Living off the land is challenging, at best. In reality, it will probably be almost impossible to do in a post-disaster world where many others are trying to do so as well. Yet in most of our minds, hunting to feed ourselves has a certain romantic appeal. Of course, as much as some of us would like it, you really can’t live off of meat alone, especially lean game meat. We need carbohydrates, fats and vitamins as well.
Nevertheless, the idea of hunting for food is a lot more appealing to most, than the idea of gathering edible plants. But ask any hunter, and finding a deer to kill isn’t all that easy. You might be better of hunting some rancher’s cattle, assuming the rancher doesn’t shoot back at you.
But the majority of the food available in the wild isn’t big game, it’s small game. Most small game are actually rodents, which makes them prolific breeders. That’s good, considering how many species depend on them for food. It’s also good for us in a survival scenario, as we can usually find small game much easier than large game. Granted, they don’t have a lot of meat on their bones, but it’s something.
One of the easiest types of small game to find is squirrels. Those cute little animals with the bushy tails are really not that much different than a rat, although much more pleasant to look at. How many times have we been amused by watching them scamper through the trees, collecting food for winter?
Yet those scampering little acrobats might just be one of the most prolific food sources in the wild, especially in some parts of the country. All we need to do is find some way of setting snares to catch the little critters. That might seem difficult, as most snare designs are designed for setting on the ground, not setting up in a tree; and squirrels don’t seem to spend all that much time on the ground.
Here we need to use a little squirrel psychology. Although squirrels seem to be very industrious fellows, they are, in fact, just as lazy as us humans are. Part of their great energy comes from the fact that they move efficiently, always looking for the easiest way to go. So they won’t try to climb a trunk straight up as far as they can, they’ll take a turn off at the first available branch, working their way up that easier pathway.
We can put that tidbit of information to good use in constructing our snares. If we provide the squirrels with an easier path to take, they’ll most likely take it, even if it is unfamiliar. Leaning a cut off or fallen off branch against a tree, either against the trunk or against a lower branch provides that easier path.
Now comes the snare. I like using guitar strings for this, specifically acoustic guitar strings. However, you can use normal snare wire if you prefer. The reason I like the guitar strings is that they have a small metal donut in the end, which makes it easy to form a loop.
Make a 3” loop out of the guitar string and suspend it directly over the branch, tying the rest of the string firmly to the branch. When a squirrel comes along, running up the branch, their head will go into the loop, which will tighten around their neck. Once they reach the end of whatever slack there is in the wire, they’ll fall off the branch, hanging themselves.
You can even put several snares on the same branch. Squirrels aren’t the smartest critters around and seeing their cousin hanging from your noose won’t stop other squirrels from using the same branch. If you have additional snares in place, you could catch several squirrels.