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My Bug-Out Shelter Kit

When some people are camping they like to be in a tent; other people like to sleep in the open or under a tarp.  I am in the later group.  If the weather is nice, I like to sleep in a hammock or a sleeping bag and bivy sack under the stars.  If the weather is threatening rain or if it is cold; I like to sleep under a tarp.  There are several reasons that I prefer a tarp.  For one, tarps are very light to carry.  My tarp set-up including lines, stakes, etc. weighs 3 lbs. 10 oz.(that’s about 1.65 kilos for my non-American friends).  For another thing, a tarp is very versatile as far as different set-ups.  A tarp can be set up to take advantage of a fire for additional heat in the winter, and it can be suspended overhead to allow better air circulation in the summer.  A tarp also allows better exterior visibility than a tent.  And lastly, a tarp can be used in conjunction with a hammock, something that is not possible with your average tent.

I’m going to do a couple of posts on my favorite tarp set-ups; but before I do that, I thought it might be good to show you my bug-out tarp kit.  Some might say that I include too much in my kit.  Some of the items could be foraged or manufactured in the wild.  This is true.  You could, in fact, build your entire shelter from foraged materials, and I encourage you learn how to do just that.  But, everything about survival is a trade-off.  You have to constantly be thinking about how much space you have in your pack, the weight of items that you carry, the time necessary to locate and/or make items in the wild, and the calories burned carrying items as opposed to the calories burned making items.  I consider the small amount of added weight in my kit to be negligible compared to the time and calories used to do things like cutting tent stakes.  My whole tarp kit weighs three pounds and ten ounces and rolls up into a nice 24” by 6” bundle.

Using the items in this kit I can make my three favorite tarp set-ups without any additional materials. So anyhow, this is what’s in my kit.

Item number one is my tarp.  It is an inexpensive vinyl tarp that you can get at Harbor Freight or Wal-Mart.  The tarp is about eight by ten feet.  I used tarps like this for several years; but I recently modified it, as outlined in the previous two posts, by painting the inside with reflective aluminum paint, and I have added a center loop to the outside.

Some set-ups require a ridge line.  I carry a twenty-five foot piece of 550 para-cord to use as a ridge line.  It has permanent loop tied into one end.  The ends of all of my cords have been melted to prevent fraying.  Be sure that you use good, military grade para-cord, not the cheap stuff from the craft store.

A 40 inch long bungee cord is handy for quickly setting up plow-point shelters (more on that in the next post).

I carry eight guy lines that come in handy for some set-ups.  Each guy line is six feet long with a permanent loop in one end.

My kit includes eight tent stakes.  Two on them are about eleven inches long and made of steel. 

The other six are seven inches long and made of aluminum.  These are actually aluminum nails that are used to hang rain gutters.  You can buy them at the hardware store for about fifty cents each. 

I keep them bundled together with one of those thread covered rubber hair bands.

Some small loops of para-cord come in handy for certain set-ups.  I carry six pre-made loops bundled together with a hair band.

I carry four little sticks that are pre-cut to about two inches long.  These are used for tarp attachments and to secure easy release knots (more on this later).

All of the lines, stakes, and etc. are stored in a small stuff-sack.

The last item in my kit is a piece of camo netting that I can drape across the front of my shelter to help conceal it.

So, that’s my tarp kit.  In subsequent posts I will show you how to make several tarp set-ups using the items in this kit.

Adding a Center Loop to your Vinyl Survival Tarp

Most vinyl tarps have grommets around the outside edges but few, if any, have loops on the back of the tarp.  A center loop can be very helpful with tarp set-ups like the diamond fly, also called the plow point.  The center loop allows you to attach a line in the middle of the tarp and give a little lift to take the sag out of your ridgeline.  But, my $15 Harbor Freight tarp didn’t have a center loop; so I decided to attach one myself.

I have added loops to canvas tarps by stitching and then re-waterproofing the affected area, but I was concerned that this wouldn’t work on vinyl.  I was afraid that it would either leak or tear out too easily, so I thought that maybe I could glue the loops on for a stronger and more leak-proof bond.  I found a You Tube video by a young fellow who goes by “Brave the Wilds” in which he glued on tarp loops (check out his You Tubes at www.youtube.com/user/bravethewilds), so I followed his lead and proceeded as follows.

