Snares are a classic method of trapping game inside and out of survival situations. Survival snares are effective hunting tool for small game animals due to the simple fact they can hunt in multiple places, all at once. The trick to being successful with snares isn’t just building them right, but building a lot of them. This article is going to cover three of my favorite snares. While the US Army did not invent these snares, they did document them in Field Manual 21-76. This is where I learned about them.

Practicing Survival Snares

It’s pretty easy to read and understand what and how to build survival snares, but it’s difficult to actually build them. What you’ll learn along the way is that you’ll almost never find the exact parts manuals and websites say you need. So you learn to improvise with what you have and what you can find. Finding what works to improvise is where actually going out and building some survival snares comes into play.


Also remember states have different laws regarding snares. Make sure you know your laws. Whenever I practice building snares, I simply take them apart as soon as I am done building the survival snares. I also never actually bait the survival snare either. As you’ll see I also tend to use 550 cord over. 550 will work for a snare, but thin wire works best. 550 cord is more disposable for practicing building snares. Know your laws before you practice.


Other Cordage

  • Wife from (Non) electric lines
  • Headphones
  • Tiny springs (Like a click pens)
  • The insides of 550 cord


Your bait in a survival situation can be anything you can spare to catch a creature. It can be peanut butter, the insides of another animal, sweet food stuffs, whatever you have. The use of bait is likely to make your snare much, much, more effective. If you can, always use bait.


When using wire all you need to do is make a loop and wrap the wire around the rest of the wire several times. Not too tight, or it won’t slide.

When using cord like 550 I use what’s aptly named as a poacher’s snare. If you looking to learn to tie knots, I’d start here,

The noose needs to be 18 to 24 inches wide, so plan cord accordingly. Start small and go big.


Survival Snares in Action

Simple Snare

The simple is simple, duh. You need to tie a noose, 18 to 24 inches wide, with enough tail to tie to a nice solid tree. Nothing massive, but big enough that it won’t give when the animal attempts to escape. Te it to the tree and open the noose 18 to 24 inches. You’ll likely need to rest the wire/cord on a stick to keep it open.

survival snare simple snare
The Simple Snare (Courtesy US Army)

This snare is best placed near a game trail or the potential den of an animal. Place it so the animal enters at around head height is possible.

Squirrel pole

Squirrel Pole (Courtesy US Army)

The squirrel pole is pretty easy to make. You need a nice long stick that’s thick enough for squirrels to run up. You need to tie a series of nooses that go up the pole, placed 8 inches apart. The nooses only need to be about 2.5 inches wide. This trap does not work well with 550 cord, and wire is much better in this trap. The first noose needs to be about a foot from the ground so the squirrel will not wiggle its way out.

Survival Snares | Kill, Eat and Survive
Squirrel Pole with 550 cord

Once the nooses are tied to the pole you want to lean it against a tree in an area of squirrel activity. The nooses will sit on top of the pole. When squirrels run up the pole to the tree the goal is to catch them in one of these nooses. This is a great method to catch several squirrels at one time.

Survival Snares | Kill, Eat and Survive
Squirrel Eye View of the Squirrel Pole

Patience is key, squirrels are cautious, and take some time to climb the pole.


Twitch-Up Snare

Twitch Up Snare (courtesy US Army)

The twitch-up snare is a lot trickier than the previous snares. It uses a sapling as an engine to jerk an animal into the air and break its neck or strangle it. There are several ways to build these devices, the key is having a base, an engine, a noose, and a pin.

An engine is generally a sapling. These saplings are malleable and can be bent over. They need to be young enough not to break when bent, but strong enough to snap upwards with force.

Survival Snares | Kill, Eat and Survive
Noose, Pin /Stick/ and Base /Log/

A line is ran from the sapling to the pin. The pin is generally a thick stick, maybe 2 inches in diameter. This stick has a shelf carved into it. The base of the shelf should face upwards to the sapling. This shelf can be a branch outlet, or can be carved into the stick via knife. The noose is tied to the pin.

Survival Snares | Kill, Eat and Survive
Carving the Shelf Into the Pin

The base needs to be something that can engage the pin, and release the pin when disturbed. The base can be another stick with a downward facing shelf carved into it and pushed into the ground. The easiest base is a large log or stick that is heavy enough to attach the pin to.

Survival Snares | Kill, Eat and Survive
Line tied to Engine

The noose is then opened and spread openly with the use of a few sticks. Once an animal disturbs the noose the sapling springs upwards, trapping the animal in the noose, and killing it.


Survival snares can be valuable knowledge to have. They are easy to build once you do it a few times, and learn the keys to improvising. The key is to practice and learn how they work. A little practice goes a long way when it comes to survival snares. My skills were certainly rusty when I began this article, but this was a good refresher.