Survival Trapping and the Roll Pin Deadfall Trap

October 19th, 2016,
By Dusty Morris:

If you were ever unfortunate enough to find yourself in a survival situation and had to rely on trapping; there's one deadfall trap trigger that can be made without the use of a knife or cordage. It is
called the "Two Stick" method or the "Rolling Pin" trigger. Until the beginning of the 19th century, the bulk of furs were taken by Indians using primitive means. The use of steel traps did not become important until the 1750's in North America.

The trigger system is made from two wooden sticks. One stick used as the Upright Stick or Pole, with one end sharpened or ground on a rock to a rounded point.

Note: There is a video regarding this trap and the end of the page. 

The second component is the Trigger Stick which requires a few special characteristics. The trigger stick must have a rolling surface and works best if it has a slight bend. These two components that make up the trigger should also be smaller in diameter than the girth of the animal to be trapped.

The triggering system

A "Rule of Thumb" says the deadfall weight should be five times the weight of the desired prey. Therefore the trigger components need to support this estimated weight of the chosen rock or log. In a normal situation, many may not choose this deadfall trap. But, because the components need no manufacturing. Nature provides these components almost pre-made. This design can be made easily, in quantity, and quickly.

Someone with little to no experience could easily assemble this deadfall and trigger assembly 20 times faster than any other style trigger system. Providing they were in a survival situation and had no cordage and no knife to use.

Attempting to procure food can be done either actively or passively. In a survival situation, when calories count, actively searching for food, many times, requires calories you cannot afford to waste. By using traps at a temporary camp or at night when traveling gives you opportunities for some protein, a strong mental boost, and can reset the 72-hour Survival Clock.

This trap can be used with or without bait. When used without any bait, the trap will need to be set on the path of an animal run. Also, it should be boxed in or set up like a funnel with natural materials. That way the animal will be channeled to go through the trap, under the deadfall and "rolling the trigger" of the deadfall trap. If bait, such as acorns, is available then this trap can be set just about anywhere. Avoid getting too close to den entrances or too close the waters edge. These two places it is normal for animals senses to be on high alert.

In many places, it is unlawful to use this style trap for anything other than survival, but trapping it is a very useful skill and a great piece of survival knowledge. Practicing the build and setup of a few different styles of deadfall traps will give you confidence and knowledge you need to make the components and learn each traps unique personality.

Some general tips to remember:
- Try to place the bait towards the back of the trap.
- A deadfall weight falls faster the closer it is to horizontal.
- If the weight us too far vertical then it will fall more slowly.
- Be aware of your scent.
- The less you touch the environment and components the better.
- After the trigger is set, wait for a minute before moving along. The trigger will sometimes set itself off as the heavy weight distributed to the ground acclimates.
- Flag your traps with a bent branch or nearby stack of stones so you can find them later. It is easy to forget the traps location so easily camouflaged by brush and trees.
- Check your traps daily.
- Never leave your trap set; if you leave then the trap must be disabled.
- Most trigger components don't weigh much, take them with you to use the at the next stop.

The super-simple mechanics and components, the ability to build the Roll Pin Trigger without tools or cordage; could make this a vital tool in your survival knowledge arsenal.