Survival – How to catch food in the wild


If your bike breaks down miles away from civilisation and you’ve got no food you won’t get very far. ABR’s survival expert John Fenna has a handy trick up his sleeve

If you happen to find yourself stranded away from help then it’s good to know how to trap animals for food to help you survive. One of the most simple and effective traps I know of is the Live Bird Trap, and this can be made with just a multi-tool. Naturally, you need to size the trap to the birds you hope to catch – emus will not fit in small ones, and sparrows escape through the bars of a large one!

The idea is to build a rectangular pyramid of sticks.

The base of the trap

You start with a pair of sticks, securely tie them with a cord to form a rectangle with string as two sides and the sticks as the other two sides. Flip one of the sticks end-for-end so that they are still parallel but the string forms a cross in the middle.

Take two more sticks and push them under the string to form a rectangle. Continue fitting sticks of gradually decreasing length, alternating their direction, until you have your rectangular pyramid with the cross of string tight in the centre of the top. Finish off by pushing more twigs under the cross to make a flat roof.

The trap should be tight and firm enough to allow it to be picked up easily without falling apart. The trigger could be as simple as a forked stick on a string that you pull when a bird is under the trap.

Have the trigger on one side of the base and the string running under the trap to where you lie hidden to ensure the stick falls into the trap and does not hold the side open.

Sticks are built up from the side to make a pyramid

Place your bait towards the back and when a bird enters, pull the string to dislodge the trigger, trapping it. To remove it, push one of the bars inwards (this is why the sticks are not individually tied) and reach under the trap to grab the bird.

Remember to bait your traps with appropriate bait, i.e. ptarmigan like plant buds, while finches like seeds – use the wrong bait and you will court failure!

Be responsible

It’s important to stress that the following information is intended for use only in survival situations. Practice building the trap in this feature but be sure to dismantle it a­fter use and never leave any snares or traps unattended.

Some may be illegal to use and also ‘non-target’ animals, such as pets, may be injured or killed. Never allow any animal to be injured needlessly and don’t break the laws on traps and snares in the country you’re in.