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Thread: Old Wolf Trap

  1. #1
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    Default Old Wolf Trap

    I found these together as I walked the sandbar down to the boat last few mornings ago.

    Cant date 'em, because they were not in any strata, but they were mudded together. Definitely hand made, though.



    The container/dish is hacked out from a walrus skull, its the socket that holds the tusk. VERY hard bone and it could have had many forms/uses.

    The baleen strip is sharpened at both ends and would have been first soaked and then folded or coiled and bound with sinew. Then it would have been frozen into a fish or meats and left where a predator like a Wolf would have found and eaten it, its digestion releasing the "trap" to straighten with dire results......and death comes from within.

    I would think tracking it down would be the final solution.....
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    That is amazing! Very, very cool. It could be dated if you got it into the hands of the right scientist. Regardless, that is an awesome find. Thanks for sharing!

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    That's cool! What a great find and thanks for sharing the pictures.

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    I've heard of these and seen these in books. They used to used them for polar bears too I've heard. What a belly ache!

  5. #5

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    Very Cool.
    The bone could be dated by it's C14 but some of it would need to be burned to produce the carbon to derive the date. Not sure about the baleen but it too could probably be dated the same way.
    Otherwise if they are associated with other, diagnostic, artifacts a probable date could be surmised unless multiple strata have eroded out and artifacts are inter-mixed.

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    Its likely to have washed out from the permafrost along the river bank a hundred yards upriver....... I hope it dosent delaminate as it drys, I might put some elmers glue to seal it clear and easy to wash off, if need be.Theres been folks living along this river for 12,000+ years. The thing is, baleen isnt a local resource, but a trip downriver is not far at all, and neither is a whale hunt in Spring, or a for trade at the fairs held in Kotzebue Sound in summer.These might have gone outta use after steel traps were available,...........but I dont know.
    I think they would still be rather effective today.


    While I have read about Alaskan use of these, I had never seen one untill I found this, and I knew what it was right away....I once saw a picture of one of these used by Norwegian Polar Bear Hunters at Franz Josef's lands of the high Arctic. I thought that was a cool idea and wonderd if they applyed it elsewhere....I guess they hunted the same whales too, so these were probably common at some point, all around the Arctic, at least.
    The Norwegians went onto use trap box's with a shot gun mounted in a small house and a bait attached to a trigger.They flew some pennants on tall pole to attract the polar Bears in to the bait.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

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    Thank you for the Education. What a grate find! What's Amazing is that these great artifacts were found by the one guy that could instantly identify what they were. Wow!! great post!

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    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by strangerinastrangeland View Post
    Its likely to have washed out from the permafrost along the river bank a hundred yards upriver....... I hope it dosent delaminate as it drys, I might put some elmers glue to seal it clear and easy to wash off, if need be.Theres been folks living along this river for 12,000+ years. The thing is, baleen isnt a local resource, but a trip downriver is not far at all, and neither is a whale hunt in Spring, or a for trade at the fairs held in Kotzebue Sound in summer.These might have gone outta use after steel traps were available,...........but I dont know.
    I think they would still be rather effective today.


    While I have read about Alaskan use of these, I had never seen one untill I found this, and I knew what it was right away....I once saw a picture of one of these used by Norwegian Polar Bear Hunters at Franz Josef's lands of the high Arctic. I thought that was a cool idea and wonderd if they applyed it elsewhere....I guess they hunted the same whales too, so these were probably common at some point, all around the Arctic, at least.
    The Norwegians went onto use trap box's with a shot gun mounted in a small house and a bait attached to a trigger.They flew some pennants on tall pole to attract the polar Bears in to the bait.
    The book Inua, with Nelson's Smithsonian collection, has a picture of one of these. I'd take a picture, but the book is in my classroom. When I show this technology to students and let them handle baleen, they are amazed at Eskimo ingenuity.

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    This is a great post, very interesting. I did some searching on the internet as I had never seen anything like this, but couldn't find much so maybe you guys can help fill in the gaps for me. What function did the container/dish have? Was in necessary for freezing the baleen in place or what?

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    Cool find. Bet'cha look there again. Lol.
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    Im always lookin'

    The container could have held many many things......prehaps it had an end and lid? I don'no......roaches, beads, tinder,small unknowns....just a random old thing washed up on the sands, held with a clump of mud......

    Im sure the baleen was soaked and then bent/tied by hand. once tied, it was wrapped in meats/fish and set out to freeze solid. Then it was placed as "bait" and the trap was consitter'd "set".......... Necessarily the animal would have to gulp down the "trap" but my dogs eat plenty in hunks and chunks, so I can see it....
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

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    To have some sort of scale, what is the length of that baleen?
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by strangerinastrangeland View Post
    I found these together as I walked the sandbar down to the boat last few mornings ago.

