Hunting

I’ve always had an interest in primitive hunting and trapping as its one of the earliest examples of mechanical engineering e.g. windlasses, springs, pulleys and levers. The selection of materials with the correct properties to meet requirements e.g. wood, bone or stone. This interest is purely theoretical as I have never used these techniques in the wild. I would also add that in normal situations you should NOT use these techniques in the UK as some are illegal and others require the correct permits, licenses or the land owners permissions. Back to Index

Cage Traps
This type of live capture cage trap is also known as a coop or old English cribbett trap, designed to catch ground birds e.g. pheasant, quail etc, however I guess it could equally be used to catch other types of birds if positioned and baited correctly e.g. pigeons etc. The basic principle is that the cage is placed on a flat piece of ground with one edge propped up using a trigger mechanism to form an opening. Bait is either attached to this trigger or sprinkled around it such that when activated the cage falls to the ground capturing the bird. Different countries have their own variation on this trap, typically dictated by what construction materials are available. The cage is made from stacking branches on top of each other to form a pyramid, the base varying in size from 15" to 36" depending on what size of bird is being trapped. In this example the initial base is made from branches about 1" thick, the corner joints are stabilised using a simple slot or a more stable butterfly notch (more difficult to align), secured using a Japanese square lashing (cordage section). Tip, I found that to make a reliable trap the base needs to be very rigid, to achieve this two back corner braces are used as shown in figure 9.2.0. The sides of the trap are then made by alternatively stacking pairs of branches one on top of another, each layer moved inwards by 1" to form a pyramid. In this example 28 sticks are used, the larger the sticks the less required, in practice it can be difficult to find a good supply of uniform braches i.e. slightly bent, tapered etc. Note, some books recommend that the bottom two layers should be stacked directly on top of each other before starting to move the branches inwards.

Figure 9.2.0 : Cage construction There are a number of different methods of securing the branches to form the cage. This structure is naturally unstable i.e. a tower constructed of rollers, therefore, the most secure method is to individually lash each joint. However, this requires a lot of cordage, approximately one to two metres per lashing i.e. for this example at least 28m, a lot of cord if it has to be made by hand. A number of different techniques are commonly used to reduce the amount of cordage required, as shown in figure 9.2.1. The top frame of figure 9.2.1 uses a single sprung bar to apply downwards pressure, holding the branches in position. Tip, I found this technique worked best when a larger log was used to provide a pivot point, if not the downwards force is not applied equally making the cage unstable, also ensure that at each joint the branches overlap by about 2" so that if there is any movement within the cage its structure is maintained. The bottom frame of figure 9.2.1 uses a windlass to generate the downwards pressure. A cord is attached to each corner and feed up the inside of the cage through a top bar with a small hole cut through it. This bar has two bottom slots to hold it in position on the cage and a top slot to prevent the tensioning bars from unwinding. An alternative configuration is to attach the cord to the middle of each base branch, the cord can then be feed up the inside of the cage or weaved through the side branches, helping to hold them in position (maybe). Tip, this cord needs to be very strong, in this example a three strand plait was used, as significant force is applied to the cord when the tensioning bar is twisted, also tie these cords quite tight otherwise you need to apply a lot of twisted to achieve the required pressure.

Figure 9.2.1 : Securing cage side branches To hold this cage open and present the bait to the bird a trigger mechanism is required. The classic figure four trigger is shown in figure 9.2.2, bait being pushed onto the tip of the trigger bar (positioned under the cage) or sprinkled around it, to increase the probability of the bird bumping into it. There are a number of different methods of making this mechanism, the best one I have been shown is based on a split branch. This naturally forms the two flat surfaces required to make the central latch. Note, the central slot carved into the horizontal trigger bar should be wider than the main upright, otherwise when the end of the trigger bar is pulled up there will be insufficient movement within the trigger to allow it to activate. Tip, most books show the diagonal element at 45 degrees, this increases leverage on the central latch, making it less sensitive. Increasing this angle allows most of the force to be directed down the vertical support, reducing the pressure on the latch making the trigger a lot easier to trip. One problem with this mechanism is that it will not activate (less sensitive) if the tip of the trigger bar is pulled down or pushed towards the vertical element. In these situation if there is sufficient pressure within the central latch the whole mechanism can be pushed aside

without tripping. Where possible the central element should be pushed into the ground a bit to prevent it from rotating. Figure 9.2.3 shows a couple of variant on the classic figure four trigger design. This version uses the full width of the split branch reducing the pressure on the central pivot. This design is also activated by up, down, left and right movements of the trigger bar. Tip, to increase sensitivity the notches in the trigger bar should be quite shallow (up/down triggering), also the back latching point should be quite narrow (left/right triggering). The last two frames in this picture show a modification to this design using a slot instead of a cut out, improving the strength of the vertical element. Tip, the slot should be slightly wider than the trigger bar and deep enough to allow the trigger bar to move freely within the vertical element. Otherwise, when the trigger is activated the trigger bar can be snapped by the falling cage.

