Squirrel Snaring 101- A Tutorial

Discussion in 'Hunting, Fishing & Gathering' started by Bitterroot Native, Mar 16, 2018.

  1. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Indigenous Skills Junkie

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    Hello BCUSA! Last summer I decided to try my hand at snaring squirrels and found great success with it. I am far from an expert on snaring squirrels with only a scant few months of trapping them under my belt but I would like to share what I learned!

    Always check local laws and regulations before setting any traps/snares and also make sure to have permission from the land owner if applicable.

    The western red squirrel has an unmistakable presence in much of the northern US/Canada as well as the higher elevations further south, such as the Rocky Mountains. They are PLENTIFUL, taste excellent, and their hides are very useful and versatile for making clothing. Squirrel hides were used as a source of year round fur and meat for many indigenous groups.
    Whether it be for food, fur, or use in a survival situation, knowing how to catch these tree ninjas is a skill I think every woodsman/bushcrafter could benefit from.

    (Don't let the lack of a sword and mask fool you, squirrel is a ninja in almost every sense of the word.)
    1501050536369.jpg

    Almost all survival texts and information online I came across on this subject describe using a snare pole (a wooden pole with multiple snare loops attached) leaned up against a tree to make a "leaning pole set." I'm sure that squirrels can be caught using this method, however myself and many others have found that a horizontal pole set (a snare pole placed horizontally between two trees) produces much better results.

    The equipment needed to make horizontal pole sets is VERY minimal. Bait is not needed or encouraged. All that a horizontal pole set requires is a wooden pole, some cordage (or large nails), and some snare wire... that's it. The pole and cordage is easily obtained on site so all you really need to bring with you is wire. A pair of pliers can also come in handy for cinching down the snares to the pole or twisting the snare loops but isn't necessary. Lets get into the details!

    The Wire-
    From what I could gather (I'll include a link to the article I got most of my info from) 24ga brass wire OR 26ga stainless steel wire is your best option. I can't remember the exact wire ga I started out with but it was slightly larger in diameter than 24ga brass wire and I didn't have many catches until I switched to 24ga brass. Wire size is crucial to success.
    Snare Dimensions-
    Snares should be around 17 inches long with a small 1/8th inch loop twisted onto one end. I made mine slightly longer due to the squirrels being so big near the Arctic.
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    Once your snares are finished you need to find a place to put them.

    Location-
    Your snares need to be set in an area that has a high concentration of squirrels, the more squirrels in an area the greater your chances of a catch. The tell tale sign that an area has a lot of squirrel activity are middens. A squirrel midden is a mound of squirrel table scraps so to speak. A huge part of their diet are seeds found in spruce cones (pine in some places) and as a result they leave behind huge piles of husked and shelled out cones.
    Larger piles mean more squirrel activity so look for the largest middens you can find to make your sets. Don't completely discount small middens however, if you have a good feeling or can't find any larger middens go ahead and make a set. Squirrels can still be caught off smaller middens sometimes in surprising numbers.
    1496649651885.jpg
    Poor quality pic (sorry!) but note the mounded shape of the midden. They are easy to spot in the woods from a distance.
    Once you have located a suitable midden, find the trees that the squirrels use most. They will generally be the larger trees nearest to the midden. Squirrels almost always sit in these trees to eat. Your snare pole will be tied between these trees at a height of roughly six feet. Clear all brush and limbs below that point as well as the ones slightly above where you will tie your pole.

    The Pole-
    Cut a dry and straight pole long enough to span the distance between the two trees you're using. Preferably with the bark still on it so the wire grips better. It should be about 1-1.5 inches in diameter. It needs to be small enough that the squirrel has no choice but to run down the center.
    1496649652848.jpg
    Two poles at one midden, the snares are barely visible.

    With your pole cut and stripped of limbs/stobs either tie or nail the pole between the trees at a height of around 6ft.
    1496649674480.jpg
    I used spruce root but any cordage will work.

    Setting the snares-
    With your pole in place and the brush cleared you're ready to tie your snares to the pole. Take one of your wires and thread one end through the loop you twisted. Pull that through until you have a loop roughly 2in in diameter. Slightly smaller or larger works also, play with the size and find what catches the most for you.

