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Survival Training

Deadfalls, Fish Traps, Snares, and Triggers

Please note: Young people are encouraged to attend our classes. However, due to liability concerns, anyone under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.

After achieving shelter, fire, and water, it is time to turn ones attention toward satisfying those incessant hunger pangs. Aside from cold and thirst, there is very little which has a greater affect on ones mood and outlook than a nagging hunger. I once spent a couple of weeks in the North Central part of Michigan's lower peninsula. There was absolutely no game to be had. The entire two weeks we were there, I was only able to procure one anorexic rabbit. I can recall in vivid detail how thoughts of food dominated my mind. Small game was virtually nonexistent. At the time I knew very little about edible plants, so my buddy and I were left to wallow in our hunger. We were reduced to supplementing the few chickadees we were able to shoot with our shotguns with worms, grubs, and various other insects. I knew there had to be a better way. I found a book on traditional survival trapping. This book allowed me to learn the mechanics of building traps. However it was years before I understood the thought process behind constructing and placing various traps in such a manner as to make them effectively supply a steady source of much needed protein. Survival is about making intelligent decisions. When it comes to procuring food, it only makes sense to find a way to passively secure protein while you busy yourself with the myriad other things necessary to improve your situation.

In this class you will learn the theory and mechanics behind building and using survival snares, deadfalls, and fish traps. Not only will we talk about which traps are most productive based upon your location, we will also talk about how and where to place them in order to achieve maximum success. This class is not just about theory though. You will learn by actually building snares, deadfalls, and fish traps. We will study passive, springpole, and treadle snares. We will also discuss and build triggered deadfalls, fishing snares, trot lines, and a couple of different types of fish traps.


The deadfall is one of the most ancient form of traps known to man. It has remained unchanged since the dawn of man. The reason for this is simple; it works. The idea behind a deadfall is to suspend a weight equal to approximately 3-4 times the body weight of the animal you are trying to kill. Before suspending the weight, it is important to figure out the best way in which to cause said weight to be dropped on your prey. You can use any number of triplines, but one of my favorite methods of triggering this trap is to set a figure 4 trigger. This trigger is genius in its simplicity. Making this trigger is very straight forward. It consists of 3 sticks arranged to look like the number four. While this trigger is easy to make, its use requires much more finesse than one might first think. I have seen many a deadfall fail because of poor trigger construction. On a recent episode of Naked and Afraid, I watched a supposedly experienced survivalist construct a deadfall with a figure four trigger. When he came back the next day he found his bait gone. The trap had been sprung, but his trigger was improperly placed, causing it to actually suspend the weight when it was sprung. He railed against the unreliability of deadfalls. I found that funny because had he simply set the trigger properly he and his partner would have been dining on small furries. We will also discuss and build a Paiute deadfall. Due to its simplicity this has become one of my go to deadfalls.


There are two main types of snares. Passive snares, and spring snares.

Just as its name implies a passive snare works by an animal or bird becoming tangled in a tethered slip loop. As the prey struggles, the noose tightens, and the animal is eventually strangled.

Spring assisted snares also consist of a tethered slip loop. That loop is attached to a mechanical method of applying hoisting pressure to life the animal, thereby hastening strangulation. If you are in an area which has a good predator population, if you construct the spring pole snare properly it will hoist and hold the animal in a position where predators cannot take advantage of an easy meal.

Fish Traps

Man has been trapping fish since the beginning of time. The methods of trapping fish seem to be just as varied as species of fish which inhabit our waters. Some of my favorite fish traps are baskets, springpole fish snares, fish corrals, and trot lines.

A fish basket is simply a cone placed small end into a larger holding area. The fish swim into the large end of the cone, and through the smaller hole into the holding tank, where they are trapped because then cannot find the exit. A simple basket can be constructed using a discarded 2 liter plastic bottle. My preferred method is to weave one from flexible vines or thin willow switches; basically anything that is available locally.

A spring pole fish snare is a standard spring pole snare built next to a body of water. A long fishing line and hook of some sort is baited and attached to the snare trigger mechanism. When the fish takes the bait, it triggers the snare, which springs, and sets the hook. While this is considered a passive method of fishing, it does require some monitoring because if left for too long, the fish can free itself from the hook.

A fish corral works along the same principals as a fish basket. A corral large corral is created by placing rocks, or pushing sticks into the bottom. Once the main corral has been constructed, an conical entrance is created leading into the corral. It should be placed in such a manner so as to make it easy to get into and difficult to get out of. When constructed properly, fish corrals are a highly effective of catching a steady supply of fish protein.

Trot lines consist of a large heavy gauge line anchored across a body of water. Baited hooks are suspended from drop lines at intervals across the main line. This is also a highly effective means of securing fish. Along with trot lines, one can also practice jug fishing. This is done by attaching baited hooks to sealed floating milk jugs or soda bottles. These are then simply allowed to float on the surface of the water. I place these late in the afternoon, or early evening, and come back to check them in the morning. Because of the fact that they are free floating, they can end up far from where they were originally placed. It is therefore important to use this method only if you have a method of gathering these jugs.

Survival Trapping Class Photos

Classes are conducted throughout Mid-Michigan. I can also adapt a class to the specific needs of a group of participants.

My survival trapping course is approximately 8 hours long. This course is designed to introduce you to the basics of survival trapping. Michigan law only allows survival trapping in an actual survival situation. We will therefore not be able to trap any animals in this class. We will discuss and construct various snares and dead falls. We will also discuss and build other methods of trapping food.

Pre-Registration Cost $75.00

Day of Class Cost $85.00

Minimum kit for the survival trapping class

  • Fix blade knife

  • Camp ax or hatchet

  • Camp chair

  • Insect repellant (Head net)

  • 50' - 100' of 550 paracord or bank-line

The 2nd amendment to the US Constitution grants us the right to keep and bear arms so your firearm is welcome.

 Our Survival Trapping Course

 is a day long class


Proposed Survival Course Schedule for 2016.

August: 27

(This schedule may be subject to change based upon interest)

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Refund Policy: Prepaid course fees, less Pay Pal fee will be happily refunded for cancellations

made at least 24 hours prior to the course date.

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Revised: 07/07/16 Living Afield