Monday, December 19, 2016

Woodscraft: Triggers for snares

Trigger sticks shown as part "b" and "a".
---Alert--- TRIGGER WARNING ---Alert---

Few things are as frustrating as being given instructions that are perfectly transparent to the person giving the instructions but are totally opaque to the person trying to execute those instructions.

How often have you been in the engine room when the bridge commanded, "Scotty, defibrillate the Henley-Gonculator, but only after you put it in FM-beta mode."  It is likely that you were not able to hear or process anything else the bridge commanded after that.

Adding a tensioning feature to your snare decreases the likelihood of your prey chewing through the line or working their way off.  The tensioning feature can be a spring pole or a suspended weight like a hunk of wood or a jug filled with water.  The use of a tensioning feature requires a trigger.

Sadly, most people who write about these things either believe that you (the reader) learned how to make a trigger at your pappy's knee.  Either that or they dodge the question or they present some Rube Goldberg device that leaves you mystified...How are you supposed to whip out one of those when you don't have access to a milling machine when you are lost in the Canadian wilderness?

A simple trigger
A stick.  Gloves for scale.  Hood of truck is optional.
This twig is willow.  Ordinarily willow would be too soft to use as a trigger but we are going to make use of the fact that buds create knots, and knots make wood harder to split.  This twig was shaved to show the knot beneath the bud.
Do you see the bud to the right of the knife blade?  The knot will reinforce the shelf we are going to cut.  This twig is about as thick as my pinky.  I would not want to use a twig that is any more slender than this one.  Thumb diameter is primo!!!
Rocking the knife back-and-forth quickly sinks it into the soft wood.  This is a time when a pair of by-pass pruning shears is worth their weight in gold.
I pulled out the blade and then used it to shave the more tapered part of the notch.  The bud is immediately above my thumbnail.
I was not real happy with the bottom angle of the notch.  I could have made it work, but decided to modify it to show that it could be done.
Quite by accident, you can see the chips of wood I shaved out of the bottom of the notch.
Anywhere between 0 degrees and 30 degrees can be made to work.  30 degrees is very sensitive but easy to cut.  Zero degrees ( a right angle) is more difficult to cut but is less likely to have false triggers.
The simplest feature to engage the trigger is a 16d nail (Part B in the photo at the top of the essay) hammered into the trunk of a tree or chunk of firewood.  This photo shows how the notch engages the nail.  The trigger stick can also be snubbed by a stout piece of fence wire if your target species is funneling through a particular opening in woven wire fence.
Why is the stick so long?
The biggest reason is that it is easier to whittle on longer sticks without cutting off chunks of your fingers.  The other reason is that longer sticks give you more options with regard to tuning the sensitivity.
From least sensitive-to-most sensitive, attach the line to the snare's loop at A, B or C.  Attaching the snare below the notch causes the trigger to roll off of the nail.  Attaching the snare above the notch relies on brute force dragging the trigger off of the nail.

In a similar way, attaching the line from the spring pole (or weight) above the notch decreases the risk of false triggers.  The higher above the notch the more the system is desensitized.

The expectation is that you will leave the sticks long as you fabricate them but them trim them at the site to fit the application.

The picture in my head is that the woodsman can prefabricate five or ten of these triggers in as many minutes.  Then carrying them around in his/her back pocket to set up snares as opportunities arise.

This is just one way to make a trigger stick.  Your native materials and the tools you have at hand will influence how you execute the details.

1 comment:

  1. Joe! Best Christmas present in many many years came today when the woodpile crept told me you were BACK. Thanks. From Wyoming, the state.