Survivalists Guide to Survival traps and snares

During a long-term survival situation, one where you’re depending on the land to survive, one of the biggest challenges you’re going to face is finding and procuring food. In order to get enough calories, you’re going to have to find foods high in fat and protein; that means you’re going to need a way to hunt and trap game.

While hunting can certainly be productive, it also uses up valuable calories, something that you simply can’t afford to lose during a survival situation. For that reason, as well as increasing your chances of finding food, you need to know how to build a wide range of hunting traps.

How to use them to trap wild animals?

There are hundreds, maybe thousands of different variations of survival traps and snares that you can use to procure wild game. At their most basic, they are designed to choke, crush, hang, or entangle wild animals, and are an important skill to know for anyone who spends any amount of time in the wilderness.

The best survival traps are usually very simple to make and can usually be made with natural materials if you know what you’re doing. That means to be effective; you need to practice these skills before you find yourself in a situation where your life depends on them.

Modified Deadfall Trap

Where to place them

In a survival situation, the more traps you set, the greater your chances are of capturing food. That means you need to be always building new ones, constantly maintaining and fixing existing ones, and always on the lookout for good places to set them.

When looking for places to set your traps, make sure you’re always on the lookout for:

  • Known game trails and runs.
  • Known watering holes and feeding sites.
  • Animal tracks and droppings.
  • Chewed vegetation.
  • Nesting sites and den holes.

Figuring out where to set your traps is probably the most challenging part of the equation, especially if you don’t have a good grasp on animal behaviors and tracking.

A good trap in the wrong location is a bad trap!

Top Field Guides for Learning How to Trap

If you’re not a seasoned hunter or have never actively tracked an animal, then I recommend picking up a good field guide, and really taking some time to study its contents. Learning how to build a good trap is important, but knowing how to track animals, spot game trails, and understanding where to set the traps is the key to actually catching something. I suggest anyone of the following field guides; they are all a great introduction to what you should be looking for.

The most common types of survival traps.

Typical survival traps usually fall into one of two categories: snares and deadfalls. While there are a couple 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

Simple Snare placed on a game trail

A snare is essentially a small noose that tightens around an animal’s neck as it passes through the hole. They are usually placed on known animal trails or right outside of den holes.

  • Make sure the noose is large enough to allow the animal’s head to pass through it.
  • As the animal moves through the snare it should tighten around its neck.
  • The more the animal struggles to get loose, the tighter the snare will get.

Building a Deadfall Trap

Unlike snares which are meant to choke the animal, Deadfalls are designed to crush the animal once the trigger is released. Two of the most common deadfalls are The Figure Four and the Paiute Deadfall.

Carved deadfall sticks

Getting the pieces to work together:

  • Carve a flat screwdriver point on one stick; this will become the vertical post.
  • Carve another screwdriver point on one end of a stick and a notch near the opposite end; this will be the diagonal stick.
  • Carve a notch at one end of the third stick, and carve a point for bait.
  • Lay out the sticks so they look like the number 4, the line up the vertical post and cut a notch on the horizontal bait stick so it catches the carved square edge on the post.
  • Put the three sticks together so the notches catch each other and hold up the deadfall weight.
Figure-Four Deadfall
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 snare

A Figure four DeadfallBaiting a trap or snare greatly improves your chances of catching something to eat!

  • Make sure that the bait is something the animal is familiar with, but not something that’s so widely available they just pass it by.
  • If you’re using some sort of trigger mechanism, adding bait or even some scent to the trigger can help make sure everything sets at the right time.

A word of Warning:

This guide is for informational purposes only. Building anyone of these is extremely dangerous, and some of them can be lethal. If you don’t know what you’re doing, I advise asking someone who does. In some parts of the country using them is also illegal. They should only be used in a true survival situation.

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  1. I love these tips in case you get lost camping or somthin its great ( i dont like killing an animal but as survivor man says
    all prey is fair game ) >=C poor animals being strangeled and crushed

    • It’s a good thing too…without tree huggers there would be no wilderness left for us to survive in. It would all be walmarts, parking lots, or oil refieneries.

        • Teddy Roosevelt, big game hunter, former president, loved killing big things with big guns… And the man that founded our national parks and game reserves.

        • yeah… screw the animals they are too hard to catch… in a survival situation.. kill some a-hole who p!sses you off and eat them…. I hear human jerky is also pretty good….

          • I love animals and if you kill them that means I hate you. And you don’t want me to hate you. I will find you.

