Paiute Dead Fall

Shelter and water come first in survival, but sooner or later you will need to eat.  Large game is not always an option, you could be unarmed when forced into your survival situation, you might not want others to hear a gun shot, you might be limited on your ammunition, or there might not be any large game in your area.  For all these reasons and more it is good to have a plan for survival that includes methods of procuring small game without a firearm.  Trapping is a great option.  The following are instructions on how to build and use a Paiute dead-fall trap for small game.


Gather Supplies

To get started you will need a large, heavy object to use as the dead fall.  A rock with a flat side is preferable.  A round rock will be harder to set, and it will reduce your chances of a direct hit.  Next, you will need some cordage, 4 sticks, a knife to carve the sticks, and some bait.


Your two main sticks will your post stick, and your lever stick.  Ideally, your post stick will be a “Y” shape so that you don’t need to carve it, the “Y” will cradle your lever stick.  You will need a shorter stick with a flat side for your toggle stick.  The last stick will be your trigger stick.

Preparing Trap

To start, make a loop in one end of your cordage, then slide the toggle stick inside.  Tie the other end of the cordage to your lever stick.  If your stick is smooth, carve a notch in your lever stick to keep the cordage in place.  The complete cordage should be just a little longer than the lever stick.  Now lift up your rock, while getting your post stuck in a vertical position under the rock, put the lever stick in the cradle of the post stick with the end that has the cordage tied to it away from the rock, and the other end against the rock so that it supports the rock.  Next, wrap the cordage with the toggle around the post stick, the toggle stick needs to end up parallel with the rock, then put the trigger stuck between the rock and the toggle so that tension holds it in place.

Setting Traps

When setting your traps realize that 1 out of 10 traps catching something is a good rate.  To increase your chances of catching a meal, set more traps.  To increase the rate of success, place the bait on the trigger stick close to the rock.  Set traps near trails, water sources, and possible homes of the animals that you want to catch.  Channel the animal into the trap with logs, rocks, or piles of vegetation.


If your survival plan does not include trapping small game, then you need to rethink your strategy.  Small game may be your only option, so be prepared to adapt to any situation when you are looking for food.

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