If you’re like most preppers, you take preparing for doomsday very seriously. One thing that all preppers know is that once doomsday arrives, there won’t be much food left on the shelves at your local supermarkets. That means that if you plan on eating, you’re either going to have to rely on your food storage or you’re going to have to find a way of procuring your own food.
Many preppers plan on retreating to the woods if a doomsday scenario takes place that requires them to bug out and leave their homes. This means that regardless of how much food you might have stockpiled in your home, you’re going to have to come up with another way to find food if you want to continue eating.
Some people plan on fishing, others plan on hunting, but one possible option that doesn’t require much energy is trapping. Both hunting and fishing are labor-intensive and time consuming ways of procuring food because they require you to actively be engaged in the activity. Trapping is quite a different matter. If you set a trap, you can leave it for a period of time while you take care of other essential survival chores that need to be done.
There are lots of ways to trap animals for food but today we’re specifically going to be talking about using homemade live traps. The reason we’re going to be talking about this particular type of trap is because my husband and daughter just finished building one and it worked perfectly. Our daughter has a tomcat that hasn’t been neutered yet. He lives in the house all the time so we didn’t see the need to have him neutered. Well, about two weeks ago, he somehow escaped and despite the fact that he was always a house pet, he wouldn’t let us catch him.
My husband saw a YouTube video on how to make live animal traps so he decided to try and build one to see if we could catch him that way. Sure, we could have gone to the store and just purchased one of the live traps for cats but that’s just not the prepper way. Besides, he had ulterior motives behind wanting to learn to build box traps. His plan was that if the trap worked, he would build several more and stockpile them for a time when we might need them to trap animals like squirrels and rabbits to feed our family. You might say that this was a bit of an experiment or trial run for how we could trap animals to eat during a doomsday scenario.
His trap worked so well that I thought it would be a good idea to provide a tutorial for the readers of preppersillustrated.com. During our initial test of the trap, my daughter’s cat was safely locked in the trap about 30 minutes after my husband set it! That’s a pretty good test result if you ask me!
How To Build Live Traps Out of Wood
Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and talk about how you can build a simple but effective live animal trap with scrap wood that you probably already have lying around your house.
- Build a wooden box to the dimensions that you would like your trap to be. The trap that we built was about 1′ x 1′ x 30″. Depending upon whether you plan on trapping squirrels or rabbits, you may want to adjust the size of your trap accordingly.
- Cut several 1″ x 2″ boards to fit on the inside perimeter near the front of the trap. The idea is that you want to make a channel for a door that will drop down when the trigger is tripped. Since your door will be sliding down through the channel that these boards make, take a little extra time to sand these boards smooth so that your door will slide closed easily.
- Cut a piece of plywood that is slightly more narrow than the channel that the door slides in. Make sure that your door is about 2 or 3 inches taller than the top of your box. It’s also a good idea to sand the corners and edges of the door so that it will slide smoothly through the channels when the trigger is tripped. Using your measuring tape, find the exact center of the door and drill a small hole about 1 inch from the top. This is where the string that holds the door in the up position will be tied off.
- On both sides of the box that you built, cut a window so that you can see exactly what you have trapped when an animal is actually captured. Then, using a staple gun, secure some kind of wire mesh like chicken wire or hardware cloth over these windows. Make sure that your staples are driven all the way in so that the animal can’t escape.
- Using your tape measure, find the exact center of the top of your box and draw a line down its longest length with a pencil.
- Now, drill a 1 inch hole in the center line about 6 inches from the back of your box trap.
- Using your tape measure again, find the exact center between the door and the hole that you just drilled for the trigger. Make a mark with your pencil and drill a half inch hole in this location.
- Now you’re going to need to build a trigger mechanism. This mechanism consists of four components. You’re going to need some string, a stick to use as your fulcrum, a stick to use as your lever, and a stick to use as your trigger.
- Now it’s time to finish building your trigger mechanism. The actual trigger is simply a stick that protrudes inside the box through the 1″ hole that you drilled. This stick will have a notch cut in it that will hook on the inside edge of the trigger hole. When an animal comes in the box trap to eat the bait, it will bump the trigger which will allow the door to drop into the closed position. It’s important to make sure that this stick is very smooth so that it will slide out of the hole easily once tripped. You’ll also want to drill a hole through the end of your trigger stick for the string to go through.
- Next, cut your fulcrum stick so that when the door is in the open position there is about 3 or 4 inches of string between the top of the door and the lever. You’re going to want to shape the end of the fulcrum so that it fits perfectly in the hole that you drilled for it. You actually want it to be a bit of a tight fit so the fulcrum doesn’t fall over when the trap is set.
- The next step is to prepare the lever. You’ll want to cut this stick so that it is the same length as the measurement from the edge of the door to the edge of the hole that you drilled for the trigger. Find the exact center of the lever and cut a smooth spot so that it can rest securely on the fulcrum.
- Now let’s talk about how to set a live trap. Run one end of a piece of string through the hole in the door that you drilled and tie a good knot. Thread a piece of string through the hole in that trigger stick and tie another knot. Place your fulcrum in the hole that you drilled for it and put your lever on top of the fulcrum as if the trap was set. You’re probably going to need someone to help you with this step because it’s going to require an extra set of hands. Now, thread the end of the string that is attached to your trigger through the hole in your lever and tie another good knot. It’s important that the lever is roughly perpendicular to the top of your box trap at this time. Now raise the door to the set position and thread the end of the string that you tied to the door through the other hole in the lever and tie it off with a secure knot.
- The last thing to do is test your trigger mechanism. Put your fulcrum in the hole that you drilled for it. Raise the door to the set position and put your trigger stick in the trigger hole. Position your trigger so that the notch that you cut hooks on the inside edge of the box. If you have everything balance properly, you can let go of the trigger mechanism and the door will stay up. You might need to do a little fine tuning here if you didn’t get the strings tied to the proper length.
- Now it’s time to test your live animal box trap. Using something like a thin stick or stiff wire, reach through a hole in the metal mesh window and gently bump the trigger. If you’ve done everything correctly, the trigger stick will slide out of the hole allowing the door to drop into the closed position. Make sure your head is out of the way because you don’t want the trigger stick to hit you in the eye or anywhere else when it comes flying out of the hole!
That’s all there is to it. Now you know how to make a live trap that is inexpensive and easy to build! It’s worth pointing out that my husband and daughter were able to build their first trap in just under two hours. I’m sure that as he builds more, he’ll get much faster. We plan on building several traps so if the time ever comes when we need to use them, we can increase the odds of actually being able to catch something to eat by having several traps set at the same time.
Keep in mind that in most parts of the United States, there are laws that pertain to trapping wildlife. If you plan on using this particular type of trap, make sure that you follow all applicable laws and get the necessary permits beforehand.
Another Interesting Article for You
If you’re interested in learning about another skill that you can use to easily put food on your table during a survival situation, I recommend that you take a minute and read my article called Learning How to Catch Fish Could Feed Your Family After Doomsday.