To do this project you will need the following:

Tape measure

Marking pen

Woven nylon webbing

Scissors

Ice pick and heat source

Straight pin

Sewing machine or needle and thread\

Medium grit sand paper (one small piece)

Rubbing alcohol

Cotton ball

Two part, five minute epoxy

Some weights

First cut a piece of nylon webbing that is about six to six and one half inches long.

Next, heat the ice pick in a flame and use it to gently melt the ends of the webbing.  This will keep it from unraveling.

Fold the webbing in half and pin it about an inch from the loose ends.

At this point you can sew across the loop by hand of with a sewing machine.  My wife sewed it for me on her machine, and she went back and forth about three times to make it good and strong.

So now you have your loop and it’s time to prepare for gluing.

Lay your tarp out on a flat, hard surface and set the loop down on your center mark.

Use your marking pen to outline the area to which the loop tabs will be glued.

Use the sandpaper to very lightly rough up the surface of the tarp and the tabs of the nylon webbing.  This will help the glue adhere better.

Dampen the cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and clean the surface of the tarp and the loop tabs.  Let them dry for a few minutes.

Mix the five minute epoxy according to directions.

Apply epoxy to the tarp trying to stay inside the outline that you have drawn.  Get a good coat of epoxy but don’t overdo it.

Apply epoxy to the loop tabs

And press the tabs into place.

Place some weights on the top of the tabs to press them down but don’t get epoxy on the weights or you may end up with them glued to the tarp.  A couple of small pieces of wax paper between the tabs and the weights might help prevent accidental gluing.

Note that 5 minute epoxy sets in 5 minutes but it is not cured and strong.  You should leave the weights in place for at least over-night to make sure that the loop is firmly attached.

When you remove the weights you will have a nice web loop attached to your tarp.

Here are a couple of pictures of the tarp loop in use.  It seems to be firmly in place and doing its job.

Make an Inexpensive Reflector Tarp for a Warm Survival Shelter

The wilderness survival community has, of late, taken a keen interest in using reflector blankets or reflector tarps to help create warmer lean-too shelters.  The idea is that if the inside of your lean-too has a reflective surface, it will reflect the heat of a campfire onto you as you lie in the shelter.

This is not really a new idea.  I can recall Mors Kochanski advocating for this quite a few years ago when he developed his concept of the “super shelter.”  Mors suggested placing a shiny Mylar survival blanket on the inside of your tarp to reflect radiant heat into the shelter.  More recently I have seen several companies selling survival blankets/tarps.  These survival tarps are made of more durable material than Mylar and they have a reflective surface on one side and grommets to aid in set-up of a shelter.  One problem with these commercial tarps is that the ones I have found are fairly small.  What I am going to show you here is how to make any size vinyl tarp into a reflective tarp that is pretty durable and quite a bit cheaper than a commercially made model.  Let me emphasize that I have only done this with vinyl tarps.  I don’t know how it would work with nylon or other fabrics.

The idea for this tarp came to me in a blinding flash of the obvious when I was working on one of the out-buildings on my farm.  The building in question is about 25 years old and is covered in corrugated sheet metal.  The metal was starting to look a little on the rusted side, so I decided that I would paint it with some Rust Stop metallic aluminum paint from our local Ace Hardware store.  I bought a gallon of the stuff for about $30 US.

They also had quarts for about $10, but I knew that a quart wouldn’t be enough.  So, anyway, here I am standing up on a ladder painting this building when the sun comes up over the trees.  In about ten minutes I started feeling like a rotisserie chicken.  Man, I thought, this stuff really reflects some heat, and that’s when it hit me.  I wonder if I could paint this stuff onto a vinyl tarp?  Well, sure enough, I had about a half-gallon of paint left when I finished painting the building, so I decided to try a little experiment on a tarp.  I got an old tarp and painted a couple of square feet with the aluminum paint.  It flowed on smoothly and covered with one coat. It also didn’t appear to be damaging the vinyl in any way.  So far; so good.  I let it dry in the sun for a couple of hours before I gave it the durability test.  When it was dry I scraped it with my finger nails and there was no peeling.  I folded it into a crease, wadded it up, and just generally tried to make the paint crack or peal.  The tarp seemed to be completely flexible, and the paint adhered beautifully.  I thought to myself, “We may have a winner.”

