Trapping is key to survival for several reasons. Many people do not have the knowledge
on how to set traps and where to set traps. Each and every trap you have set in a survival situation is like having another person out there 24 hours a day helping to get your next meal. There are several trap types we will discuss along with why targeting small game is more efficient than strictly going after large game such as deer and elk.
The first trap type we will discuss is snares. Whether its a hanging snare on a game trail or a spring snare using a tree for the spring. Snares are an effective method of trapping that has been around for years. In a survival situation snares are lightweight and easy to set up. I am a trapper and while I don’t use snares in running my trapline every year I do advocate them in a survival situation. Free hanging snares in a game trail or a fence crossing is very effective and generally catches the animal around the neck. A spring style snare can be just as effective and generally catches the animal around the leg. These are excellent methods in survival to gather food.
The next trap type we will discuss are called toe hold traps. They are commonly called leg hold or leg catchers. These are metal traps that use spring tension to hold the animal in place until you get there. These traps are heavy yet highly effective. I use this style of trap every year. There several different sets to use when setting toe hold traps. The first is whats called a cubby set. To make a cubby set you use small logs and tree limbs to build it. Basically you are building a box using a tree as the back of the box. The next type of set is called a dirt hole set. You dig a hole at an angle at about 18 inches deep and the off set the trap from the hole. Drowning sets are effective sets in areas with steep river banks and 2 to 4 foot deep rivers or creeks. To make a drowning set you take a big rock or cinder block and attached a wire to it then throw it in the river or creek and attach the other end to a tree after putting a slider attached to your trap on the wire.
Cubby sets are used primarily for raccoon, opossum, and other small game. Drowning sets are primarily used to target beaver. Dirt hole sets are primarily predator sets but do not discount predators as food. Bobcats taste great.
Leg Hold or Toe Hold Trap
The next trap type is called a DP or dog proof trap. These are my favorite traps. They are easy to set and keep your neighbors from getting mad because you caught the dog in your traps. DP traps are a cylinder with a hoop of heavy wire under spring tension inside the cylinder. The coon stick his paw in to grab the bait and triggers the trap.
Dog proof trap
The next style of traps is actually 2 different traps yet they work on the same principal.
The neck breaker traps like deadfalls and connibear are the most humane and effective traps. When setting a deadfall remember that the weight of the deadfall should be 5 times the target animal. If you are targeting 30lb raccoon then your deadfall should weigh at least 150lbs. While deadfalls are effective I prefer the connibear traps. These almost guarantee a quick kill and come in several sizes. Most states require connibear to be set in water but in a survival situation that would go out the window. Box sets using a connibear are very effective. Set the connibear and put it at the front of the box with the bait in the back of the box.
Figure 4 dead fall
Modified Box Set using a 330 connibear
Animals such as opossum, raccoon, muskrat, squirrels, groundhog, and other small game will be your primary targets when trapping for a survival situation. The reason for this is these animals are plentiful and are very tasty. They will have enough nutrients to keep you going. I have heard people say well I will just eat rabbits. You will not survive by eating rabbit alone as your meat source due to the fact rabbits have an almost zero fat content. So you should be targeting other small game as well. Raccoon have lots of fat and taste great.
Large animals are not the easiest animals to trap due to size. If you get a shot on a deer during the winter then good but during the heat of the summer never kill more than you need in a survival situation. In the wintertime you preserve large animals better because of the colder weather.