Baited squirrel snare attempt

It was around noon, the beginning of an overnight survival outing. I hadn't had anything to eat except for some partridge and wintergreen berries.

In an area of heavy squirrel activity, I set about building a baited snare. 

I found a 1.5 inch diameter beech sapling and lopped off the top, about 6 feet up. I cut the part I'd removed into two snare components: a long stake with a 90 degree lip near the top; and a short piece with an opposing lip, to connect with the stake. The other end of this trigger piece was to be tied to the sapling. Also to this trigger piece I tied a wire noose from my bug-out box, which would encircle the opening to a small cage of sticks, in which a bait stick with peanut butter would be placed.

With the pieces cut, I was ready to set it up. I pounded the stake into the soft, loamy soil. To test its staying power, I tied the trigger piece to the sapling and attempted to fit the opposing lip edges together. The sapling immediately pulled the 12 inch stake from the ground.

There was no way the stake would work in this soil.

I hunted for another proximal sapling to chop down near its base and carve an anchored lip edge into, thus avoiding the stake. Nothing usable nearby. There was a largely rotted sapling stump in just the right spot, but it was too soft. I dug down into the dirt and found a strong root near the surface. I cut the top 3 inches from the stake, and tied the bottom end to the root, thus providing an anchor. I then attempted to test the staying power again. The 50 lb test braided nylon string immediately snapped. I replaced it with black 550 lb test paracord.

Testing a third time, the snare held just fine.

Next I secured the wire noose (I prepared several of these ahead of time to stock my bug-out box) to the trigger piece. I built a small enclosure by pushing 6-8 inch sticks into a ¾ circle formation. I put two tiny Y-shaped twigs in the entryway and rested the noose on these. Finally, I placed a small bait stick in the center of the enclosure and put some peanut butter on it.

The peanut butter came from a small individual size packet of the nasty sugary and added trans fat variety, as one of these fits easily into the bug-out box. 

I could smell it was slightly rancid in spite of the trans fats – hopefully squirrels aren't too picky.

With everything in place, I then carefully set the snare, bracing the top of the sapling under my armpit while getting the trigger and stake components aligned. It held.

The stake piece, modified and tied to a root
The string snapped, so I replaced with paracord
Close-up of the stake and trigger pieces
The light string on the trigger piece does not serve a purpose, it's just excess
Close up of the enclosure and noose
The whole setup
A day later, I returned to find the snare still set up, with none of the bait gone. Apparently the squirrels had no interest in the peanut butter. I left it for a second night, only to be disappointed again.

I can think of a few candidate explanations for why I was not successful. 

First, I set only one snare. If each snare has, say, a 10% chance of catching an animal on any given night, I would need to set up 10 snares for one night, or 5 snares for 2 nights in order to get an expected value of one trapped animal. My inexperience with the snare caused me to take way too long constructing it, thus completing just one.

Second, this was just after a heavy acorn season. Maybe the squirrels don't go for bait in times of plenty. I've seen this happen in my yard. The squirrels have no interest in my pear tree during an acorn year, but steal every single fruit during a non-acorn year. Maybe, rather than setting a baited snare, I should have taken the time to place it on a squirrel "highway" of sorts. This type of snare is triggered simply by the animal passing through during its daily routine. Maybe I should have set a few of each.

Third, I spent way, way too much time in the trapping area (close to 2 hours). I did not attempt to de-scent myself before going into the trapping area either. Maybe the squirrels had no interest in the trap because it reeked of human.

I just don't know. I've been putting off this critical task of getting competent at trapping for years. I think it is time to begin a period of constant effort and heavy experimentation.

I will not feel like a competent survivalist until I get confident in my ability to snare an animal.

No comments:

Post a Comment