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   And Snares

Hunting the mighty gopher presented The People with an altogether different problem for the use of cordage.

Although big animals provided The People with large hides and great quantities of meat, many of the animals hunted were the small mammals.

These small creatures were more plentiful and did not live in extended ranges. They were also not as likely to migrate great distances.

Snares were used to hunt and kill small animals, especially where The People did not have regular access to bison or other large game.

However, small animals were likely to be nocturnal, only coming out to feed and move around at night. They were so small that hunting them in the dark with a spear or arrow was not practical.

To successfully hunt gophers, ground squirrels, marmots, muskrats, rodents, and birds a trap was needed. A snare, could be set and left alone for hours, then revisited to see what had been caught and killed.

Snares were carefully engineered and constructed from available resources. A simple snare was made from wood, stones, and plant fiber cordage.

The snare at right is a scissors snare. Scissors snares were anchored on a hunter's arm. When a small animal took the bait on the sharp stick, the two long sticks would come together like scissors to trap the animal.

Deadfall snares were used for catching burrowing animals. These snares used heavy stones, sticks, cordage and bait to attract the ground squirrel or gopher.

The deadfall snare at left uses cordage to attach the bait to the stick. When the small animal takes the bait, the cordage pulls the stick, and allows the stone to fall.


Noose snares, such as the illustrations at right and below, were used to catch rodents and sage grouse. The Shoshoni and Bannock also used noose snares set on animal trails to catch rabbits.

Spring pole snares, which used a noose, were placed in the hole of the burrowing animal. When the animal came out of the hole the noose would trigger the spring pole and capture the animal.

Let's Learn About The Small Animals