(Survival manual/3. Food & Water/ Trapping)
See also my post: (Survival manual/ 3. Food & water/ Food resources for extreme hardship: Dog, cat, roadkill… )

A.  Rat Traps
In order to get your head around the concept of  ‘rat for  supper’, read, When All Hell Breaks Loose © 2007 Cody Lundin, published by Gibbs Smith, Publisher, Layton, UT, 450 pages.
•  Victor rat (not mouse) traps are good for squirrels and rabbits when properly placed and they cost under $3.50 each.
•  For survival purposes, a rat trap will work for ground squirrels too
•  Use soft cat food or peanut butter as bait as it seems to work best, just make sure you dig a small hole and cover it with leaves and you should be good.
•  A rat trap will provide dinner in a pinch.
•  You may also use them to trigger bigger traps with a pressure plate and a stiff wire to the rat trap – when the rat trap goes off it springs the larger trap.
•  Use peanut oil to grease the traps.

Dressing rat:
(squirrel, ground squirrels)
Excerpted from:
I was very unprepared on how to react to these rats on the table directly in front of me. But there they were, big brown furry rats just lying there awaiting to be prepared for a delicacy.
The cleaning and preparation for cooking rat is quite a process. The small feet and tail are first cut off on a wood chopping block. Then a cut is made behind the ear so that it is possible to pull the fur off of the main body. After that is done the head is cut off as the head is held onto when pulling the fur off of the body.
The rat is then washed in water and a cut is made along its belly to remove all the intestines. The liver and the heart are kept inside the body.

The rat is then spread open and placed either on a grill, for cooking over an open flame, or the smaller rats are ready for the wood chopping black. The smaller rats are left on the grill just long enough for the meat to be cooked, but still medium rare.
Then the small rats are chopped up very finely on the chopping block, small bones and all, until a sort of fine ground meat is made into a paste.
The heart and liver are removed before it is chopped up and placed in a separate dish. [Image at right: BBQ rat.]

Before the rats are prepared for cooking, about two small cups of red chili peppers are ground up with a mortar and pestle until a red chili paste is made. It is this chili paste that the finely chopped rat meat is added and then cooked in oil in a wok. A great deal of garnish and other spices are added which are mentioned in the recipe at the end of this short story. The larger rats were completely fried with a burnt like look to them as they were also basted with a chili sauce. Once at the dinner table I had to keep in mind I was going to eat a Thai delicacy so my first bite was accompanied by a strange feeling that I was not going to like this delicacy at all. Once the rat meat was in my mouth I began to chew. The first taste I experienced was the very distinctive hot chili flavor, which was a welcomed friend to my taste buds, but I knew the rate meat was about to make its appearance on my tongue. The meat was very tender and not at all wild game tasting. In fact the meat was very sweet, very much like rabbit meat or frog legs. I was satisfied I could continue eating my first piece of rat meat, and went about picking every last piece of meat off of the small bones.
It amazes me how we all grow accustomed to food from cultures we are familiar with and how uncertain we feel when approached with a new cultural taste treat.

Recipe for ground rat meat and chili paste:

  • 1/4 cup fish oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 cups of dried red chili peppers
  • 4 long green peppers
  • 8 large bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup holy basil leaf
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 4 small rats

Initial Preparation:

  • With a mortar and pestle place the 1-1/2 cups of dried red chili peppers, and begin to mash until a red paste is achieved. Add a tablespoon of water to make moist.
  • Chop garlic cloves.
  • Place bay leaves in a small bowl of water. Roll two bay leaves at a time and then thinly shred and place in dry dish. Do for all 8 leaves – two at a time.
  • Place holy basil leaves in a small bowl of water.
  • Dice long green peppers. Do small cross sections so look like wheels and place in dry dish.
  • Skin 4 small rats. Clean and place heart and liver in separate bowl.

