How to Build a Small Game Snare

A snare is a trap that traps animals by using a noose and trigger. In Survival, you can make your own customizable game snares with items found around the world. Here are some examples of how to build different kinds of snares for hunting small game or as defenses against larger predators.

The “how to make a homemade snare” is a way for you to hunt animals and collect their meat. You need to build the snares in advance, but once it’s up and running, it will take care of itself.

Survival snare for hunting in wilderness.

Note from the editor: This is a guest article from Willow Haven Outdoor’s Creek Stewart.

I train and master survival skills not because I’ll need them every day, but because there will come a day when I’ll need them to keep alive. The junction of knowledge and need is survival. Practicing survival skills before you need them may have a big impact on the outcome of a survival situation. How to Build a Small Game Survival Snare is one such technique that demands careful practice. In a survival crisis, a basic makeshift snare may be used to catch and kill a variety of animals for food. This fundamental idea may also be adapted and utilized as a “man-trap” or “perimeter alarm,” two typical guerrilla warfare tactics.

While building a survival snare is pretty straightforward, it is sometimes oversimplified with ambiguous directions and few illustrations. By the end of this piece, you’ll know the who, what, why, when, where, and how of the most basic and effective survival snare ever devised. This may come in handy if your expertise comes into contact with a pressing need.

The Why

Food is not a vital need for short-term survival (1-7 days). Shelter, water, fire, and signaling are usually the most pressing issues. However, you must provide calories to the human furnace at some point or endure the crippling effects of famine.

To the best of my knowledge, there isn’t a single primitive civilization, tribe, or people for whom meat isn’t or wasn’t an important part of their diet. Modern technology, farming, transportation, food processing, supplements, and intricate supply networks allow us to avoid eating meat if we so want. When these indulgences are taken away for a lengthy period of time, meat calories become vital for survival. Gathering wild plant consumables alone would be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to provide adequate calories in a primitive survival scenario–especially in cold weather locations or seasons.

In any survival crisis, time and energy conservation are equally critical considerations. This is why snares are so useful in survival situations. A snare, once built and set, will enable you to concentrate on other survival concerns. It will also continue to function when you are asleep. You can hunt in 10 distinct areas at the same time using 10 snares while using ZERO energy. You transform into a one-man hunting party. A survivor’s hidden weapon is a snare. Snares are not only very dependable and effective, but they also need relatively little resources to construct–in terms of materials, energy, and time.

The Who

Before you invest time and effort making and setting a trap, you must first figure out who (or, in this instance, which animal) your snare will be aimed at. Small game provides your greatest chance of success in terms of survival. While the snare design I’ll show you may be built up to trap big game animals like deer, it’s more practical to target smaller game species like rabbits, squirrels, and ground-dwelling birds like quail or grouse. This trap may also be customized to catch fish for you. Smaller game animals are not only simpler to capture and field dress, but you can set many small game snares with the same amount of time and materials as one bigger snare. Snare drum placement is a numbers game. The more snares you place, the more likely you are to succeed.


When and where will it happen?

This snare may be used in almost any climate or location on any continent. It may be used at any time of year and is equally effective at night and day. I can’t conceive of an area where you couldn’t use some variation of it to capture small wildlife, from the desert to the rain forest.

Having said that, placing snares across the woods is a waste of time and energy. Snares are most successful when deliberately placed in-line with existing small game pathways, even if they may be baited to attract animals. The center of this trap is a noose, which should be positioned across a regularly visited small game trail or shelter entrance such as a den or burrow, as shown in the HOW portion of this page.

To be effective, you must be able to interpret the forest or terrain you are in. You must search for indicators of small game activity and traffic. Scat (debris), tracks, rubs, scratches, evidence of eating, shelter or burrow openings, food and water supplies, and well-traveled game pathways are examples of these signals.

I went for a stroll in the woods here at Willow Haven Outdoor and got some images of some obvious animal signals that would attract the attention of a passing survivor. Try to spot the minor gaming action in the following photos:

Small animal burrow of animal in the forest.

Animal tracks through snow woods.

Animal tracking path in snow.

Animal scat on the forest leaves.

Animal scat on log in the forest.

View of mud in forest.

Forest leaves around dirty mud.

Walking way in forest.

The optimal location for the trap described in the next section is across a well-used small game trail. These trails, known as “runs,” usually lead to water and food sources from the nest, refuge, or den. Animals are the ultimate survivors, and they also follow the survival principle of conserving energy. As a result, multiple animals may often follow the same track or road. Snares carefully placed along the route of least resistance may be quite effective.

Finally… What is it and how does it work?

