How to Acquire Small Game Quietly

We are talking about the need to acquire food, specifically small game, in a TEOTWAWKI scenario. I have shared the importance of knowing your game and how to approach them and also practicing your hunting skills. I’ve also explained the types of pellet rifles available, given that they are quieter options than a standard .22 rifle, which with its noise level might invite neighbours to want to share in the dinner acquisition. So, let’s continue to talk about the popular calibers of pellet rifles.

Pellet Rifle Popular Calibers

Pellets come in all shapes and sizes, but the three most popular calibers are the .177, .22, and .25. The larger pellets pack more punch. I prefer the .22 for the small game I hunt. I have shot .177 caliber pellets for a while, and they do get the job done on most small game, but the .22 caliber will handle a rabbit with ease and some even use them for game as large as a raccoon. The .22 pellets are more expensive than the .177 caliber, but even so they are substantially less expensive than standard .22 rim fire ammunition.

.25 caliber is getting a following more recently due to the more powerful pre-charged air gun’s efficiency. The more powerful guns can shoot .25 caliber pellets with little drop in the pellet speed, which will increase the energy substantially. I shoot primarily .22, because it is easy to find and has enough power for anything I shoot at. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, I would prefer using my pre-charged pellet gun for small game hunting than any other weapon because of the quiet knockdown power.

Equipment Won’t Help Without Game To Hunt

Even the best hunting equipment won’t help if there is no game available to hunt. When game is pressured to the point of becoming active only after dark, traps will be invaluable.

Types of Traps

There are many types of traps, and each is used for a specific purpose. A trap is like having an extra person to help with hunting. I will limit the types of traps discussed here to those used for the capture of small game. Within this category, there are four main types of traps– body gripping, snares, deadfalls, and box traps. Leg hold traps are traditionally used for trapping predators and other fur-bearers rather than game for food.

Body Gripping Traps

Body gripping traps could be the most useful of all of the traps, due to the ease of setting them. These traps are commonly placed in a manner similar to that of snares. They can be used baited or without bait. Body gripping traps are only baited when an animal won’t likely go into it without some kind of persuasion. An unbaited set is used on trails where the animal will travel. Knowledge of the animal being trapped is essential, as these traps kill the animal very quickly and it is not a good day when the neighbor’s cat ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Body gripping traps can also be used for fishing in some situations, although that was not the original purpose. The downside to these traps is the non-selective nature, although the trigger can be bent to allow some animals to go through without being harmed. These traps are also illegal in many areas, which means practicing using them is not condoned. However, a thorough knowledge of the animal and previous experience with other traps will help. It’s like learning a new language. The first language is difficult, but additional languages are easier to pick up.


Snares can are very similar to the body gripping traps as far as methods used to set them. They are lighter and can be made very easily. Learn how to make and set them using a variety of materials. It is worth noting that some of the very common materials used to make snares are worthless. Thin wire tends to break when subjected to the jerking and bending associated with catching an animal, so just because the working load is met doesn’t mean the snare will work. Cable is a far better option. It is inexpensive, and locking snares are fairly easy to make. Snares are easy to pack as well.


Deadfalls are worth knowing about. They require no parts to pack, because they can be made on site. They can be made as a trail set or baited although baiting is far more common. Deadfalls can be sized to meet almost any circumstance, and once the knowledge of how to build them is acquired trap theft is a non-issue.

Box Traps

Box traps are the only legal trap in my home state of Colorado, so I have used them for small game, such as squirrels and rabbits, with success. They capture the animal live, and killing it is up the trapper. However, it is not for everybody. Box traps are a great option for residential areas, due to the non-lethal nature of the trap. I have trapped and released several cats, including our own, without any problems.

If the trap is built right, the animal shouldn’t be able to turn around and should simply sit in the box until the trapper arrives. These traps should be checked regularly. It’s not that the others shouldn’t, but the potential for letting an animal suffer is greater when it is kept alive.

Some Problems and Benefits With Box Traps

Some problems with box style traps are the animal’s reluctance to enter, even when baited properly. Rabbits and squirrels will readily go into a box trap, but more wary animals are very difficult to catch with this style of trap. Squirrels tend to try to chew their way out and can accomplish this within a few hours of being caught. If an animal that can gnaw is the target, check the trap even more often. Box traps are fairly easy to build at home, and I have used exclusively wood traps that I have left outdoors to remove the human odor.

Small Game Offers a Nice Meal and Stock Supplement

Regardless of the method of take, small game can not only be a nice change to the menu but also a supplement to the stock that you many already have. The ability to harvest game can also be a lifesaving ability. Harvesting small game can be less wasteful than procuring larger animals in a TEOTWAWKI situation, because preserving large amounts of meat can be difficult. When the need arises, it is best to procure meat in the quietest possible manner to avoid unwanted attention, and the best way to go about this is either with a quiet but powerful air gun or traps. Both are effective, and both methods are worth knowing and practicing.

What You Know Matters Most

At the end of the day, what you have doesn’t matter as much as what you know. Having equipment is great, but it can be taken from you. The best thing any of us has is our head and the knowledge we bring into the game can make or break us. Know how to provide for yourself and others with and without your equipment, and practice until it becomes more than knowledge. Just knowing about the different kinds of trap won’t save you if you don’t know how each is used. Practice before the test and you will do far better on it when the time comes.