The Treadle Mechanism

First and foremost I’d just like to mention that snares of this type are ILLEGAL for use in the UK for trapping, and this article is for educational porposes ONLY! Never leave any set mechanism unnatended and fully dismantle and remove when you’re finished.

Recently I’ve been having a play around with some primitive traps and snare set ups, primitive trapping generally fits into four categories, strangle, mangle, dangle, and tangle and the version we’re looking at today generally fits into the dangle category. There are a couple of very good reasons why we would like to dangle or suspend our prey animals off the ground, reason one is that it keeps our dinner away from hungry scavengers looking for an easy meal, and the second is that in primitive trapping your prey animal is likely to be very able to chew through a snare made of natural cordage.

Materials required


Firstly, we are going to need to harvest our materials, you will need:

• Two sturdy forked branch sections to act as your hooks
• Two cross bars that sit against your hooks and hold the toggle in place
• One toggle
• Enough sticks to cover your bottom cross bar
• A length of cordage

I used hazel to build this set but use what’s locally available to you. I’ve found the growth pattern of both ash and willow to work well in the past.


First take your two forked branches, cut one arm of each fork shorter than the other to form a hook, then spike the bottom of the hook to help you sink it into the ground

One of two sturdy forked branch sections to act as your hooks

Next take your toggle stick and carve a reduction notch about two thirds of the way along it.

Toggle stick

Flatten your platform sticks a little to help them sit on your bottom center bar.

Platform sticks

Now to assemble the trigger platform. Hammer your hooks into the ground at a distance corresponding to the length of your center bars.

Hammer your hooks into the ground

Take your length of cordage and tie a small overhand loop at one end and pass the other end of the cord through the loop to create a free running snare. Attach your toggle a short distance from your loop and clove hitch the opposite end of the cord to an overhanging branch.

Preparing the natural cordage

Take one of your center bars and trap it in the top of your hook sticks, then hook your toggle under the center bar and bring your second bar up under the toggle to trap it in place.

Setting the toggle, Take extreme care here!

Lay your platform sticks along your bottom center bar being careful not to set off the trigger.

Top Tip: As you bend down the branch or sapling for tension, retain it under your armpit untill the mechanism is set and you are clear!

Set Mechanism

Set your snare and disguise the mechanism

Disguise mechanism

Hopefully when you return to your snare you’ve caught the illusive tyrannosaurus plasticus.

Mechanism activated with Andy Neilsons plastic toy, before being completely dismataled

Till next time folks……………….

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