I come from a family of hunters and trappers, and I’ve learned that the easiest way to provide a meal for yourself is via traps and snares. Setting traps and snares grants you the luxury to take care of other survival tasks while you wait for the animal to make a mistake. Here are my tips for trapping animals successfully.
If you like to travel and explore the great outdoors, you should notice how many animals are all around you. People believe that they will just start to hunt for their meal when the brown stuff hits the fan, but that’s not realistic. Hunting requires a lot of years and experience, not to mention that all the completion you may have will drive game away from certain areas.
You should reconsider your wilderness survival strategy if you don’t want to starve. Targeting animals which are too small and quick to be easily shot or caught is a smart idea. Especially, if you’re not an experienced hunter or if you have no weapons, nor the means to improvise any.
Since you can’t run around, trying to catch an animal with your bare hands, you should consider a more practical approach. The best method readily available in most environments is trapping animals, and there are a few snares and traps that can be set by anyone. You will need a little practice, but you will eventually catch something. As an example, people have been using the deadfall trigger for thousands of years, and this trap really works if you commit to it.
After years of learning from my family, there are a few tips I can share with you about trapping animals. These are the type of things that may not be obvious at first, but they may a huge difference if you manage to acknowledge them and put them to use.
Tips and tricks for trapping animals
Animals are habitual and will always follow the same trails to and from their food source.
Before you think of setting your traps and snares, make sure you discover the animal trails and observe the prey’s patterns.
The bait plays a huge rule when trapping animals, but you can do well without any. You can use the scar or urine of the actual animal as it is the best lure for certain species. The scent is much more appealing for certain animals, and you won’t have to experiment with various baits.
If you plan to carry a trapping kit in your survival bug, you should think about a few critical aspects. How long do you plan to stay in the wild? Do you have any other ways of providing food for yourself besides trapping? Can you work with natural resources to set traps? These are important questions to ask yourself because snares and snare wires have a one-time use in most cases. They are a finite resource, and you will need to improvise afterward.
Related article: 10 Survival Hunting Essentials
Chose the time of the day when you plan on trapping animals and build your setup. Hot air will rise during the day and cold air will sweep down at night. It’s important to understand that smells drift uphill during the day and downhill at night. You should make everything possible to stay upwind of potential preys.
Since I’ve mentioned smell, you should do something about your clothes and neutralize the scent you brought from home. Hang your clothing on a clothesline to weather for a few days and get rid of “unfamiliar” smells. Some people will bury their clothes or hang them over a fire to mask their scent. These two methods won’t work as expected and you will alert any prey that may surround you. You will smell like a putout fire everywhere you go.
If you plan to become efficient in trapping animals, you should consider it a numbers game. My father taught me that the more traps you set, the better your odds of success. Some traps are heavier and can take a lot of space in your bag while the weight of a few dozen fish hooks is quite insignificant. Think about what you plan on catching and work the numbers.
If you discover a creek or a small stream in your area, you can create a fish trap or improvise a funnel to catch fish. This tactic has been used by generations and is an easy method to put some meat on the table. The rules are simple: the opening should be on the upstream side, the current will help you with the funneling process. Herd fish into your trap by starting upstream and wade toward your corral.
Recommended reading: Improvised Fishing Techniques For Tough Times
If you want to make a loop snare for trapping animals such as small mammals, use a slipknot that tightens down when the prey puts his head through it and lunges headfirst. My father used to place at least 10 snares for every one animal he wished to catch. He would place them along den openings and well-traveled trails.
The snare loop needs to be properly sized (more here). This action takes some practice, but you will be able to size it based on the size of the animal you expect to catch. The main rule is to make the loop large enough for the head of the animal to pass through.
Recommended Loop sizes and ground distances:
- Rabbit – 3 inches in diameter and 4 inches off the ground
- Fox -6-8 inches in diameter and 8 inches off the ground
- Coyote 10-12 inches in diameter and 10 inches off the ground
- Beaver 10 inches in diameter and 3 inches off the ground
- Boar – 8-16 inches in diameter and 8 inches off the ground
Expect to lose your snare when trapping animals such as boar and deer, especially if you improvise using electrical cords or paracord. Yes, some people do that.
You can improvise with what you have in your bag. My father showed me how easy it is to catch scavenger birds using fish hooks and bait. Hang the hook and bait from a tree and be patient. Make sure you leave some slack, so the bird has time to swallow it and fly.
Since I mentioned birds, you should remember that all birds can be eaten and the same goes for their eggs. This is an important fact to remember if you find yourself in a survival situation. You can use snares or trench traps to catch a pheasant, a quail or any other ground-living bird.
Make sure to watch this video:
Try to set your traps and snares around water holes as these are the perfect places in any giving weather condition. You can take advantage if you set camp near a waterway and besides setting traps, you can also fish.
Trapping animals require patience, and you shouldn’t give up. It’s a rewarding skill if you take your time and do things properly. You won’t waste any ammo, and you have time to deal with other things till the traps get triggered.
Another important thing to remember when it comes to wilderness survival is that all rodents can be eaten. It’s not an appealing option, but it sure beats starving to death. Make sure you discard the head and guts before cooking and eating it. Rodent traps can be improvised easily from scavenged materials.
I also recommend learning about how to field dress an animal, especially the ones from your area. Sometimes you will get lucky and catch more than you can eat and it’s a shame to let it go to waste. Learn how to preserve your kill for later use.
Ammo will run out eventually, but you will still be able to improvise a fish trap or snare to sustain yourself in the wild. There are all sorts of animals around you that can be turned into a nutritious meal. You just need to learn how to trap them, how to increase your odds of success by staying calm and persevering. Trapping animals can be a rewarding skill that allows you to set your traps and just come back once or twice a day to check them, so you have the rest of the day for other projects. You expend very few calories and do not risk your safety.