Trapping and Snaring for Survival

Trapping and Snaring for SurvivalOne of the biggest challenges (close behind locating water), while in a long-term survival situation, is finding and procuring food. Yes, foraging for small vegetation can be very productive. However, to get enough calories, you are going to have to find foods that are high in fat and protein. This means that you are going to need to learn the ways of trapping and snaring game.

Many people who have not lived through a long-term survival scenario did not make it due to their lack in knowledge of procuring meat. However, there are a multitude of reasons as to why “hunting” can be seen as counter-productive. The act of hunting uses up necessary calories, and that is something you simply cannot afford to lose during a survival scenario.

For an unarmed survivor/evader, or possibly when the blasting sound of a rifle shot may be problematic to your staying undercover and hidden, trapping or snaring for wild game is a much better alternative.

A handful of well-placed traps have the prospective to snare more game that a man with a rifle is apt to shoot. For this reason, among a few others (i.e. upping your opportunity for finding food), you must know how to construct a broad variety of hunting traps.

There are a few things to be focused on in order to be effective with a trap:

  • Know and somewhat understand the species of animal that you aim to catch.
  • Be proficient in your construction of proper traps.
  • Do not leave signs of your presence.

Your success at trapping depends entirely upon your skill and you cannot expect good results unless your work is skillfully done. Do not even attempt to make a deadfall or snare unless you are absolutely certain that it could not be any better made.

Another note: think out every little detail before attempting to trap. Make good use of your brain, for the animal’s instinct is its only protection and it is only by making good use of your reasoning powers that you can fool him. Knowledge is power in trapping (just as in all other trades and tricks).

Some Tracking Skills Required:

Obviously there are no “catchall” traps that you can set for all and any animal. You will have to determine what species are in a given area and then set your traps with those specific animals in mind. Once you have practiced a bit, tracking animals will become the easy part; learning the difference between the different animals may be a smidgeon more difficult.

When doing this, look for:

  • Obvious runs or trails
  • Tracks
  • Feces
  • Disturbed vegetation
  • Nesting or bedding spots
  • Feeding and water areas

If you aren’t a seasoned hunter or have absolutely no practice with tracking an animal, then it would be wise to pick up a copy of a good field guide to tracking. It would be even wiser to actually take some time to study and practice its contents.

Before understanding how to build good traps, it is of extreme importance to know how to track an animal, spot trails, and understand where exactly to set the traps.

Location, Location, Location

For obvious reasons, the location of your trap will depend largely upon the kind of game you will be deciding you are trying to catch. This means, after doing a bit of “tracking”, you will want to position your traps where there are clear signs that an animal will be passing your trap.

Decide whether the trail is a “run” or a “trail”. A trail is a common path used by several different types of animals and is going to be rather distinct. A run is smaller, less distinct, and will typically only show signs of one type of animal using it. Once you have determined the type of path, you will find that it usually leads a bedding area, a feeding area, and the animals favored watering hole, with a labyrinth of trails between. To be successful at trapping, you will want to place your traps and snares around these areas.

When checking for location, look out for:

  • Animal tracks and scat
  • Known game trails/runs
  • Known feeding and watering sites
  • Chewed vegetation
  • Nesting sites, den holes and bedding areas

Deciding where to set your traps is the hardest part of the whole gig (especially if you do not have a good grip on animal behavior and animal tracking; hence the importance of obtaining a book and practicing).

The best trap you have ever constructed will do you absolutely no good if the location is bad.

Related article: How To Identify An Animal Sign When Trapping

Trap Types

There are so many different variations of survival traps and snares that have been used throughout history to procure wild game that there is no point in listing them all in this one article.

Getting to the gist of traps, they are designed to crush, choke, hang or tangle wild animals. Traps and snares crush, choke, hang, or entangle the prey. A single trap or snare will commonly incorporate two or more of these principles. The best types of traps are on average very simple to construct and can most times be made with natural materials (if you know what you are doing).

The mechanisms that provide power to the trap are almost always very simple. The struggling victim, the force of gravity, or a bent sapling’s tension provides the power. Understanding how to appropriately build these traps is an important skill for anyone who spends any amount of time at all in the wilderness.

The heart of any trap or snare is the trigger. When planning a trap or snare, ask yourself how it should affect the prey, what is the source of power, and what will be the most efficient trigger. Your answers will help you devise a specific trap for a specific species. Traps are designed to catch and hold or to catch and kill. Snares are traps that incorporate a noose to accomplish either function.

Obviously, to be effective at trapping wild game, you will need to practice these skills prior to finding yourself in a dire scenario where your life may depend on them.

