For a screenplay: what are some wilderness traps one could improvise to incapacitate another person?
October 8, 2009 11:09 PM   Subscribe

For a screenplay: what are some wilderness traps one could improvise to incapacitate another person?

The protagonists are extreme survival camping types, a hetero couple. They are out in the middle of nowhere winter camping when a crazy dude starts shooting at them with a rifle. They manage to escape on his Argo (ATV type thingy) to get a headstart, but have little supplies. They have a gun but I'm not sure if I want them to use it- they'd prefer to solve things non-violenty. ;)

Anyway, they need to set a trap up for the hunter. They have something he wants so they can lure him.

I've seen some snare traps and deadfall traps online, but those seem more for small animals. This is for a human. There's the pit with spikes in the bottom, but I'm not sure if they'd have enough time to dig a pit, and don't know if they have a shovel or not (of course I could write it in... but it seems kinda boring, I dunno.)

Maybe it's not a trap but more "knowledge of the land" they could use to their advantage... a triggered avalanche perhaps?

The other thing is I don't want to kill the hunter- just pin him down or knock him out.

Also, me and 2 other people are shooting this in Colorado this winter, so we have to be able to pull off these special effects ourselves! That's a big catch! :P We could use stock footage perhaps for an avalanche.
posted by thejrae to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
They leave what he wants under a tree, then when he comes to grab it, they jump down on him from a high branch.
posted by Sully at 11:34 PM on October 8, 2009

Best answer: Avalanches are very, very terrain dependent, and they are hard to set off reliably, hard to control when started, very subject to temperature conditions, and utterly inconvenient as intentional traps.

If you want to incapacitate a person on foot in the back country, you generally want to create a severe leg or foot injury. Getting a person to step in a small hole is sometimes enough to do that. Trip wires are effective in doing that, particularly if arranged so they'll be encountered at dusk, dawn, or at night, when visibility is poor.

And if the good guys have a 2 to one advantage, you could always have your good guys ambush the bad guy; in the back country, everybody needs water, and with a little planning, your good guys could stake out the approaches to a creek or lake, and jump the bad guy at an appropriate moment.
posted by paulsc at 11:35 PM on October 8, 2009

If they are extreme survival nuts, they can likely take thinner air, while the hunter can't. Have them lead him up to higher ground, where it's harder for the hunter to breathe, but not for them.
posted by Sully at 11:36 PM on October 8, 2009

Well, you could always try the cliche.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:37 PM on October 8, 2009

You could just copy the stuff that the Ewoks did, which was largely copied from previous films.
posted by The World Famous at 11:41 PM on October 8, 2009

It's a bit of a reach, but they could trick him into eating poison berries, or somehow poison his food or water supply.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:45 PM on October 8, 2009

Best answer: Faking an ATV accident might make sense, with one of the 'bodies' being clothes stuffed with twigs. If the other body is a live person (no time to do a second dummy) you could have the cautious pursuer start shooting the bodies, forcing the hidden person to make their attack sooner.
posted by malevolent at 12:20 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I was always fascinated by the raccoon traps detailed in the book Where the Red Fern Grows. Trappers would drill a hole in a log and put a shiny bit of tin down in the bottom. They they angle a few nails through the log so they stick out into the hole, points down. Of course the raccoon HAS TO HAVE THE SHINY, so they reach in and grab hold, but their clenched fist won't back out past the spikes and it never occurs to them to let go.

Adapted to a woodsy thriller with humans, I'm envisioning a tense build-up as the baddie tracks down the girl, corners her, reaches towards her shiny shirt, actually grabs her, then is surprised/trapped by the act of nabbing. He's got her, yeah, but just barely and he's not going anywhere either. I'll leave the details/dirty work to y'all.
posted by carsonb at 12:25 AM on October 9, 2009

Best answer: If the setting is snowy, can you conceive of some way to have the hunter fall into a tree well? If the protagonists have knowledge of the land and the hunter doesn't, they could somehow lure him to the base of a tree without him realizing the danger. If the well is deep enough, he'll be unable to get out (and will eventually need rescuing if you don't want him to die).
posted by ssg at 1:04 AM on October 9, 2009

Best answer: I grew up in the country and knew a neighbour who seriously broke his leg while bow hunting. He'd been chasing down a buck he'd wounded and, while at a full run, stepped into a rabbit hole he didn't see due to snow cover.

The result: compound fracture of his tibia. Took him about one full day to drag himself back to his snowmobile. Definitely would incapacitate rather than kill someone (unless he bled to death).
posted by Mutant at 2:19 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Have one of them stand in plain sight and then start yelling for the other. Crazy guy sees them calling for help and moves in for the kill. He is startled by the sound of the ATV engine revving to life and pauses a moment. A shot of the atv speeding through the woods towing a rope. His eyes follow the rope up to a branch and down to ground seconds before the hidden noose under the leaves catch his legs and string him up.
posted by syntheticfaith at 4:35 AM on October 9, 2009

On reread, it's winter? That sounds ripe for a similar ploy but with a snow covered hole on a frozen lake.
posted by syntheticfaith at 4:37 AM on October 9, 2009

They just need to find an open pit / hole to use as a makeshift spiked pit or simple pit to fall into. They could probably quickly manage to cover it somewhat and use the hunter's excitement at coming close to catching them to distract him from its makeshift and hasty construction.

