It's a very unfortunate fact of life that some skills need to be practiced to be perfected.
It's even more unfortunate that some skills can't legally/morally be practiced outside of situations that necessitate extreme measures.
The game warden doesn't take kindly to it if you attempt to set traps in the national forest. Additionally, while cats, chipmunks, and squirrels are
pretty good practice when it comes to snares, your neighbors will form a posse and take you out if you practice your skills in a residential
There's no good place to practice these skills live, unless you're in a real survival situation and you have some excuse.
That said, you can practice constructing them in the privacy of your home/backyard and it's perfectly legal, but if you don't know how they
function/fail you're going to have some nasty surprises.
There are dozens and dozens of traps, but if you know how to construct a handful of them, you'll be alright. Become intimately familiar with just a
few, and have at least a working knowledge of a few more. The best ones for a survival situation, IMO, are the ones that require little time to set
up, few materials, and don't have any complications in the construction/setup.
My personal favorite would have to be the squirrel snare - it's just a noose fashioned out of snare wire, left loose and attached to a branch or
piece of wood that's then leaned up against a tree. You put several of the nooses around the branch, and any squirrel running up the branch has a
good chance of running through the noose, which tightens around the critter. They scramble, drop off the branch, and squirm untll you show up to
The same thing can be done at the entrance/exit to rabbit/varmint burrows.
Another easy trap to construct involves a fallen log across a game trail. You either find one or place one, then dig a small hole on one side of the
obstacle or the other. Once you've got a hole, you can place a ring of sharpened sticks (points inward) over the hole, and loop a noose so that it
will tighten when something steps in the trap and pulls away.
Both of these are relatively easy to throw together with nothing but a knife and some snare wire. In a pinch you can use strips of clothing.
But obviously they're both quite cruel, (most traps, if not all, are quite cruel) and should never be used outside of a survival situation. Frankly,
I value my life over any animal's comfort, but that's just me. If it's not a life or death situation, you shouldn't be messing with anything that
can cause so much suffering.
So, you see what I mean when I say it's not something you can necessarily practice in civilization, without serious consequences.
Survival fishing, on the other hand, can and should be practiced while you have the chance. If you're going fishing next weekend, try doing it with
nothing but some loose line, a few hooks, and whatever you can find for bait (sometimes you can get a bite just using a tiny strip of cloth). You can
also try drag fishing - using the hook like a..well, a hook, snagging the fish out of the water instead of waiting them to bite the hook (I think
Try making your own hooks, with a bit of wire, or some wood. Try chop fishing at night, with a flashlight, or if you're feeling particularly feisty,
try fish tickling - it's the process of fishing with your bare hands. You've got to be slow, and patient, but it can be done.
Anyway, trap construction is a very valuable survival skill, but it's difficult to perfect outside of a survival situation. Are there still some
states that allow hunting with traps? Do they have to be certified cruelty-free or something?