Studying history can teach us a lot about survival. Centuries ago, tough outdoorsmen had to face harsh, desolate, and unexplored environments with limited resources — they had no Gore-Tex jackets, ultralight backpacking tents, or GPS navigation systems. They made do with what they had, and often managed to find ingenious ways to stay alive.

Survival Story of Alexander Selkirk 1

Alexander Selkirk is one historical example of survival, living as a castaway for four years on a deserted island.

If you look back thousands of years instead of hundreds, you’ll see more of the same. Hunters and so-called primitive cultures developed some surprisingly effective ways to collect food, make tools, and construct shelters. Often, the only resources they had were raw materials such as sticks, rocks, clay, plant fibers, bone, animal skins and sinew.

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A diagram of a primitive Egyptian clap bow. Illustration: Schäfer, 1919

One particularly clever ancient device is said to have been developed 8,000 years ago in Egypt. It’s often referred to as a clap bow, due to its crossbow-like shape and “clap” action similar to the jaws of a bear trap. It can be used on many varieties of small game, from birds to mice.

In his video, Shawn shows the basic materials necessary for this trap.

In his video, Shawn shows the extremely basic materials necessary for this trap.

Looking at diagrams is all well and good, but does this primitive trap actually work in the real world? Historic hunter and YouTube video creator Shawn Woods decided to reproduce the clap bow design to find out.

Ancient Egyptian mouse trap hunting rodent pest animal 2

The clap bow mousetrap operates based on energy stored in a tightly-twisted cord, which applies tension to one of two wood jaws. The other jaw remains stationary. When the trap’s trigger is dislodged, the moving jaw slams shut, breaking the neck of any small rodent or bird in its path. Check out Shawn’s video demonstration below — it even includes some very cool night-vision footage of the trap catching a mouse.

Shawn already has an incredible 90-video playlist of mousetrap methods, and plans to continue producing new videos each Monday. So, if you’re looking for creative ways to take out some rodent pests (and catch some meat for survival scenarios), follow him on YouTube or his web site: HistoricHunter.com.

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