Wilderness Survival - Traps and Snares

Wilderness Survival - Traps and Snares

Trapping and Snaring wild animals has been part of man's quest for survival for thousands of years and is still practiced in many cultures today, not only for food but also for wildlife management.  It is a subject that provides much debate in our liberal society.

We at Butler Productions \ Wilderness Survival are advocates for the protection of our wilderness and all of its animals against cruelty and waste but would not hesitate to harvest and consume any animal out of necessity or need.  We view our wilderness and all of its animals as an important resource to the survival of mankind and feel that it should be utilized and managed to its full potential for the present and future generations.  We do not condone or support the taking of any wilderness resource or game unless it is a life-or-death situation.
With that being said, traps or snares can be essential if you are in a long-term survival situation. Most can be easily made from natural materials you find in the forest or from items that you may have with you.  It has always been said that "simpler is better" because elaborate or complex devices take too much time to build and are usually unreliable.  Before constructing a trap or snare, there are a few factors to keep in mind.

First and most importantly, you need to decide what type of game you are going to target.  This is very important in determining the type, size, strength, and location of your device(s).  A trap or snare is useless unless properly constructed and placed in an area where animals are known to frequent or travel. 

Armed with that information, you will be able to decide how many and which type of trap or snare to employ based on the materials available to and around you.  If you have limited resources, you may want to move on to a different area where resources are more abundant.  The idea is to set many traps or snares in different areas to find out what works best to maximize your success rate.  Be sure to document or note the location of each and check them two to three times a day.  If you are rescued or decide to move onto more fertile ground, be sure to deactivate or remove all active devices before you leave the area.

There are many traps and snares that can be used in a survival situation. Below are just a few of those that we have used and been successful with over the years. They are simple and easy to remember when the need arises.

Tension Snare

This is a simple sketch of a snare that is easy to construct from minimal materials and is very effective when animals are present in the area.  Having an axe and string or rope makes creating this snare a snap when you don't have much time.  It consists of 6 carved pieces of wood/branches, a rope, a catch string, and a tension source such as a flexible tree branch as shown in the sketch.  This is a snare best suited for rodents, rabbits, and small game.  When the animal steps on the horizontal trigger stick, it releases the vertical trigger stick and the tension branch, which pulls up and the rope captures the animal from below. 
1
Locate an area such as an active game trail where a tree with a flexible branch can reach your snare.
2
Remove any small limbs or needles that may interfere with the motion of the tension branch.
3
Sharpen the three anchor sticks and drive them into the ground with your axe.
5
Carve and install your crossbar and two trigger sticks.
6
Connect the tension branch to the vertical trigger stick using a piece of rope or string.
6
Insert the large trigger stick between the anchor post and the small trigger stick.
6
Spread the catch rope over the large trigger stick and attach it to the tension rope.

Dead Fall Trap

The Deadfall trap is another trap that we use frequently when needed because of its simplicity and minimal need for resources.  It requires only a large flat rock, four small sticks, and a piece of rope or string.  It is very effective for small game and can be used with or without bait.  Using bait increases the odds of success.  Set it and walk away then return to check it a couple of times a day. 
1
Locate a large mostly flat rock that is fairly heavy to increase the speed of the trap.
2
Clear a flat area in or near a game trail where animals are known to frequent.
3
Collect four small sticks, horizontal trigger, a release trigger, a rock prop, and a cradle stick.
5
Drive the Cradle stick in the ground so that it is sturdy.
6
Connect to string or rope to the rock prop and the release trigger sticks as shown in the images.
6
Put bait onto the horizontal trigger stick and assemble the set as shown in the images.
6
Be sure that the top of the rock is spaced far enough from the cradle stick when it falls.

Fish Weir

A fishing trap or weir is a great way to catch fish in an emergency situation.  There are several types of traps but the one we prefer most is a Fishing Weir.  The reason is that it is a simple design and it doesn't require any special materials to build it.  All of the materials that you will need should be readily available in any wilderness environment.  The only requirement would be that you are able to find a shallow section in the waterway preferably not more than a foot deep to build it. Basically, you will create an obstruction in the waterway that will funnel the fish into a small holding pool.
6
Walk along the river or stream to verify that there is fish activity in the water.
1
Locate an area in the river or steam that is somewhat shallow and the water is slow moving.
2
Collect a pile of medium and large-sized rocks or natural objects.
3
Stack them as shown in the image above filling the gaps as you go.
5
Stack them high enough that the top layer breaks the surface of the water.
6
Be sure the walls are tapered to funnel the fish to the openings.
6
Make the openings only large enough for the fish to fit through.
The nice thing about the fishing weir is that once you build it, you are free to move on to other tasks and only return to check it as you have time.  It will even be working for you at night while you are sleeping.  Other traps are effective as well but can be time-consuming and can be very difficult to build. If you return to find fish trapped in your weir, be sure to block off the ends first before you attempt to remove the fish from the weir so that there is no chance for them to escape. 

If the water becomes too muddy, wait for the water to clear before trying again.  If the fish are attempting to jump over the walls, you may want to wait until they calm down before trying again. If you are unable to grab the fish from inside the weir, you can stun the fish by using a long stick to smack the water above them, giving you enough time to scoop them up. It may also be helpful if you try removing them after dark using a flashlight to confuse their senses.  Rivers and streams can be full of activity at night not only by fish but also by other edibles like crawfish, snakes, and frogs.

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