    Cant date 'em, because they were not in any strata, but they were mudded together. Definitely hand made, though.

    The container/dish is hacked out from a walrus skull, its the socket that holds the tusk. VERY hard bone and it could have had many forms/uses.

    The baleen strip is sharpened at both ends and would have been first soaked and then folded or coiled and bound with sinew. Then it would have been frozen into a fish or meats and left where a predator like a Wolf would have found and eaten it, its digestion releasing the "trap" to straighten with dire results......and death comes from within.

    I would think tracking it down would be the final solution.....

    VERY interesting find, and thank you so much for sharing.

    I wonder if there was much desire in tracking down the animal....

    I suspect that this was a means to enhance food resources.

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    Im thinking predators would be the target ( swallowing meats) and fur would be the material gain, for clothes, bedding, trade and such. A Wolf skin ,back when these were in use, was very valuable, as it is today.

    Wolf is one of 3 furs, Wolf, Polar Bear and Wolverine, that have the unique quality that the hairs do not let ice stick to the fur and ice on them is easily shed, where as it will stick to and adhere to other furs, lessening their insulation quality's and weighing them down a bit more with use..... The trims and ruffs used on Arctic clothing shed the condensation rime ice, rather than build ice up as the perspiration exits the neck of the hood and cuffs, hem. This quality also helps the 'trims' last for many more years that the Caribou or Muskrat, etc, that make up the bodys of traditional fur clothing, and they are cut off and reused when the main part of the Parka is worn out and not so warm anymore.

    The baleen Wolf killer is just about 14 inches long
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

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  15. #15

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    For sure retrieval of the fur would be a welcome outcome, and perhaps there could be a relatively decent possibility for doing so in optimum conditions (good tracking conditions, reasons for the wolf to travel minimal distances before the spike is released and sepsis takes effect).

    I suggest that the main intent for the application of these devices may have been to eliminate competition for food resources, and for personal/community safety. Gaining some valuable fur may be a bonus. If the true intent was to retrieve the animal, other techniques could be employed that would offer a much better chance at success.

    As many realize from both history and current events, wolves have the ability to cause significant depletions of large wildlife over large areas that can last for decades when wolves are left unaffected by human predation. Without wolf population control, humans would be at great risk of starvation through these times of low game availability. Time to pack up and find a new Eden.... Early inhabitants of North America also faced incredible predators and had to learn remarkable techniques using available technology to survive being eaten by these adversaries.

    People carried out predator management as part of our basic societal process of the day, the absolute need to reduce competition and risks to health while increasing the potential for obtaining needed resources.

    The White man is not unique in culling the beasties that make a garden wither.

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    I doubt that people who hunted for a living would have any problem at all following the animals to their demise. Besides knowing the lands they grew up hunting intimately, Letting a valuable fur get away would be foolish, and running down game on foot or with a dog team would have been the order of the day. I hunt Wolves by tracking and catching up to them as well. Ive done it on foot and with a snow machine, countless times.They are not always running......especially after eating, they get sorta slow. Dog teams could easily have caught up to them, and if you have ever gut shot an animal,(this is a gut poking device), you'll know they just dont walk off, they will stop,and lay down, or 'hump up" and tippy toe.....so in the short time between injestion and "POW! through the guts, is about all the distance a Trap eating predator would get..... Its actually the best way to shoot a Bear to a stop is in the guts, if he's going for your friend.
    As well, Theres also no old Eskimo storys about Wolves attacking humans. Dog teams, yes, people no. Having lived among fellow hunters for so long, Im very inclined to say several competing Hunters would have taken off to catch any Wolf known to have swallowed such a device, and they would have chased it down on foot, dog team, snogo and whatever transpo is available in the future.

    I think its a most excellent tool, Im gonna find out if its legal to use....? What would pre steel trap men do that would be better for a very shy and agile prey? A body could carry ALOT of these and put them "in depth" ......and follow the trails that lead away from the bait sites....
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

  17. #17
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    A very cool find. Very interesting.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Maybe the box half is what held the booby trapped meat while it was freezing. Pop em in a box, freeze and pop em out.
    If you tied it, then you have the frozen sinew to untie. Just musing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by strangerinastrangeland View Post

    The container could have held many many things......prehaps it had an end and lid? I don'no......roaches, beads, tinder,small unknowns....just a random old thing washed up on the sands, held with a clump of mud......
    Thanks for the explanation. I assumed the container was part of the trap as well and was scratching my head trying to figure out how that fit into the process. This is a really neat find. Thanks for sharing.

  20. #20

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    Tray (Nunamiut)

    There was also a flatter puggutaq known as an alluiyaq or puggutaq-alluiyaq which was also used to serve meat and fish, though not well suited to hold broth. This example from the Murdoch collection is 35 3/8 inches long and 9 1/8 inches wide.


    This reminded me of your bone artifact.

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