If you're in Colorado, it could be a sinkhole created by a mine. Likewise, they could try and trick him into going into a mine and triggering a cave in.
posted by Atreides at 5:30 AM on October 9, 2009

You could try a deathfall like in that movie The Edge. Basically, a bear trap. Alaska. A big pit with huge spikes at the bottom and the top covered by a wood lattice of brush, snow, and branches. Guy falls in and gets a spike right through the leg. Ow.
posted by bunny hugger at 5:51 AM on October 9, 2009

I never thought I'd ever say this, but rent the first Rambo movie. First Blood, I think it is. In it, Rambo sets several traps for the guys chasing him. One of them involves some spikes on a tensioned branch. When the bad guy runs past, it releases and drives the spikes into him.
posted by bondcliff at 5:53 AM on October 9, 2009

Best answer: Several of the ideas presented here are definitely lethal: the avalanche is lethal, as is dropping somebody into a frozen lake. Trapping somebody in a mine with a cavein is likely to be lethal.

You really just need to break the guy's leg or ankle. All of the step-in-a-hole suggestions are great. If you do much more than hurt his legs, there's no guarantee that it's nonlethal. Especially if they're not going to render aid immediately, but rather retrieve the authorities first.

If it were me, and I were really trying to be non-lethal to the person assaulting me with a lethal weapon (fat chance), I'd just dig a series of two-foot deep by six of eight inches wide trenches across the the trail, very loosely lined with orange-sized round river rocks--pretty much guarantees a broken ankle. Then, you fill them in with leaves and scatter leaves around the area. The biggest problem here is disguising such significant earthworks.

One primitive trap that hasn't been mentioned is a kind of horizontal snare. Get yourself a very stout sapling, and a number of stakes (local, natural branches are best). Pound two stakes into the ground a couple inches apart, and place the sapling between them, horizontally, extending across the trail. Then, bend the sapling back against the stakes until it has a lot of energy stored up, and is now roughly parallel (at the end) to the path. Rig a trigger mechanism using string and sticks--I literally can't describe the precise construction, but it's similar to a snare or a figure-4 trap. The trigger is tripped by a tripwire across the path. The bowed branch is disguised by leaves and such.

When the hunter walks through the tripwire, the trigger is released, and the sapling swings out to strike him quite squarely in the ankles. They could tie on a number of rocks along the length of the sapling to increase the damage.

Another approach, and the most surefire way to stop the attacker without explicitly shooting him in the face, is if they have a shotgun loaded for large bird (say, turkey). The shotgun is rigged pointing across the path, off the side a few feet, behind a tree (as you're looking down the path). Then a tripwire is run across the path and to the trigger of the shotgun. When he walks across the tripwire, blam, no more ankles. If it's birdshot, it's unlikely the legs will be taken off or even permanently crippled, or that he'll bleed to death unless he's ignorant of all first aid, but he's likely not walking anywhere until he gets some serious medical attention. (You can't put the shotgun right next to the path, because otherwise the dude just gets hit with a shot cup full of lead.)
posted by Netzapper at 6:14 AM on October 9, 2009

Rambo I and Predator I dude.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:03 AM on October 9, 2009

Best answer: Semi-Real life experience with wilderness traps...

While in an outdoors Live RPG, we encountered a trail that was laiden with a plethora of obvious traps. The rogue in the party began disarming them one at a time.

After the first batch, we all looked up at the next batch, 20' down the path. We ALMOST missed the one cleverly, carefully concealed trap that was the *real* humdinger - all the rest were decoys to make us not look for the true trap. The rogue's foot was on it when he saw it, fortunately he didn't finish taking that step. ;-)

Setting up an obvious trap to make the Hunter underestimate his prey, or to steer him around / into the REAL trap, would be great.
posted by GJSchaller at 8:39 AM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Study Vietnam and you'll come up with all kinds of ideas.
That one in particular.
posted by Slinga at 9:03 AM on October 9, 2009

Response by poster: Wow great ideas, can't believe I didn't check back sooner! :P

The rabbit hole idea covered with snow definitely has possibilities. I think any hole larger than that would be difficult for them to achieve, because it's winter and the ground will be frozen and hard to dig in, and they don't have THAT much time.

So maybe the rabbit hole combined with the lure or decoy ideas. Either we could lure him into position with the thing we have that he wants, or we could place a bunch of decoy traps to obscure the real trap, or both! I also saw online that you can sort of funnel animals into traps by restricting their paths, we could maybe do something like that...

Also like the series of 2 foot trenches filled with orange sized round stones. Wow. Specific. LOL, hope I'm never your enemy... ;)

Oh yeah, also love the idea of staging an ATV accident. That has a lot of potential too, although I'm not sure where to go from there...

Thanks guys! You rock! :)
posted by thejrae at 10:40 PM on October 24, 2009

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