U.S. Rescue & Special Operations Group cadre place a heavy emphasis on trapping skills. Why? Because protein and fat from animals are very healthy elements of keeping the human body fit to fight. Many people in the preparedness community dismiss trapping due to a lack of real world application. Bottom line they have tinkered with a few traps and come up empty handed. A trap whether it is constructed of man made or natural materials is nothing more than a mechanical ambush with a simple triggering system. The construction of the trap is not as important as the placement and preparation of the trap site.
Just like setting an ambush for enemy personnel you must know their characteristics and movement techniques. An animal is no different. Knowing or being able to identify his home, habits and his trails from his food source back to his sanctuary, puts you in command of the operational environment. Setting traps around your shelter site is NOT trapping. Identifying a specific animal’s food, water source and trails that lead to his bed is the key to trapping. The determining the correct trap and trigger becomes the next step. Our instructors advise would be survivors to stop reading “survival manuals” and start reading books on trapping. The information gained from trapping books on where a steel jawed trap can be set is just as applicable to setting improvised traps.
An advisor to our cadre, who we will call “The Barefoot Boy” and could be called a modern day poacher, has stated for many years that “What ever the Conservation Commission says is illegal, will work very well.” Snaring everything from deer to coons or hand fishing and spotlighting should become a part of your emergency methods of game collection. When a soldier is stuck in the enemy’s backyard or stranded in a piece of forgotten world, all rules are off. And just having knowledge of a technique may not be good enough. Realistic hands-on training separates the skilled survivor from the Walter Mittys of this world. Think about it!
A survivor who is well equipped will not necessarily have every gadget on the market packed in his ruck. But he/she will have an extensive library of books and videos on the specific skills that encompass the fundamentals of extended existence in the wild places. And a serious survivors kit is much different from the average “cereal box” survival kit. Example: carrying professionally made animal scent lures in purification tablet bottles to be used as a cover for human scent and to lure animals into the trap. U.S. RSOG personnel carry coon, beaver and muskrat lures in their kits. As well as Tinks 69 Doe-in-heat scent and Knight and Hale’s Buck Poppers. The lures add a little weight to a ruck or butt pack kit, but it stacks the deck in the survivor’s favor. Adding a selection of professional locking snares will greatly add to the survivor’s arsenal too. Although weight and space will have to be taken into consideration. Other parts of this site will specifically cover kit contents.
With that said being able to feed yourself without equipment should be your goal. There are no ancient tribal secrets to trapping game. Study and observe animal’s characteristics and pursue them with simple effective trapping strategies. The bottom line is if an individual soldier wants to learn how to trap small and medium game he has the resources in the backwoods of whatever military post he/she is on. Setting small non-lethal 4-8 inch snares on a game trail far away from civilian and training areas will not upset the balance of nature and or set society back to the stone ages. Its not about fun or profit gained at natures expense, its training for American military personnel so that they may deliver themselves out of harms way.
The following are some basic rules to operate by when developing trapping skills. Stick to the rules and Keep it simple stupid (KISS).
- The first fast hard rule is anything that you trap you must eat. Break this rule and it will come back to get you in the real world. Translation, your traps will be full when you’re practicing, but they will be empty when it counts. Heed the warning!
- Look to the nearest water source for signs of game. Many animals go to water evening as the sun is going down and just as it is coming up. Many are there throughout the night gathering food.
- If possible expose your boot soles and hands to the smoke of an open fire. If you can great, if you cant just deal with the hand dealt you. It is a very good measure. It is like camoing your face when going into the bush. Smoking trap parts is advisable as well.
- Walk the edge of the water source (pond, lake, river, stream, creek, mudhole) and look for signs of animals movements from the night before. Translation, recon for footprints and trails leading into the area. Identify the specific animal (coon, possum, deer, beaver, muskrat, squirrel etc.)
- DO NOT DISTURB the area that you are staging your mechanical ambush in. Do not trample down grasses and over turn rocks. Do not urinate or spit. When you have decided on the spots that you intend to place your traps, be gentle in the area.
- One trap does not a trapline make. The minimum number of traps that a survivor should set per day, per person in the party is 6-9 or more. Do not break this rule.
- Every log or fallen tree across a creek is a bridge site for all small and medium animals. Placing a trap at each end of the bridge or in its middle is a good tactic.
- Culverts that run under roads are great places for trap sites.
- Professional grade aircraft cable locking snares are extremely tough and easy to set. Animals will wreak havoc on non-lifting snare sets.
- Use natural obstacles and terrain features to funnel the animal into the trap (tall grass, creek banks, rocks, logs etc.) Sounds familiar doesn’t it, just like military operations, but on a smaller scale.
- Use a stout anchor stake or tree trunk to attach your non-lifting snare too.
- Use game fences to funnel animals into your traps. A game fence is nothing more than a row of sticks stuck into the ground on both side of the trap and lightly camouflaged with foliage. Do go over board on the camo job. Small sticks for small game and larger sticks for large game. Rocks work well at the entrance of culverts.
- If you have scent lure use 6-8 drops to lure the animal into or through the snare or trap. Mean students place the scent up just before the trap. This doesn’t entice him into your trap.
- Check your traps every morning and from a distance so as not to disturb the surroundings.
- Mark your snares with some kind of sign so that you will not forget where they are. It should be obvious to the trapper but not the animal or other people.
- Rocks and logs can be piled up to make a den (this is called a cubby set) so that bait can be left inside of for a few nights, before setting a trap on the entrance. It will give the animal a false since of security for easy chow.
- If a heavy enough locking snare is available (commercially made or improvised) deer are a better target than rabbits. Deer are snared in the exact same type of set just larger. Both move on established trail or “runs.”
- If cordage is used for the snare material it is advisable to use a lifting snare trap.
- Deadfall traps work well on small rodent types of animal (rats, mice, chipmunks, squirrels, prairie dogs, etc.).
The following are approximate snare sizes for many North American animals.
- Beaver- snare size 8-10 inches dia, 2 inches off of the ground.
- Coyote- snare size 10-11 inches dia. 12 inches off of the ground.
- Fox- snare size 8 inches dia. 4-6 inches off of the ground.
- Coon- snare size 8 inches dia. 3-5 inches off the ground.
- Rabbits- snare size 3-4 inches dia. 1 ½ inches off of the ground.
- Muskrat- snare size 3 ½-4 inches dia. 1 ½ inches off of the ground.
- Deer- snare size 10-12 inches 16-18 inches off of the ground.
- Ground hog- snare size 4 inches in dia. 1 ½ inches off of the ground.
- Squirrel- snare size 2 ½-3 inches dia. 2 inches off of the deck.
- And the last and most important rule is gather copious amounts of intel. This doesn’t have to be a full time job. Just read books on tracking and books on hunting game and their characteristic. Plus spend one day every couple of months in the timber observing (closely) and practicing.
Copyright © 2007 U.S. RSOG