How to Build a Basic Snare with Paracord

Practicing survival skills is the same as practicing any skill. Outcome can be influenced dramatically when you practice. When you may need certain skills to eat or stay alive in a survival situation, knowledge of the correct way and some practice beforehand can give you higher odds on being more successful.

Thoughtful practice with skills as a concept can be applied to many primitively based skills, such as how to building a basic snare for survival.

A snare is primitive and can be modified to kill a variety of animals, furbearing, flying or swimming. A survival snare can also be used for an intruder trap or as a perimeter early alarm system.

Today we will start on our journey of exploring the humble snare and its many applications by first learning how to build a basic one.

The Snare Is Historically Significant

The use of snares, by some, is regarded as the oldest profession and predates recorded history. A snare was first seen in Europe painting in Paleolithic artwork, before even bows and arrows.

Meat is a critical component to every primitive tribe, culture and people. If you remove the luxuries of modern day processing, farming, supplements and stores, it would be extremely hard to get enough calories by eating wild edibles. That’s why animals of any size spend almost all their time eating!

In primitive times, this is precisely why snares were crucial for survival as to their time and energy conservation. With snares, you can set up traps in many places at once to gain the maximum in effort over time. In a survival setting, catching wild game is your best bet for success as it works on any continent, in any weather, day or night, any time of the year.

The Makeup of the Snare

Literally, there are as many designs as you can think of.

There are three basic components of a snare.

  1. The noose- a loop made of cordage of some type
  2. The anchor- usually a wooden peg of some sort
  3. The leader line- made of some type of cordage

Today we will use paracord, as it has many applications in survival and can be utilized in several ways. If you do not have any, you can use many different things as long as they are cordage. In primitive times, they didn’t have wire, rope, or paracord and used leather or plants fibers.

Some plants that provide fibers to use for cords are:

  • Cattails
  • Stinging nettles
  • Inner bark trees like cedar or elm
  • Palm

Many snares employ a trigger system, but today we will be using a simple noose and anchor type. It is an incredibly effective set up. It can be used in many situations and is a very popular method to snare small game.

In many states, snares can be illegal. These primitive methods are being shown to be employed in survival situations.

How to Build a Basic Snare With Paracord

Material list:

  • Thick wooden peg or stick
  • Paracord
  • Sharp ax or mallet
  • Sharp knife

Step 1: choosing a location for your basic snare

choosing snare location
Photo: choosing snare location

You need to consider your prey. Do you see holes or well-worn paths? Have you seen droppings? Nesting spots anywhere, or young animals spotted? The absence of predators?

Here is where we decided to place out snare, as it has a nicely worn path and no big predators in the vicinity that we have seen. Look at the natural trails and spots in these ideal pictures.

Step 2: Build your anchor

building a snare anchor
Photo: building a snare anchor

We need a piece of wood or stick that we can use as an anchor for our snare. Look for a piece strong enough so when the snare has caught a target, it is not pulled up or lets the animal get away by breaking.

Select a limber stick with some bounce, so it won’t break as to its spring. Green wood, living wood that is, is nice for this. The smell may bring some animals for its nice tender insides too!

Step 3: Make a point on your wooden anchor piece

make a point on wooden piece
Photo: make a point on wooden piece

You will want the anchor to go into the ground easily and deeply, so carve a point on the end with a knife or small axe. The point will help it slide into the ground.

Step 4: Get your paracord measured out

measuring paracord

measure paracord

For the type of snare, about 18-24” should do it. That’s about 3 hand lengths of cord for a man.

Step 5: Separate your Paracord

separate paracord

separate paracord 2

We will only be utilizing one strand of the paracord inside pieces. Most paracord has 7 strands, so pull them out and separate them, putting the rest up for later use. You can use them for multiple sets of snares for the most success.

Step 6: Burn your ends on your paracord to seal it in advance with a lighter or match.

burn aracord ends

Burn the extra so it will not unravel, and store it safely. So many uses for this magic stuff!! The tensile strength makes it the survival duct tape!!

Step 7: Notch your anchor

notch anchor 1
Photo: carving an anchor with a knife
notch anchor
Photo: notch anchor

Use a blade to create a notch to keep your cord from slipping off. Tie your cord around the notch to place it tightly.

Step 8: Secure the height

Measure the height you will want to use, and plant your pointed stake anchor into the ground away from the direction the animal will travel for leverage. You want the height to be about where the head and body will go through, off the ground. We will use surrounding brush supports to keep it off the ground.