I unstrapped the 8’ x 10’ camo vinyl tarps that my wife and I have attached to our bug-out bags and went to work.  I laid a tarp out on the ground and used a three inch foam brush to apply the paint.

It went on easily and took about 45 minutes to apply.  I left the tarp out in the sun for a couple of hours to dry.

When it was nice and dry I gave it another round of durability testing, and it seemed to work great.  Even better, painting the two 8’ x 10’ tarps barely made a dent in my half gallon of paint.  I bet a quart would paint three or four of these tarps, so if you have friends that are into this kind of thing you could share the cost of the paint.

I did learn a couple of lessons from the first tarp that helped make the second one a little easier.  First of all, do this in the shade or on a cloudy day.  These things really, really reflect a lot of light and heat.  Second, use some tent stakes to stake down the corners before you paint.  This keeps the tarp from moving around as you paint it.

So there you go.  An easy way to turn a $15 Wal-mart tarp into a high dollar reflective survival tarp.

Dried Peas from the Survival Garden

When you start talking about peas, people from the Northeastern United States are picturing English Peas; but people in the Southeastern United States are picturing blackeyed peas, purple hull peas, crowder peas, cream peas, lady peas and any of the dozens of other field peas which have long been a staple in the South.  My personal favorite is the pink eyed purple hull pea.  The pink eyed purple hull is an heirloom, bush pea.  It loves hot weather, doesn’t require a lot of water, doesn’t need fertilizer, is an abundant producer, is easy to pick, and it tastes delicious.   As an added bonus, it puts a lot of valuable nitrogen into the soil.  In our area you can get two plantings over the summer; so we get two to four bushels of this pea out of the garden each year.  You pick fresh purple hulls when the pods are dark purple but still soft.  They are great when fresh shelled and fresh cooked, and the fresh frozen ones taste almost as good; but in a grid down situation frozen peas won’t last long.  You could can the fresh peas, but that is sure a lot of work.  In pre-refrigeration days the way to long-term store peas was to dry them.  When dried and stored in dry, air-tight  containers they are edible for years and remain viable for seed easily for two or three years.

Drying peas requires no shelling and no dehydrator.  All you have to do is just leave them on the vine and, when the plant dies, they will dry nicely on their own.

The dried pods will be brittle and a light brown in color as opposed to the soft, pliable, dark purple pods of fresh peas.

Dried peas are also much easier to shell than fresh peas.  The following photos illustrate how I thrash and winnow a small quantity of dried peas.  The time to trash and winnow is on a dry, sunny day when a good wind is blowing.

First I spread a tarp on a table top and lay out my dried peas on it.  A couple of hours of hot sun will drive the last of the moisture out of them and assure that the pods are nice and brittle.

Next step is to use your hands to start crushing up the dried pods.  The vast majority of the peas will separate from the pods at this point.

To further separate the peas, pick up handfuls of the pods and rub them between your palms.  Continue this rubbing until the pods have been reduced to small fragments.  This will complete the trashing process.

Now you need to separate the chaff (crushed up pods, etc) from the peas.  To do this you need a good stiff wind, or if it’s a calm day you can set a fan next to the table and turn it on high (obviously this won’t work in a grid-down scenario).

Pick up a double handful of peas and chaff, raise your hands a couple of feet above the table, and let the peas and chaff slip out from between your hands.  The peas, which are heavier than the chaff, will fall straight down onto the table.  The chaff will be carried away by the wind.

Continue winnowing over and over until most of the chaff has been removed.

Now set a wide pan on the table and, using small quantities of peas at a time, drop them down into the pan. 

You should end up with a pan full of pretty clean peas.  You may have to pick out a few pieces of chaff from the pan, but it shouldn’t be too many.

