Hunting for food isn’t easy — chasing down animals in the wild burns a lot of time and energy, and it can be highly inconsistent. The ideal situation is to sit back, relax, and let the food come to us. That’s why we transitioned from foraging for wild edibles to growing our own crops near our homes.

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However, primitive trapping isn’t easy either. There’s a lot that can go wrong with a trap. If the trigger is too sensitive, it’ll go off with a slight breeze; if it’s not sensitive enough, the prey will scamper away with your bait. There’s a lot of trial and error involved unless you can learn from someone more experienced. In the past, this knowledge was taught from one generation to the next, but these days we can all learn from each other through the internet.

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In the following video, YouTube survival instructor Bob Hansler shows how to make one of the most well-known primitive traps of all time: the Paiute deadfall. This trap, which is named after the Paiute Native Americans who invented it, is composed of a large flat-faced stone or log, four sticks, and a piece of cordage.

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The parts are as follows:

  • Lever: Supports the deadfall weight. One end is connected to the trigger stick with cordage.
  • Fulcrum: A sturdy forked upright stick to support the lever. The base of this fulcrum should be placed on smooth, flat, solid ground (or a rock or wood plank).
  • Toggle: A small piece of wood tied to the lever stick and wrapped around the fulcrum.
  • Trigger: This long, thin twig is placed between the toggle and deadfall weight, and used to suspend the bait.

Hansler explains the configuration and necessary angle in the video below. He then demonstrates making a large trap for raccoons, coyotes, rabbits, and other medium-sized animals, as well as a smaller trap for scurrying rodents. As he wisely notes, you’ll need to set several traps in varying sizes and locations to improve your chances in a survival situation. You should also be actively hunting, fishing, and foraging for wild edibles if you expect to eat consistently.

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