The Clap Net
Categories: TRAPS FOR FEATHERED GAME.
In Asia, Africa, South America and Europe, this trap is a common
resource for the capture of wild birds of various kinds. It may be
called a decoy trap, from the fact that call birds are generally
used in connection with it. They are placed at distances around the
trap, and attract the wild birds to the spot by their cries. These
birds are especially trained for the purpose, but almost any tamed
bird that chirps will a
tract its mates from the near neighborhood,
and answer the purpose very well. Sometimes the decoys are entirely
dispensed with, and the bird whistle used in their stead. This
will be described hereafter, and inasmuch as the training of a
decoy would be a rather difficult matter, we rather recommend
the use of the bird whistle. The skill and absolute perfection of
mimicry which is often attained by bird fanciers with the use
of this little whistle, is something surprising.
No matter what the species of bird--whether crow, bobolink, thrush
or sparrow, the song or call is so exactly imitated as to deceive
the most experienced naturalist, and even various birds themselves.
Of course this requires practice, but even a tyro may soon learn
to use the whistle to good advantage.
The clap net commonly used, is a large contrivance--so large that
several hundred pigeons are often caught at once. It is sprung
by the bird-hunter, who lies in ambush watching for the game. The
net is generally constructed as follows, and may be made smaller
Procure two pieces of strong thread netting, each about fifteen
feet in length, and five feet in width. Four wooden rods one inch
in thickness and five feet in length are next required. These may
be constructed of pine, ash, or any other light wood, and one should
be securely whipped to each end of the netting.
Now by the aid of a gimlet or a red-hot iron, the size of a slate
pencil, bore a hole through one end of every piece one inch from
the tip, taking care that the ends selected lay on the same side of
the net. The other extremities of the four poles should be supplied,
each with a large screw eye. Four pegs are next in order--one of
which is shown separate at (P). It should be about eight inches
in length, and three inches in width, and an inch in thickness, and
sharpened to a point at one end. The other end should be supplied
with a notch two inches in depth and of such a width as will easily
secure the perforated end of one of the poles already described.
By the use of the gimlet or a red-hot nail, a hole should now be
bored through the side of every peg across the centre of the notch
for the reception of a wire pin or smooth nail.
The nets may now be rolled up on the poles, and the trapper may
thus easily carry them to his selected trapping ground. This should
be smooth and free from stones and irregularities. Unroll the nets
and spread them flatly on the ground, as seen in the illustration.
Let the perforated ends of the poles be innermost, and allow a
space of six feet between the inner edges of the nets. Draw the
net flatly on the ground, and drive one of the notched pegs at
each of the inside corners, securing the poles into the slots by
the aid of the wire pins or nails. Next cut four stakes eight or
ten inches long. The places for these may be seen by a look at
our engraving. Each one should be inserted five feet distant
from the notched peg, and exactly on a line with the inside
edge of the net--one for each corner. They should slant from the
net in every case. To each one of these stakes a stay-rope should
be secured, and the other end passed through the screw eye of the
nearest pole, drawing the string tightly, so as to stretch the net
perfectly square. Next, take a piece of cord, about twenty feet
in length, and fasten it across the ends of the net into the screw
eyes in the poles. This is the loop to which the draw-string is
attached, and either end of the net may be chosen for this purpose.
To this loop and a little one side of the middle, the draw-string
should be fastened. If secured exactly in the middle of the loop,
the two nets will strike when the draw-rope is pulled, whereas
when adjusted a little to one side, the nearest net will move a
trifle faster than the other, and they will overlap neatly and without
striking--completely covering the ground between them. When the
trap is spread the draw-rope should extend to some near shelter
where the bird-catcher may secrete himself from view. Spreading the
bait on the ground between the nets, and arranging his call birds
at the proper distances, he awaits his opportunity of springing
his nets. At the proper minute, when the ground is dotted with his
game, he pulls the draw-string, and the birds are secured.
Immense numbers of wild fowl are often captured in this way.
The bird whistle, already alluded to, is often used with good
effect, it being only sufficient to attract the birds to such a
proximity to the net as will enable them to spy the bait, after
which their capture is easily effected.