Figure 9.2.2 : Classic figure four trigger

The main force in the trigger mechanism is transferred through the trigger bar. having sufficient pressure to hold itself in position. most books show this hoop reaching out to the edge of the cage. Note.e. The top frame illustrates a non-baited trigger relying on the bird bumping into or standing on a strung hoop. these notches should be quite shallow and rounded.Figure 9. The branch forming the hoop is placed against the base uprights. The trigger bar is made from a thin flexible stick. The main upright uses a forked stick to form a pivot.e. This is again an non-baited trigger relying on the bird bumping into or .2. the hoop is under the cage. the top trigger bar can also have a small notch carved into it to help hold it in place. tying a small stick at the base of the split to hold it open. this notch is not intended to take the full load of the trigger mechanism it only helps stop the trigger bar from slipping i.4 shows the trigger mechanisms commonly used by an old English cribbett trap. The bottom trigger bar has a deep notch carved into it. to help hold this stick in position a small notch can be carved into its tip and the hoop.3 : Variant on figure four trigger Figure 9. if one of the correct size can not be found the top of a straight branch can be split. so that when triggered the bird’s body will be fully in the cage. this hoop was made a little shorter i. Note. A variant on this design is shown in the bottom frame using two trigger bars having a "7" or hook like shape. pushing it down and into the bottom hoop.2.

also don’t carve the bottom notch to close to the end as cracking can occur as the wood dries causing the back of the notch to snap off. this trigger can be a little difficult to set. Tip.standing on the bottom trigger bar. however. I have also seen a version with a small square board attached to the middle of the bottom bar onto which bait can be placed. . changing the position and angle of the main upright can also help.

5. Works well but a lot more work than the other examples. The idea was to try and take advantage of the principles of levers in order to reduce the pressure on the trigger mechanism i.2. The final trigger shown in figure 9. haven’t seen it in a book). "Y" or "7".e. a triangular shaped bar placed into a corresponding slot in the main upright. This is held in position using your thumb and finger whilst the retaining rod is placed in position. doesn’t have the simple elegance of the other mechanisms. Also to make it out of straight branches so that you didn’t have to spend a lot of time looking for specially shaped branches i.2.e.Figure 9.e. this design uses a . The cage is help open by a bar pivoting in a slot. the front and back faces carved out to allow the bar to rotate down about this point. to make it more sensitive. wedged between the back of the cage and the trigger. A connecting rod links this bar to the bottom trigger.5 is one of my own design (maybe. perhaps could be classified as a complex trigger.1 is based on a design from the Paiute Indian’s (I think). i.2.4 : Old English cribbett trap trigger mechanisms The trigger mechanism in figure 9.

length of string and a toggle bar held in position with a retaining rod. making this trigger particularly sensitive.2.5 : A more complex trigger . Figure 9.

In the original text. this being pushed through the cage and baited. using a trigger bar between the back of the cage and the front forked upright. such that when a bird pulls at the bait the toggle bar is released triggering the trap. A lever bar is placed into the forked stick.1. bait being tied to this bar at the back of the cage. . the front upright should be placed well in front of the cage and angled towards it. The angle of this bar can be adjusted to increase or decrease the sensitivity of the trigger mechanism.6. An interesting alternative to the traditional front style trigger mechanisms is shown in figure 9.5. The trigger mechanism holds the cage open without requiring any obstacles in front of the cage. this bar is rotated i.Figure 9. To adjust the lever bar angle. a wooden loop and toggle bar tied via a length of string attached to a fixed point on the ground. This example is from Thailand (I think). A ‘T’ shaped trigger bar holds the back toggle bar in place.2.e.1 : Paiute Indian trigger A variation on the Paiute Indian trigger is shown in figure 9. with a connecting string and toggle bar providing enough pressure to hold the trigger bar in place.2.2. this bar was baited with a live cricket. This mechanism is from Sudan. increasing or decreasing its length. wrapping the string around it. Note.6. such that when the trap is triggered it does not stop the cage falling to the ground.

6 : Trigger mechanism from Sudan .2.Figure 9.

increasing the risk that the trapped bird could over turn it. the two flat faces aligned. To trigger this mechanism a loop of cord is wrapped around the front upright and the back of the cage forming a trip cord behind which a bait is placed.e.2. didn’t have any flexible wands available. as shown in figure 9. used split Bamboo as I made this in the winter.1 : Trigger mechanism from Muong Moun A different style of front trigger mechanism is shown in figure 9.2. the friction between these surfaces holding the two bars together.1. push the knife tip into both sides of each slot to encourage the split to run down the middle of the branch. The lower bar has a flat back with a step cut into. The advantage of this approach is that it’s a lot quicker to make. Then push the tip of a knife into the base of one of these slots i.7.Figure 9. also shown in this diagram a large stone is tied to the top of the cage to help hold the cage down. This example is based on a Maya Indian design from Mexico. The disadvantage of this style of trap is its reduced weight. in some drawings the trip cord is placed around the lower bar. This uses the same wooden base as the previous example with two short lengths of split Bamboo and a 2" mesh net to form the cage.e. a shorter bottom bar produces a more stable trigger mechanism. Tip. This means that when the trap is . Tip. To overcome this problem thicker side branches could be used i. otherwise would have used Willow.6. Into which a split stick is placed forming the main upright i.7. also a quicker methods of producing this trigger is to saw two.2. to encourage a split to form between these two slots. An alternative to building the cage from overlapping sticks is to use a net. assuming you already have a net. Note. forming the required 'L' shaped sections.e. Note. These can be trimmed to the required lengths. when the split starts to form bending the stick helps. the top and bottom branches would remain the same. half depth slots approximately 4" apart on either side of a thumb thick stick. at 90 degrees to it.