Store your cleaned peas in air-tight containers and you will have a good long-term source of protein and seed for next year’s planting.

If you are processing a lot of peas, the same principles apply; but instead of a small tarp on top of the table, you can lay a large tarp out on the ground.  Instead of crushing the pods in your hands you can walk on them.  Just make sure that your shoe soles are pretty flat and don’t have lugs or deep treads.  For winnowing you can place a few handfuls of broken down peas and chaff in a wide shallow basket or an upside down trashcan lid and toss the stuff up into the air and let the peas fall back into the lid.  You will have to toss the same batch several times in order to remove the chaff.  Be sure and stand over the tarp when you are winnowing so that any peas that you don’t catch will fall back onto the tarp.  This takes a little bit of practice, but after the first bushel you’ll be doing it like an old pro.

Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls from the Garden

The three main garden ingredients for these cabbage rolls are cabbage, new potatoes, and green onion tops.  I make cabbage rolls this way for one very simple reason; all three of these ingredients are available from my garden at the same time.  These cabbage rolls are actually a combination of two different Polish dishes; golabki, which are cabbage rolls stuffed with a meat and rice mixture; and pierogi, which are a wheat dough dumpling stuffed with a mashed potato mixture.  I came up with this recipe on my own, but I’d be willing to bet that it already exists in some European folk cuisine.  After all, I’m not the first gardener in the world that has potatoes, cabbages, and onions all come ready at the same time.  So let’s make some cabbage rolls.

If you have a garden; start off in the garden.  If you don’t have a garden, start off at the produce market. You will need about two pounds of fresh new potatoes,

a good sized head of cabbage,

and a few green onion tops.  You can use chives, but I just pull a few smaller green onion tops and then cut them up with my kitchen shears.

I also like to add a little diced canned jalapeno to my rolls to give them a little zing.

In addition to these ingredients you will need a couple of tablespoons of butter, a heaping tablespoon of sour cream or plain yogurt, some shredded cheese of your choice, and a little salt and pepper.

Peel your potatoes and put them in a medium pot. Cover and boil slowly until done.

When potatoes are done, drain them and leave the potatoes in the pot.  Use a potato masher or a fork to roughly break the potatoes up.

Add your butter and sour cream and mash the potatoes until they are pretty creamy.

Add shredded cheese and stir in well.

Add salt and pepper to taste and stir again.

Lastly add your green onion and jalapeno and stir until evenly distributed.

Now the filling is finished.  Set it aside or put it into the refrigerator and let it firm up a little while you prepare the cabbage.

To prepare the cabbage first rinse it and then cut out the core.

Put two or three inches of water into a stock pot and place it over high heat.

Put your head of cabbage in the stock pot with the core end down.  You are going to steam the cabbage for a few minutes to soften the leaves and make them easier to remove without breaking.  About five to seven minutes ought to do it.

Turn off the heat and remove the cabbage from the stock pot.  Be careful.  It’s really hot.  I use a couple of big wooden spoons to do this.

Carefully remove the cabbage leaves one at a time and stack them in a pan.  The dark green outer leaves are a little tough, so you are better off using the light-green inner leaves. You will need eight leaves, so remove ten just in case.

Now take a sharp paring knife and shave off the top portion of the rib on each leaf.  By thinning the rib down you will have an easier time rolling up the leaf when the time comes.

Now take your filling and divide it into eight equal portions.  I just flatten it out in the pot and use my knife to slice it into eight wedges like you would a pizza.

Lay a cabbage leaf out on your cutting board with the rib side down and place one of your eight portions of filling at the bottom of the leaf.  I kind of shape it into a little oblong mound.

Roll the leaf up to cover the filling.

Fold the sides of the leaf in even with the ends of the filling.

Now finish rolling up the leaf.

Place the finished cabbage roll into a lightly greased baking dish.

Now repeat this for the rest of the rolls.

When your dish is full cover it with aluminum foil.

Place the covered dish into a preheated 375 degree F. oven and bake for about 20 minutes.  Remember, everything is already cooked.  All you’re doing is heating it up.

I like to top these with butter and sour cream when I serve them.  Note that there’s already a bite missing.  They’re so good that I couldn’t wait.

