My Side of the Mountain

by Jean George

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What types of traps did Sam make in "My Side of the Mountain"?

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Without any kind of grocery store or other source of nutrition, Sam has to be pretty handy with his traps, and he uses pretty much all of the most basic/popular kinds of traps. The most commonly used design is a snare. There are a couple different ways to tie snares, but each involves a rope or line of some kind tightening around the animal as it tries to move away. "Figure 4" traps are one of the least well-known that Sam uses, perhaps in part because their triggering mechanism (which is also where the trap gets its name) takes some design knowledge and can be a little tricky to set up correctly. He also uses box traps and deadfalls, which are basically the same as far as the triggering mechanism is concerned (both are commonly used because they are so simple), the only difference being that the box trap is intended to trap the animal alive and the deadfall is designed to kill the animal. He also mentions pit traps, which might work for Sam but are somewhat impractical because digging a pit that is anywhere near deep enough to trap most animals is very labor-intensive.

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Given that Sam is getting all his own food, it is not surprising that he makes a lot of different kinds of traps.  Among the kinds of traps that he makes are:

  • Snares.  These are traps where a cord of some sort tightens around some part of an animal when it tries to move away.  Typically, the animal is lured in by food or the snare is set in an area where animals walk a lot.
  • Box traps.  Traps where a box falls on the animal, trapping it.
  • Dead falls.  These are similar to box traps, except that something falls on the animal and kills it.
  • Figure four traps.  This is one particular kind of a dead fall trap with a triggering mechanism shaped something like the numeral "4."
  • Pit traps.  A trap where a pit is dug and covered with branches and leaves to disguise it.  When an animal steps on to the covering, it gives way.  The pit must, of course, be too deep for the animal to jump back out.

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