Any good Mountain Man, worth his salt, was a master with a snare. Sure, many carried metal traps and weapons, but a simple snare was reliable and required little or no materials to make. When watching Reality TV shows, snares rarely work. Fire starting skills are also lacking. Mountain Men and Native Peoples could plan on dinner using these Old Ways.
Mountain Men often ate 25 lbs. of meat a day. It might take several birds, rabbits, squirrels, or fish to make a meal. Shooting a rifle at a squirrel was a waste of powder and lead. Local enemies would also hear the gunshot and come to visit. They may also go hungry for several days at a time.
Snares were silent and simple. Back in my Boy Scout days, I helped run a survival camp where Scouts were taught to make snares, deadfalls, and gather food. They had a choice of an axe or knife. The axe was the better choice. You could use it for protection and still shave wood for tinder. The steel axe and a flint would make a spark for fire. The young Men learned the basics of Survival.
Snares generally target rabbits, but you can catch a variety of critters in a proper set. Raccoons, skunks, groundhogs, birds, squirrels, fish, porcupine, and snakes are possible menu items. Be prepared to dispatch a snare caught critter when approaching your traps. On one snare set, I caught a 6-foot-long Bull Snake!
You can use many materials to make a snare loop. Plenty of YouTube videos will show you how. Generally thin wire is used since it is hard to tear, break or bite through. I have used vines, animal sinew, and fishing line with great success. Natural or invisible materials make an unseen set. These materials are more fragile but when added to a spring pole or branch, they kill quickly.
Setting Spring Pole Snare sets along streams works great for fishing. Add a hook to your line and bait it. Worms or insects work fine. Drop it into a fishy hole and attach it to a whippy tree with a set trigger. When the fish hits the hook and pulls, the branch will set the hook. I once made a dozen fish snares and caught 12 trout!
The key to a proper Snare is where you place it. Locate trails or confined paths. Set the snare and block other ways around it. Use natural materials to funnel the critter into and through the snare. Beggars can’t be choosers!
Consider scent when placing Snares. You may add some scent or bait to attract a critter or rub your hands in dirt to cover your own. Try to think like an animal. Look for fresh sign, scat, hollows, nests, dens, etc. Squirrels, martins, and weasels travel along fallen or ramped trees. Set several Snares in a line.
A simple snare kit might include a small spool or wire or heavy, stiff tippet material. Be sure to anchor your Snare so the critter can’t get away with it. Using bird netting is also a quick way to make a snare or entangle birds and squirrels. In a pinch, I once used a trout net and a Spring Branch set to catch a rabbit. I have also seen Woodsmen Snare small deer using heavier wire or cable.
Whatever you Snare for dinner, it will taste wonderful when you are hungry.
For more Montana Grant, trap him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.