How to build a Toggle-Trigger Scissor Trap

In this post I’m going to show you how to make one of my favorite survival traps, the toggle-trigger scissor trap.  This is a very fast, killing trap.  It’s kind of the improvised version of a Conibear trap.  If it is set correctly it will kill an animal quickly and humanely.  Please note that I am setting this trap in a location where I can take clear pictures of it, and you can see how it is constructed.  This is not how or where you would set this trap to catch an animal.  I will deal with de-scenting, camouflaging, and how to make an actual trap set in another post.The toggle-trigger scissor trap is not a super complicated trap (simple is better), but it does have quite a few parts.  What I’m going to do is go over the making of the parts step by step, and then we’ll put all the parts together to make the trap.  This trap has a total of ten parts, not counting the cordage, and six of those parts are the trigger assembly.  The good news is that this same trigger assembly can be used on several other traps, so once you get the trigger down you’re more than 50% there on building a number of different kinds of traps.  So let’s get started.

The Toggle-Trigger

As mentioned above, the toggle-trigger assembly has six parts.  You can manufacture all of these parts with nothing more than a pocket or sheath knife, and you can assemble the trap with nothing more than a knife and a rock; but a multi-tool with a saw blade and a small hatchet make it a lot easier to do the job.

The six parts for the trigger are as follow:

First you will need two fairly long stakes with a down-slanting side branch.  The diameter of these stakes will depend on the size trap you are building.  The stakes illustrated below are about ¾ inch in diameter. These stakes will be driven into the ground, and there will be considerable upward pressure on them; so they should be a minimum of a foot long below the side branch.  Make sure that the tops are flat and the bottoms are pointed so that you can drive them more easily into the ground.You will need a cross-bar to hold your toggle.  This is nothing more than a straight stick that is about six inches long.  This one is about ½ inch in diameter.The toggle itself is a straight stick that is about two inches long and maybe 3/8 inch in diameter.  Notice that I have carved a small groove around the center of the toggle.  This is not completely necessary, but it only takes a minute to do, and it will insure a more positive fit for your trigger line.The last two parts of the trigger assembly are the trigger stick and what I call the bumper stake.  The bumper stake is about ¾ inch in diameter and about six inches long.  About five inches of the bumper stake will be driven down into the ground so it needs to be sharpened on the bottom end.The trigger stick is the part that makes the whole thing work.  It is what will hold the bait and spring the trap when an animal takes the bait.  It will have considerable pressure on it, so it is best if it is a dead and dry, but solid stick.  A green stick may bend and not hold the toggle back.  This trigger stick is about ¼ inch in diameter and the length will be determined by the final trap set.  For now you should cut it about a foot long, and then you can cut it to final length when you set the trap.So, that’s it for the trigger parts.  Now let’s make the final four parts that will actually capture the animal.

First we will need to make the scissor.  This will consist of two straight sticks that are about 3/8 inch in diameter and about ten inches long.  Size will, of course, vary according to the target animal and the size of the trap.You want to cut the bottom of each scissor stick at about a 45 degree angle so that when you put the bottoms together the sticks will spread out at about a 90 degree angle.Next, come up about 3/8 inch or so from the slanted bottoms and carve a shallow groove around each stick.Now go to the top of each stick, about 3/8 inches from the end, and carve another shallow groove.Now set these aside and we’ll make the scissor guides.

The scissor guides are part of the trap that help guide the scissors, and help the scissors ensnare the animal.  They will have a great deal of upward pressure on them when the trap is sprung, so they must be set firmly in the ground.  The size of the guides and the depth to which they must be set is determined by the target animal and the size of the trap.  One important consideration for the scissor guides is that they have to be bent into a half hoop.  They must be flexible enough to bend without breaking, but still sturdy enough to hold the game.  In my experience, the scissor guides are the hardest part of the trap to locate and make.Setting up the Trap