          • You know there is a disease known as Brian prian disease you get from consuming human flesh it makes your body tremble and gives you uncontrollable out burst of laughter then you eventually die from it

          • Oh and also sugggit I taught my 8 year old son how to make and set snare traps he brings home at least 4 rabbits a day so it the animals are to hard for you to catch is suggest you stay out of the woods and leave the survival to thee real men

      • Cam,

        I don’t know where yo get this “information, but we environmentalists (and I’m also a deer hunter who has also shot over 500 groundhogs)do all we can to preserve large open spaces for hunting, for other outdoor recreation, and for protecting clean air and water for EVERYONE. We’re not the ones allowing WalMarts, condos urban sprawl of any kind or super highways that bring on urban sprawl and slice and dice open areas.

        You’d be wise to examine the real policies of those for whom you vote; they’re probably in league with all the destroyers of wilderness.

        No offense, man; we need to work together to stop the madness.

        • Most hunters don’t like walmart and their ilk. We like being in the woods. Last thing I want to see is a freaking mall being built where woods used to be. That said, there is a place for wally world….I just wish they would stop tearing down our hunting areas to build them.

      • You know not of what you speak. Worked 40 years all over the South in paper mills. Every company I worked for planted two trees for every one they cut.
        It is the cattlemen ,sawmills and developers who cut and get out. Put down your video game for a minute and research. The problem I have with paper companies is that they only planted pine trees. Now the paper companies have all sold their land because of cusses like you. Now see what you get.

        • Robert, did you ever look up how many planted trees survive to maturity? It takes way more than 2 to replace one cut tree, at least in Montana it does. I have to agree with you about the ones who cut and get out and I would add hunters to that group also. Did you ever hear of a hunter planting a tree for the ones he cleared to get an animal out?

          • Well alot of bs in the coments really! Remember we are living on land that has for 1000s of years fed people and villages .. And then white Europeans stole it from the first nations , for gold and gread

      • If worse becomes worst, we can always depend on the ‘tree-huggers’ for sustenance.
        Ever see the movie, ‘ALIVE’???

      • A good hunter and survivalist manages the resources around him / her. Take only what you need and don’t waste. Learn how the indigenous tribes manage the forests. Enough Wilderness and wild life will be left for is to enjoy and PETA to keep its offices running and shedding tears for poor animals we kill.

    • Well Bob…if you would rather starve that is your other option. I hope you still have your grocery store meat isle when the shtf.

  2. i am a survialist and i have used all these plus other snares and traps in the feild. i can say that done right they do all work well.. i spent 8 weeks by myself with only a shot gun with 10 shells for protection in the deep woods of northern maine in 2010 and i used many of these traps and snares to survive.. happy hunting…..travis

    • cool. im going to NH. I have a 30.06 dont plan on using it. I hear that if people see me carrying it on a trail they get upset.?? any good places that you know of, where to not run into tree huggers?

    • Snares are not legal, everywhere. I would think long and hard before I tried to snare a hog, as a snare is, a strangling/holding device. Whereas, rabbits are trapped, easily. Put several traps around ‘rabbit-‘sign’ and one will eventually get caught. never depend on just ONE snare/trap. The more, the better. On the ‘legallity’ issue, are you wanting to LIVE or take the chance you have to pay a fine? Chances are, if you are in a position to HAVE to ‘snare’, you will be alone and hungry

  3. Its only illegal if ya get caught lol
    In the event of a catosrophic collapes
    Of society I seriously think no one will be out to. enforce these laws

  4. i like the traps that keep the animal or human hanging in a tree…very easy to make after you figure it out.

  5. In my army survival training, our training NCO said something I will never forget: “If it’s got red blood and an asshole, you can eat it.” I don’t know if vultures and buzzards have assholes or not,but pretty much every other animal does.

