Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Survival Trapping

                To understand Survival trapping we must understand Animal behavior to some degree so let’s first explore that. All animals need the same things we do. They need Shelter, Water, and Food. If we understand the Routes animals use to obtain and move from one to the other we can recognize good places for trapping them. The other concept we should get accustom to is that on the water’s edge is the best place to secure meat sources the majority of the time. The next thing we have to realize is that meat sources and trapping do not always have to involve 4 legged fury critters. Some of the easiest meat we can obtain is from animals that actually live the majority of their lives in or near water like; Fish, Turtles, Frogs, Snakes, and Crayfish.
                Let’s first look at Trapping of these Lower Food Chain Resource meats that can also be used as bait. This is a key concept because a baited trap has a much higher percentage chance of success than a blind set. If we work our way up the food chain we will fill our bellies as we go and improve the foods we can eat along the way.
                Catching or Trapping Animals that live in the water can be accomplished in several ways so let’s look at the types of meat one a t a time. Fish can be captured without bait by use of Nets or Improvised seining devices like a T-Shirt. If you are carrying a large roll of tarred Mariners Bank line which I highly recommend nets can be easily fashioned with overhand knots on a main line. The diameter of the holes or meshes will dictate the size of pray you can catch. Dip Nets are easily fashioned in this manner and are very handy for catching smaller fish as well as other water critters. A Gill net that stretches across a waterway can be made if enough line is available but dip nets and fishing traps are a better use of cordages. Fish can be caught with snare type devices by either by using an available hook, bent safety pin, or carved gorge type hook. Bait is easy enough obtained for fishing by turning over logs until worms or grubs are found. A simple Trigger system like the one pictured will work very good for bottom fishing and setting the hook when the fish takes the bait. Some type of Alarm system like an old can filled with rocks is a good bet for any trap that will catch an animal live so that you can immediately react.
 Turtles can be captured on the same spring type traps as fish but both can also be secured on simple drop lines or bank lines as well. M shaped bank traps that will allow a turtle to climb onto the bank for bait but not allow return to the water a good traps for overnight working while you are asleep. Dip nets can work for smaller turtles but larger turtles are hard to approach with them. Remember that most turtles that flip into the water during the day will simply swim under the log they were sunning on to seek cover.
Frogs are fairly easy to stun with any flexible stick if hunted at night with a headlight to freeze them in place, this technique will work whether the frog is on land or on the top of the water. A simple hook with any red fabric chard will attract frogs to a hook and line. Dip nets are also useful for frogging.
Crayfish will come to any meat source lying on the bottom readily so a simple circular dip net without the handle can be laid on the bottom with bait in the center, if lift lines are attached to the net frame, simply lifting it out of the water will capture all Crayfish on the bait. This technique works best at night. You can also make a simple tube trap from any pop can as seen in the photo placing skewers into the can at an angle inward to allow the animal in but not back out when he goes in to east the bait.
Snakes will be found in the water or on the edge especially at night when frogs are present they can be dispatched as easily as a frog with a nice flexible stick or pinned down with a “Y” branch and dispatched. Actually trapping a snake is tough as they are maters of escape.
Once you have secured one or more lower food chain meat sources as I call them (The things mammals eat), you can now use the left over material for baiting traps to capture larger animals.
Small mammals like mice, rats, chipmunks, and ground squirrels are about the largest animal that can easily be taken by deadfall traps and are most of the time too small to set off more complicated spring type traps. Figure 4 deadfalls are complicated and time consuming better to use a simpler mechanism like a split stick type trigger for an deadfall setup that has a baited trip wire made from small diameter cordage. Remember that any deadfall device must be 5 times heavier than the target animal and having the bait as far to the back of the trap as possible will decrease the margin of error.
Birds, small birds should be trapped in open clearing where visibility of bait is optimal they can also be taken by a similar trigger system using a cage type trap built in log cabin fashion. Most of the time bright colored berries or fruit will be most attractive to birds as bait. Remember to alarm the trap if possible as the bird will be captured alive. Larger birds can be taken with nets especially at night. During nesting season most water birds like geese or ducks will defend a nest to the point of becoming very vulnerable to dispatch giving the opportunity for eggs as well.
Medium size mammals like Opossum and Raccoon are about the largest animals you will want to tackle in a short term situation so that they can be processed and consumed easily without having lots of meat laying around camp attracting larger predatory or scavenging mammals.  When trapping these animals you will want to set traps just off the trail going to or from a water source so that a non-target larger animal like a deer does not trip over and set off you trap unnecessarily. Spring snares can be devised to capture these animals and several examples are pictured but remember a few guidelines. The snaring device that is spring loaded must pick the animal completely off the ground and suspend his weight as we cannot guarantee a neck catch, if not he will surely chew his way out unless wire or cable type snares are used. Spring loaded snares should always be alarmed for immediate reaction to reduce suffering of the animal as well as his own escape from the trap. All spring snares will require and engine or catalyst to make the snare close around the animal. Many things can be used for this from a simple bent sapling to a counter weight like a heavy log. Items from kit can also make great engines including bungee cords or sling shot type latex bands.  Blind snares can be set in small game trails and should be suspended bearing in mind the animals height at the head when walking. We are always striving for a neck catch when snaring and for opossum and raccoon if you can place a balled fist uner the snare that will be pretty close. You want the opening of the snare for these animals about ½ again larger that your fist diameter. Many styles of Spring type traps can be used but I find that the simpler the design the better a simple trigger system employing a pressure release toggle will be adaptable to the several applications and the majority of components can be easily carved in camp. In an extreme emergency the toggle type traps can be constructed easily with no tools at all. I will picture several variations of the toggle trigger system here for you and it will be fairly easy to reproduce with practice.
Alarming of any trap possible is key and location of the traps in conjunction to you camp is also necessary. Try to keep all traps within a 50-100 yard perimeter so that they can be easily gotten to in the middle of the night if you catch something.  Scavenger type animals like Opossum and Coon are not shy of humans for long and scent control is not a worry with them. You may however at some time capture a non-target animal. If it is a large animal he will most likely escape if it is a Skunk you are one step away from a few days of good stink, but so goes life in an emergency scenario, just do you best to free the animal and watch his back end LOL-

