Knowing how to obtain food is a key survival skill to know. Food isn’t a top priority in the first few days of trying to survive; usually shelter, water, signaling, and fire are at the top of the list. But eventually you will need calories and food to avoid starvation.
Foraging for wild edibles might stave off death for a little while, but eventually you might want to consider catching some meat. Another important note about survival is expending as little energy as possible, especially in cold or harsh climates. You can achieve capturing food with expending minimal energy by using a basic snare trap. Today we will show you how to make a basic snare trap: 4 different ways.
1) The Trigger Spring Snare
The trigger spring snare is the number one option as far as effectiveness and ease. Variations of its use have been used since the beginning of mankind. The trigger spring snare uses 4 components that can be found in most any situation. They are:
- A noose (usually formed from wire, but can use any type of cordage).
- A 2 part trigger.
- A leader line.
- An engine (usually a bowed sapling).
The noose is exactly what it sounds like; it nooses the animal. Wire is the most effective option, but other cordage will work. It needs to be flexible and needs to be capable of tightening quickly and easily.
Some options for wire are the copper wire inside a lamp or cord, wire from a hanging picture frame, wire from a spiral bound notebook, wire from the spring of a pen or inside a wire-lined bra. Other options, if you don’t have wire, are the inner strands of 550 paracord, shoe strings, dental floss, or fishing line.
The cordage needs to be strong enough that it doesn’t snap with a few good jerks on it, and needs to be strong enough to hold a 5-8 pound animal. If you don’t have cordage or wire you can make your own cordage from certain plants like dogbane, milkweed, stinging nettle, the inner tree bark of trees like cedar and elm, or cattail.
To create the noose:
Obtain about 18-24 inches for small game.
Make a loop on one end that is about the diameter of a pencil. Wire should hold the loop, but if using string, just tie an overhand knot.
Run the other end of the wire or cordage through the loop and then tied to the trigger that is described next.
The leader line is tied to the top of the hook (the hook and base are usually carved out of wood), and the noose end is tied to the bottom of the hook.
The sapling acts as the engine/tension that holds everything in place. The leader line can be any cordage, it just needs to be strong enough to withstand the initial jerk of the spring action and then the weight of the struggling animal.
The engine doesn’t have to be a bent over sapling. You can use anything really that is weighted and will provide tension, like a rock or log or even a sapling that was cut from a different location and then staked into the ground in your new location.
2) A 3 Stick Trigger
The 3 stick trigger uses the same concept of tension, triggers, and engines, just set up in a different way.
Hammer two sticks into the ground. They should each have one “arm” angled like the image. The “armpit” will provide the necessary tension and support. Place the arms parallel to each other and hammered into the ground about 2 feet apart.
Hammer a 3rd peg into the ground about 2 feet away from the other 2 pegs, forming a triangle.
Tie a thin stick under the armpits of the first 2 sticks, securing it with wire or cordage.
Tie your cordage around a nearby sapling, about 6 to 12 inches from the top of the tree, depending on the strength of the tree. You want something sturdy enough to hold a struggling animal.
Attach a stick that is about 4 inches long to the end of the string that is tied to the tree. This will be your trigger. Place this stick perpendicular and centered to the pegs with the stick tied on them. Then use another stick going from the third peg and balancing against the stick that is attached to the sapling. These are all balancing against each other, so make sure everything will stay in place until an animal trips it.
Tie a noose to the bottom of the stick that is tied to the sapling and spread it out on the ground. Add bait to the center of it.
3) Fishing Trigger
To create the fishing trigger, you will use the same concept as the trigger spring snare using the hook trigger. Instead of a noose, you will use a baited line.
Set your hooked pieces of wood up on land. The base of the hook is staked securely in the ground. The hook is attached to the base at the bottom, and cordage is attached to the top of the hook and the other end of the cordage is secured to a bent down sapling to add the tension/engine.
Attach a line to the bottom of the hook and bait it.
- Put the line into the water.
Be sure to try and clear the area in the water of any debris, as much as possible, that could cause the trigger to go off. As soon as the fish tugs on the line, it will release the hook from the base, and the tension from the sapling will set the hook in the fish's mouth.
4) Basic Wire Snare Trap
A very basic snare trap is made from wire, like what you would find in a coat hanger. For this type of snare, you can easily buy the cable/wire that is already set for use as a snare. With this snare package, you can use it to catch anything from raccoons and squirrels to coyotes and hogs.
Here is how to create the basic wire snap trap.
Anchor your snare using the base of a smaller tree trunk.
Put your snare support into the ground to support the snare.
Set the snare at the proper height so that you don’t risk the animal walking right under it.
Check your traps. Once the animal is caught in the snare, it will automatically tighten around their neck, either suffocating them or breaking their neck bones.
There are a few other considerations when using a snare trap. Check with your local laws to make sure they are legal or require permits. Or only use in a survival situation.
Most animals will take the easiest walking route, so you can “lead” the animal to your snare with guide sticks; little twigs blocking the path on either side and leading to the snare. Some animals are weary of obvious changes in the environment so guide sticks wouldn’t work. In that case, it is best to set the snare up in a narrow patch of vegetation.
When setting up a snare trap, make sure to look for signs of the animal's presence. Setting up a trap without looking for signs of frequent animal visitors is a waste of time. Look for droppings, tracks, worn trails, burrows, and so on before setting up a trap will increases the chances of catching something.
You can also increases the chances of catching something by setting up multiple traps. Just be sure to take them all down when you leave an area. Check your traps frequently. Some animals may not die quickly, and you will want to help them along for the most humane kill.
Use as much as the animal as possible, since they gave their life for you. Even the sinew can create useful cordage. It’s also a good idea to check the traps frequently, especially in warmer weather, because the animal can spoil quickly or other predators may find an easy, free meal.
Knowing how to make a basic snare is a great survival skill to have. It’s a good idea to practice this skill before you land in a survival situation. The best part about using a snare trap is that once the trap is set, there is zero energy required to catch your next meal.
There are a variety of different ways to make snares, but most use the same principle of trapping the animal through a trigger and tension. Always remember to honor the animal that you killed, and utilize as much of it as possible.
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