Hundreds of different snare setups and designs exist, some of which are extremely complicated. It should be the Trigger Spring Snare if you only learn one snare design in your life. I wish I could claim credit for the design, but it goes back to the dawn of time and has been utilized by primitive people all throughout the globe in many forms. It’s been tried and true throughout time, in the field, and in the wild. It’s my go-to kit for survival snares.

The Trigger Spring Snare is made up of four parts that may be found in almost every survival circumstance. These are the elements:

  1. The Noose (made of cordage, preferably wire)
  2. The Two-Phase Trigger (carved from wood)
  3. Line of the Leader (also made from some kind of cordage)
  4. The Power Plant (typically a bent over sapling)

The Noose

The noose accomplishes precisely what you’d expect it to do: it ties the animal up. Wire is the most effective noose material. There are a variety of wire kinds that will work. Flexible wire is required. It can’t be too brittle or thick. It must tighten readily and fast when tugged on when put in the form of a noose (shown later). Here are a few examples:


  • Inside an ordinary light or small appliance power line, twisted copper strands
  • Consider the cable that hangs from the ceiling.
  • Wire that has been stripped from an automobile or a vehicle’s electrical system
  • Wire for crafts
  • Wire for headphones
  • A spiral-bound note pad’s wire
  • A spring that has not been coiled (such as in a ballpoint click pen)
  • Bras with wire reinforcement
  • Electronics such as toys, phones, and radios have wires within them.

Using noose for building snare hunting.

If wire isn’t accessible, a string or cable will have to do. It must be capable of supporting a 5-8 pound animal. If it snaps after a few of jerks between your fists, it’s probably not going to work.

Man jerking the wire.

Here are a few more cordage options:

  • The 550 Parachute Cord inner strands
  • Strings on shoes
  • Dental floss is used to clean the teeth.
  • Line for fishing
  • Webbing that is not woven
  • Strong stitching material, such as that used to join leather and outdoor products including handbags, wallets, phone cases, belts, coats, and backpacks together.

Rope samples for building snare hunting.

There are various natural flora and tree bark fibers that may be fashioned into acceptable cordage if no contemporary wire or cordage is available. The following plants/trees make great cordage plants/trees:

  • Milkweed
  • Dogbane
  • Stinging nettle is a kind of nettle that stings when
  • Many interior tree barks, such as cedar and elm, have been studied.
  • Palm
  • Cattail

Several cords created by reverse wrapping plant and tree bark fibers are shown below. Remember that this trap was employed by prehistoric societies for hundreds of years without the use of modern wire or rope. It will require more effort and expertise, but it is definitely doable.

Rope cordage with bark strings for snare hunting.

For most small game species, your noose rope should be 18-24 inches in length. Make a tiny loop at one end of the noose, about the diameter of a pencil, to start. You may create the loop using wire by twisting it back on itself multiple times.

Folding wire with pencil.

To seal the loop, fold the end of the thread back on itself and make an overhand knot.

Knot the strip with pencil length.

Then, to make your noose, thread the other end of the cord/wire through the loop. The tag end is then connected to your trigger, as seen in the next section.

Lines of Trigger and Leader

The HOOK and the BASE are the two pieces of the trigger. The LEADER LINE is connected to the top of the HOOK, and the NOOSE is tied to the bottom of the HOOK, as shown in the picture below. Until an animal disengages it by tugging on the NOOSE, the ENGINE (usually a bent over sapling) delivers strain to the HOOK, which is fastened beneath the BASE. Any sort of cordage may be used as the LEADER LINE from the HOOK to the ENGINE. It must be capable of withstanding the initial “spring jerk” as well as the weight of the hung (and struggling) animal.

The anatomy of snare hunting illustration.

Several Changes to the Trigger

Don’t restrict yourself to one certain model when it comes to this kind of trigger. Many different methods may be used to get the same outcome. In a survival situation, you may have to improvise. It’s the principle that’s crucial. I’ve put up a few trigger tweaks to offer you some ideas.



Carved noose for snare hunting in forest.

Two firm wood sticks are used to craft this trigger design. Take note of the trigger system’s BASE, which is anchored into the ground. The 550 paracord inner strands are used to make the noose in the picture above. Another carved trigger snare is shown below. The copper wires from within an old lamp cable were used to build this noose, which makes for an excellent noose material. Take note of how I’ve utilized twigs to keep my noose in place. This may help you maintain your noose in the precise spot you want it.

Carved noose for snare hunting.


Y stick noose for snare hunting.

This trigger needs very little carving—all you need to do is pick two sticks that branch in the right places and let nature take care of the rest. The noose in this shot is created from raffia palm tree fibers. This BASE is anchored to the earth as well.


Peg style noose for snare hunting.