To set up the scissor trap you are going to need about five feet of nylon twine and about two feet of waxed Dacron (artificial sinew).  You don’t absolutely have to have the waxed Dacron.  Just use what you have or what you can make.  The trap will still work.You are going to need something to power your trap.  In this instance I am using a sapling as a spring-pole.  You could use a counter-weight just as easily although that would take considerably more twine. I will talk more about counter weights in a later post.First you want to bend your spring-pole down so that you can see exactly where you should to position your trigger assembly.  When you have that location, start off by driving your two forked stakes into the ground about four inches apart.Your cross bar will fit under the forks in the two stakes.Next you will need to position and drive down the bumper stake.  The best way to do this is to put it about eight inches from your cross bar and then come back and cut your trigger stick to the appropriate length.This picture shows how to measure the length of the trigger stick.  Notice that the toggle stick is on the front side of the cross bar, and the trigger stick goes from there to the bumper stake.Now you will need about three feet of nylon twine to set the trigger.Tie one end of the twine firmly around the toggle stick.Move up the string about a foot and tie a knot in it.  The reason for this knot will be explained in a minute.Then tie the other end of the string onto your spring pole.To set the trigger, bring the toggle down in back of the cross bar, then twist it up in front of the cross bar and set the trigger stick between the top of the toggle and the bumper stake.  The picture below shows the trigger after it has been set.  It is best to go ahead and smear the trigger stick with bait or shove bait onto the stick before you set the trigger.  You can do this later but you will have to be very careful not to spring the trap.Now let’s put together the scissor:

 

Take some of your waxed Dacron and tie together the slanted ends of your two scissor sticks.  Leave a little space between them so that the sticks can be pulled out into a “V” shape.

Now go to the other end of the sticks and, using more Dacron, tie a loop at the top of one of the sticks.Take about two feet of nylon twine and tie one end of it to the top of the other stick and then thread the loose end of the nylon through the Dacron loop on the other stick.When your scissor is completed it should look like this.Take the two sticks that you have cut for your scissor guides and bend them carefully into a half hoop and then shove them down firmly into the ground.  They should be about an inch-and-a-half apart and should be located two or three inches away from the trigger stick.  This photo shows you how they should be positioned.Now spread your scissor sticks apart and set them down between the scissor guides.Make sure that the nylon twine connecting the scissors is not down between the scissor guides, and then use some Dacron to tie the tops of the scissor guides together.  You want to leave about an inch between the tops of the loops.Finally, take the loose end of the nylon twine on the scissors and tie it onto your toggle-trigger line.  Tie it just above the knot that you tied in the trigger line.  This will keep the scissor line from sliding down when the trap is sprung. Be very careful when doing this so that you don’t set off the trigger.  It is best if you have someone to hold the spring pole down while you complete this step; but if you are alone, you will have to just be very careful.  Whatever you do, don’t get your face up over the trap.  If you do, and if the trap springs you will have all kinds of stuff headed toward you.

So now the trap is set. When you build an actual trap set you will build a “cubby” or use other obstructions to make sure that the animal can only get to the bait by sticking its head in between the scissors.When the animal starts chewing on the bait stick, it will spring the trap.  The scissors will slam together on the animal and jerk it up against the scissor guides.  The animal will, most likely, be killed immediately.

Include a Light Weight Trapping Kit in Your Bug-Out-Bag

Any survival situation that lasts more than a couple of weeks is going to make it necessary for you to collect food.  Foraging for wild plants is one possibility, but it is hard to get enough protein and fat from plants alone.  You will need meat.  One of the most efficient ways to obtain meat in the wilds is by trapping.  Trapping is great because your traps will be hunting 24 hours a day, in multiple locations.  While your traps are hunting for you, you will be free to take care of other business like wood gathering, plant foraging, shelter improvements, and etc.

So, the simple solution to making meat in the wild would be to just throw a half dozen double-spring, number 2 steel traps into your bug-out-bag, right?  Wrong!  One number 2 steel trap weighs over a pound.  Six of them weigh almost seven pounds, and they are bulky.  Not the kind of thing that you need in your pack when every ounce counts.

You could bring the weight down to around two pounds by carrying half-a-dozen rat traps, but you would be seriously limiting the size of animals that you could trap.  Anything larger than a squirrel will probably just shake off a rat trap; or worse, run off with it.

