Siberian Split Trigger Trap

First and foremost, I need to state that the information in this blog is for educational purposes only and that this method of trapping is highly illegal in the UK and many other countries. Therefore, any traps of this nature should never be left unattended and should be dismantled and the trigger removed from the location at the end of practice.

But with that out of the way I’d like to introduce you to an interesting type of deadfall trigger that was taught to me by a very talented female instructor from the United States. It is known as the Siberian split trigger due to it being commonly used by trappers in Siberia and other regions in the northern boreal forest or the taiga as it’s called in the region. It’s a part of the world where people traditionally relied very heavily on hunting the abundant fur bearing mammals to produce warm winter clothing that is still vital to survive the extreme northern winters where temperatures can easily plummet to –50 degrees centigrade.

The trigger can be easily scaled up or down depending on the target species which traditionally ranged from squirrel, ermine and sable up to things like fox, wolves and wolverines. As with any hunting method ensuring a quick humane dispatch of the animal should be of the upmost importance so the weighty top log should be at least 4x the weight of the target species and using logs in the round for both top and bottom bars helps to concentrate the force into a much smaller point of contact maximising the effectiveness of the deadfall and minimising potential suffering of the animal.

Split Round of birch Image: Andy Neilson

Take a round of nice straight grained wood, I used a length of birch about the length of my arm but again you could go larger or smaller depending on the materials you have available. Split the length down the pith giving you two half rounds, I used a hatchet for this, and I do feel that the hatchet is the ideal tool for this project, but it can also be done with a knife and baton. 

One of the half rounds of birch Image: Andy Neilson

Next you want to take one of your half rounds and using your knife or hatchet, remove the edges and outside curve of the wood, then flatten the inner face giving you a piece of wood with good 90-degree edges. 

Saw cuts made on the squared round Image: Andy Neilson

Now you can either mark or imagine a centre line down this piece of wood and use a saw to cut into the centre line on both sides. On this example my cuts were about 8in apart, but again scale this up or down depending on the size you’re going for. Now we need to split the piece down the centre line between our two saw cuts. With small scale wood this can often just be snapped in two, but I chose to baton my hatchet down the centre line creating the two halves of my mechanism.

Saw cuts intersected after battoning with hatchet Image: Andy Neilson
Carving the trigger mechanism Image: Andy Neilson

Now take one half of the mechanism and reduce the thin section by an inch or two to create a gap to allow the two half’s to separate later on. Take your other side and reduce this section on this component to a wedge similar to the bevel on a wood working chisel. This will help your two sections to pivot when the trap is activated, it’s also worth trimming the top and bottom sections of the thick to a wedge (see picture of the set trap to see what I mean)

The trigger stick Image: Andy Neilson

Now it’s time to create the trigger or bait stick, this is done using the other half round. Half this piece giving you a quarter of your original round and again remove the edges and curved outer face giving you 90-degree edges. Use your saw to cut a notch just short of one end of the piece that is wide enough to fit your two thin ends of your trap mechanism with a bit of a gap between the two.

Setting up the dead fall Image: Andy Neilson

It’s now time to assemble your deadfall. Place one large log on top of the other with stakes driven in at the sides to keep your falling log centred and secure the bottom end of the trap logs with another stake or large log to prevent the top log sliding.

Mechanism set Image: Andy Neilson

To set the deadfall I lift the top log and insert an upright stick between the top and bottom log to secure it open until I set the trigger (please be careful doing this as a large log falling on your hand is far from pleasant). Hold your two mechanism components together and slide them into the notch on your trigger stick. Hold these together with one hand and slowly lower the top log onto the top of the mechanism. This will cause the top and bottom sections to want to separate, which puts pressure onto the notch in your trigger stick and the deadfall is set.

Siberian Split Trigger trap Image: Andy Neilson

The deadfall will then activate when the trigger stick is disturbed either by an animal passing between the top and bottom bar and knocking the trigger or by them feeding on bait secured to the trigger stick.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog and have fun practicing the information contained but as I’ve said above, please be responsible and ensure that the trap is fully dismantled after you make it and that the trigger components are removed from the area.

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