The koolyomka (also know as the Siberian deadfall) is a primitive trap originally used by Russians to catch sable and other small fur-bearing mammals. This trap is traditionally set between two trees up off the ground about 5 feet. This was because their target, the sable, can typically be found off the ground.

In this how-to, I'm going to take the concept of a traditional koolyomka and adapt it to our needs of trapping food for a survival situation, utilizing fallen trees on the ground and constructing the trap on the forest floor. This will insure our trap has a greater opportunity for other mammals that spend time on the forest floor as well, such as ground squirrels, rats, mice, and even woodchucks or rabbits. 



Materials for koolyamka
Width of trigger set

Step 1: Gather materials.

      For this project you're going to need:

  • 4 long stakes about 4-5' long
  • Cutting tools (ax, saw, knife)
  • 2 pieces of wood about an inch and a half thick and about 6" long (green wood is easiest to carve). 
  • 1 piece of wood about an inch and a half thick and about 18" long (green wood is easiest to carve).
  • 3 fallen trees/logs roughly 8-12" in diameter. 


Driving stakes into the ground with ax
Stakes at the other end

Step 2: Drive the stakes.

        Once you have identified where you would like your trap, take one of the logs and stack it on top of the other. Drive a set of stakes at either end as deep as you can without them splitting. These are to stop the top log from toppling over and acts like a channel to guide the log down. This is the time you want to make sure both logs lie flat against each other. If they don't lie flat, take your ax and hew them where necessary to make them flat.


Trigger body top
Trigger body flat end
Trigger body
Trigger body bottom

Step 3: Carve the trigger body.

       Start off by trimming off  both 6" pieces of wood to make two rectangle shapes roughly 1" wide and 6" long. Then on one end of each piece sharpen it to a "V" shape point. Once you have two identical parts, take your saw and cut about an inch or two up from the tip of the "V" point about half way through the stick. Split down the flat end to the saw cut to make a weird looking "L" shape on each one.

        Here is where the two parts get a tad different, take one and set it aside, its done. Take the other and cut an angle on both of the flat ends opposite to the "V" point. Take the two parts and put them together. Cut down the leg of the piece you didn't put the angles on so that they sit together like in the pictures.


Trigger body and trigger stick
Trigger body with trigger stick

Step 4: Carve the trigger stick.

         Take the 18" piece of wood and cut a half-square notch into it about an inch and half from one end and about two thirds of the way through. After that just trim off the opposite end until you have a long narrow pole or rod shape. Sharpen the tip to hold your bait in place.


Top weighted down

Step 5: Add some weight.

        Adding weight makes the trap fall with more force allowing us to take larger game such as woodchucks and rabbits. The easiest way to do this is to lay one or two logs or dead trees across the front of your trap.


Setting the trigger

Step 6: Set the trap.

        This part can be a little tricky and may require you trimming up your trigger set some if it doesn't hold (make sure you put your bait on the trigger stick before setting the trap!). The easiest way I found to set the trap is to assemble all the pieces and hold them together in one hand while you lift the log with the other. Set the trigger set with the base trigger body part (the one with  the flat parts) vertical and the top trigger body part ( the one with angles on each end) at an angle. This will make the two trigger body parts to want to fall or lean away from each other in opposite directions. This will put pressure on the the trigger stick (the one with the "C" looking shape carved in it) and will hold the two part together and keep them from falling apart.

        When an animal comes to get the bait off of your trigger stick (make sure the bait is really ground on there good), it will knock the trigger stick off the the two trigger body parts, causing them to fall away from each other. This will set off the trap and letting the weighted log fall, crushing the animal between the two trees.


Trigger set

        The koolyomka is a simple yet effective trap and can be used over and over again. One of the best parts is you can easily pack up the three trigger pieces and take them with you when leave that area. Try carving out a couple sets of these the next time you're in the woods. Its actually quite fun. Check with your local DNR office for laws and regulations on trapping.

        Be sure to check back regularly for new how-to and gear review posts and videos. Thanks for stopping by and remember, waiting.


~The WG Team



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