The most weight efficient way to trap animals is to (1) learn how to build improvised traps, and then (2) put together a light-weight kit that will make it easier to build these traps.  Don’t get me wrong.  You can build improvised traps using only native materials; but man, it can take a lot of time consuming work to build a trap this way.  If you’ve ever twisted up enough yucca cordage to build just one good snare trap, you know what I’m talking about.  And after you’ve built your trap you still have to find something to bait the trap with.  It’s much easier to carry along a few light-weight items that will enable you to build and bait some better quality traps in a shorter amount of time.

My trapping kit, including carrying bag, weighs just a shade over 13 ounces.  Depending on the kind and size of traps you build, it has enough materials for from ten to thirty traps; and it also includes enough bait to bait each trap several times.  Here’s a closer look at what goes into my trapping kit.

First there’s the bag itself.  The bag is about nine inches by fourteen inches and is made out of heavy cotton with a cotton twill strap to tie the bag closed.a02-bag

a01-bag

Inside the bag I have two different kinds of light cordage wrapped around wooden cradles.a03-cordage

The larger cradle holds about sixty feet of nylon twine.  This twine can be used to hold down spring poles or hold counter weights for snare traps.  Note that this twine is a kind of golden yellow in color.  Since most animals don’t have very well developed color vision, this golden yellow actually looks gray to them making it less visible than either black or white twine.  A little dirt or mud rubbed on the twine gives it a mottled appearance which makes it even less visible.  The toggle trigger snare picture below was built using yellow nylon twine for the trigger and picture hanging wire for the snare loop.a-toggle-trigger-snare-trap

The small cradle holds about twenty feet of waxed Dacron (artificial sinew).  Although it is small cordage, it is very strong.  It’s great for things like tying off toggle triggers on Paiute dead-fall traps, hanging sight lures, and making small snare loops.  The toggle trigger scissor trap pictured below was built using both waxed dacron and yellow nylon twine.a-toggle-trigger-scissor-trap

I carry a small roll, about twenty feet, of light gauge steel wire that is perfect for making leaning log squirrel snares. Since each of these snares uses about two feet of wire, you can make quite a few snares with twenty feet.a04-small-wire

a08-squirrel-snares

I have a roll of picture hanging wire in the bag that is my favorite for making the actual snare loop on snare traps.  It’s stiff enough to hold open well and it slides closed quick and smooth on spring pole snares.a05-large-wire

One of the disadvantages of all natural traps is coming up with bait for them.  You can, of course, set snares in animal pathways and hope that an animal runs into them, but your chances of success increase dramatically if you have a bait that draws animals into your trap.  I keep an old baby food jar in my trapping kit that is full of my special trapping lure; peanut butter and sardines.  Just put them in the jar, stir them together, and twist the lid on tight.  The older it gets, the funkier it smells; and the funkier it smells, the better it works. Smear a little of this on your bait stick and hardly any animal will be able to resist it.a06-bait

Some animals don’t have as keen a sense of smell as others.  These sight hunters often need a visual lure to draw them to a trap.  I keep a plastic bag with twelve or fifteen turkey feather fluffs in my kit.  If you hang one of these on a piece of string over your trap, every puff of breeze will cause it to swing and twirl.  This will often catch an animal’s eye and draw them in to investigate.a08-feather-fluffs

As with any other survival skill, building successful traps takes practice.  You need to learn not only “how” to build traps, but “where” to build them.  Do a little research on how to build different kinds of traps, how to descent them, and where to locate them; then head to the woods with your trapping kit and practice.  Be sure to know the law and use common sense.  The actual trapping of animals, game or fur bearing, can be outright illegal or regulated by any number of laws that vary from state to state and sometimes from county to county.  On the common sense side of things, don’t set a trap and leave it where you might catch someone’s pet.  It’s best to just set the traps and see if they work by tripping them yourself.  You can test your bait and your ability to find good trapping locations by smearing a little bait on a twig and sticking it in the ground at a site that you think would be good for a trap.  Come back the next day and check your bait stick.  If it’s missing, or if it has been gnawed on, you will know that you picked a good location.