Pre-1840 traps

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Trap nerds can sort them out just like rifle nerds.
I think the fascinating part is how little they have changed. You could take a guy who has used a brand new trap once, and hand him one of those 18th century traps, and he could set it. The same can not be said for a guy who has only used a bolt action rifle once, and then handed a longrifle.
 

Red Owl

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The jaws on modern traps are oval not square and the pans on the old traps were often square not oval. As I said a lot of the thickness of the springs on modern traps is thin due to improved steel, the springs on the old traps were heavier. I think the chains might have been different as well. I am speaking about beaver traps. That #5 double long spring Bridger- that modern trap has the weight and size of the old traps so even though it isn't an exact copy, if you just want to knock around and experience what the mountain men did- pretty close choice.
 
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I'm holding a brand new Bridger #1 1/2 in my hand right now. the jaws aren't perfectly square, but look just like the first pictures. the pan is square, with the corners cut off. The only difference I see is that mine uses torsion springs. I do have traps with the same flat bars as shown in the pictures, and they are not old traps. Less than 15 years old.

I never gave it any thought before, but I'm amazed how little traps have changed. I figured 18th century beaver traps would look way different.
 

Red Owl

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No, they pretty much got it perfect back then. The only thing with the long springs is more work bedding the trap. I think the mountain men were trapping unsophisticated beaver, they would trap a couple of days in one spot, every trap would usually have a beaver, then they moved on. This was done before the water frozen, they were after the felt.
 

cornstalk

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In the mountain man times the preferred weight of a trap was around six pounds which included the weight of the chain. A few trap makers had traps that weighed as much as ten pounds, but six seemed to be what most were. The jaws/springs of course had to be strong enough the beaver couldn't pull free their leg free, but trap weight was what drowned the beaver. If they had time, and the trap location allowed, they'd attach a stone to either the chain or a rope attached to the chain and position the stone in a way that when the beaver headed for deep water (after getting caught by the trap) they'd pull the stone off a ledge or branch so it would sink into deeper water helping drown the beaver.
 

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About 10 years ago I wanted to get a group together that would relive the mountain man life for week. Hunt and trap. We would have to work it out so one buffalo was shot for the group- draw straws on who gets the shot, but we would all have a buffalo feast- hump ribs, marrow bones, etc. We would set traps as well. Never really got off the ground.
 
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