Disadvantage. as shown in the top right frame of figure 9. rather than being pushed to the side. this could have been due to the implementation I was using. Another variation on this theme is the inverted Samson’s post trigger mechanism as shown in figure 9. which can prevent it from cleanly triggering. keeping the trap propped open. Another disadvantage is that it couldn’t be used to trap other prey e.4 (sure its been designed before. Also the base of the trigger stick that comes into contact with the stone or wooden post can be carved flat.2. which have the advantage of being more resilient than string.2. to prevent the trigger bar from rotating and to make the whole mechanism more stable cut a shallow 'V' into the top of the main upright as shown in the bottom left frame of figure 9.4. Reading around there are quite a few examples of cages woven from flexible wooden wands or vines.7. is cut into the end of the top stick to prevent the lower trigger stick sliding up. or rest upon the ground. Note. First cut out a top notch large enough to hold the top branch of the cage.open most of this extra weight is transferred through the side branched to ground and not through the trigger. To increase the probability of the trigger bar being knocked off. To help ensure this occurs the trigger bar is typically placed on a stone or a wooden post hammered into the ground. In the YouTube video the trigger mechanism was made from a straight stick approximately finger thickness. increasing its surface areas. again helping to prevent the trigger bar from spinning.2. also the stone or the wooded block can be pushed into the ground to remove one turning surface. a '7' shape. rabbits as they could easily chew through the netting. found this trigger mechanism again quite sensitive to the wind.3. the main upright is dislodged causing the cage to fall. Experimenting with different triggers I’ve come up with another alternative design as shown in figure 9.2. otherwise there is a danger that it will just move straight down. you need to keep the split running true for the entire length of the stick. All of this increases the probability that the upright will fall off to the side.2. I found this to be a particular problem in windy location.7. This additional height above the ground allows the main upright to twist sideways. and the trigger bar was left round with a short split in its end into which the bait was inserted. A common trigger mechanism used in dead fall traps is the Samson’s post as shown in figure 9. which would reduce its sensitivity. Another disadvantage of this trigger is that as the load is transferred directly through the main upright onto the trigger bar the two surfaces can become fused together.7.2. This doesn’t prevent the trigger bar rotating but it does improve its stability. The top stick is angled such that when the .7. swinging the trigger bar into the net. The key to this trigger is to impart a twisting motion on the main upright as it falls. An advantage of this arrange is that the trigger stick can not become snagged.g. a split trigger bar is shown in the bottom frame of figure 9.2. to get to bait under it or remove bait on it.e.4. Alternatively using a knife tip a ball and socket joint can be carved as shown in the bottom right frame of figure 9.2.2. take your time.3. Also you don’t need to find a piece with forks or side branches of particular sizes or shapes.e. but I don’t have a reference). This forms the two halves of the trigger. "Making a Box Trap – Live Pheasants" by northernpike56. flat. Tip.7.2. a small notch i.e.3. Tip. As with the Mexico trigger use the tip of a knife to split down the length of the stick.7. The main advantage of this trigger is that it can be made from a single piece of wood. can be pushed to the side. This trigger carries the full weight of the cage down the main upright onto an angled trigger bar. First saw this example in a YouTube video. it was quite common for the trigger bar to be blown to the side without triggering the trap. When placed in position the weight of the cage is passed down through the main upright. Note. Approximately an inch below this saw a slot as shown in the top left frame of figure 9. such that the trigger bar will swivel around the upright without triggering i. To help prevent this hardwoods can be used.e.7. the top stick holds the trap open and is held in place by a lower trigger stick. The intent being that when the prey moves this trigger i. As for the previous examples the bait is tied to the end of the trigger stick or placed beneath it.7. The top of the main upright was cut square i.

This means that due to the leverage of the top stick the lower trigger stick requires very little pressure to hold the trap open. Note. increasing the chance of triggering the trap early. making the trigger more sensitive.5. but also very sensitive.7. Disadvantage of this trigger mechanism is that the trigger bars a quite near the front of the cage.5. the back of the top notch pushing down on the main upright causing it to fall downwards springing the trap. the tips of the trigger bars are split and interlocked. this minimizes the area the top stick can swivel on. An alternative to this is a double trigger bar as shown in figure 9. In the example shown in figure 9.2. Found this example in another YouTube video "Building and setting an Arapuca live bird trap" by Colhane. if this isn’t done the second trigger bar may not be moved preventing the trap from being triggered.7. Note.e.2.7 : Trigger mechanism from Mexico . possibly preventing the trap triggering cleanly. by the feeding bird. interlink the two trigger bars such that when one is knocked down it dislodges the second.lower trigger stick is dislodged i. The top forked stick is very short removing the previous disadvantage. making it very stable. Figure 9. the weight of the cage will cause it swivel up. Tip. the flat side of main upright should be face up. Disadvantage of this trigger mechanism is that the long top trigger bar can become jammed between the bird and the back of the cage. the key thing here is that the top stick is at almost 90 degrees to main upright.2.

Figure 9.7.1 : Net cage trap .2.

7.Figure 9.3 : An inverted Samson’s post trigger mechanism .7.2.2.2 : Samson’s post trigger mechanism Figure 9.

5 : Double bar trigger mechanism Below are some useful documents on cage traps ive found on the web (due to possible copyright conflicts these are only accessible from the local machine) :      Traps of the Amerinds – A study in psychology and invention (link) On some Borneo traps (link) Old English dead-fall traps (link) An Egyptain bird trap (link) Native bird traps of French Indo-China (link) .2.7.7.Figure 9.2.4 : A 'new' trigger mechanism Figure 9.