    Twist this snare onto the pole then adjust it so that it comes up the side leaving the eye of your snare dead center at the top of your loop. Bend the wire so that the bottom of your loop is an inch above your pole. Also ensure the loop is right above your pole. If it's off to the side the squirrels head wont go through and it will be pushed aside by his body as he runs down the pole.

    The first and last snare (the ones on the ends, closest to the trees that the pole is anchored to) needs to be spaced 12 inches from the trees the pole is tied to. Too close and the squirrel will be able to grab the tree once snared and will surely escape. Set as many snares on a pole as you can, spacing them out about 12 inches between each other. I was normally able to get between 4-6 snares per pole. Longer poles will obviously accommodate more snares.

    Once your snares are tied on move on to your next set, setting as many middens as you care to. The more sets you have out the greater your chances of catching squirrels will be! Check your sets daily if you can or at least every other day. Predators can and WILL steal your catches from time to time so it's something that you need to keep on top of. If everything falls into place, you will be rewarded with success!
    1499466244684.jpg

    I only had about 3-4 sets going at any given time and was impressed with how quickly I started getting catches. I didn't keep track of the total number I caught but I would guess it was 30-40 over the course of a couple months. It was not uncommon to have 2 and sometimes 3 squirrels waiting for me on 1 pole.

    More info can be found in this article https://trapperman.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1126006/Snaring_the_Western_Red_Squirr
    It was my go to and guide to learn how to snare squirrels, without that info I would have had a lot more trial and error to go through!

    Hope you guys enjoyed the read and got some useful info out of it. I'm sure there is something I missed or some crucial detail I forgot to include so feel free to ask any questions! :dblthumb:

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    Last edited: Mar 16, 2018
  2. Muleman77

    Muleman77 Supporter Supporter

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    Very useful info!
     
  3. bosque bob

    bosque bob Guide

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    Than you, well written and done.
     
  4. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Indigenous Skills Junkie

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    Thanks guys! Writing this brings back so many good memories haha :D
     
  5. CivilizationDropout

    CivilizationDropout -MOA #17- Supporter Bushclass I

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    all hail the hangman. Nice job Bitter!
     
  6. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Indigenous Skills Junkie

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  7. Kvothe

    Kvothe Birch Bark Aficionado

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    Great write up and a very useful tutorial, brother! :dblthumb:
    thanks for sharing and I hope to read some more adventures from your time up north in the future!
     
  8. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Indigenous Skills Junkie

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    Thanks man! I have more posts in the works :D
     
  9. Wasp

    Wasp DOWN IN DIXIE Supporter

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    Very nice work and tutorial.
     
  10. IzaWildman

    IzaWildman Grey Owl Supporter

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    Excellent write up. Thanks.
     
  11. GKiT

    GKiT Guide

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    I remember reading that thread on trapperman. I always thought that snare belt was a neat idea.
     
  12. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Indigenous Skills Junkie

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    Thanks Wasp!

    Glad you enjoyed it :D.

    Trapperman is the only other forum on the internet I'm a member of :16:. I really liked that belt idea too, cool thing about trapping squirrels is that you can throw up squirrel sets while you're out trapping other things. The small ga wires are nothing to throw on your person and hit the woods with as they take up hardly any space/weight.
     
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  13. Leshy_apprentice

    Leshy_apprentice Supporter Supporter

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  14. Hoof

    Hoof Former Genius

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    Excellent! Does your squirrel hat have multiple tails hanging off?
     
  15. atlastrekker

    atlastrekker Guide Bushclass III Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    I will definitely give this a try during the next squirrel season. Thank you for all the hard work that you put into writing this.
     
  16. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Indigenous Skills Junkie

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    You know me all too well Hoof! Haven't made anything with them yet but I did separate and dry the tails to use as clothing fringe :dblthumb:. Also used a few to decorate my tent with, really gave it that home like feel ya know?
    1496649668240.jpg

    Give it a shot! You would be surprised how much fun catching these lil guys can be. You're welcome! I searched the forums and didn't see anything about snaring squirrels so I figured this would be a good guide/tutorial to add.
     
