Paiute Deadfall

As always, check with your local laws before using bushcraft and primitive methods in a non-survival situation.


The Paiute Deadfall is a fast acting kill-trap that uses cordage rather than solely sticks as seen in a figure-four deadfall. For the kill weight, it must be around five times the target animals weight. Remember, deadfalls are not toys and cannot make distinctions between targets that may set it off. If something sets off the deadfall it may be killed or injured without being the target animal.

The Paiute Deadfall requires two sticks, a piece of cordage, a trigger mechanism, and a heavy weight to crush the prey.

The two sticks should be about as long as one’s pinky to thumb in the “Hang-loose” gesture.

Next, carve a flat surface to rest the rock upon. This is carved on what is to be the top horizontal stick. With a flat surface, it will be much easier to stabilize the rock as on the horizontal stick.

Carve the vertical stick in a similar fashion as this narrowed portion will act as a swivel.

It is now time to take the horizontal stick and carve a notch into it. This notch acts as the female part for the male part of the vertical stick.

The picture above is the bottom side of the horizontal stick. The horizontal stick will balance on the male portion of the vertical stick like such

The trigger mechanism is the next to be built. This stick is the bait stick. It presses against the trigger mechanism and pressures against the rock. It is where bait will be placed to draw in prey.

The trigger mechanism to witch cordage shall be tied

With a piece of cordage, tie a tight knot around the trigger mechanism.

This is tied to the back side of the horizontal stick on the far end away from the female portion.

It is then pulled down and wrapped around the vertical stick and held in place by the bait stick. If you study the pictures closely, it will become apparent how the trigger is set.

Take the horizontal stick and fit the male part into the female socket. The flat portion of the horizontal stick should be facing the direction of the rock as it will bear the weight of the rock. Finding a good flat rock to use is very important. Going out of the way to find such a rock and carry it to the trapping site may very well be worth it for sake of even getting the trap to balance.

Carefully place the weight of the stone on the horizontal stick and begin to set the trigger by wrapping the trigger piece around the vertical stick.

The trap is ready to be held in place by the bait stick, but because the rope ended up being a little too long and not providing enough tension to hold the rock up, I wrapped it around the vertical stick once more.

The bait stick was then positioned to pressure against the rock and the trigger mechanism. The bait is placed on the stick as close to the underside bottom of the rock as possible.

The trap, when done correctly, shall now be free standing and ready to make a kill while you are off foraging.

A front view to better see the trigger mechanism

A food that has to be tugged at and pulled makes an excellent bait on the bait stick as this will cause the trigger to be set off. Notice the hungry wandering stick about to go for the bait stick!

The stick goes for the bait causing the trigger mechanism to release and topple the supporting structure!


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