not sure. The final bottom metal ring can be simply threaded through the last eight loops as they are tied. Not sure why these are required. One of the smallest versions is the purse net. The cord is then looped around the mesh stick. 90. Alternatively.2. With these initial loops formed the net is continued as for a standard square net (described in the cordage section) forming a 17 x 17 mesh or 26" square net.2m x 4. and the rabbits again being driven out by a beater. 3 months. I have read of them being placed across holes through gorse or bramble bushes i. could equally knit a standard square net as shown in figure 9.e.2.e. particularly in Africa and Australia for both birds and mammals. clove hitches can again be used to lock the ring in position as . The big disadvantage of hunting nets is the amount of work required. drying and storing. the net is staked out near a watering hole. Note. gathered up at these ends. 7500 . 100 days. A ferret is then used to drive the rabbits out into the nets. The design of this net is based on a number of examples I’ve seen on the web.000 knots. Alternatively. Note a full ball of cord was required to construct this net. emu. The net is cast onto the top ring. the more loops cast onto the metal ring the more purse shaped the net will be i. whole camp 18. in collecting material to make cordage.3m x 12.g. Mexico (link) Traps from the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (link) Hunting and Traps (link) Trapper training manual (link) Some African Techniques for Capturing Mammals (link) A Bow-Net Trap for Ducks (link) Netting Hunting with nets is commonly used in aboriginal cultures across the world.2m duck net.e. allowing the hunters to sit and wait for them to arrive (sometimes driven into the nets by beaters). kangaroo etc. using your fingers as spacers. may just be you get a nicer net shape.e. taking about half a day (a couple of evenings).9m x 1. 1 person 7. duck. One argument for the use of hunting nets is that you expend less energy when compared with hunting with spear or throwing stick i. making the cordage. Note. using a 1.8m turkey net.      Animal traps and snares used by the Maya Indians of Yucatan. Reading around the web these nets are commonly constructed using a top and bottom 1" metal ring as shown in figure 9. some of these links are listed below. I find natural cordage holds a knot a lot better than artificial (nylon) cordage. I normal whip these in place to make it look nice. repairing. 5cm mesh.9000m of cordage. game trails. To illustrate this here are some examples taken from a number of sources of different nets and the time to make them:    4. 3 weeks. Alternatively. the standard square net technique gives a nice re-enforced outer edge to the net.6m kangaroo net. nesting / sleeping site or the entrance of a burrow where the animals are expected to appear.8. The cord is then feed through the metal ring again forming a clove hitch. These are commonly used to catch rabbits being placed over a warren’s entrances.9. locked into position with an overhand knot. This process is then repeated to form eight loops. The rings could simplify storage allowing the net to be hung up or simplify setting allowing the net to be easily pulled apart to open. allowing the net to close reliably.5" mesh stick and a natural fibre cordage. then down through the top of the metal ring and then back up through the loop formed in the cord. whole camp Hunting nets come in a number of different sizes and shapes. large and small e. knitting the net and finally caring for the net i. when pegged out the rings could help the draw string pull through more easily. The cord is tied onto the ring using a clove hitch.

passing out of the bottom ring one length of cord each side of the ring. pull the two rings apart before tying this knot to ensure the net is fully open i. Finally the draw string is secured to a peg. there is sufficient draw string around the net. In this example the free ends are again tied together using a figure eight knot.e. the two lengths of cord are then tied together with a figure eight knot a couple of inches below the bottom ring to prevent the cord from being pulled out. Note. The cord is feed through the two metal rings. a nylon cord is used as it is stronger and more slippery than a cord made from natural fibres of the same diameter. Note. . When complete a nylon cord is weaved around the edge of the net forming the purse draw string. this loop is then feed through a small hole carved into the side of the peg and looped over to secure.you tie the last loops.

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Reading around. however.2. im not sure if this technique would be the best one to use when making a net with this cordage. hand made cordage made from plant fibres needs a lot more careful handling i.9 are constructed with metal rings using a 2" mesh stick to produce a 15 x 15 mesh square net.25" mesh stick. .2. it should be remembered that a larger mesh size simplifies net construction. This isn’t a problem for commercially available cordage. the recommended mesh size varies from 1. the general consensus seems to be that a mesh size of 2" or a bit smaller is best. The standard net knot used in the construction of these nets requires strong. they don’t like being bend or twisted too sharply.e. flexible cordage. otherwise there is an increased risk of the game escaping.Figure 9. However.5" to 2. an alternative technique is to weave the net. reducing the number of knots that need to be tied and the amount of cordage required.8 : Making a purse net The purse net in top left frame of figure 9.9 is constructed without metal rings using a standard square net pattern. The purse nets shown in the bottom frame of figure 9.5". Reading around. This net is 34" square using a 2. with the start and finishing mesh loops being used as a replacement for the metal rings.2. Therefore.

9 : Square purse net Below are some useful documents on netting ive found on the web (due to possible copyright conflicts these are only accessible from the local machine) :               Chapter 21: Rural pastimes (link) Socioeconomic Implications of Australian Aboriginal Net Hunting (link) Making a purse net (link) How to make a purse net (link) Long netting (link) Why do Mbuti hunters use nets? (link) Ice age communities may be earliest know net hunters (link) A late paleoindian aminal trapping net from northern Wyoming (link) Working Ferrets 1 (link) Working Ferrets 2 (link) Working Ferrets 3 (link) Working Ferrets 4 (link) Working Ferrets 5 (link) Net trap for catching animals alive (link) Snare Traps .Figure 9.2.

. Image : reference .2.10. Usually made from wire to prevent the animal chewing through its restraint.uk : Report of the Independent Working Group on Snares Snares are the classic emergency / survival trap as they are quick and simple to make using basic tools and materials. natural or man made cordage can also be used in spring type snare traps.1 : Setting rabbit snares 1.defra.Figure 9. however.2.10 : Snares Figure 9.gov.http:// www.

