Figure 4 Spring Snare (Halcon Snare)

img_0422Not knowing if I am ever going to complete the book I started writing two years ago, I decided to release this from what has already been written. Additionally, I actually did a video on it a few years ago which I will post at the end of this article. But at least with the article, one can get a much clearer description of how it all goes together.


You ever watch the scenes in the movie “The Rundown”, with Dwayne Jonson, where he gets lifted into a tree by a snare? How about “Return of the Jedi” when Chewbacca grabs that chunk of meat and triggers a net trap, sending him and the crew up into the tree? I’ve always loved traps of that style. In the bushcraft world, traps that would work on that scale simply aren’t realistic, because the Achilles hill of all spring type traps is the anchor. More often than not, an anchor is buried into the ground—a peg of sorts. Many times the anchor is pulled from the ground under the tension of the spring pole, requiring there to be a balance between the weight of the anchor and the power of the spring pole. Though it isn’t necessary to have a lot of tension on the spring pole, the opportunities broaden in the type of game one can catch if the problem of the anchor is solved, including lifting Chewbacca, Han Solo, Luke, and the droids into the tree. This definitely is a student favorite!

The figure four, or Halcon snare has eliminated the problem of the anchor, the only problem now being the strength of the cordage (okay so we use cable!) and the ability of one’s strength to pull down the machine (spring pole, counter weight, bungee, etc.). This is where a team of horses might come in handy.

If one is familiar with the figure-4 deadfall, then one already has two of the components needed in making this trap—the bait stick, and angled stick. The only other item needed is some sort of cord.

You’ll notice, as you read, this is just another loop and toggle system applied to a trap.

Tying the Anchor

Begin by taking a section of cord, and tying it around the base of what ever tree you are using for your spring pole, or other suitable nearby tree that is in better alignment with the bent over limb. No need to get fancy with knots, two overhand knots are plenty strong. Or, if you prefer, sliding loop, ala choker, is plenty fine too. In the picture I used nothing more than one of my premade chokers I have on a carabiner. From there, determine how high off the ground you want the bait and tie a small overhand loop (Honda) at that point. The loop should be large enough to loosely fit over the angled stick of of the snare trigger. This line is your anchor.


In the picture I anchored off to an exposed tree root, but could have just as easily tied off to that small sapling to the left… It would have been plenty strong, trust me.

The Spring/Machine/Engine

The spring, or machine, or engine is the part of the trap that will do all the lifting. It can be a bucket of rockets suspended from a tree, a bent over limb or sapling, a heavy log hoisted into a tree, etc. For the sake of this explanation, however, we’ll just use a sapling. Take another length of cord and lash it about the end of the sapling. two overhand knots is all you need here as well. The total length of cord should be such that one has to pull down sufficiently on the sapling to meet the other cord that is the anchor. Securely tie the other end of the machine cord around the angled stick of the figure-4, an inch and half to two inches from the round end. Yep, you guessed it overhand knots is all you need.

Now pull on the sapling cord down and slip the loop of the anchor over the “top” of the round end, keeping care the round end of the angled stick is pointing up, or the sapling will spring. One has now effectively joined the machine with the anchor and all that is left is to lock them in position.


Take the figure-4 deadfall bait stick (should be baited prior to this point) and hook the rear notch around the cord that is the anchor. The angled stick will now lock into place in the front notch of the bait stick, the same as if one were setting a figure-4 deadfall.


The snare, itself, is a line attached either directly to the end of the spring pole, or onto the line that is attached to the spring pole.

If made correctly, an animal will be forced to stick its head inside the loop, to get to the baited trigger stick. Once the animal pulls on the baited stick, the spring pole releases and the loop cinches about the animal. Very very little pressure is needed to set off the spring snare.


For the purpose of this book, I used bright color cordage for the photos, so you can see how it all goes together. In actual application, I would use a more natural color, one that would blend into the environment. I would also build a fence of sorts around the entire trap, to force the animal to only be able to enter from the front snare side. The fence doesn’t have to be sticks staked into the ground. It can just be branches and brush laying on their sides piled up on each side of the trap, except where the snare loop is. Animals are lazy like humans. We will always look for the path of least resistance, rather than bushwacking. It is why animals tend to continue the same trail. It has been matted down and makes passage easier

Extreme caution must be used with this trap as it can easily snare and lift a child or pet of the ground. It is extremely powerful. It is advisable to wear safety glasses of sort when working around any spring trap. I’ve personally taken one right between the eyes and had it not been for my sunglasses would have possibly lost an eye.

The purpose and emphasis for the explanation of this trap is the trigger setup. It is not meant to be one dimensional and once you have learned and understand how it works, one can explore other ideas on setting it off, from treddles, to fishing, or as an alternate to the ojibwa bird snare.

TIP the length of the bait stick affects the mechanical sensitivity this trap will have. Too long a bait stick will cause the trigger to self release. Too short and it becomes harder to release. Also, be mindful of the weight of the bait.

Here’s the video of the trap in action

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