Just about any animal can be caught in a trap, but there are some species that are easier to trap than others. The list of animals below represents species that are common throughout most of North America, provide good nourishment, and are consider relatively easy to trap assuming you are using the correct trap and bait combinations.
Various rabbit species are found all over the continent and are an excellent source of protein. Rabbits have an excellent sense of smell and can easily detect human scent on a trap. You can mask this scent by spraying a small amount of apple cider on the trap. This also acts as a lure for rabbits.
A snare set up at the entrance to a rabbit den can be effective, but rabbits are more easily caught by placing traps in areas where the animals graze for food.
Rabbits are extremely wary of changes in their environment so do not become discouraged if your traps aren’t successful right away. Resist the urge to move the traps as it can often take a couple of days before rabbits begin to trust the traps enough to actually get trapped.
Bait for rabbits varies greatly but any type of vegetable usually works well. Apples and other sweet fruits can work when vegetables aren’t providing enough action. Peanut butter is another good option when other baits don’t seem to be working.
Beavers are known mostly for their hides, but beaver meat is high in fat and caloric value unlike much of the lean meat you will catch as a trapper. Beavers are usually easy to find due to the destruction they cause to trees near the waterways where they live and feed. Also, beaver dams are easy to spot and indicate a beaver population is most likely in the area.
Snares can be set up near the entrances to beaver dams or in areas where beavers enter and exit the water. Whenever you are attempting to trap beaver or other semi-aquatic mammals, try to set up traps in such a way that once snared, the animal will drown quickly.
This provides higher quality meat than when the animal is left to struggle for any amount of time. The most effective bait for beaver is poplar branches. Strip the bark from a couple of young green branches so they are easily seen by the animals. If you are setting traps on land, you can also add a few drops of popular oil to lure beavers within range of the trap.
Although relatively small, squirrel meat is quite good and often compared to the taste of chicken because the flavor is very light and not as gamey as many other animals. Squirrels are everywhere and are relatively easy to spot moving through trees and across the ground.
Their distinctive chatter is also easy to recognize even from a distance. The squirrel pole described in Chapter One is an effective method for catching squirrels and can often net multiple catches in a single day. Snares placed at the bottom of trees used by squirrels also work but are not as effective as a properly constructed squirrel pole.
Fruits and nuts are the best bait choices when targeting squirrels. Peanuts or peanut butter also work well. Unlike other game animals, squirrels are not extremely picky and are likely to check out anything that looks like it might be food.
Raccoons have traditionally been trapped for their pelts but the animal has gained popularity as a food source as well. The biggest risk when consuming raccoon is rabies so avoid eating any animal that displays signs of infection. That said, the virus can be killed by thorough cooking if food options are limited. Raccoon meat is rather tough so it should be soaked in a salt water solution overnight prior to cooking for a better meal.
Raccoons are scavengers so they respond well to any baited trap. Just about any food scrap will attract these animals to your trap line.
Opossum is the only marsupial living in North America and it is considered a nuisance in most residential areas. Like raccoons, these animals are scavengers and respond well to just about any bait you place in and around your trap line. You should also take care when handling opossum because of the risk of rabies. Bait choices vary but anything with a strong smell should work well.
Some trappers use canned pet food to attract opossum because of the stong odor. Fish is another good choice. When cooking opossum, you should boil the meat and then dispose of the water to remove some of the excess grease prior to cooking.
There are many types of deer found throughout the country and any of them will provide you with a sizeable amount of meat should you be lucky enough to capture one. Deer have exceptional eyesight and extremely wary of any changes in the environment, making them difficult to trap.
Due to their large size, deer sign is easy to spot. Droppings and deer trails are a good indication that you have found a suitable spot to place a large game snare.
Bears can grow to 1,000 pounds although most are about half that size at best. The size of bears makes finding sign easy. Bears have an excellent nose and will be attracted to any food you leave as bait. Just make sure that any bear traps you set are far away from your campsite because bears will quickly associate your home with free food otherwise.
Bear meat is quite tasty but extremely greasy. The size of these animals means that trapping one bear can provide food for a long time. The thick hide of bear is also useful for a variety of survival-related purposes.