When it comes to outdoor survival, eating is one of your last concerns. Humans can go up to 3 weeks without food, but only 3 days without water and just a few hours without shelter in extreme weather conditions!
With that said, I like to eat!
Having a source of food in outdoor survival situations will make all of the other aspects a lot easier.
A lot of people like to imagine that they will be eating large game when surviving in the wilderness. The truth is that you probably won’t be eating a big buck or moose but probably eating insects for survival or forage wild edibles. See this Pyramid of Wilderness Survival Food to see what you will really be eating when out in the wild!
However, trapping and snaring animals can be great for getting survival food. Not only are small game tastier than roasted crickets, but the physical act of making and setting the animal traps or snares will also give you something to do, which will take the edge off the situation.
Here’s some of the simplest animal traps and snares for outdoor survival which require virtually no supplies to make.
1. Simple Snare
If you find an animal den, you can use this snare. Just tie a small loop and pass the end of some wire or string through it to make a loop noose. Put the snare in front of the animal den. If using string, you’ll have to use some sticks to prop the noose open.
When the animal exits the den, its head will get stuck in the noose. As it struggles, the noose will tighten around it.
It is best to use wire for this simple snare because it is easier to leave open. Also, an animal can easily get its head out of a string noose. However, string can work too.
If you can’t find an animal den, you can make a “Drag Run Snare” with this same principle. Just create a “run” out of sticks or rocks to channel animals towards the snare you’ve set up.
2. Twitch-Up Snare
This animal trap is great because it kills the animal when it twitches up. This makes it more humane and saves you the trouble of killing the animal yourself. Further, sometimes predators will get to your animal before you do. With the twitch-up snare, the snared animal is thrown up in the air so it is less likely that a predator will get to it. It does require some construction to make this snare though.
To make the snare, you first need to find a young sapling that is along an animal trail. You’ll then need two sticks to make a “trigger bar.”
Put your trigger bar into the ground.
Tie a noose around the end of the sapling.
Bend the sapling down and tie it to the trigger bar.
Make sure the noose is open and positioned over the trail.
The trigger bar needs to be strong enough to hold the sapling downward, but small enough that it releases when an animal goes through the noose. As the animal goes through the noose, it will cause the sapling to release and send the animal into the air, breaking its neck in the process.
3. Deadfall Trap
There are a lot of different ways to make a deadfall trap. They all work under the same principle though.
You get a heavy object like a big, flat rock or log.
You use a construction of sticks to prop up the heavy object.
The construction is made in a way that it will fall when an animal touches it.
You put some bait under the trap and wait for an animal to get crushed when the trap is released.
This trap is great for catching mice and rats, but you can make bigger ones for larger game too. Just be warned that it is easy for the rock to fall on your fingers while setting the trap, so be careful! The video below shows the paiute version of the deadfall trap, but there are other ways of making it with just notched sticks and no cordage.
4. Bottle Fish Trap
If you go camping or backpacking, you probably hate that there is always trash everywhere. But, in a survival situation, you’ll probably be glad about it. Trash means you can usually find something for making an animal trap – like this fish trap out of a plastic bottle.
Just cut the top off of a plastic bottle and invert into the bottle. Set it in the water with the opening towards the current. Fish will be able to swim inside but won’t be able to get out! See more survival fish traps here.
5. Squirrel Pole
Squirrels are ridiculously fast animals and good luck trying to hunt them down! It is fairly easy to catch them with an improvised snare or “squirrel pole” though.
Find a diagonal branch/pole which is propped up against a tree which gets a lot of squirrel activity. Then you put a lot of wire nooses all along the pole. The nooses should be positioned about 2 inches in diameter and 1 inch off of the pole.
The squirrel will have to go through at least one of these nooses when going up/down the pole, causing it to get stuck.
Note that the nooses shouldn’t be near the top or bottom of the pole. Otherwise, the squirrel might be able to get its feet on the ground or tree branch. It won’t struggle and fall off the pole, causing it to strangle.
A Few Notes about Animal Traps and Snares for Survival
These traps and snares are for SURVIVAL purposes! Go ahead and try constructing them for practice, but take them down immediately. Most places have very strict laws about trapping/snaring animals. You might be able to test them out for real during hunting season, but always check the laws first.
Also, note that you can’t just set an animal trap or snare and hope to get lucky.
A good survivalist always sets a trap or snare knowing exactly what animal it is intended for.
Traps get baited with foods that the animal would eat in nature. Snares and traps are set by animal dens, animal trails, or other areas where you know that the intended animal will go.
You also have to check your traps and snares frequently because a predator could get to them before you do! Don’t give a predator a free dinner when you are struggling for survival. Otherwise, it will be crickets for dinner again. 😉