  6. I trapped for many years when i was young, we were very poor and very much needed the money. I love animals and wouldnt kill one unless it was very necessary. as it is important in respect to the countries economic issues to know how too hunt, trap and gather edible foods and practice to the point were you know you can at least feed yourself and your family. Animals also eat many of the things we can to to survive. Muskrats for example are not just easy to trap even in the winter with a trap in its house (they drowned)which having had the similar experience several times is more fear based than painful. its a highly effective set. They eat the parts of cattails, arrowhead, lilies, wildrice, etc that we can eat. and store some in their house as well. make sure to seal the house right so it doesnt freeze. dont over harvest. clear the dead tops of cattails around the marsh so fresh growth comes up. they eat it of course so their population increases. you can also eat the fresh parts, different parts all year. this would provide you food all year. their wild rice can be collected in aug in my area, humans can improve these areas which help them as will. Arrowhead tubers (2inch potato substitute) can be collected before ice up and stored for your food storage. Beavers are easily trapped with a snare in the entrance to their house. They eat the inner bark of trees which we can as well. they dont eat the bark of every kinda tree of course, indians ate white pine inner bark off small saplings. Raccoons can be baited easily and also use logs to cross rivers etc. these are easy sets. everyone drowns the animal. Deer can be caught with a spring pool snare/trip wire set(this is survival, life or death here. Yours or theirs) Turtles are caught with bait on a hook along ponds like ducks, fish and other animals. Its a mean way to go for a four legged animals so i wont do it, but a starving man can to save his family as far as i am concerned. Set lines for fish, tied to the ends of branches or bottles etc. hopefully 80% of your meal are wild edibles and then you wont have to over depend on the aniaml meat to heavily. 10-20 traps/snares/person and same with the set lines and you will have enough to store meat and food for the hard times. I have a heirloom garden seed pack in my freezer (aaoob foods sells them the cheapest from what i have seen and their 6 gal buckets of food aint bad either) Urban farms sells them in bulk as well and i have some seeds of theirs as well. Rabbits can be captured a live as other animals can to raise more of them. I have Tame rabbits running the yard with a large bulk feeder of corn for them, they dont go anywhere. and they sell for more than the lb of meat is worth right now so either i take the cash or the meat(in a survival situation). Their way to many ways to survive. i think the governments over reaction to a disaster will do far more to damage this country then one little disaster that we all would bounce back from in short order(i am a Cheif A Stationary Enigineer- i make the electricity, i know) God Bless! Good luck! :)

    • Great piece of writing material. I applaud your efforts and my husband and I have a lot of these similar thoughts and survival tools ~ plus continuing to improve on. The whole understanding of this site is “OFF-THE-GRID-SURVIVAL”, can be an illuminating topic to converse on and learn from one another. As for the nay-sayers…each of us are allowed to write what they feel. I just implore folks to research and to use their words when writing and not their feelings/emotions. Best of surviving in today’s world or otherwise.

  7. A pack of guitar strings would make good snare wires, I think. Plus, you get 6 for $5 and the whole pack fits in your pocket. I plan on trying out one of these snares with some of my old strings.

  8. Thanks man! Your site is the shit! I have spread the word on facebook and google+, and I will also tell the hunters out the local gun club. I am a 12F Army Veteran, been out now almost 18 years… I have forgotten a lot of this stuff, and your website refreshes me memory, and brings back ‘old’ memories ;-)) Thanks so creating such an awesome site!!! God’s Speed~~~~~~~

  9. don’t mess around with that …..get you some real traps…..6 foothold traps and 6 conibear traps will keep you in all kinds food

  10. I reccomend a spring-and-spear trap. Very effective and it kills the animal for you in case u have a weak stomach. It may not work right the first time because it takes a lot of practice (as with most other traps)

  11. The simplest trap is tying a rope to something that wont move and putting a knot on the other end that will close by itself when a foot or head goes through it. Cheers

  12. I carry rat traps in my bug out bag because they will catch and kill mice and squirrel size game. I just drill a hole in the corner so I can take some snare wire and tie it off to a stake or a small tree on a game trail. They are super quick to set, never fail to fire and kill the animal very quickly usually. I can fit 5 in my bag very easily and I don’t see the need to kill bigger game as there won’t be an easy way to keep the meat fresh other than dehydrating. I have used this on my property during trapping season for squirrels with peanut butter and it worked very well. Better than a squirrel pole snare trap. If anybody wants to know what a squirrel pole is I will be happy to post about it.

  13. Hi, I live in South Africa. And I’m requiring the knowledge for a hunt…for Hogs ..Big Hogs . I have a trap in mind but don’t know what’s its called?! Its a loop at the end of the rope with a counter weight that is supported by trees for a arch…I don’t know if it will catch a Hog about 150 to 200 Ibs in weight..? May you help me : In a way to tell me How to make a trap / snare? Like a trap that will keep the Hog in the air…. With a weight on the other side…. Thanks God bless America

  14. This summer we had a Bald Eagle nest an have 2 chicks not more than 1/2 mile from my house in Virginia Beach Va. Just as soon as the chicks could fly a developer cut down the trees and have cleared the land (not for a Walmart) the developers and people moving into the area in the name of progress have and will destroy our hunting land.

    I have always used fishing leader wire for snares it is stainless steel and very strong not to mention well priced.

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