Step 9: Place your anchor in the ground to set it

placing anchor in the ground
Photo: placing anchor in the ground

Use a mallet or a hammer to drive your anchor into the ground. This will set your trap, making it ready to place your noose.

Step 10: Set the noose of the snare

Use the paracord to make a loop, and you will want to open the paracord about the size and width of a fist. This is about fox height and placed where the neck will go through first, on a trail, as he ducks under the natural brush.

Step 11: Support your noose

support snare nose
Photo: support snare nose

Find small forked sticks, or use surrounding vegetation to keep your noose in place at the animals head level.

Step 12: Step back and look at the most successful primitive trap in history, updated with modern paracord! This is the small game one.

fnished paracord snare
Photo: fnished paracord snare

A Few Tips on Having a Successful Paracord Snare

The more snares you set, the more you stand to have success at trapping some meat.

Snares are lightweight and inexpensive. Put them in your BOB (bug out bag) and in any survival resource kits you have.

Depending on what you are hunting, remains from other catches and snares make good bait.

You can use the brains of your kill to tan its hide. Most animals have the right amount for their own hide, it’s weird how nature worked that out.

Eat what you kill, unless it’s sickly or diseased, or something has chewed a part away and contaminated the meat.

You will want to check your snares several times a day, and at least every 24 hours. This is especially true in warm weather and springtime. You do not want something to eat your catch, or it to spoil.

Meat is not the only survival benefit from DYI snares, you can utilize the fur and use its rawhide for cordage, lashings and clothing. Bones can be fashioned into spear points, hooks, or many tools.

Paracord is multifunctional, so when you remove the snare, reuse it.

Do not leave any trace, if you can avoid it, of being there. Most animals are creatures of habit, and can be spooked when their regular habits and surroundings are suddenly changed.

If you have the luxury, walk the paths to accustom the area and its inhabitants to your being there and your smell. They will smell you. Desensitize them and you will be more fruitful in your hunts.

Use every part of the animal you can, out of respect for the life you have taken.

Wrapping It Up

In any survival situation, energy conservation and time need to be used as effectively as possible. Teaching yourself basic skills to cover you, and your family’s needs can make you very successful in an extended survival scenario where food will be a critical factor for that survival. Being as well-rounded as possible in as many survival skills as you can, can only be a good thing. It’s better to not have to use it at all, but it can be lifesaving to have the knowledge when you need it and have to rely on your skills to make it in an emergency or survival situation.

Please join us for our ongoing series on using primitive snares and bringing them into the modern age to make them even better!

About Dyann Joyce

Dyann Joyce
Growing up in the Bluegrass State, it was a point of familial pride to be able to shoot, trap, identify plants and track animals. Summer camps helped us be well versed in camping, weapons, and survival skills from a young age. We were surrounded by such a lush environment and we used the resources we had. I met my soulmate in my happiest place to be- a seemingly enchanted winding trail next to a beautiful wooded glen- where I spent as much time exploring as I could during daylight hours with my trusty four-legged friends. I thought I would be a natural scientist like Audubon and travel the world NatGeo style painting and recording the fantastical. I love to create and paint in many mediums. After 3 years following the nursing track, I switched to natural and holistic medicine as that is where my passion lies. I am hoping to finish my doctorate in homeopathic and botanical medicine to achieve my nMD in Naturopathic Medicine by late 2018 (hopefully). The bucket list includes living the days painting and writing on a fully self-sufficient homestead, off-grid with our animals and family and plenty of land for the significant other (who I think is a true artist at weapons and living that way) to shoot to his heart’s content. Naturally organic living for us and the animals is a goal.

2 comments

  1. Avatar

    just a question. how practical is paracord for this application? maybe it’s fine, i’ve never tried it… but my first thought is that it would easily be gnawed through by squirrels, rabbits and the like. just curious if you’ve had success with it. nice easy to follow directions. photos were a great teaching tool!

    • Avatar

      I just saw this, sorry about the delay.
      Actually paracord worked pretty well, the one drawback was there were less live animals. I guess wire supports the loop better? But as paracord was more slippery, and I only used it above ground at head height, it seemed to do the job. Maybe if it was loose and laying on the ground, they may chew through it? I know when I tried to pull it up by hand, I yanked and it didnt come out and left blood blisters where it bit into my skin as I kept pulling. It has been successful with squirrel and rabbit here.
      Thanks for the comment!

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