Best Small Game Traps (That Actually Work) – 2020 Primitive Traps Guide

| Last Updated: October 23, 2022

What will you do for food when the grocery store is empty? What if something happens to your food preps? Learning how to make and set small game traps that actually work is a skill that can keep your family from starving. The good thing about most types of traps is just how little you need to have to make them.

Some EDC Items That Might Help

You would do well to keep a few of these EDC (Every Day Carry) items with you at all times. Whether it's in an altoids tin, a special kit or literally carried in your pocket, they will be useful beyond your imagination for survival! 

The Graves' Stick Snare

The Grave's bait stick snare is a great all-purpose trap. It can catch a range of decent sized animals in semi-wild and wild terrain. You will need a springy pole, a thin toggle stick, and a forked ground stake. You will also need a bait stick, some bait and some cord for a trigger line and a snare line.

Find a tree with a springy strong branch. Tie your snare cord near the tip of that branch. Bend it down till the top touches the ground, if possible. Mark that spot. Drive the fork into the ground here. Tie your toggle stick to the end of the trigger line. Attach the trigger line to your snare cord.

Now run your toggle stick under the fork. Be careful to keep the toggle parallel to the forked stake. Place your baited trigger at the end of the toggle stick. Try it. It should snap back quickly. Use twigs to prop up your open noose.

Don't place your fingers into the snare! It can pull them off. Fingers don't make for a good stew. You want a rabbit!

The Fixed Snare Set Up

Perhaps the quickest and easiest trap to set up is the fixed snare. You will need a thin braided steel cable or flexible steel wire. Use a thin twig under an eighth of an inch thick. Wrap the wire around the twig. Twist the twig till the wire wraps closed. Snap the twig to remove it.


Use the loops created to make the noose. Put the noose over the opening of rabbit warrens and other small critter holes. Tie the other end to a secure stake or a tree. You can also use these in small animal game trails if you attach them to a spring pole.

The Peg Snare

This snare takes a little practice to get right. But that rabbit won't put himself in the pot! You'll need a springy tree or pole, a noose on a snare cord and bait. You can also set this trap up over a game trail. You'll need to carve two pegs for this trap. One is driven into the ground securely. The other will act as your trigger.

They will need to be able to hold together under tension. Carving two notches that look something like a crochet hook works pretty well. You will set your ground peg first. You can use the stump of a small bush or thing tree to make it extremely stable.

Knot your snare line around the trigger peg. Be sure to put your cord on the same side of the peg as the notch. This keeps the pegs straight so you can set the trap. Knot the snare line to your spring pole. Place some bait on the trigger peg before arranging the noose around it.

The Water Dead Fall Trap

This quick killing trap is best for game trails beside still water. You will need a heavy rock, a float of some sort and a sturdy prop stick to hold your rock up. The idea is fairly simple, your dinner steps in the noose, triggers the trap and is kept fresh in the water for you.

Securely attach your snare line to the rock. Use a length of cord to attach a float to the rock as well. The float can be a stick or anything else that will float. Prop your rock up with the stick. You want it to quickly fall into the water to drown your dinner. You may want to wrap your snare line around the stick to quickly trigger the dead fall.

Try it out to make sure it works. Set your snare up with just a little slack over the game trail.

The Squirrel Snack Snare

I love a good squirrel stew. This snare trap is a great way to catch these tasty game animals without using ammo. Begin by cutting a nice rough-looking branch or tree that is about five feet long and maybe six inches in diameter.

Cut off the branches. You can leave stumps, you want it to look natural. It's best if the end has a fork that will brace the pole against the tree or ground.

Make a dozen wire snare loops out of sturdy steel wire. Make them about three inches in diameter. Twist those snares all up and down the pole. Now lean that pole up against a tree that has squirrels around it. A tree with a nest in it is your best bet.

The "Four" Dead Fall

A lot of these traps need wire or cord. All this trap needs is a sharp knife, sturdy sticks and a heavy log or rock. Use bait to draw the critter in for the squashing.

Select three sticks that are very straight and around the same size. Sticks that are around a thumb's thickness and a foot long are best. Carve the ends of two of the sticks into a flat head screwdriver shape. Don't make the ends too thin or they will break.

Carve a notch near the end of one of those two sticks. This will be the diagonal in your number four shape. Carve a notch near the end of your third stick. Sharpen the tip of that stick for your bait. Lay your three sticks out in the shape of a number four.

Square up the vertical post and cut a notch in your bait post that will hold it securely. Fiddle with it until they will hold together underneath the weight of your dead fall. It's safest to test this trap out using a stick. When SHTF you won't be able to get a crushed finger set at the local ER.

Using small game traps to catch fresh meat for the pot is a great way to feed the family in a SHTF situation. These traps may take some skill to build but are time tested. They work if given enough time. If you have any questions, let me know!

  • Set aside cord and wire for traps.
  • Practice building and setting traps before you need them!
  • A sharp knife is best for carving. A dull one is more likely to cut you.

How Do We Know These Work?

Because these are methods and the types of traps that were used by our forefathers who settled this great country, and the reason we hold these skills so near is because when the SHTF these skills will be the only truly useful thing we have.

How to set a basic a basic dead fall:

How to set a basic snare

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