Trapping with Snares

Since the beginning of time man has provided food for his family by utilizing snares to capture wild game. The spear cut into that usage, bow and arrows were much more efficient, and the development of guns made using snares nearly an extinct art form. Sure mountain men still used traps, still do, but that’s more profit oriented, selling pelts, than supplying a basic food source.

In a survival situation the sole goal is to acquire food for substance and trapping offers several key benefits that are beneficial.

With a few well positioned traps and a bit of luck, your catch can result in more food than a single hunting trip, and you can be performing other survival related tasks, like building a shelter.

The thought of bagging a huge deer, which would provide weeks of substantial protein, seems to be the answer to a prayer, but is it? It is a time consuming task, possibly hunting all day, with the possibly of coming back empty handed. A successful hunt will more than likely occur quite some distance from camp. Do you have any idea of how much energy you will expend dragging a 150 lb. deer 300 yards or more, through dense brush and up and down hills? Sometimes the end results are not worth the effort, and we all have physical limitations.

When the SHTF keeping your location a secret may be your best bet for surviving. Discharging a firearm while hunting can alert people of questionable character and intentions, of your presence. It may take them some time to find you, but they know you’re there and they’ll search until they do find you.

Trapping is not an all or nothing thing. The option to fish, hunt or forage is always available to do while trapping. You gonna gripe because you have too much food? Don’t think so.

Perhaps to seal the deal, a mere couple of dollars is all it cost to completely outfit your bug out bag with enough raw material to make you a successful trapper.

Tried and Proven

The numbers and types of snares are restricted by only by one’s imagination and ingenuity, but these are the types I’d recommend as since they have been utilized for hundreds of years, they probably work.

Dead-Fall traps are the simplest form of a simple snare, a big advantage for a novice, plus they can be constructed out of all natural available materials if need be. The theory of the dead-fall is simplistic … a heavy object is propped up with sticks, bait is attached to a trigger mechanism, which when activated causes the heavy object to fall and kill the prey. Can’t get much easier.

Paiute Dead-Fall was a mainstay of native American Indians trapping arsenal. Here’s what to do and how to build one. Firstly you’ll need to do a little research and planning. Ask yourself some questions. What animal seems to be in abundance? What would those animals eat? How big are they? Where would they be located? Once you formulate a plan begin construction by …. limiting human scent. Rub dirt on your hands to help mask your scent.


Example of Paiute Dead-Fall 

Material List

  • Y” shaped stick, about 8 inches long and thicker than a pencil

  • 2 inch long stick that is skinnier than a pencil

  • straight stick about 9 inches long and thicker than a pencil

  • flimsy slender bait stick, 12 inches long and about half the thickness of a pencil

  • 8 to 10 inches of string, para-cord, shoelace

  • appropriate bait

  • Flat rock about 5 – 10 pounds large enough for intended prey

To set it all up, take your 9-inch straight stick (from here on called the lever) and tie one end of the string to it. Tie the other end of the string to the 2-inch stick ( Toggle). Square knots are fine for each end of the string. Wipe or skewer the bait on one end of the 12-inch bait stick.

Lay the rock down on a flat, hard patch of ground. (Always use as flat a ground as possible) Stand up the “Y” stick ( Post) by the edge of the rock. Put the string-less end of the lever in the fork of the post, with about 1-inch sticking out toward the rock. Lift up the rock and place it on the tip of the lever. You should be able to hold the weight of the rock by only holding down the end of the lever with the string tied to it.

Next, you’ll wrap the 2-inch toggle halfway around the post. It’s basically a 180 degree turn. Now you should be able to hold up the rock by just holding the toggle. The final step is to place the baited end of the 12-inch bait stick between a rough spot under the stone and the tip of the toggle. To insure the trap is set correctly, let go of the trigger stick, and if the rock stays in the air, you are ready to go.

Survivalist Code – Waste not … Want not


Maintaining the code here’s a method for putting together a snare kit that is effective for prey up to 10 pounds. Find an old appliance, lamp, coffee maker, etc. and cut the cord ( normally 18-2 gauge) off. Strip the outer coating off the copper wire with a utility knife, careful not to damage the wiring. Depending on the wire’s thickness, as it can be separated to make more cords, twist the wire tight creating one strong single wire, twist the ends together in order to avoid fraying.

Fixed Snare: Find a twig that is about 1/8 to 3/16 inch thick and easily breakable, nothing green and flexible. Take one end of the wire and wrap it around the stick two or three times, then twist the twig like an airplane propeller, twisting the end closed. Break the twig and remove it, leaving an eye, which you thread the opposite end of the wire through creating a lasso. Secure the end to an attached object, tree or heavy rock and place the lasso portion over a burrow or small animal trail.


Squirrel Pole Snare: Seems squirrels are everywhere, back yards chewing things up, woods scaring deer away when you’re hunting, in the bird feeder. You can trap these tasty aggravating animals by exploiting their weakness of loving shortcuts.

Select a four to six foot stick about the size of your forearm, with the bark intact, ideally with a forked end in which to stick into ground or in a tree fork for added security. Using @ 2 foot lengths of wire make noose loops under 3 inches in diameter and attach them to the stick by twisting them in place. Use numerous snares and zigzag them all over the stick, enhancing your odds of capturing one of the critters.