  17. Paul Foreman

    Paul Foreman Supporter Supporter

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    excellent tutorial ...
     
  18. oldpinecricker

    oldpinecricker Supporter Supporter

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    Nice. Fun to read along and it makes me hungry.
     
  19. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushclass I

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    Excellent. Have always wanted to try this out.

    (Unfortunately, trapping/snaring squirrels is illegal in LA... can shoot my longbow inside city limits, but no squirrel snaring.)
     
  20. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Indigenous Skills Junkie

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    Thanks! I really enjoyed writing it.

    You and me both! Squirrel gravy and fried potatoes sounds like the best breakfast a man could have right about now.

    Might want to check into your states trapping laws. With a trapping license you might be able to trap them! Cool that you can shoot your bow in city limits! I would have an awesome back yard range set up :D
     
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  21. Primordial

    Primordial MOA #40 Supporter

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    Awesome! Info has been downloaded into my hair covered computer. Thanks for the great write up!
     
  22. Rockgod1619

    Rockgod1619 Supporter Supporter

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    Awesome information and write-up! Thanks so much for sharing!
     
  23. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Indigenous Skills Junkie

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    You're welcome! Took me longer than it should have to get what you meant by hair covered computer haha.

    Thanks and you're welcome! Feels good giving knowledge back to a community that I have learned so much from.
     
  24. Wasp

    Wasp DOWN IN DIXIE Supporter

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  25. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushclass I

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    Nope. I asked a game warden who was stopped at the gas pump opposite me. No trapping season for squirrels, and snaring is an "Illegal method of take" regardless.

    Yeah, I do have a range set up. Pretty cool.
     
  26. Jacob

    Jacob Guide

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    Thanks for taking the time to put that I writing for us. These little gems are hard to come by and can save a ton of trail and error time. Truly appreciate it.
     
  27. halo2

    halo2 Curmudgeon in Training Supporter

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    Looks like a great write up. Thanks!
     
  28. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Indigenous Skills Junkie

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  29. longcruise

    longcruise Scout

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    Who'd a thunk it?

    Not lawful in my state but it's committed to memory as a survival tool. I snared snowshoe hares as a kid and it is truly effective on them and certainly many other edible animals.

    24 gauge brass wire, don't leave home without it! :)
     
  30. Winterhorse

    Winterhorse Supporter Supporter

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  31. j_d

    j_d Scout

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    Great post. Regular trapping is illegal in many cities but nuisance trapping pests is not. Just fyi.
     
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  32. southron

    southron Supporter Supporter

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    Ya might try a couple rat traps, some peanut butter and a nail to fasten em where ya want em.

    I don't much mess with em anymore, I think I ate to much in years gone by and kinda am burned out now.

    But the rat traps will catch a fair ton of stuff is ya get creative with em.

    Just another quiver fer yer arrow I though ya might want to add.
     
  33. Nathan H

    Nathan H Tracker

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    Thanks for this Idea, im going to have to give this a try.
     
  34. Nathan H

    Nathan H Tracker

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    Thank you for this info, it really helps a lot

    Next time i'm out, ill see if I can catch an illusive squirrel. thank you.
     
  35. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Indigenous Skills Junkie

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    Thanks! it's great to be back :D!

    Squirrels might even be considered or classified as pests in many cities, they are mischievous and always into shenanigans haha

    Rat traps would probably work really well for squirrels, great idea :dblthumb:. Would have to get some of the larger traps for the squirrels up north, they are huge!
     
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  36. j_d

    j_d Scout

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    I had ohio gray squirrels get in the house and begin running amuck. Rat traps did not hold them, neither did sticky traps. It just gave them bald patches... . 110 connibears took care of my problem but weigh alot more than snare wire.
     
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  37. will62

    will62 Guide

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    Thanks for the information, going to try this.
     
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  38. WhisperInThePine

    WhisperInThePine Wubba lubba dub dub Supporter

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    Thanks for sharing!
     
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