The HOOK of this trigger system is fixed on a peg or nail that you may put in a nearby log, stump, or tree, rather than having a BASE that is anchored in the ground. I’ve even built triggers that attach to surrounding rock ledges. A “baited trigger” is also visible in this image. To attract an animal through the noose, I sharpened the bottom of the hook and attached a piece of bait (raisin). The HOOK disengages as soon as the bait is interfered with. To get to a baited trigger, the animal must push its head through the noose.

Modifications to Fishing

The same trigger snare idea may be used to fishing with a hook and line. Attach your fishing line to the bottom of the HOOK TRIGGER instead of using a noose. The ENGINE will pull and place the hook in the fish’s mouth when a fish tugs your line and disengages the trigger. Make sure the TRIGGER HOOK is just barely positioned so that the ENGINE engages with the smallest pull from a nibbling fish. See the figure below for further information:

Trigger snare modified for fishing illustration.

The Power Plant

Every setting is distinct and distinct. Along a game track, there may not be a sapling to bend over. Alternatively, you may be in the midst of a grassland or field with no trees at all. If that’s the case, you’ll have to improvise. This may be accomplished in a variety of ways. To use as an ENGINE, just cut down a green sapling or branch from another location and stake it in the ground. To achieve the same result, weight your LEADER LINE and run it over a branch or makeshift tripod. I’ve weighted the LEADER LINE with a 10 pound rock to provide tension to the TRIGGER in the shot below. This is a 100% primitive snare set, with a LEADER LINE fashioned from root bark and a NOOSE created from braided cattail leaves.


Binding weight with noose for trigger in forest.

I utilized a similar approach with the set below, however I built a makeshift tripod to act as an anchor point for the LEADER LINE. The LEADER LINE is a high-visibility 550 paracord in this case.

Tripod noose is ready for snare hunting.

Your ENGINE (sapling, branch, or weighted system) should be capable of suspending a small game animal in the air. This ensures a speedier and more compassionate death, as well as keeping your catch out of the hands of other predators who would be quite interested in a free meal. If in unsure, use a 6-8 pound boulder or log to test your snare ENGINE.


Without a TRIGGER or ENGINE, the NOISE from this snare system may be a very effective snare. A trigger mechanism may not be required if the tag end of the NOOSE is secured to a stake or tree and placed across a burrow/nest entrance or a well-traveled small game run. Snaring rabbits with this approach is highly popular. It doesn’t get much more straightforward than this. However, in many circumstances, you should expect to see a living animal when you return. See the graphic below for further information.

Snare hunting illustration.

Controlling the Flow of Traffic

To preserve energy, animals will usually choose the route of least resistance, as I explained previously. Arrange twigs, logs, mud, pebbles, or other items in such a manner that the animal is funneled into your snare NOOSE to take advantage of this.

If at all possible, try to keep the place as quiet as possible. It’s best if you keep it as natural as possible. Animals rely on INSTINCT to live, and they will respond if anything is out of place. Their home is the forest, which they know well. Leave as little trace as possible of your actions.


I’ll wrap off this essay with a list of Survival Snaring Rules that I follow and recommend to you.

  • Survival snares are used in emergency scenarios. Otherwise, makeshift snares are prohibited.
  • The more snares you place, the more likely you are to succeed.
  • Disable any snares you’ve established before leaving an area.
  • If possible, check your snare setups numerous times a day–especially in hot weather. It’s possible that your catch may spoil or be scavenged by other predators. And, if you’re dealing with a living animal, you don’t want it to suffer any longer than necessary.
  • Eat it if you kill it. The only exception is a sick animal.
  • Remains of previously snared animals, particularly entrails, offer good bait for additional snares.
  • Snaring an animal provides more than just meat as a survival resource. It is possible to utilize the hide. The brains of most animals are sufficient to brain-tan their own skin. Tools, hooks, and spear points may all be made from of bones. Lashings and cordage may be made from of intestines, sinew, and leather. Make use of as much of the animal as you can. It has sacrificed its life for your sake.

In my survival pack and Bug Out Bag, I have a few ready-made wire snares. They’re quite light and take up very little room. Wire, on the other hand, is a multipurpose kit component that may be utilized for a range of jobs.


The key to survival is to be well-rounded in a range of abilities that may assist you meet fundamental needs–and FOOD is unquestionably one of them in a prolonged survival situation. Energy saving is critical, and snares for food security are a wise use of time and resources. I hope you learned something new from this article.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN that matters.


Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN that matters.

Creek Stewart teaches at Willow Haven Outdoor School for Survival, Preparedness, and Bushcraft as a Senior Instructor. Creek’s life’s work is to educate, share, and preserve outdoor survival and living skills. Creek’s book Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit is also available. Visit Willowhaven Outdoor for additional information.



The “best small game traps” is a guide that will teach you how to build a snare for catching small animals.

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