The Squirrel Pole


Trapping small game isn’t always as hard as it sounds. You don’t have to be Jeremiah Johnson to be able to catch dinner in the wilderness. In fact one of the easiest and most effective small game snares is the squirrel pole / run. It is very easy to construct and very effective. Be sure to watch the video below to see how to make a Squirrel Run Snare too!  When I taught at the USAF Survival school I had many students with no previous hunting, trapping, or snaring experience who were successful using squirrel poles on their first try.  I had one student catch three on one pole on the same day! All you need is a few feet of flexible wire, and a fairly large tree branch or pole and a little patience. Most animals are a lot like humans and because of that they look for the path of least resistance and the easiest way to navigate through the woods just like we do. So when trying to catch the main ingredient in squirrel soup, keep their laziness in mind. Take a look at the pics below and the quick and easy steps to build a simple but effective squirrel pole.

Step 1: Cut off a piece of wire about a foot long.


Step 2: Twist about a 1/4 inch long oblong shaped loop one end of the wire, then twist the oblong into a figure eight.


Step 3: Fold the figure eight over onto its self. Both loop holes in the figure eight should only be about an 1/8th of an inch in diameter or less as seen above (just make sure the wire slides through freely).

Step 4: Run the other end of the wire through both loop holes and size it down to about the diameter of one finger or smaller. The wire should have a “memory” and will want to spring back down to this size, once it is triggered later on.


Step 5: Put a small indentation or bump in the wire where the loops are sized to about two or three fingers in diameter (depending on the size of the squirrels you are seeing in the area). Use that indentation or bump in the wire to help hold the wire back at the 2 or 3 finger size. It should also act as a hair trigger to snap back to the one finger sized diameter when
the squirrel puts his head through the loop. See my most on “Possible Uses For A Broken Cigarette Lighter” for short video on how to make these snares and how the trigger or bump should work. Below is what a set snare will look like once it is tied off to the tree branch or pole and sized to the 2 or 3 finger size diameter.


Step 6: Tie the snare to the tree branch or pole and make at least three or four more snares per pole that you set out.


Additional thoughts: When you tie the snares to the pole, try to use the natural twigs/forks on the branch or pole as funneling to coax the squirrel to go through the loop instead of going around it.


Ideally you want the squirrel to look down the pole and see a nice little tunnel of wires that he can run right through with no problem. But since the snares are under tension and on a hair trigger, when they stick their neck through the loop it will tighten around their neck. As they pull and try to get away the loop gets tighter, because of the figure eight loops you put in the
end and eventually the squirrel falls off of the pole in a frenzy to get away and hangs himself.

Remember I said they were lazy? The best places to set these poles is at a 45 degree angle at the base of a tree that has one or two squirrel nests in it or in a tree that you have seen squirrels frequent.


My former students and I have had great luck using this method on little squirrels, so I am sure there is no reason you can’t have luck with them as well. The great thing about these snares is that it takes very little material or time to make these snares and they are effective if constructed and places properly. I recommend putting out as many as possible given your time and resource availability. Also, they are portable, if you decide you need to leave the area, just grab the snares off the branch and take them with you and place them back out when you stop for the night. For more information on how to decide when you need to leave the area click here.

Remember to check the snares about every six/twelve hours depending on the temperature. For these snares I used some floral wire that I picked up at Wal-Mart, but you could use any type of wiring that was somewhat strong and flexible and that has some memory/spring to it. Carrying 25ft or so of medium thickness Floral Wire (for making floral arrangements) is a highly useful item to keep in a backpack or personal survival kit. You can pick up a few hundred feet of the stuff at Wal-Mart or any hobby store for about 3 or 4 dollars. It is also flexible and strong enough to leather with, so it could be used to repair packs, sheathes, or other gear as well. I recently sewed my new axe sheath with this type of wire and it worked great.

For this post I placed these on a branch that was twisted down to the ground and it effectively does the same thing as leaning a pole against the base of a tree. My other post that briefly mentions these snares shows the pole leaning on a tree.  Click here to view that post.

You can also use this type of self tightening locking wire loop snare with any other trap that is made to catch the animal by the neck. If you are going for bigger small mammals just twist a few strands together and do the same process above and it will be able to hold a bigger stronger animal. Keep this in mind incase you ever need to make squirrel soup!

Squirrel Run Video – Best Small Game Snare!

What Is Your Favorite Small Game Snare? Let Us Know In The Comments Below!



7 thoughts on “The Squirrel Pole

  1. The squirrel snare looks great. What is it that you are wearing and where could I get one for my husband?

  2. Not sure what gauge it is, but what I typically use is floral wire. You can get it at any hobby or craft store for a couple bucks for a 100ft roll. I usually get the middle sized wire. The thickest is better for bigger game like rabbits, the smallest may work for small squirrels but the mid sized is just about right. Hope that helps!

Comments are closed.