How To Make a Trip Wire Trap

This trip wire is an old school trapping technique that can get wild game in a survival situation.  It’s a lot of fun to learn, will impress your friends, and who knows… may even save your life one day.

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I wouldn’t go trapping animals outside of life & death situations.  First off, it is inhumane.  Second, it is probably illegal in your area.  Never leave the traps set up or unattended as animals and/or people can get hurt or even killed from the falling rock or the trap itself.  Do not trap animals, even with the intent of release; as there’s no guarantee that a trap won’t injure or kill an animal when the wire is tripped.

We suggest using an object such as a thick branch to test the trap after setting it up.  Our friend Ben at Nighthawkinlight provides step by step video instructions below:

Read below for more detailed explanation and instructions on tying knots.

Trip Wire Tools and MaterialsStep #1 – Trip Wire Tools & Materials

– 4 Sticks – (1 Trigger stick, 1 Hammer Stick, 2 Stake Sticks).
– Tripwire, or any wire or thin string will do.
– A large rock or boulder
– Knife and Thin Rope

Some of these items should be found in the environment you are in, with the exception of the tripwire, knife, and rope.

Find a small tree with reachable branches as these are easier to work with these small traps.

set up trigger stick

Step #2 – Set Up Trigger Stick

Using your knife and a branch heavy enough to hammer in knife to make a little notch cut into the tree.

Next find 3 sticks. 2 of the sticks will serve as stakes in the ground.  And the third stick will serve as the trigger mechanism that connects to the notch in the tree and a notch carved in the top portion of one of the stakes.

Shave down both ends of the trigger stick so it makes a good fit into both notches(notch in tree and notch in stake.)  Insert the trigger stick into notch in tree.  Then pick up the stake with notch already carved in, and insert the other end of the trigger stick to measure the distance prior to hammering in the stake about 4 to 5 inches into the ground.  Make sure stake is free to move slightly when pulled on.

About 3 to 4 feet away, set up your last stick/stake and hammer it into the ground about a foot deep.  You want this stake to be nice and secure in the ground to impede it from moving and causing the whole trip wire system to fail.

set up counter weight and trip wireStep #3 – Set Up Counter Weight & Trip Wire

Tie one end of your rope around a heavy rock or heavy log. This will serve as your counter weight. It doesn’t have to be that heavy. Just heavier than whatever small game or object you will want to lift off the ground.  15+ lbs. should be enough.  Any heavier will be fine too.

Toss the other end of the rope over the overhanging branch which should be almost directly overhead the trigger stick set-up.

Now run your tripwire across the two stakes,  You can use any wire or thin string will do.  However, the more camouflage the string is, better.

prep noose and tie trigger stick

Step #4 – Prep Noose & Tie Trigger Stick

Now it’s time to tie the trigger stick onto the rope, and prep our noose.

First tighten up the rope overhanging the tree by pulling on the end opposite the line tied to the rock or log.   Make sure their is no slack on both sides of the line.

Then take your trigger stick, and tie a clove hitch or backhand hitch  knot around it with the rope about 2 inches from one end, and about 6 inches below it’s over-hanging branch..(as seen in fig #1).

Now lets make a noose knot with the rope towards the ground as seen in fig #2.  When making this knot, make sure that there is no slack in the rope, and that the noose you create is 6 inches to a foot above the ground.

Final Trip Wire Set Up

 Step #5 – Final Set Up

Now pull on the noose end of the rope, while at the same time lifting up the counter-weight end of the line until the trigger stick drops down.

Grab the trigger stick with one hand while sill holding the counter-weight end with the other hand.  And place the trigger stick in the notches in the tree and the notch in the stake.  Now, you can slowly release the rope with the other hand and allow it to tighten up.

Now you can widen up the noose underneath the trip wire. Every thing is now set.  You can test it out with a log or big branch.  Have fun!  And let us know how it worked out for you.


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Filed under: DIY Emergency and Survival Tips, Techniques & Tactics

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