Cooking preparations:

  • Place oil in a wok over an open flame and heat
  • Place small rats on a grill, and lightly cook over an open flame on both sides until medium cooked. Do not cook well done.
  • Mix red chili paste with hot oil and stir well.
  • Finely chop rats on a wood chopping block over and over until makes a smooth ground meat texture. Be sure to chop all the bones well.
  • Add chopped rat meat to the red chili paste and oil and stir well.
  • Add diced green peppers and stir well. Let cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add 1/2 tablespoon of salt.
  • Add whole liver and heart and sir in.
  • Add holy basil leaves to mixture and stir in well and let cook for another 5 minutes. Be sure not to burn the chili paste – add a little water if necessary to keep moist but not runny.
  • Add chopped garlic cloves
  • Add shredded bay leaves and stir in and cover and let simmer for 5 minutes or more to let all the flavors mix well.

Serve ground rat meat on an oval dish with livers and heart on the top. Circle with garnish of basil leaves and halves of lime. Serve with white rice. The flavor will be hot and tangy with a mild crunchy chew to it. It is not to be considered the main dish, but a nice hot and spicy accent to other prepared dishes. Very good on crackers.

.B. Conibear Traps
From Captain Dave’s Survival Center, Buckshot’s Trapping Tales, see:
#110 conibear, this trap is 4-1/2 by 4-1/2 ” with a single spring. It’s very popular among trappers because they’re easy to use and reliable quick kills for muskrat, mink, rabbit, squirrel, and some of the larger weasels. [Image below: a #110 Conibear trap]

#220 conibear, this trap is 7″ by 7″ with double springs and requires a setting tool to compress the springs. The #220 is popular among the raccoon trappers and is also used to catch raccoon, otter, muskrat, mink, squirrel, rabbit, and ground hog (woodchucks). Care must be used with this trap because if a dog or house-cat sticks his head in there, they will die quickly just like a raccoon. Some states have regulated this trap, so if set on land they may need to be in dog proof boxes or at least 4 feet off the ground.

#330 conibear, this trap is 10″ x 10″ square with double springs, this is the most powerful and is NO kids toy. The same setting tool that can be used for the #220 will work for the #330. What a wonderful beaver trap. I have trapped 100’s of beaver with this trap. The trap was designed for beaver but can also be used for otters, raccoons, and snapping turtles.

Just as there is no one perfect gun, what trap that suits you best depends on where you are in the country. What animal has the highest population in your area? In general, a great survival set-up would be 6- #110 for the smaller animals, 4- #220 for medium size animals and 2-#330 for beaver size animals. This batch of only 12 traps should keep you in meat and fur just about anywhere in America.

The #110 Conibear is a wonderful little trap. I caught my first muskrat with one back in 1975. The trap is 4 1/2″ by 4 1/2″ with a single spring. To set the trap you squeeze the spring down and open the jaws bringing them together. The trigger is made out of two thin pieces of wire connected to a folded piece of metal on the top jaw. There is a slot in the middle of this piece of metal where the second piece of the trigger hooks on. There are three settings and I generally used the middle one. You flip the top trigger and hook on the middle setting, now before you release pressure from the spring make sure your hand is clear. The easiest way is to set it down on the ground upright and hold your finger on the top trigger and release the pressure from your other hand. Now the trap is set. Just play around with it for a while until you get use to setting them. Take a stick about 18 inches long hold one end and with the opposite end push on the trigger. The trap may fire or it might fall over. Try it both ways holding the trap spring to keep the trap from falling over and unsupported. The reason I wanted you to do this, is so you could see first hand why the trap HAS TO BE STABILIZED. This is very, very, important on Conibear style traps. I don’t care what size, you have to stabilize them! What this means is the trap is designed for the animal to stick his head in. Well, the trap has to be supported or it will fall over and spring off without catching the animal. Now, you just educated that animal to be scared and trap-shy of traps and he will be much harder to capture.