375 SWG Gauge 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 Diameter Inches 0.048 0.470 3.2.711 0.056 0.558 0.609 0.013 Diameter mm 7.192 0.300 0.064 3.893 4.040 0.016 0.010 5.457 mm in diameter.032 1. Rabbit snares are usual made from 3 or 4 strands of brass wire. snares that continue to tighten by a ratchet as the animal struggles eventually strangling it.072 0.2. The construction and setting of snares should only be undertaken after professional training.104 0. These are important issues to avoid capturing non-target species and causing suffering to the animal.e.508 0. Their information on snaring rabbits is given below: How to set snares to capture rabbits: .160 0.337 1.11 : Wire gauge and diameters Guidelines for the use of snares in the UK can be obtained from the Department for environment food and rural affairs (DEFRA).014 Diameter mm 8.020 0. safely releasing the animal without any part of the snare attached.024 0.212 0.620 6.219 0.251 2.914 0.11. Wire gauges and diameters are shown are given in figure 9.625 1. approximately 0.144 0.116 0.828 1.946 2. The key to constructing a free running snare is to use a non-collapsing eye and the correct wire.276 0.018 0. The apparent simplicity of a snare hides a great deal of subtleties in its construction and use.401 5. with 3 strands around the eye.These 'survival' type traps are in contrast with legal snares used to hunt rabbits etc which are designed to restrain instead of kill and minimise suffering. Such that if the cable were to snap it would most likely snap at the eye. The use of illegal snares in inappropriate locations is the main reason for the bad name snares have got in the past.036 0. for a 3 strand snare the main cable will contain 6 twisted strands.028 0.176 0.877 4.416 0. SWG Gauge 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 Diameter Inches 0.252 0.457 0.128 0.064 0.324 0.658 2.016 0.385 4. This is an important point as the weakest point in the snare is therefore at the eye.092 0.345 Figure 9.080 0. Self locking snares are illegal i. A legal snare should be a free running wire loop that loosens when the animal stops pulling. given in the links at the end of this section. Snares are usually constructed from either brass or steel wire.422 1.022 0.642 2.230 7.e. These are folded in half around an eyelet and twisted together i.232 0.032 0.812 0.

once twisted the snare’s length will be reduced by about 1". however. Place an eyelet on one post and hook the free end of the wire around the other. Note.2. Rabbit snares should be constructed with 3 or 4 -stranded brass wire (doubled so that whilst there are 3-4 strands around the eye. pliers. lift off the eyelet and twist the wire one turn to hold it in place. Avoid leaving scent on the snare and the area around the snare by rubbing your hands with soil and wearing clean rubber boots. running them up and down the wire to ensure an even twist. angle at least one post inwards slightly to aid the removal of the snare wires. making a loop and pulling it tight is a good method of breaking the wire if you don’t have a pair of wire cutters. a good pair of wire cutters.12. Cut the top loop off the drill as this loop only has two complete loops. 2. You must adapt your procedures for setting snares in the light of experience. deliberately forming a kink i. Tip. to secure the hook to the stone weight use a Turk’s head knot. 6. Twist these together to form the bottom eye. Lift the weight off the ground holding the snare wires in tension and spin the weight to twist the wires together.12. Note. particularly to minimise the risks to non-target. Note. The loop should be positioned 3” (9cm) above the ground using a short notched stick. Tip. One argument is not to worry as at dusk or dawn the snare will be less visible .5" overlap. Note. at each end of a wooden rod. whether or not this scares off the target species. The free end of the wire must be securely tethered by a strong. Next.1. keep the two lengths of wire apart angled to form a ‘V’ when twisting this eye as this helps ensure that the wires wrap around each other evenly increasing its strength (twisting one wire around a stationary wire does not form such a strong eye). Tip. as the weight is spun pinch the wire between your thumb and finger. 3. ensure that all burrs are filed off to avoid damaging the snare wires.2. don’t forget to pass the wire through the eyelet before forming the bottom eye otherwise it wont fit. 4.DEFRA code of practice on the use of snares in fox and rabbit control The tools I use to construct a snare are shown in figure 9. The end posts are made from a cut down 4mm nail. You must ensure that snares are free running at the time they are set and remain so during their use. the significance of this is argued in different texts i. Set the snare whilst standing or crouching rather than kneeling down. twisting the free ends upwards to prevent them from being entangled in the snare when it is twisted. Pre-drill two 3mm holes for these posts to prevent the wood from splitting when they are hammered in and secure in place with a little two part epoxy. Wrap the wire around the eyelet and the other post such that there are 3 lengths of wire on each side.1. Snares that are frayed or damaged must be safely disposed of. The distance between the posts in this example is approximately 23".12. Finally loop this end around the drill again to form a 1. Hook the eyelet onto the weight and place the other end onto the end of the drill (nail).2.e. an old drill (or nail) and a hooked weight (stone) for spinning / twisting the snare together. Tip. be very careful not to kink the wire as you wrap it around the posts as the kinks significantly weaken the wire. To simplify snare construction you can use a jig as shown in figure 9. It must not be possible for the snare to become free because of the serious welfare consequences that could ensue. 5. rot proof cord attached to a peg that is driven firmly into the ground. A new snare will be shinny and have a human scent. Mount these posts inline. 7. The snare must have a fixed stop about 5” (14 cm) from the ‘eye’ of the snare. Try not to disturb the run and try not to broaden it.2. The steps in constructing a snare are shown in figure 9. post distance will need to be varied depending on the type of snare being made. reference . there are 6-8 in the noose) with a loop of 4” (10 cm) diameter for the head of the rabbit. the ‘tealer’.e.

oak leaves and tea for one hour. Next boil in a solution containing oak bark. Figure 9. Boil in a solution containing four tablespoons of baking soda for one hour. I can see the logic of these arguments. Traditional methods of removing the shine and scent include:     Bury in the soil for a month. Also that rabbits are accustomed to human scent and are not necessarily scared off by it. or if your really keen a manure heap. However.anyway.12 : Snares making tools . oxidising the outer surface and also building up a layer of soot. Boil in a solution containing a small amount of washing powder for one hour to remove any grease or oil. Smoke over the flame of a candle. From my limited experience I haven’t found that shine or scent have had a significant affect on the effectiveness of snaring.2. Leave to cool in this solution for 24 hours.

