One of the things my dad made sure I knew as I was growing up was how to snare and trap small game. When you're spending any amount of time in the wild, whether you're out camping or actually lost in the woods, it's a critical skill to know. Being able to secure sources of protein without expending your ammunition or expending a huge amount of energy could be the difference between your survival, or a disaster. Today, I'm going to cover my favorite ways to catch small game. But before we get into it, I want to reiterate an important face. In some states, trapping or using snares is illegal. Ensure you know what restrictions apply in your state before you use any of these methods, unless of course it really is a survival situation. Then these techniques may just save your life.
The basics of setting up a snare
The first step to this technique is to find a game trail. You've probably come across plenty of these in the woods, but it's a path the animals are using to navigate through the scrub and brush. The more heavily it's been used the better, so look for trampled grass, footprints in the snow, or even a burrow that shows fresh evidence of use. You'll be able to smell them, trust me. Now we've got to gather your supplies. The best material for your snare is thin wire that will hold about 8 pounds of weight. You'll need about 6 to 8 feet worth. But if you've not got any, you could also use paracord, fishing line, twine, rope, shoe laces, or as a last resort find a strong vine. If you buy one of our 15 in 1 survival kits
, you'll have plenty of cord and wire for your snare. You'll also need a knife, and a small sapling you can bend that will be the "engine" for your snare. That's it. You can of course find plenty of fancy snares online, but in a survival situation this is all you need to build a successful snare. A basic snare is composed of two parts. The noose and the trigger. And when you want to get a little fancy you can make your snare more effective with an engine. To create a noose, simply take your wire (or other cord material) and tie a slip knot in one end. Thread your wire through it until you've got a loop that's about 8 to 10 inches in diameter. You want the knot to be loose enough the noose will open and close easily. Depending on the type of snare you're making you'll also need a trigger. Think of this like the plate the cheese rests on in a mouse trap. It's what ensures your snare "activates" when disturbed by an animal. You can build your own trigger with a couple of pieces of scavenged sticls. Find a stick that's got a natural "Y" in it. Cut the bottom off about an inch below the "Y" and one side of the "Y" at about ½ inch. The other side you can cut to whatever length works best for you. For the other part of the trigger, you just need to find something that you can get the short end of the "Y" under so it stays. I've also had success cutting a notch in a tree as well as using another "Y" shaped stick that's been driven deep into the ground, just choose whatever works best for you.
The different types of snares
Armed with your noose and a trigger, there's a few different types of snare you can set. Path Snare with engine
This snare works best on a well-travelled game trail. In the middle of the trail, where the animal tracks are heaviest, drive a stick into the ground on the side opposite of your small tree. The stick needs to have a notch that you can use to hold your trigger in place. Bend you sapling over and tie your string or wire to the top of it. Tie the other end to the trigger you made out of the "Y" stick. Tie the piece with the noose to the trigger also, set your trigger and open you noose. You can use little twigs to hold your snare up on the sides. Ensure the noose is at the right height so that an animal walking along the game trail will get their head caught in it, and as they struggle release the trigger and the wire will go taught, capturing the prey. Path snare without engine
This snare is even more basic, as you tie the end of your wire to the base of the tree it doesn't require a trigger or the sapling. As the animal fights against the wire, it will pull tight. Despite being an easy snare to set, there's also the risk the animal will break free by either snapping the wire, or working it loose. Burrow Snare
Instead of setting this up on a game trail, you can position the snare at the entrance of a burrow or den. Just set the noose so it's a little smaller than the hole, and ensure you cover up any other entrances the animal could enter through. In my experience you'll get far better results setting up a snare with an engine for this type of snare. Ground snare with engine
If you're targeting larger game, a ground snare could be a better option. On the game trail you found earlier, we'll also setup a ground snare. You'll need an extra stick or a piece of bark (I like the bark as it creates a bigger trigger for a higher success rate). Start by driving your notched stick into the ground, very close to the path. Take your extra stick or bark and tie a string from it to your trigger stick. Set your trigger and place it tight on the ground along the trail. You may want to put some leaves under it so that it will have room to move downward when something steps on it. Now just spread you noose out around the ground trigger stick and wait for an animal to walk by. It'll trigger as soon as they step on the bark. Deadfall or box trap
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Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Figure_4_deadfall.gif[/caption] The last technique you can use is a trap. A deadfall is just lifting something heavy and setting a trigger so that it drops and crushes whatever was underneath. My go-to is the figure 4 trigger. To build a figure 4 trigger you will need 3 strong sticks. Carve your sticks as shown in the picture above. Make sure that all notches are big enough that the opposing piece fits in loosely. While they need to stay together to hold the weight, the should come apart easily. You can also place a box with the same trigger. Bait the stick with whatever you believe the prey may like or set it where the animal will hit it while moving down the trail. Once your traps are set, you should check them multiple times a day. You don't want any animals caught to figure out how to escape, or to have another predator make short work of your snared game. Oh, and set as many snares and traps as you can. The more you have out there, the higher the chances one is successful. When it comes to survival, I don't like leaving anything to chance.