My First Spring-Beaver Trapping SeasonBy
By: Luke Jackson
I had never targeted beaver solely, so one year I decided I was going to give it a try. A year and a half before I trapped two beavers using a castor mound, but that was the extent of it. With little experience of beaver trapping, I decided I had better read up on the subject. After reading all the old issues of Fur-Fish-Game I had, I felt I was ready to give it a try. But after taking a look in my fur shed I found that I wasn’t as equipped as I’d like to be.
I owned four footholds that would be able to hold and drown a beaver without trouble, so I already had enough of them. After looking at some prices I decided snares would be an economical way to put out quite a few traps without breaking the bank. I decided to buy three dozen beaver snares from a guy in Minnesota. Five days later the UPS man pulled into the drive way with my snares. Then, I read everything I could get my hands on about snaring beaver and otter. It looked pretty complicated at first, but I figured I’d get the hang of it soon enough. A couple nights later I sat on the floor drooling over the 330s listed in the Minnesota Trapline Products catalog. That’s all it took… next morning I was out forking manure in the barn. After saving up enough money to make an order, I bought a half dozen 330s, six ten foot slide wires to drown any beaver that stepped in my footholds, two dozen “pigtail” snare supports and a four ounce jar of “Timber” which is a castor based beaver lure.
A week later I had everything I would possibly need to trap beavers. I talked to my dad about bringing me up to our cabin in Northern Minnesota. My dad is a Forester for a big paper company that has land all over by our cabin. This would be perfect because we could mix the trapping in with work so he did not have to take of a day off. Three days before we were going to head up north me and my brother were driving by a thousand acre swamp that was owned by the state. I had tried trapping beavers out of there last year with no luck. As I was looking out the window I saw to my surprise, a beaver swimming in the ditch! My brother didn’t believe at first, so we pulled a U turn and drove by it again. “Yep, that’s a beaver!” I reported to my brother Zach.
Five minutes later I was home loading the truck up with my traps. A little while later I had my waders on and my hands full of traps! The first area I found was just asking for a snare. It consisted of a trail coming out of the water to some nearby trees. I decided to set it up; I grabbed a snare support, a new snare, and a T-bar stake. The first thing I did was pound the stake in with the snare support attached to it. I hooked up the snare and played with the wire until it was about four inches above the ground and the loop was ten inches wide. I put my head at close to the ground as if a beaver, everything looked to be good. The last thing I did was added some lure three feet behind the snare on a trail, and, for a finishing touch I fluffed up the grass on both sides of the trail and called it good.
My first snare set turned out better than I thought it would. As me and my brother walked down the drainage ditch we found an area were the stream narrowed down a bit, just the perfect with for a 330 conibear. We decided we would set the trap on the way back. We walked maybe another twenty yards upstream to find a “U” shaped inlet on the side of the bank. While I was fitting a 330 into the front of the inlet, my brother walked up with a big grin on his face. Come to find out he found the right side of and eight-point buck antler shed. After a little looking around for the other one with no luck we went back to setting traps. As I was putting the rest of the castor lure on a mud pie I heard a splash. “What was that?” I asked my brother. “Oh, nothing much, just a beaver swimming through the narrow area where we were going to put the trap.” He replied. So, we hurried over to put are trap in place before another one swam through! After we got done popping in that set we headed back towards the truck.
After arriving back at the truck, I saw another beaver. I grabbed a foothold out of the truck and hurried over there to put in a castor mound. Five minutes later the set was ready to rock! We then hopped in the truck and drove fifty yards and put in another set quick because day light was fading. At this area there was a trail leading into some willow brush. Setting this was easy enough: I just put a 330 were it narrowed down. After making sure the bodygrip was half submerged, I put a dab of castor farther up a trail. I collected my gear and headed back to the truck.
On our way back home we stopped at another area to see if it held beaver. Sure enough, there were beaver swimming around. I ran to the truck and got the rest of my traps. The first set we put in this area was a castor mound guarded by a foothold. After putting the slide wire in four foot deep water, my brother and I each grabbed a trap. He headed downstream and I head up stream. I was twenty feet from the lodge when I put my set in, just a 330 guarding a slide. After meeting my brother we packed up and headed to the truck. He told me he put a 330 in a run that was used recently. We both thought the last traps we put in the best traps of the day, but, I guess we’ll find out when we check them tomorrow.
The next day I was antsy to go check the traps. It seemed like a week later by the time my brother got home from work. I had my waders on by the time he put the truck in park. We then loaded the traps and gear into the back of the pickup. Five minutes later we were on our way to check traps. As we pulled up to the first set, I saw that my snare had been messed up. I hopped out of the truck and ran towards my snare. To my surprise, I had caught a skunk. I was happy with my first snared fur bearer though.
After throwing the skunk in the back of the pickup we headed down stream. As we approached are second set I seen the something was different. Sure enough, sitting in the 330 conibear was big ole beaver! It could have been the same beaver we seen here yesterday. As I took the beaver out of the conibear, my brother headed down stream to check the third set. But this one didn’t do so well. I then threw the beaver over my back and we headed down stream. After the two hundred yard walk we got to the pickup. I put the beaver right next to the skunk and headed up stream.
The first set which was a castor mound yielded nothing. But, as I arrived at the second set, we had caught a nice flat tail. I reset the trap and carried my prized possession to the truck. I was happy with are two beavers so far. After a five minute drive we showed up at are second location. I hopped out of the truck and headed towards the beaver lodge. The first place we checked is where we had set the castor mound. I looked at the set and found the trap was missing. I jumped into the creek and walked for the drowning cable. After finding the cable with my hand in icy cold water I pulled on it. Up came a nice two year old beaver.
I pulled the trap and catch to the top of the cable and went to work resetting the trap. As I was doing this my brother was checking his blind set. He had gotten a two year old male also. After resetting the trap I headed towards the last trap of the day. Upon arriving I found it held nothing. We lugged the beavers two hundred-fifty yards to the truck. We had caught four beavers and a skunk. Not bad :)
After a little more trapping I ended my first spring season with fourteen beaver! Next year, I’ll be hitting the rivers as soon as the ice goes off to see if I can get a few more!
Luke Jackson, MinnesotaShare on Facebook