Figure 9.2.12.1 : Snares making jig .

designed to break at a specific strain when an animal larger or stronger than the target species gets caught.DEFRA code of practice on the use of snares in fox and rabbit control A simple 'loop' type eye can be used. Specially-formed metal plates with holes or slots drilled to precise dimensions.12.2. it may be necessary to add a washer between the stop and this kind of ‘loop eye’ to prevent the loop riding over the stop. Some examples of non-collapsing eyes are shown in figure 9.Figure 9. reference . right angles to the cable running through it.2. If not. The design of these is critical to avoid the problem that the cable may cease to be free-running when pulled at certain angles. A simple loop formed by bending the end of the wire back on itself and fastening it with a crimp. these types of eye would not be generally recommended. Another important factor in making a free running snare is the type of cable used. Where a stop is fitted. used incorrectly. the cable may not run freely through it. or not adequately maintained. there is a high probability that when the snare is under tension the eye will collapse preventing it from releasing when the animal stops pulling. deliberately deformed. Breakaways usually (and always should) operate at the eye so that if animals break free they will not have any part of the snare attached to them. 3. however. Thin multi-strand or thick single strand wire snares . Some eyes of this type may act as self-locking snares if poorly designed.2 : Snare construction A key aspect to making a legal snare is to have a free running eye. through which the cable runs. or remains at. A problem with this kind of eye is that it is difficult to ensure that the loop eye is formed at. 2. DEFRA’s guidelines state: There are several designs of eyes and three are outlined below: 1. Therefore.13. Breakaway devices.

tend to kink at the eye under tension forming a lock.2. the thicker the wire and the smaller the jig posts the higher the release load will be.13 : Snare eyelets . a good example is Glenn Waters breakaway eyelet shown in figure 9. illustrating how the eyelet opens under excessive loading. Thicker. The eyelet is then formed by wrapping the wire around the taller post 3 – 4 times. again preventing the snare from releasing pressure when the animal stops pulling. An example of a completed snare is shown in figure 9. This eye can be constructed from 16 to 14 gauge galvanised steel wire.2. multi-strand cables which have a bit of spring (memory) in them are better as they are more flexible preventing this problem. Figure 9.1. I’ve also read that the cable can be lubricated with paraffin wax or natural oil to again help prevent the eye from jamming.1. Initially the wire is wrapped around the smaller post.13. The surplus wire is cut off cleanly with a pair of wire cutters.2. My preferred eye is a breakaway eye as it allows larger non target species to escape.13. as shown in figure 9. A possible disadvantage of this would be introducing a strange scent into the environment. scaring off the target animal.12.2.13. Note.2.2.1). To make this eyelet you need to make a jig with two steel posts (approximately 4mm diameter) mounted about a wire’s diameter apart in a piece of wood (I add an extra post to the snare jig in figure 9. Note. When the first loop is formed it is lifted off this post and repositioned such that the taller post is in the middle of the wire ‘V’.

2.1 : Glenn Waters Breakaway eyelet Figure 9.13. This has the advantage of allowing the snare to freely rotate preventing it from becoming twisted or kinked.Figure 9.13. The swivel can be .2.2 : Completed Glenn Waters Breakaway snare An alternative to twisting a bottom eye is to incorporate a swivel into the snare. both of which can severely reduce the cable’s strength.

second frame). The bottom end of the cable is held on a hook and the wood pulled upwards. One end of the wire is bend over the jig and wrapped around the nail (top row. Figure 9. between the knot and the swivel body to ensure the knot rotates freely and that it can not be pulled through the swivel. A small loop is formed in the end of the cable and the free end wrapped around the cable twice.2. The other end is then wrapped around the nail. Finally the nail is pulled out to allow the swivel body to be removed from the jig.14 : Swivel body construction . third frame). Into this wood a 1cm deep hole is drilled for a 4mm nail.1. To pull the knot tight the cable is placed between two pieces of wood tied together with a length of cord. One end is wrapped around another half turn and the excess cut off. Note. 3 – 4 times to form the swivel body. To attach the swivel body to the snare a double knot is tied at the end of the cable as shown in figure 9. the cable sliding through the wood tightening the knot on top.14 can be used. ensure that the knot forms square to the cable. a washer can also be feed onto the cable. a hardwood jig must be used as softwoods will crack / split when the wire is bend around it. However. The jig’s wooden body is normally triangular or circular in shape. The bottom end of the cable is then pushed through the back of the swivel body such that the knot can rotate freely. To construct the swivel’s body a jig like the one shown in figure 9. another common solution is to construct this swivel out of galvanised steel wire. personally I prefer a triangle shaped base as its less likely to deform under loading (approximately 2cm deep and 1cm wide).2. Note.2.implemented using standard heavy duty sea fishing swivels or specially drilled plates and ferrules. under the first wire (top row.14. Both ends are then continued to be wrapped round the nail. Note.

