Growing up in the village around Palau in the old days, one of the activities that Palauan boys got into was catching wild chickens. It is unclear when this activity began and when chicken became wild in Palau but this was not considered a hobby but a real life activity for young Hontocrats. Of course in Palau there are lots of different species of wild chick-en from Rulmeduu, Delulsuld, Rodechsis, Ringelngas, Llakel, Duubech, Beldaches and many others. More recently other species have been introduced. The chickens were caught for food, pets and for cock fights.
Mainly the hens were turned into home-made style chicken soup while the roosters were tamed and trained to fight. Just so that everyone is clear, all Honto boys "stole" domestic chickens and normally they stole from their relatives. These were not wild chicken even though they were roaming all over but normally they were tamed. Many adult Hontocrats will admit that they stole chickens because the owners (uncles) have passed away.
Even the art of stealing domesticated chicken was very sophisticated such as using guitar string to make a loop guillotine, using Vicks to make the chicken "dizzy" or even using a sling shot. Of course many times there was a commotion of confusion as the chicken were making noise, the owner with a spear and the stealer or stealers running every which way sometimes into a swamp or mangroves. Needless to say, the next day there will always be a town hall meeting about a missing chickens, soy sauce, ginger and green onions. But this is not the topic of this issue. To set the trap (bedikl) the young Hontocrats would survey the area where to set the trap and the signs included chicken
making noises in the area, signs of chicken scavenging for food, chicken tracks or feces. Then a string about a yard is tied to a stick pole and a loop is made at the other end of the string.
The stick pole is then stuck into the ground. An inch long stick is tied at the middle of the string and this trigger lock. Another stick about a foot is arched with both end stuck in the ground. Another stick about a foot is locked to the arched stick by the trigger lock as one pulls the stick pole down to lock it up. Then a floor of 4 sticks is placed on it with string loop laid over. The trick is for the chicken to step in the string loop and for the 4 sticks to drop and the leg is snatched up by the stick pole.
Whammy! The chicken caught by the foot. Most of time bait (coconut meat) is laid on the side of the trap to lure chickens there. Just so that all are clear, if the bait is put under the floor (4 sticks) the chicken will be caught by the neck. Yummy soup.
Early in the morning (5 AM), the Hontocrat boys would get up run into the forest to set their traps before doing chores and getting ready to go to school. Right after school at about 3 PM the traps are visited again. If someone yells, "Uhuu", they got a nice rooster. If one says, "Oitech", they got a hen. But if one says, "Oiiiiks", it means they caught nothing. Of course if you hear someone curse, they stick pole has hit them on a sensitive part of their anatomy.
Trapping chicken was an activity, individual, as it might have been, it involved learning about the environment, learning technical skills and the rewards was not only chicken soup but also village reputation you were "the man". This is unlike texting for the new Hontocrats and that is the irony of modernity, we can be trapped by modernity.