Most Common Types of Traps

Typical survival traps usually fall into one of two categories:


2. Deadfalls

While there are a couple of other categories, most of what you’ll probably use will be a variation of one of these two types of traps.

Building a Survival Snare

In simplified terms, a snare is basically a small noose that tightens around an animal’s neck as it crosses through the hole. These traps are typically placed on known animal trails or, more often than not, right outside of den holes.

Snares work very well in cold weather. And it is properly constructed, they are pretty much sure catchers.

You will want to make sure that the noose is big enough to allow the animals head to fit through it. As the animal continues to move through the snare, it will tighten around its neck. The more the animal fights it and attempts to get loose, the tighter the snare will become.

Building a Deadfall Trap

Unlike snares (which are designed to choke the animal), deadfall traps are made to crush the animal once they have forced the trigger to release. Of the multitude of deadfall designs, two are most common:

  1. The figure four
  2. Paiute deadfall

There are several reasons why deadfall styled traps are good and of extreme importance for the trapper:

  • No heavy traps to carry around
  • Some of the best trappers of history have used them
  • You don’t need a ton of money to set a line of deadfalls
  • It is a humane way of killing an animal
  • A good outdoorsman always has the necessary outfit (axe and knife) with them to make and set any sized deadfall
  • Even large deadfalls can be designed to spring easy and catch small game if need be.

The Figure Four Deadfall gets its name from the number of shapes used to make up the trap. The Figure-four uses a trigger to drop a heavy object onto an animal. The object should be heavy enough to kill the animal on impact. Baiting increases your chances of catching something.

Baited Traps

Needless to say, by baiting a trap or snare, you are greatly improving your probabilities of procuring something good to eat. Imagine fishing for a moment: You always, always put bait on the hook in order to catch.

Success with an unbaited trap will depend entirely upon its location; with a baited trap, even if you happen to make a bad guesstimate on your location, you may still be saved yet. The baited trap can actually lure animals away from their “normal” tendencies and right to your trap.

Deciding on bait is rather easy, if you have done your homework. The bait will need to be something that the animal(s) you are hunting are accustomed to.

Be sure to steer clear of using a bait that is so widely available that the animal may just pass your trap by.

Choose a bait that is going to arouse the animal’s inquisitiveness but simultaneously keep it on alert while it examines the strange food. It is never guaranteed that any bait will work one hundred percent of the time (which is why doing to your homework and practicing your skills are so important).

Related article: Tips I’ve Learned After Years Of Trapping Animals

There are several baits that you could consider using. This includes, at times, animals that you have caught in other traps. Another good bait to consider is peanut butter. Salt makes for one hell of a bait as well.

When baiting your trap, try to scatter bits (very small bits, test-tasters) close to the trap. This will give the animal a moment to try some of the bait, and therefore develop a desire for more of it. This will help remove just enough of the animal’s caution before it gets to the trap. He will be a bit more relaxed.

If you are using a sort of trigger mechanism, adding bait will obviously help; but even just adding a particular scent to the trigger can help be sure the whole trapping is executed nicely.

Keep in mind, once you have fruitfully trapped an animal, along with your major gain of confidence in your skill you will have obtained even more bait (depending upon the game you are after, of course) for more traps.


A word of Warning:  The survival traps that can be used to obtain wild game for food can be extremely dangerous, some even being lethal. Before you just go out in the woods and begin building these life-taking mechanisms, do your homework.

Maybe go take some courses on the matter or possibly find someone who doesn’t mind you using them as a mentor. You will need to know the laws on trapping as well, before setting them.

While these techniques should only be used in a survival-like scenario, trapping and snaring wild animals is an excellent alternative to using a gun (or starving…).

In fact, several traps set in good locations can catch more food than a man with a rifle is likely to drop (and for much less money/supplies; have you guys looked at the damn price on ammunition!).

Always remember to be responsible and use extreme caution and discretion when learning to and applying your knowledge to trap building.

Remember, these are not booty traps (*booby traps), that’s what I said! They are traps to help you survive in a hanky situation where every calorie, every bit of nutrients, every piece of protein counts.

Stay safe and stay prepared, Preppers!

This article has been written by Jonathan Blaylock for Prepper’s Will.

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1 thought on “Trapping and Snaring for Survival”

  1. Good stuff. Y’all don’t wait till it’s bad to start. There is a learning curve like everything else.
    Think outside the box too. A perch trap often catches snakes. The snakes go in after the fish get stuck and drown. Use the same perch trap to catch the snakes in the henhouse.
    After Rule Of Law is out the window and ONLY THEN run trot lines above ground for turkey and such.
    Jaw traps also make good dead zone defense.


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