Tip. some man made cordages don’t hold a knot well i. test breaking strain and holding strength before use. The initial loop is formed in the middle of the cord by tying a figure of eight knot which is feed through the bottom eye of the snare to form the lark’s foot knot. This length of cord forms a flexible coupling between the cable and the stake helping to prevent wire fractures due to repeated twisting / bending.e.15.15.2. To tie this cord to its stake a simple turn and two half hitches can be used. Tip. shown in the right frame of figures 9.2. however. The cord should be made from man made fibre’s to prevent its strength degrading due to rotting. The two free ends are then tied around the stake using one of the methods shown in figure 9. .1. When a single length of cord is used I normally form this loop using a bowline knot top frame of figure 9. i.2. The cord’s length doesn’t need to be too long.15.1 : Attaching the swivel body to a snare To attach the snare’s wire cable to its tether a length of cordage is used.2. the cordage used in the examples below were made from polypropylene rope fibres twisted together (two groups of three fine strands) to form a two ply cord.2. will slip under loading. shown in the left frame of figures 9. an overhand or figure of eight stop knot tied into the end of the cord ensures that the cord will not slip through the knot under loading.Figure 9. this having a slightly better holding strength. To attach the snare to the cord a loop is formed allowing a lark’s foot knot (sometimes called a lark’s head knot) to be tied in the bottom eyelet of the snare. a slightly longer cord length does increase the shock absorbing properties of the cord (elasticity) helping to maintain the stake’s position in the ground.14. An alternative solution is to use a double length of cord. tied using doubled up cordage. tie a large loop as this means you don’t need to bend the snare to form this knot. Alternatively a clove hitch and two locking half hitches can be used.15. However. approximately 6" between the snare and its stake normally gives you enough length to position the snare correctly on its tealer. Traditionally baler twine is used. Note. The advantage of this approach (doubled up cordage) is that it forms a loop / handle in the cord which gives you a convenient handle to hold when you are pulling the snare out of the ground. therefore.e.

double cord figure of eight and lark’s foot The traditional method of tethering a snare is to use a notched hard wood stake hammered into the ground.2. single cord bowline loop and lark’s foot (top).8" long will be required. in heavy clay soils a shorter stake can be used.2. always test the stake to ensure that it can’t be easily pulled out.Figure 9.2.e. as shown in figure 9.16. The stake’s length is dependent on the soil i. clove hitch and two half hitches (right) Figure 9. Note.1.15. to prevent the cord from being pulled off the top of the stake a notch must always be cut into it. A common solution is to have a main stake and a secondary smaller supporting stake to prevent the main stake from being worked loose.16.e. It is also dependent on the stakes diameter i. this should be at least 1" from the top to prevent splitting when hammered into the ground. turn and two half hitches (left).2. in loose sandy soils a longer stake will be needed. However. As a guide a stake a little thicker than your thumb (approximately 1") and at least 7" . the wider the stake the larger the contact area between the stake and the soil will be improving its grip. as shown in figure 9.1: Attaching cord to snare. Alternatively the load can be shared between two main stakes as .15 : Attaching cord to stake. In loose soil conditions two stakes can be used.

2.shown in figure 9.1: Single stake anchor with support stake Figure 9.16.16. a double notch has been used on these stakes to ensure that the cord can not be pulled off.2: Double stake anchor .16. Figure 9.2. onto which the snare’s cord can be attached.2. Note.2.2.16 : Single stake anchor Figure 9. These stakes are tied together using a thicker length of cord with a small loop tied in the middle using a figure of eight knot.

as its increased width compensates for its shortened length. therefore.A good alternative to a notched stick is to attach the cord to the stake using a drilled hole as shown in 9.17. This is constructed from a wooden block approximately 3" – 4" in length and 1" wide. approximately 3" wide and 4" long. having a front "V" slot and an undercut back recess. This hole was drilled out using a awl and enlarged using the tip of a knife. To stop this a small wooden block can be used as shown in figure 9. otherwise there is a danger that the block will simply slide up the hole made by the stick. Note.17.1 and 9.2.2.2. the wooden block must be wider than the stick used to push it into the ground. With a little practice I found that this type of ground anchor works very well. The stick and anchor are pushed vertically into the ground to a depth of at least 8". The toggling motion does cause the block to move up the hole made by the insertion a little.17.17. This works well having the added advantage of forming a second swivel allowing the cord to rotate within the hole. preventing it from rotating. you may need to hammer the top of the stick to reach the required depth. their main disadvantage is that once pushed into the ground the only reliable way of getting them out is to dig them out.2. depending on the soil conditions you may need to push it deeper to ensure that there is sufficient soil above the anchor to hold it in place. The ground anchor can be held in position on the stick by applying tension on the attached cord.2. also the front tip of the anchor can be angled to allow it to be more easily driven into the ground.2 are less common than the previous examples. forming a low friction bearing surface between the stake and the cord.17.2.e. Note. as shown in figure 9. the back edge of the anchor can be sharpened to help it dig into the soil when pulled. The first of these is the Heeler stake shown in figure 9. However.2. Figure 9.17.1. The cord is now given a gentle tug to toggle the wooden block about the cord. thus preventing it from being extracted.17 : Single stake anchor with swivel . This causes the back of the block to dig into the ground. for that reason I would still use a standard stake.17.2. i. The snares cord is passed through the hole and typically held in place by tying a figure of eight stop knot in the end of the cord. However. since I’ve had a chance to try one out I was pleasantly surprised to find that they work really well. The last two solutions shown in figures 9. The advantage of this type of peg is that it can be silently driven into the ground using the pressure from the heel of your boot (and hence the name). The final type of tether is not really classed as a stake being similar to the earth anchor used in the shelter section. When I was first told of this type of stake I was a little unsure of its holding ability. To drive this anchor into the soil a specially shaped stick is used as shown in figure 9. One disadvantage of using a stop knot is that the cord fibre’s can become jammed in the hole under loading. A cord is attached to the middle of the block either through a central hole or round a recess cut into its sides (to prevent the cord from slipping off).2. This block can be easily formed by cutting off a short section of a suitably sized branch and drilling out the soft centre pith using an awl.3. Tip.

