem it could still misfire and hurt you.

Making the string too small would cause the chicken to peck under the string/ rope. 

Using a deep bowl might not work as the chicken would not easily see the bait inside it.

Chickens are...uhm, chickens! They'd flee in the first sign of danger. Wild chickens you may find on an island would surely be suspicious so give your trap some room to work.

Secure your trap, dig a little to put your bowl in the ground to avoid it being bumped and tilted by the chicken. A half coconut with husk would sit properly if the bottom of the husk has been chopped off and is flat.

Step 5: Final Notes

So there you go! I am happy to have documented and shared this knowledge with you. Hope you'll have fun in making your own chicken traps! Don't forget to post some pictures and share some experiences doing it!

Some more notes:

I have seen this work on chickens. I do not know if it would also be effective on other birds. Please free to try it out and post your results!

This trap is better than the drop trap -  the chicken may approach it from any direction and does not need someone to jerk the stick securing the drop trap

Sometimes (like what happened to me on my first trap), the part of the spring mechanism closest to the chicken flung first, the string flung under the chicken's neck (the string should go over the head), the string did not snare the animal as intended. My second try did capture the chicken as I have adjusted the spring mechanism by not putting its edges too deep inside the coconut.

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    15 Discussions


    2 years ago

    I've not given up on this just yet, but my first attempt failed. I found the trap unsprung with all bait gone. My (monofilament) noose was nearby, not tightened, and may simply have blown off, though it wasn't windy overnight.

    1) Bait: it's totally possible that rats ate all the wild-bird-seed-mix bait I'd used. Were you using cooked, or uncooked rice? I'm thinking they might leave uncooked, or even cooked rice alone.
    2) 'springs' - I might just have to try the palm midribs, because I've not thought of any simple synthetic substitutes. I take it they need to be as springy as possible.
    3) The 'noose': you used a red fibery material, and I wanted to know if that might have been for the sake of texture/catching on the chicken's feathers, or maybe giving it enough weight/body so as to be flung up onto the chicken's neck - or if clear monofilament might be a better choice so it's not so obvious. Right now, I'm thinking it needs to be heavier than the monofilament I used.

    FYI: I'm in Honolulu, Hawaii. Feral roosters overran one of our outer islands some years back to the point where they're not likely ever to recover any peace, and the same thing occasionally seems to be happening here on Oahu. A couple of years back, the City tried to get contractors to bid on an $80K/year deal to trap & euthanize chickens...and had no takers. (I think we're too fat here...)

    Terryl Sky

    3 years ago

    Thanks, this is the best and easiest one yet. I'll try it tomorrow.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    This is a really great idea! I just wish I could see it in action.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I'm going to try this, thanks for the instructable! I'll update on how it goes :) maybe add a pic


    5 years ago on Introduction

    if you want to find out how to make this trap. Look at any "Bird Dog" training books. They all describe how to make quail/pigeon traps. If not I can supply information about this trap. I have made 3 of them.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    When I was a little kid my cousin showed me the kind of trap you have in the first picture. We used orange crates and cans of catfood and trapped alley cats. The only problem we ran into was releasing the cats who were very unhappy.

    1 reply

    6 years ago on Step 5

    This is really quite clever. I never would have thought of this kind of snare. Thanks!

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! When it was taught to me, I thought we were just playing, messing around with the livestock. I did not realize that it will be a good outdoor/survivalist kind of thing.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    This ought to be able to snare a Ringneck Phesant or a wild turkey. Don't let the game warden catch you.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Hmmm, good idea though we have no place here with those fowls, they'd probably fall for the same trap.