by Clint Locklear, Predator Control group
I have not had the chance to just turn loose and full tilt boogie on beaver in the last few years due to our predator control business. I’m getting that inch and its growing a little more as I spend most of my time on coyotes and cats. I am starting to dream about the weight of adult beaver and the total covering of sweet castor smell covering everything I own. There is just something magical about breathing in cool humid air and seeing the back of a floating beaver with frost gleaming of the morning sun. Then there is the mud that sucks your energy, ends up covering everything with a dark slim and tries to drag you under with its hip boot appetite. The mud, well it just sucks, and we have to deal it. What Beaver trapping I have done, along with the new information I learned from the Teachers Of the Night, have me wanting to reek of sack oil and fight the freaking mud. What I have learned from the Night Vision footage has changed the way I make a castor set. The rewards of the change has been an eye opener and more importantly, allowed me to make the Castor Set more productive.
Lesson one, Most beaver DO NOT work the set from the front. By that I mean, they do not come out of the water directly in front of the mud pie. This information is a game changer to the modern trapper. It helps us have a better trap placement and the possibility a double catch from a second trap. This information is like everything in trapping, it’s not 100%. On some locations with real heavy vegetation that covers the bank or were the vegetation extends out into the water, the beaver may have no choice but to work the set from the front. On most rivers and creeks, the vegetation is not full and thick down to the water. On these normal locations, the beaver will follow his noise, not his eyes or the slide you make for him. Unless you have seen the footage, this may be hard to believe. Just because all the books , DVD’s (mine included) and countless demo’s say a beaver will act a certain way, the beaver may not received the memo as of yet!
It seems that the beaver will hit the bank were he smells the lure. Most lure, will follow the water current, because the lure odor will ride the wind that flows on top of the water current. This would explain why all the beaver hit the bank on the down current side of the set itself. This should cause a few bells to start going off. One, the beaver is not coming out of the water in front of the set. So a back foot trap placement may not be the best trap placement. Any trap placement for that matter, that is set to catch a beaver as it leaves the water, may not be the best option. Now, where the beaver is coming up the back, down current, a trap set to catch a beaver exiting the water makes a little more sense. It seems that most beaver hit the bank 4-6 feet down current from the lure and mud pie. On an open back this could be hard to “know” where the beaver will hit the bank. What I have found that works is to, pile up some brush or sticks to make a bramble on each side of my trap placement to guide the beaver over the trap. I do not want a fence or a stick fort built, but a couple of pile of natural looking piles of debris that looks like it washed up there during a raise of water. The opening is 4-6 feet on the down current side of my lure. Most of the time, I will use a foot hold on the approach to the castor set. As you know I don’t use drowning cable. I use chain, so I will pull it tight further down stream. This will keep the caught beaver from messing up my castor set for the next beaver. Plus the live beaver is a MAJOR call to the next beaver coming down the river.
Next we have to catch the next beaver as he leaves the castor mound set and re-enters the water. I like a conibear for this job. The bigger the better. The 660 Conibear or the new large conibear from Minnesota Trapline Products would be my first choice. A normal 330 will work but the extra size from the larger conibears are nice for this set up. If you are working with a flat bank, you are good with a normal conibear placement. If your bank has a step slope or you have dug out a slide, the trap placement needs to be adjusted. Keep in mind that the beaver is coming from land and entering the water. Another thing the footage showed was how the beaver entered the water. If the bank was flat, he just walking down in the water. This is why a normal conibear placement is fine to use. On the other hand, if the bank had a slop to it, the beaver pushes off into the water. His body is high on the water and does not get into the normal swimming position for a couple of feet out in the water. The problem with a normal trap position that is close to the bank is that the beaver will go over the trap or avoid the obstacle you put it its way. You see as the beaver comes down the slop of the bank, he is coming down to or literally on top of the conibear that is close to the bank. To over come this from happening, lets move the trap a couple of feet into the water. You can have the trap half in and out of the water or you can sink it, with a dive pole over it. By doing this, the beaver will come in contact with the trap as he is flat and on the level. One thing about beaver, when they leave the bank they do it in a hurry and with speed. So they will go through or duck into you trap with ease. You can see why I like the larger conibears. They give them a larger opening without having to block them down as they push-off of the bank. When I’m using the larger traps, I don’t block down at all. With a 330, I do take the time to guide the beaver into the trap. I like using grass or brush to guide with, not bare sticks.
One last thing, not all beaver will exit the castor set at a ninety degree angle back down the slide we make for them. To help the make the ultimate sacrifice, I will make a third bramble of branches on the upstream of the slide. This will give a soft shoot to guide the beaver in the exit set of the castor set.
That is the way the beaver has taught me to make my castor sets now. It works with their natural habits, not mine. Plus I have never caught two beaver with one trap using my old way of trapping.