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More Traps & Snares
© 2006

What's my name?

Did you practice all the snares and traps I talked about in my earlier article? How many of you got arrested for trapping out of season? Sorry. I tried to warn you. Like so many other skills used in an emergency, they are (many times) illegal during "normal" times. Trapping animals for food is just another example.

But, undaunted, I press on because I believe that we all reserve the right to feed our families, regardless of what the current politically correct thing to do is. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I WILL protect my family. If that means trapping something to eat out of season, so be it. 

I admit that some of the following drawings have been taken from better artists than I am. I try to give credit where credit is due, but sometimes I can't find the site that I got some of these things from years ago. I apologize to the authors. I mean no harm, I just like your drawing better than mine.

A Review: The Simple Snare

A simple snare (Left) consists of a noose placed over a trail or den hole and attached to a firmly planted stake. If the noose is some type of cordage placed upright on a game trail, use small twigs or blades of grass to hold it up. Filaments from spider webs are excellent for holding nooses open. Make sure the noose is large enough to pass freely over the animal's head. As the animal continues to move, the noose tightens around its neck. The more the animal struggles, the tighter the noose gets. This type of snare usually does not kill the animal. If you use cordage, it may loosen enough to slip off the animal's neck. Wire is therefore the best choice for a simple snare.

The "Twitch-up" Snare

This is another form of the same snare I used in my original article. In the drawing on the left, it's easy to see that the animal passing along here would, most likely, saunter around it to the left or right. So, these areas are best modified by upright sticks to make a barrier wall, preventing him from wandering off the track . You need to force him into your snare.

The Drag Noose

Use a drag noose on an animal run (Left). Place forked sticks on either side of the run and lay a sturdy crossmember across them. Tie the noose to the crossmember and hang it at a height above the animal's head. (Nooses designed to catch by the head should never be low enough for the prey to step into with a foot.) As the noose tightens around the animal's neck, the animal pulls the crossmember from the forked sticks and drags it along. The surrounding vegetation quickly catches the crossmember and the animal becomes entangled. Use caution approaching an animal trapped by this snare. It may still be alive and VERY MAD. I use this type ONLY when a twitch up snare is not possible.

Treadle Spring Snare

Use a treadle snare against small game on a trail (Left). Dig a shallow hole in the trail. Then drive a forked stick (fork down) into the ground on each side of the hole on the same side of the trail. Select two fairly straight sticks that span the two forks. Position these two sticks so that their ends engage the forks. Place several sticks over the hole in the trail by positioning one end over the lower horizontal stick and the other on the ground on the other side of the hole. Cover the hole with enough sticks so that the prey must step on at least one of them to set off the snare. Tie one end of a piece of cordage to a twitch-up or to a weight suspended over a tree limb. Bend the twitch-up or raise the suspended weight to determine where you will tie a 1" (5 cm) or so long trigger. Form a noose with the other end of the cordage. Route and spread the noose over the top of the sticks over the hole. Place the trigger stick against the horizontal sticks and route the cordage behind the sticks so that the tension of the power source will hold it in place. Adjust the bottom horizontal stick so that it will barely hold against the trigger. A the animal places its foot on a stick across the hole, the bottom horizontal stick moves down, releasing the trigger and allowing the noose to catch the animal by the foot. The bigger the sapling, the stronger the trap.

The first time I saw the "Treadle Spring Snare" was in Vietnam. The VC set these type snares all along jungle trails. The noose was replaced with falling logs and were usually full of sharpened bamboo strips. The strips were poisoned with human feces. I've had a serious aversion to this trap ever since 1968. However, it is a very functional trap. It can be made as big, or as small, as you want. Made human size, it's lethal. Rambo would be proud of this trap.

Bottle Trap:

A bottle trap is a simple trap for mice and voles (Left). Dig a hole 12 to 18 inches (30-45 cm) deep that is wider at the bottom than at the top. Make the top of the hole as small as possible. Place a piece of bark or wood over the hole with small stones under it to hold it up 1 to 2 Inches (2.5-5 cm) off the ground. Mice or voles will hide under the cover to escape danger and fall into the hole. They cannot climb out because of the wall's backward slope. Use caution when checking this trap; it is an excellent hiding place for snakes. Place small bait pieces in the bottom of the bottle hole to attract mice. I have used this one for ground squirrels. The easiest way to get the mice out is to put a stick down the hole, giving them a way to run out. Cover the hole, stick and all, with a glass jar. The mice will run out, thinking that they are free since they can see through the glass. If that alone doesn't work, do it again, only this time with the jar filled with water. The now-wet mice run out in a panic. Quickly put a lid on the jar. It's dinner time.

Hint: In Wisconsin, we would use the water-filled glass jar trick on the ground squirrel holes too. We caught more squirrels than we lost. The camp director (my father) made me let them all go. I never got to skin or eat one. Darn.

If you are wondering why I have a picture of a trapped raccoon on these articles, it's because I really like raccoons. They are true survivors. Regardless of the damage that humans do to their natural habitat, they survive anyway. They haunt trash cans and dumpsters. They are sneaky and eat almost anything. Their front hands are nimble enough to open the tops on "closed" IGLOO ice chest coolers. You can't hang food high enough out of their way, they will get to it anyway. Protect your food in the locked trunk of your car. Every state park has an entourage of raccoons, one for each camp site. No finer bunch of thieves, the raccoons.

The Trapper's Corner mascot needs a name. Please contribute your suggestion.

I had a pet raccoon growing up in Indianapolis. His name was Napoleon. He rode on my shoulder (with a leash) for two years until I let him go in the woods. I went into a bank one day, and I could have robbed the place. Napoleon had jumped off my shoulder and ran under the teller window. Teller windows had bars on them in those days. When I finally caught up to him, all the tellers were lined up along the back wall of the bank. We were politely asked to leave the bank. I even had an account there. Go figure.

Rolling Snare:

Copyright © Wildwood Survival (Snare constructed by Walter Muma)

Here is an overall photo of the rolling snare. This is an animal's view of the setup, as seen walking along a trail. This is actually another type of "twitch-up" snare.

White string was used to highlight the parts of the snare. Normally you would use cordage that blends into the natural surroundings.

Note the small sticks placed along the trail to help ensure the animal doesn't bypass the snare. The noose is supported on small sticks to elevate it the proper distance above the ground, and to ensure that it stays in a loop shape. This type of snare is not usually baited. The trigger mechanism is seen on the right side of the photo. There is a larger stick pushed in to the ground, and a smaller trigger stick that is held in place by the large one. The string leading to the spring is the one that leads upward from the trigger stick.

Here is a close-up view of the trigger mechanism.

The string at the bottom leads to the noose. The top string leads up to the spring stick (often a small tree sapling or branch). Note how the nub on the small trigger stick is being held against the larger stick (which is stuck into the ground). When the noose is pulled, the small trigger stick easily slips out from where it's being held and the snare is released.

In the photo to the upper left, you can see the relatively thick wood where the two pieces join together. The thicker this wood is, and the more overlap there is, the harder it will be to get apart. The upper photo here is much less sensitive than the lower photo. Try to use dry wood as green wood will have sap seep out and dry sticky, making the trigger even less sensitive.

Another view. Here the trigger has been set to be much more sensitive. Much less pressure is required to release it. Other ways in which it can be made more sensitive are: grease the surfaces, make them rounder, and have less of them in contact with each other (as shown here).

Remember: The heavy white cotton string here is only for photo purposes. Dark cordage or dark wire is best used for all snares.