Feb 07 2012

Marten Deadfalls

Published by at 10:08 am under Expeditions and Experiences

I’d like to welcome Kyle as a poster here. I’m sure his projects will be an interesting addition to this site.

Over the past year I have been travelling a lot and also working quite a bit. It looks like 2012 will be some of the same, but I’ll also try to live outdoors more again. Inspired by the “Happy People” video I decided to make a couple of those sable traps (Martes zibellina). Although the sable is long since extinct in this area (if they were ever here), we have pine marten (Martes martes), which is very similar.

A side note about the photo below is that I stuck most of the branches from the felled pines into the snow to make it easier for the moose to eat their needles. Since people started only planting spruce, even where there used to be pine, I fear that the moose has too little quality winter feed available to them.

Back to the trap. Almost everything about it is fantastic. It doesn’t dislodge easily when it’s not supposed to, but still locks in place quite well when sprung. You can use lighter weight logs than with a regular log deadfall and the roof makes maintainance less needed. From now on I’m going to make all of my traps with such a roof.

Features to notice (some only observable in the movie):

  • The bait stick is stuck into the roof, making it pull directly out of the notch when bait is taken. Normally the trigger twisting can be a problem, but this is eliminated with this set up.
  • The bait is out on the side, so that the marten has to stretch his neck and get his body between the logs. Because of the roof, the bait won’t be snowed on.
  • To eliminate the need of tying the roof logs, a cleft stick is used to support them against a tree.
  • The climbing pole directs the marten in from the right side of the trap and makes them more likely to bother with going for the bait.
  • The trigger sticks are tied with a string to the trap itself (with sufficient slack of course). This eliminates the problem of having to replace them because they’re lost in the snow when released.

On the minus side it can be mentioned that it takes 2-3 hours of work to make (plus triggers) and that the trap isn’t really practical to make without a metal axe available.

I’ve never put all that much effort into trapping, but with this new tool I’m more eager to do so.

Here is a photo from the common type of habitat in the shade side of the valley floor. Mixed pine and spruce with the occasional birch.

Another picture looking up onto a mountain called Ramnfjødd (Raven mountain).

This picture doesn’t look all that exciting, it’s of the tip of a pine branch. These sometimes lay in clusters under certain trees. They signalize that the capercaillie has been feeding above, which they usually do when food becomes unavailable on the ground. Sometimes you can also find their poop mixed with the needles. They usually have a few trees they favour, so if you take note of these trees you can return at another time, sneak upon it and shoot the bird.


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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Marten Deadfalls”

  1. Maton 08 Feb 2012 at 3:29 am

    They do mention in the film that the deadfall is in all respects better then the steel trap, except that it cannot be moved. Must be very effective.
    Wish you much success in catching some marten!

  2. Paul Kirtleyon 14 Feb 2012 at 3:50 pm


    Interesting post and good to see that you were also inspired by ‘Happy People’. It will be good to hear about any updates on your successes with this type of trap and any learnings from lack of success.

    Thanks for posting!

    All the best,



  3. Justin Hashon 08 Dec 2013 at 7:54 am

    That’s pretty cool that the same movie inspired more than just me. I would like to set some up but the thing I took most from the movie is skiing. It is faster and easier than snow shoes. I wish I could set up a cabin every where I want to trap.

  4. Muskraton 03 Mar 2016 at 7:38 pm

    I just watched “Happy People” yesterday. I plan to watch it again and tape it today. I too got fired up by this great show! This summer I am going to make a few of these traps for Marten next winter. That has got to be the best trapping show I have ever seen! Kinda wish I lived in Russia now, or at least Siberia!! I am 50 years old, and have been trapping since I was 10. I have never tried dead falls before……gotta do it!

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