1 : Heeler stake anchor .2.Figure 9.17.

centre hole attachment (bottom) . side attachment (top).2 : Ground anchors.17.Figure 9.2.

3 : Driving an anchor into the ground There is a lot of differing advice on where. DEFRA’s guidelines suggest a tear drop shaped noose 9" x 6" and a distance above the ground of 3".5" and a distance above the ground of 6.2. The traditional advice is that the noose should be round and slightly larger than a clenched fist with the bottom wire suspended four fingers above the ground. the advantage of this approach is that a small noose helps ensure that you only catch the animal around the neck and not the body i. The arguments for this being that rabbits use well defined runs allowing you to quite accurately position the . A good article by Glenn Waters again suggests a tear drop shaped noose 7.5" and a distance above the ground of 3". how and what size of snare to set when hunting rabbits. being dependent on the length of the grass.Figure 9. However. The small and low camp follow the traditional approach described above. Reading around each person seems to have their own preferences. helping to prevent the animal stepping through the snare.17.5". the weather and the gradient of the run. The two main areas of contention are the size of snare and the height that the snare should be placed above the ground.e. For me this would be a noose diameter of approximately 4.5" x 5. in general there seems to be two schools of thoughts "small and low" and "large and high". but most agree that there are no absolutes.

18 : Fence funnel point or bottleneck run . as a general rule I use a tear drop shaped noose approximately 7" x 6" and a distance above the ground of approximately 5" for flat ground and slightly lower on sloping ground of 4". The height again preventing the animal stepping through the noose but being large enough to allow the head and ears to pass through cleanly. I do confess that I haven’t done enough snaring to appreciate all the subtleties or pass comment on which is the best advice.2. Figure 9. Another advantage of a larger tear drop shaped noose is that it covers a larger area of the run allowing for some deviation in the rabbit’s position. The large and high camp therefore suggest a larger. higher noose. The counter argument to this approach is that it doesn’t take into account the rabbits ears increasing the risk of the snare tightening around the rabbit’s face and being knocked aside.noose such that it catches the rabbit as it lands between hops.

18.Figure 9. top frame high spots.2.1 : Typical rabbit run. bottom frame low spots (beats) .

18.2 : Pheasant fence funnel run .Figure 9.2.

18. Didn’t cut the fence wire for this snare as the Pheasants seemed quite happy to squeeze underneath. Tip.2. Note. also look for badger fur on the fence wires. badgers tend to bulldoze / push their way under a fence making a larger hole.2. the noose taking up the top half of the hole. easily identified by the feather and foot prints left in the mud. An angry badger or fox is not something you want to deal with. a badger or fox.Figure 9. A common suggestion when placing a snare in a fence line is to cut the bottom wire where the run comes through the fence. The example shown in figure 9. usually with rabbit droppings in places. enlarging the hole. pushing it to one side. the key point to always remember is be sure it is a rabbit’s run not a run of a non target species e.g.2 is on a Pheasant run.2. Also as this snare was for .18. Reading around and talking to people the most effective place to place a snare are at the funnel points in the rabbit’s run where it passes through fences on its way to its feeding grounds. A rabbit run is quite easy to spot approximately a hands width wide. if in doubt go somewhere else.18 (runs marked in red). as shown in figure 9. The snare can then be tied onto the top fence wire.3 : Examples of rabbit runs Where you set your snare is equally as important as the size and type of snare used.

the high points are where the rabbit jumps (top frame of figure 9.2. Below are some useful documents on snare traps ive found on the web (due to possible copyright conflicts these are only accessible from the local machine) :                              Defra code of practice on the use of snares in fox and rabbit control (link) Defra report of the independent working group on snares (link) A Nicobarese Rat-Trap (link) Glenn Waters Breakaway Snare (link) Earth Anchors Or Disposable Stakes (link) Professional Rabbit Snaring For Beginners & Amateurs Part 1 (link) Professional Rabbit Snaring For Beginners & Amateurs Part 2 (link) Rabbit Snaring (link) Snare.18.2. (link) Snaring rats (link) Woodland snaring (link) Back to Index .2. The recommended place to set a snare along this type of run is mid point on a beat as indicated by the red line in the bottom frame of figure 9.1.18. which are called beats.Pheasants copper wire was used as it doesn’t need to be as strong as for rabbits. Tip. Looking down the run you can see high and low points along it. as the rabbits position on the run and its head position will be more constant (examples are given in the tracking section).2. tied directly to the top wire.18. set the snare on a straight section of the run i. well away from bends or where a run splits or merges with other runs. spring and deadfall trap pictures (link) Philippine Bird Traps (link) On the Winter Trapping of Small Mammals (link) A Simple and Effective Lizard Snare (link) A Konyak Naga Snare (link) Evaluation of 3 Types of Snares for Capturing Coyotes (link) Foot Snares: An Effective Method for Capturing African Lions (link) Snares and deadfalls (link) Some methods for capturing Coyotes alive (link) A Live Snare for Trap-Shy Snowshoe Hares (link) Proper use of snares for capturing furbearers (link) Snares Past & Present (link) Ohio Snaring Regulations (link) Fastening and Stabilizing Snares (link) Non-lethal Snaring (link) Setting Snares (link) New Breakaway Snare (link) Breakaway Snare (link) How To Make Your Own Fox Snare Swivels.e.1. An alternative to fence snares is to place the snare on a run in open ground as shown in figure 9.1) and the low points being the areas were the rabbit lands (bottom frame of figure 9.1).18.