Scouring the internet for various go-to traps has landed me an obvious conclusion: there isn’t really a standard trap. All essential bushcraft traps fall into three distinctive categories, and for the most part, all of them can be improvised by tearing them down to the basics. The tensioned crossbow trap you’re seeing online is likely a combination of a few simple triggers for traps.
Even Arnold and team used “boyscout bullshit” [read: a modified snare trigger] for their bushcraft traps in attempts to contain the Predator.
Three Types of Traps
The three types of traps can be broken down in to the above. For snares and deadfalls, the basics come down to the triggers for that trap. For pits, well, its just a hole. Add spikes for flavor.
Because this is an article about triggers for traps, we’ll stick to the first two traps.
Triggers for Snare Traps
This is the most simple trigger to remember the design for when you’re one-handed and fumbling around after having sliced your thumb off while whittling a stake. This is the same type of trigger in that Predator scene above.
This trigger only requires two sticks and can be versatile enough for the most complicated of bushcraft traps. However, we’re keeping it simple so the basic use-cases would be small game and fish.
- Two sticks
- A source of tension, like a branch or sapling
- Cordage to put the trap together
Two assemble the trigger, you need two opposing notches, with one being the stake.
Triggers for Deadfall Traps
Coming from a guy who failed algebra and didn’t even attempt the triangles math, these triggers for deadfall traps are more complicated than the snare trigger.
There are two deadfall trap styles that I believe to be the most known. Most people set up the figure-four deadfall trap as it only involves sticks. Others set up the Paiute deadfall trap as it is subjectively more reliable and sensitive.
This Paiute trigger mechanism is using the tension on the back of the highest stick, connected by cordage, to an opposite tension stick being wrapped around the main pillar. That tension is being held in place by the trigger stick.
The figure four trigger for deadfall traps is a little different, only using sticks. This one relies on a Lincoln log connection between the pillar and bait stick that keeps tension on the top beam.
This is the easy one*. Dig a hole and camouflage it. Maybe fill it with spikes.
*Not great for trapping things with wings, or things that can climb.