Hunting Survival

Guide to Making a Figure 4 Deadfall

Guide to Making a Figure 4 Deadfall

The Figure 4 Deadfall is one of the simplest and most effective traps that pretty much anyone is capable of setting up. It might seem complicated at first, but it’s really not too hard to prepare this trap and it doesn’t take a lot of time to master the technique.

The trap gets its name from the fact that it looks a lot like the number 4 when it’s all set-up, and that can help you to remember how to do it. Of course, traps like this should only be utilized in genuine survival situations, and it’s always important to do what you can to make the trap as effective as possible.

Not only will this reduce any potential suffering for your prey, but it will also give you a better chance of catching something. We’ll be going into the various aspects of setting up and using this trap in our article today, so read on if you want to learn more.

Why Choose a Figure 4 Deadfall?

The Figure 4 Deadfall is actually very useful due to its versatility. It can be prepared to catch both large and small animals, and you can choose different types of deadfall to suit the situation. You can even simply use containers or cages to trap an animal, rather than crushing it outright. This all helps to make this particular trap one of the most effective and relied-upon traps by people surviving in the wild. What’s more, it’s also very easy to make.

All you need is the deadfall itself, which can be a log or large rock, and three sticks. The three sticks are placed together in the number 4 configuration, with the deadfall balanced on top, to prepare the trap. Cleverly, the deadfall helps to keep the sticks firmly locked in position, until they are disturbed by the unwitting animal. As soon as one stick has been nudged out of position, the others collapse and the deadfall drops.

step by step guide to making a figure 4 deadfall

Keep Your Figure 4 Deadfall Efficient and Effective

Before we get into preparing the trap itself, let’s point out some important things you should always remember to help make this trap as effective as possible. First of all, you shouldn’t prepare the trap near where you’re actually going to set it. Practice setting the trap up elsewhere first.

This is because, if you spend too much time lingering around your trapped area, your bodily scent will be left behind. Animals will easily pick up on this scent and know to stay away from the area, so your trap will be ignored. Next, you shouldn’t just limit yourself to only one trap.

Even with careful tracking and good instincts, it can be hard to find the right location for a trap. To give yourself a better chance of catching some prey, set multiple traps along trails and near bodies of water where animals will often go to drink.

tips-for-making-a-figure-4-deadfallAnother important tip to know when setting up a Figure 4 Deadfall is to prepare this trap on a hard surface. If you tried to set it up on a soft surface, the deadfall may not have the desired effect. It might injure the animal and push into the ground, rather than killing it quickly and humanely.

To maximize the efficiency of the trap, it’s important to set it up on a rocky area, or on top of some impacted soil that will stand up to the weight of the log or rock that you have chosen to use. As a rule of thumb, try to find a deadfall that is approximately five times heavier than your desired prey.

That should be just enough to instantly kill the animal and minimize the chance of any suffering. For the same reason, you should also check your traps quite often. If any animal does get caught and isn’t killed, it’s important for you to end its misery rather than leaving it for hours on end.

figure 4 deadfall guide

Setting Up the Figure 4 Deadfall

Now let’s talk specifically about how to set up a Figure 4 Deadfall. First of all, you need to select your sticks. You should try to find three sticks that are all of similar length and breadth. Ideally, you could just find a very large branch and break it down into three, equally-sized pieces.

Next, get one of the sticks and use your knife to carve a wedge into one end of the stick. You can also flatten out the other end to allow it to stand vertically on the ground without toppling over. Now grab your second stick—which will be your “release” for the trap—and whittle another wedge into one of its ends.

figure 4 deadfall design

You also want to carve a little notch near the top of this stick so that it can slot into the vertical one. For the final stick, also known as the bait or trigger, you’ll need to carve another little notch into it. This will allow the trigger to connect to the release.

You can cut extra notches or adjust your pre-existing ones if necessary until all three sticks fit together snugly. When this is done, you can start preparing your trap. Don’t forget to put some bait on your trigger stick, if you are choosing to use bait. Afterwards, put the sticks together and gently place the deadfall on top of the vertically-standing release.

The pressure exerted by the deadfall should keep the trap held tightly in place, ready to be sprung. Next, all you’ll need to do is get out of the area and wait to see what happens. Again, be sure to check your trap at regular intervals to ensure that it hasn’t fallen over and to check that no animals are lying there suffering.

About the author

Mike Paris

Mike is the editor of NWT Outfitters and as you may expect, an avid outdoorsman... When Mike isn't logged into the NWT backend, he's camping, climbing, hunting, fishing, or doing some combination of the four.

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