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We often hear about the virtues of primitive trapping, and on the surface, it seems like an easy way to catch animals for food with limited effort. It's often said that all you need is a looped strand of picture wire, paracord, or even strong monofilament line to create a snare. Then you can place it on a game trail, and wait for animals to get caught. However, in a real survival situation, it won't be so easy.
So-called primitive traps include snares, deadfall traps, and cage-style traps constructed from simple materials. These range from the well-known Paiute deadfall to more sophisticated traps like the bow trap seen above. With substantial training and practice, it's possible to construct these traps from materials found in the wild — plant-based cordage, sticks, and rocks. We also know that Native American cultures used improvised traps like these to supplement their other food sources when hunting became difficult.
If you look at the traps above and think, that looks easy, you may need to think again. These traps require substantial practice and precision to set up, and those who have watched the survival TV show Alone will probably recall how frustratingly inconsistent they proved to be for the contestants.
If the balance isn't perfect, or the wind changes direction, your trap may fall apart. If the trigger sensitivity isn't spot-on, they may go off prematurely or fail to go off when an animal takes the bait. Or, even if everything else goes according to plan, the animal may still escape the trap after it is triggered.
In many cases, you may expend valuable time and energy building traps, only to find that they produce minimal calories in return. This leads to the question: is it wise to plan on constructing primitive traps in a survival scenario, or should you add modern trapping tools to your bug-out bag?
The following YouTube video from The Wooded Beardsman compares these primitive trapping methods to more modern steel traps. Note: the following video contains footage of live and dead wild animals in traps. Discretion is advised for sensitive viewers.
We're certainly not ready to say that primitive traps are worthless, since they have been used by native cultures for centuries to provide a viable backup food source. Then again, considering all the variables and the wide array of commercial tools available, there's a compelling case for modern steel traps or snares that can dramatically increase your odds of catching food. There's nothing more depressing in a survival situation than spending hours or days to set traps, only to see them fail to catch anything.
What do you think — would you take the time to set primitive traps in a survival situation? Do you carry modern trapping tools in your bug-out kit?