One way to make a great stabilizer for the #110 Conibear is either buy lath boards, or if you know of someone remodeling an old house and their ripping out the old lath board, so they can put up drywall, they will probably give you all the lath board for the asking. I cut mine 12-18″ long (it is not critical), sharpen one end to a point, let them weather if they are new, you now have an easy-to-use stabilizer. Remember , this is for stabilizing the trap and not to be confused with a stake.
[Image left: #220 Conibear trap, staked and stabilized.]
Take the lath board and at about a 45 degree angle, push the stake into the ground between the compressed spring and the open part of the two jaws. You want a downward pressure on the trap to keep it from being knocked over. Now, try pushing the 18″ long stick on the trigger. The trap should fire, closing on the stick. Remember to keep your hands back — these little trap hurt if they whack you one.
Of course, there are several ways to stabilize these traps, you can use two sticks and form a X over the top of the trap, you can weld a 6″ long piece of 1/4″ stock to the rivet, or if setting in boxes you can notch the box, etc.

 Where to set the #110
The #110 can be used three different ways: den entrance, trail set, and bait set.

1.  Den entrances for cottontail rabbits. The best way to learn how to trap, is wait until first snow and track the rabbit to its den hole. Then place the #110 over the hole at whatever the angle of the hole is. You may have to make a small stabilizing stick on the spot. Place two 2-3″ long approximately 1″ diameter sticks on the bottom jaw this will keep the trapping from freezing to the ground. Take the chain off to one side, out-of-the-way and wire it to a tree or handy branch. The next time a rabbit comes out or in the hole, he is caught.
2.  Heavy brush piles will have a beaten path in the snow where the rabbits run and hide. Pick the spot with the most tracks and find a spot that is just about the size of the trap, all narrowed down with a top stick to keep the rabbits from jumping over. Place the trap there, if you have to you can add a couple of side sticks to help narrow it down and a top stick. Set the trap upright, so if the rabbit wants to get in the brush pile his only choice is through the trap.
3. Another way to get rabbits — and this will work on all rabbits — is with an old stove-pipe 6″ in diameter. Take a piece 12″ to 24″ long and cut a notch in the side for the spring to slide in, about 3″ long, then bend the pipe down a little smaller, then the trap on both ends. Now, you slide the trap in making sure it fits snug, two traps, one on each end. Test to make sure there is enough room for the trigger to fire. Always test your pipe with a trap in it first. You may have to take a stick or two to close off the end opposite the spring, just make sure that the only way to get in the pipe is through the trap.

This stove-pipe trap will work on squirrels , muskrats, ducks, rabbits, anything that can fit in the pipe and your bait attracts. Now wire the chain off to something solid. Place near berry bushes in the woods for rabbits and game birds. Around marshes, lakes, river, streams, etc. for muskrats, ducks, etc. All you do is take bait such as corn and make a trail going in each end to a pile of corn in the middle of the pipe. Of course, remove the trap before you place the corn in!! Pheasants, grouse, quail, etc. will go in for the corn, so will coons , so make sure you wire it off to something solid or the coon will run off with the trap. A big coon will just power his head out but smaller coons will be alive and in a bad mood when you arrive. I don’t think the trap would kill a pheasant, but I know it will flatten the smaller game birds. Check the trap once a day. Mice will steal the bait so don’t get upset, just re-bait or move the trap.
Pasted from:

 New traps
When you buy new traps they are coated in a grease. You need to remove this. I wash them well with dish soap and scrub, others simply place new traps in the dishwasher.

After removing the grease, adjust the traps. The pan is the part an animal steps on to fire the trap on their paw. There is a screw that adjusts how much pressure is needed to fire the trap. You need to adjust this so the pressure is not too light and not too heavy. You will want it a little heavy for coyotes though, and very light for raccoons and between this for foxes. Foxes – take 1-2 pounds of pressure to fire the trap, raccoons 1 pound or less, coyotes 3-4 pounds except small coyotes such as Texas ones, same as fox.

The dog is the metal piece that fits into the notch on the pan that holds the trap in the set position until an animal steps on the pan. The dog must fit into the notch properly and allow the trap to fire quickly. The pan notch can be filed to make the notch much smaller, this allows a crisper firing of the trap. Also the pan must be level with the set jaws, not sticking up or too low. If the pan is setting too high when set, bend the base that the dog is attached to, inward.

After making these adjustments, set the traps outside to get a light rust coating. Once rusted you can dye in walnut hulls or logwood crystals. Logwood can be purchased from a trap supplier and has directions on the bag. Walnut hulls- just collect a bunch of them and put in a big pot of water. Put your light rust coated traps in the pot with either the logwood or walnut hulls and simmer for 30-45 mins.

