In "The Most Dangerous Game," exactly what is a Burmese Tiger Pit?
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A Burmese Tiger Pit is a classic trap used in hunting and war. Essentially, it is a deep pit, often more than ten feet deep, lined with sharp spikes at the bottom and covered with some weak material such as branches or a tarp covered in dirt. The object of the pit is to get an animal to fall in, injuring itself on the spikes and unable to climb out due to the high walls. A Burmese Tiger, being relatively smart and vicious, would be herded towards this pit by jungle beaters, and in a panic it wouldn't take time to look around and see or smell the human activity. Once inside the pit, the hunter can shoot down and finish it off, thus killing a prized animal without stalking or risking his own life.
Rainsford builds a quick Burmese Tiger Pit while fleeing from Zaroff and his dogs in "The Most Dangerous Game."
The pit grew deeper; when it was above his shoulders, he climbed out and from some hard saplings cut stakes and sharpened them to a fine point. These stakes he planted in the bottom of the pit with the points sticking up. With flying fingers he wove a rough carpet of weeds and branches and with it he covered the mouth of the pit.
(Connell, "The Most Dangerous Game," fiction.eserver.org)
However, General Zaroff has also hunted tigers, and so avoids the trap.
A Burmese Tiger Pit is not unique to Richard Connell's short story "The Most Dangerous Game." It has been an effective tiger trap and human booby trap for many years. It's a fairly simple trap, too. A person would dig a large hole. Generally, the hole should be deep enough so that climbing out without help is not possible. Ten feet deep is a suitable depth. The bottom of the pit is then covered in spikes of some kind. Bamboo shafts with pointed tips are often stuck into the ground. The pit is then covered with enough foliage to cover the pit. The covering is not strong enough to support the weight of a large animal or human. The goal is that the prey will walk onto the light covering, fall into the pit, and be impaled by the spikes at the bottom. The spikes may or may not kill the prey, but a hunter can easily finish off the prey while safely standing outside of the pit. In "The Most Dangerous Game," Rainsford builds this kind of trap while fleeing from Zaroff. Unfortunately, Zaroff is an intelligent and experienced hunter, and the trap fails to capture him.
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