Bird Traps

I’ve been researching more ethnographic data for trapping techniques to get beyond the same handful we have all seen since our Scouting days; the Paiute, Figure-4, spring snares, etc.  While not looking at all I came across this interesting image from the archives of the Smithsonian from 17th century Italy.  The more I research, the more I learn that trapping, in the old days, was a passive-active activity, not just set the trap and go away.  Leaving the animal for any significant time allows the prey to escape or be taken by other, craftier, predators.

Text authored by Giovanni Pietro Olina, , about 1622; and illustrated by Antonio Tempesta, 1555-1630 and Francesco Villamena, ca. 1566-1624.

This trap is a great example of the active-passive nature of hunting and trapping.  The hunter, disguised as a cow is slowing pressing the flock into a tubular net, guided by the short fences on either side.

There are more tried and true ideas where this came from so hopefully I’ll be able to tease them out of the available archives and share a few more as I find them.

Antler Points

I am very interested in the European Upper Paleolithic.  There are many amazing artifacts of antler and bone known from good archaeological contexts.  Having lugged a load of antler and bones around over the last several years, it seemed to be time to make some new goodies.  I went through a phase 15-20 years ago cutting and shaping using only purely traditional means, so I know it can be a long, slow process.  For these tools I used steel saws, files, and sandpaper to speed up the process but even with these conveniences there are many hours in these points.

I’ve always liked the look of these points and it seems clear to me why these were effective weapons used from 25,000-30,000 years ago across Eurasia to almost present day in parts of the Arctic.  However, until I made a few, I didn’t really appreciate how deadly and functional these points are.  As each barb is carved and sharpened, there becomes nowhere to hold the point safely while working without wrapping it in buckskin.    Not just a thrusting weapon, harpoon, or spear; I can imaging thrusting this into a rodent or badger den, using the barbs to pull out a good meal.

The plastic nature of antler will give these tools long life and resistance to breakage and can be re-sharpened many times.

The scraps are becoming arrow points like the one above.  Some will be made to modern legal specifications so that they may be used for hunting in the coming seasons.




Took the new arrows out for a little shooting last night.  The bodkins are too much for the lightweight straw bales I have right now.  The arrows shoot very straight and true but pass through the bales as if they weren’t even there.  At least with broadheads you get some drag as they cut the straw.  I’ll have to get a new setup this weekend or put some regular target points on.  As can be seen above, they have a first coat of red ochre painted on and are waiting for a coat of oil tonight.  Next, polish the heads and call them done.  Then… start the process of slowly destroying them by shooting.