Once they have taken the dye you can remove the traps and hang them up to dry. After dry you can either use as is or wax them as well. Waxing helps keep the dye on and resists further rusting if the traps are set in the ground a while to try to catch an animal. Waxing involves clean white paraffin wax melted down and kept below the boiling point, and the traps are immersed in it until the traps have taken the wax on as a thin coat, and no more white shows on the traps in the wax dip, from the wax. Remove the trap and hang to cool, when cooled, remove the wax on the tip of the dog and the trap pan notch.

Staking traps
In areas where coyote may be caught – always double stake or use a large grapple with long chain or heavy drag ( both of which require some tracking of a caught animal and also require suitable brush for said animal to tangle in), or a cable stake such as sold in the supply catalogs. Make sure all staking connections are strong. Do not just wire the end of the trap chain to something.
Foxes– a single 24″ rebar stake with a welded nut or washer top is all you need,driven through the swivel end on the trap chain, unless there are some coyotes in your area, then see above.
Raccoons, same as fox, however in water I use the trappers tie wire sold in the catalogs, 11 ga or 14 ga (use 11 always if you have big coons such as in New England or the lakes). I will wire the trap chain end to a drag such as a cement block.
Bobcats– often coyotes live in the same area, so stake as for coyotes, or use the grapple or drag system if you have the brush and extra time to track.












.For further information read: Buckshot’s Complete Survival Trapping Guide © 2009 by Bruce ‘Buckshot’ Hemming, published by Bruce Hemming, Gackle, ND, 157 pages.

C.   Simple Survival Snares
Pasted from:
When it comes to procuring meat in the wild, you will have to work for your next meal. Usually, it takes a lot of work and then you will most likely have to lower your meat standards a bit. You may prefer beef, but in the field, you will be lucky if you dine on squirrel or rabbit. Animals are difficult for the inexperienced hunter to catch. They are very shy of man and often their senses are highly tuned toward survival. However, you can trap most small game, if you know what you are doing.

There are all kinds of traps that can be made in the bush. Some use boulders, huge logs, deep pits, and so on. Those are more work than they are worth. Well, at least they are for the average person who needs meat quickly and is not hoping for a lion, bear or other large game. We will concentrate on small game. Mainly because they are easier to trap and they are more abundant. Not to mention, they are less dangerous to catch.

The most common method of catching small game is by using snares. Snares can be made using line, cord, wire, or even vines. I can tell you from experience, it will take a lot of traps to yield one animal. Unless you get lucky and discover a place that is full of small game! I recommend you set them out by the dozens and check them first thing each morning. Try to find small game trails, which are small trails through the grass and weeds. Often, rabbits and other small game use the same trails over and over to move to food and water sources. Like man, they are creatures of habit. You may also find trails that lead into briar patches, thorn bushes and other types of brush. Small game uses those types of places as protection, or places to hide. They are good places to put a snare as well.

Snares can be purchased ready-made, with a locking loop. Or, if you prefer, you can make you own from wire, string, cord or vines. I have found wire to work the best and as you may have guessed, vines work less effectively. But, in a survival situation, if you don’t have an item with you, then you must use what Mother Nature provides, or do without. I carry about 50 feet of snare wire and about 25 feet of parachute 550 cord. The parachute cord is nylon and has strands of smaller “string-like” cords inside. I simply cut the cord and remove a single strand of the smaller cord and use it to make my snares with. It is small, light, and very strong.

When making a snare there are two very common designs. One type of design simply holds the animal at ground level and may or may not strangle the victim. The second design will flip the animal into the air and hold the carcass off of the ground. Of course as the animal is held off of the ground it is strangled to death. While they are both are easy to make, each design has strengths and weaknesses.

Both designs require the loop in the wire, cord, string, or vine, to tighten and hold the animal. The loop (see the illustration) should be free moving. This free movement allows the loop to tighten as the animal struggles or moves forward into the snare. With the flip-up design, movement of the wire will trigger the device and fling the animal into the air, which using the animal’s body weight tightens the loop. Make sure the loop has free movement.