Dave Canterbury
Cage Traps like this are good for smaller bird species when baited with local seeds and berries

Fishing Traps allow you set several lines along the bank, the hook will be set by a spring pole

Strong and long forks are necessary anytime spring poles are used

Natural materials like bones will make good triggers as they add eye appeal to the set as well

Simple Split and Promontory Peg type triggers work well and can be adapted to many types of traps

Fishhooks can be improvised from the landscape as well if needed

Simple traps like this tube will catch plenty of crayfish and are easy to make

Gill nets and Stop Nets are a very important tool for Survival Food Procurment

Any bait should be placed where the animal is forced to work for it and be in the deepest area of the trap

Net Traps can be used to catch animals live and remember LIVE food never spoils

An improvised Jig from a Locust Thorn and Deer Hair

An easy Bank or limb line kit can be kept in the tube of your line itself


  1. A crawfish trap can be as simple as cutting the top off of a milk jug and putting a little meat in. Dig a hole that will cover the jug up about 2-3" sticking up in a creek or riverside. If your in a real survival situation (only if) and you've remembered to bring duct tape you can take a flat rock (anything flat) or a tree that's fallen over, or on a tree trunk, wrap the duct tape tacky side towards you for a "glue paper" trap. Again, only use in real survival situations.

  2. incredible .... i am not quite sure = but, if i were to learn and apply carefully each of these techniques you have shared - i would feel confident i would have very little trouble surviving in a real situation ---- thanks for posting

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  5. Do you specialized on the raccoon traps? I need to know, does this trap worth or not OxGord Live Animal Trap ?