Paiute Deadfall Trap




About: I worship rock and roll. It has lasted for decades, and will continue. There are so many different subgenres that almost anybody can be satisfied with it. I also love the wilderness, and am learning primitiv...

We all need to eat, but the problem is getting it. Sure, we can survive on pine needle tea, but for how long before we need meat? Here's the answer: a deadfall trap made from mostly natural materials. It was invented and made by the Paiute tribe, and I'm carrying on their tradition here. Please note, the legality of making traps with natural materials may vary from place to place. In fact, it may be illegal in most states except for a desperate survival situation. So please, please, check with your local laws. Don't say I didn't warn you, and I'm not responsible for any injuries or trouble you may get in. However, I don't think it's illegal to just make one for fun, as long as you don't catch anything in it.

Step 1: Support Stick

Choose or cut a relatively straight, strong stick. The height will vary depending on what animal you're trying to catch. Mine ended up about eight inches in the end. Using your knife, make a dovetail in one end, which is when you whittle one side of the top of the stick down, and the other side, to make a point.

Step 2: The Trigger, Part 1

Cut a second stick. It should be long enough to hold up a weight while keeping the rest of the trap out from under it, and also go down to about the middle of the support stick. Saw down at the right point after testing it out to find the best place. Saw down far enough to hold the support stick in place, yet not so deep as to weaken the stick too much. Remember, this will be the weakest point in the trap, if any. Now whittle the wood away from the bottom most point of the notch. This should make a nice gradual slope in the wood, and then a perpendicular point. 

Step 3: The Trigger, Part 2

Now carve a notch all the way around the bottom point of the stick, about a quarter to a half of an inch from the bottom, and not as deep as the notch that was made previously, and wide enough to hold whatever string you have. I used 550 lb test strength paracord. 
Tie your rope/cord around the stick using a knot of your choice. I used the bowline knot, sorry about not providing pictures. The internet is a great resource! To measure how much you'll need, take the string around the support stick, and cut more than you think you need. I doubled the cord, and that was surprisingly perfect. Remember that you can always cut some off, but you can't put more on. Cut a smaller stick, about the same thickness as the trigger stick, but much shorter, maybe two and a half or three inches. Carve a notch around the shorter stick right in the middle, just like the one in the bottom of the trigger stick. Tie the end of the rope to the smaller stick, and experiment to get it to look kind of like in the picture.

Step 4: Trigger and Weight

Once the short stick is wrapped once around the support stick, you hold it in place with the real trigger stick-a long stick to be put against the short stick to hold it in place. The real trigger is where you put the bait (peanut butter is the best). The weight can be anything from a rock to a log. As long as it's heavy, it'll work. It can be kinda hard to balance it, and you may need to pound a row of sticks in on either side to guide its fall. Just keep one side at least partly open to let your prey in. Follow the pictures and you'll be fine. It took me at least 20 tries before I got it right- that included hand smashings. As you can see in my video, the trigger parts are flung neatly out in front of the deadfall, and the upright was out from under the weight (thanks to about an inch and a half of extra length on the trigger stick), so the only thing remaining under the weight is the real trigger and your new dinner (which in my case was a stick.) Very handy, so nothing blocks the space underneath.

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    9 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Great job. I have voted for you because this is a great trap and you have explained it very nicely.

    What part of the country is your back yard? It looks amazing.

    1 reply

    I like. Clear photos and an elegant design, though I would lean toward using a paracord snare. That being said, I'll try your dead fall and keep my fingers crossed.

    1 reply

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Generally I try to keep my inner "spelling nazi" on a short leash, but this one I couldn't let pass. It's "whittle", not "widdle". "Widdle" means to urinate.

    2 replies