In both types of snares you should set the loop diameter for the type of animal you hope to catch. I am using the most common small game here, due to the fact that they are most abundant. Additionally, keep in mind that different animals require the loop diameter to be different sizes and to be placed at different heights on the game trail.

  • Rabbits: the loop should be about four inches in diameter and placed about two inches above the trail.
  • Squirrels: the loop should be about three inches in diameter and two to three inches above the trail.
  • Beavers: make the loop about five inches in diameter and place it about one to two inches off of the ground.

For the holding snare, let’s say for a rabbit, you make a loop (about four inches in diameter) and place it about two inches above the center of the game trail. Make sure the end of the snare wire, opposite the loop, is secured to a bush, stake, or other stationary object. Make sure what you use to secure the snare cannot be pulled away by the animal. Then, if needed, use brush, logs or other debris to make a funnel toward your snare. In other words, force the animal to the snare and do not allow them to go around it. Since most animals will continue to use a trail they have used daily, this should not be a big issue. But, by using the tunneling affect the game will usually continue down the known trail. The animal’s head will then enter the loop and as it continues to move forward the loop will slide and become smaller. Eventually the loop will be so small is size the animal cannot get out. Any struggling will only tighten the loop. Thus, you have dinner.

In the flip-up snare the principle is the same as far as tunneling the animal. The difference is when the animal’s head enters the snare it will eventually pulls the wire far enough to trigger the flip up part of the trap. At that point the animal will be flipped into the air and strangled. The diameter of the loop and the distances off the ground remain the same in this snare as in the other.

To make a trip snare, you need a flexible limb or bush, the snare wire, a trigger and a method to hold the trigger. The illustration shows a couple of examples. I do not recommend this type of snare in extreme cold because the flexible part of the trap often freezes in place and does not function as a spring any longer. If the weather is really cold use the standard holding snare.

[Above: Various snare, deadfall and spring traps.]

I stated early in this article to check your traps each morning. This is important to remember. Some animals, if snared by the leg, will actually chew the limb off to get out of the trap. While I have no problems snaring my dinner, I do not want to cause pain or suffering to any animal. My goal is to kill the animal so I can survive, not to inflict pain.

When you approach the snare you will usually see right off if it has an animal. If an animal is there, use a club or spear to kill it instantly. Most animals caught in a snare will be dead already, but be prepared. The choice of ‘how’ is yours, but keep in mind to kill quickly. Many animals, even small game, will be capable of inflicting pain on the person checking the snare. They may bite, scratch or claw you.

For some of you, snaring an animal may not be a very pleasant task. It may prove to be even more difficult to kill an animal so you can eat. In today’s society we are rarely involved in the processing of our meals and it can be a shocker for some folks. I can understand your views, but in an emergency, you will need the fats and protein the animal will provide. Something must die so you may live. Survival is not a game. In a real survival situation your life may very well depend on your ability to snare game, eat insects, or even the eating of certain plants you may not like. It is necessary for your survival. Can you do what it takes to survive? Can you make a snare?

Snare Cable sizing
We offer a full line of snaring products in six diameters of steel cable and two diameters of stainless steel cable.  The cable sizes with our Thompson Snare size reference number are listed below along with recommendations for use to capture various species of animals.

Size:     Cable Diameter:               Target Animal:
00         1/32 inch stainless        very small game and birds
0            1/16 inch                         mink, bobcat, small raccoon, rabbit, fox
1             5/64 inch                        bobcat, fox, lynx, coyote, large raccoon
2             3/32 inch                       beaver, otter, lynx coyote
3             7/64 inch                       cougar, medium bear, wolf, alligator
4             1/8  inch                         cougar, large black bear, wolf, crocodile
5             5/32 inch                        large black, grizzly & Kodiak bears
4SS        1/8  inch stainless        feral hogs, alligator

When properly set, Thompson Snares are guaranteed to hold the animal which they are recommended.  Many professional ‘snaremen’ have used smaller sizes with excellent results.

See also Dave Canterbury’s web site, The Pathfinder School at:

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