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A Lesson From Ancient Trappers

     Animal trapping has been going on as far back as we can peer into history, and the tools and techniques of ancient trappers are fascinating.  Take for example the recent discovery that networks of mysterious stone walls in the Near East, constructed about 2,400 years ago, were actually massive animal traps.

These low lying walls that crisscross the desert were first observed by British air force pilots in the early 20th century.  Researchers have confirmed that they are ancient animal traps.  Two walls were constructed at an angle, gradually converging to a narrow pinch point leading into a pit.  These large wall funnels would direct game animals into the pit at the end of the funnel.  There are places in Jordan where these structures, which researchers call "kites," form chains up to 40 miles long.

 The basic idea at work here is one familiar to any modern trapper.  We use "guiding" or "blocking" to narrow down an animal's travel route and force that animal into a trap.  We narrow down trails, place stepping sticks, and use backing and guiding objects at dirt holes.  These ancient trappers used blocking on a massive scale by narrowing down the wide open desert and forcing animals into one small area in the middle of nowhere.  I'm very curious how successful they were, but it must have worked to some extent.

In any case, it's neat to see how some of the basic principles of trapping have stayed the same throughout the centuries, and how trapping has always sparked a little ingenuity.

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