Spring Beaver Trapping for Survival

By Bruce “Buckshot” Hemming

In my end of the world novel “Grid Down Reality Bites” there is chapter on spring beaver trapping. I thought your readers would like to learn how to do these 3 methods of trapping beaver. Last spring I taught a 3 survival minded individuals how to trap beaver. We used #4 legholds the old Mountain Style, the modern 330 Conibear and the modern self locking snares. All 3 methods produce beaver. But the majority were caught in snares.

Big healthy male beaver makes for a fine pelt and really great tasting dinner.

Snaring beaver

Snaring beaver is fairly easy and for beginners it is great way for them to learn the fine art of snaring. The beauty of snares is you can feed the end around a tree for most animals so no need to carry stakes. But not beaver. A big beaver can chew down most trees over night so 24 inch 1/2 rebar stakes are recommended. Find the trail beaver are using to go chew on trees. Now when you walk about the beaver pond you are going to find several choices.

Which one do you set? This is where keen woodsman ship comes into play. You look for the fresh cutting with the most worn down trail. Another key point to look for is a feed bed. This is where the beaver find a spot they can chew on the tender branches. You will notice fresh branches clean of bark. Normally the trail closet to that is the one you want to set. For beginners you want to set 6 snares to get one beaver. You might do a lot better or not. Another factor is using Beaver lure.

Now this is where Buckshot Beaver Blaster really pays off. Say you only have time to make a couple of sets. Making sure the wind is blowing from the shore out across the pond you place some 2 feet pass the snare. This farther increases your chances of success.

Happy folks now the work begins.

330 conibears for beaver

330 Conibears are an awesome trap but they are very intimidating to beginners. You need a setting tool, wire, wire cutters and Beaver Blaster lure. Now the great advantage to snares is their lightweight. a couple onues each compare to 330 that weights in at 5 pounds or #4 leghold that weights in at 4 pounds.

Now 330 are a kill traps and you want to set them in the water so you don’t catch someone dog. You will see the trails coming in to feed spots that are just about 8 inches deep. 2 inches of the trap is sticking out of the water. You set the trap using 2 sticks to form an “X” now this is very important for you to understand. These two sticks go on the inside to the springs and top corner of the trap .

The reason for this is to stop the beaver from knocking the trap over and not getting caught. Now take about 6 feet of wire and wire off to a tree giving the beaver plenty of home to reach deep water. Now make sure you really twist the ends on several times. Once the beaver is caught he well knock out the sticks and dive for deep water and well be dead in a few minutes.

If the channel is too deep set the trap on the bottom and place a dive pole across the top. Add the lure 2 feet pass the trap. Why? Because it is territory lure and if it’s to close the beaver well try to wash it off with water setting off the trap without getting caught.

Number 4 legholds for beaver

The Old Mountain Man style leghold traps is a whole new ball game. The Mountain man traps of the pass were great big heavy traps weighting in at 8 to 10 pounds each. The number 4 double long springs of today are lighter but you need to understand how to use these traps properly. First you have to drown the beaver.

How do you do this? You want to use a swivel on the trap chain. On this swivel is a hole drill on one end. This works like a one way valve it well slip down the wire no problem but if the beaver tries to go back up it kinks on the wire stopping them. The beaver only having one choice will follow it to the end and drown. You need two stakes for this to work. A top stake pounded into the ground at the waters edge.

You wire this off feed the swivel through testing it to make sure it goes to deep water. Then you take a large 2-3 inch pole 6 foot long and put this in deep water 3-4 deep. You need an axe to pound this in the ponds bottom. Make sure that it rock solid.

Beaver are large powerful animals. I try to get 2 feet into the mud if I can. I hope you can picture this you have about 6 feet of wire between the 2 stakes. Make sure the wire is tight so there is no slack. It is easier to put the deep water stake in first with wire attached to the bottom then pull your wire tight add the swivel and secure to the top stake.

Nice pile of beaver. 130 pounds first check.

Ok, the most famous beaver set using this trap is called the mud pie set. In the spring the beaver are mating and fighting over territory. You take mud from the pond bottom and make a mud pile yes like when you were a kid. Place a couple of chew on branches and add lure this is at the water edge. Now you place the #4 right in water off to one side beaver are wide body so say 4 inches off from the center of the mud pie should be the center of the trap pan.

Now here is the trick place just small amount of mud on the trap pan so it stick just barely out of the water. Beaver swim with their front legs tuck up until there chest hits shore then they step out using their front feet. So you want either a small bank of mud in front of the trap or take poke sticks small stick shove in the ground in front of the trap just barely under the water so the beaver chest hits them you normal use about 5-6 per set. Beaver seeing the raise mud on the trap pan steps up and is caught he dives for deep water and is held there until he drowns. Sure is a whole easier to show people then to write about it.

Now you caught a beaver in the snares they well still be alive a quick shot in the head with 22 and you are ready to go to work. Skinning the beaver. You skin beaver open that means from the center of belly you make a straight line to the chin and the tail.

You open them up then skin around both sides front the tail to the nose. Yes it’s a lot of work but like anything else the more you do the easier it is. Fleshing I recommend a good fleshing beam and good fleshing knife. This again takes practice. You can use an Knife on your knee and carefully remove all the meat and fat on the hide if you want to save the hide.

Cooking up the catch

The old rumor is the tail is the best eating on beaver. I think those old Mountain men were pretty sharp and told everyone that so they could get the greenhorns to eat the tail so they could save the good meat for themselves. To cook the tail the way the Mountain men did you get a fire going and toss the tail on hot coals cook on both sides until the leather part is blistering off and it white all the way through then serve.

It is greasy tough part and most people only try it once. Now here is the good part of beaver to eat. The back straps are in my opinion far superior tasting then venison backstraps. All four legs are the best meat. BBQ over charcoal with your favorite sauce is awesome. Take a long time to cook the back legs 45 minutes to an hour. But is it worth it. Really good tasting meat. You cook one up like that and I guarantee you never pass up on beaver again.

My favorite recipe for the backstraps is to marinate in Italian season salad dressing over nite. Then BBQ trust me your will be fighting over that meat. Unbelievable great tasting.

Bruce Buckshot Hemming

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. ComputerGeek says:

    Nice article! Thanks.
    I’ve been reading this blog and JWR’s survivalblog for the past several months and I can not for the life of me figure out why his blog has more readers (according to him) than all of the other survival blogs combined.

    I mean he seems to have no community at all and don’t allow comments or seem to care what others have to say. He never posts any pics on his blog to PROVE what he and others have done. I know someone said he doses not post pics because of bandwidth issues but he also has NO pics in any of his books, even his how to books.

    Most of the posts are long and boring and impractical for most of us. So please could someone explain why (as he claims) he has more readers than ALL of the other survival type blogs combined. Personally, I can not figure out how he walks through the door of his $1,000,000 bunker with that big head…

    • Computer Geek,

      We prefer to focus on our community and what’s going on here. There is no need to get into a negative discussion about that other blog.

      • Three is sonething to be learned from everyone. There is enough negativety around all ready so lets all try to stick to the high road – anyone taking time to add to the discussion – where ever – is making a contribution. Support whichever blogs you like and let everyone else do the same – there is no harm if some one, some where learns something. Freedom of speech is the American way, after all.

  2. fliteking says:

    Great article well outside the bounds of “traditional” thinking. Well done.

  3. Matt in Oklahoma says:

    Great stuff as always! Keep teaching because this is real skill, politics free!!!!!!

  4. MtWoman (N Texas) says:

    Computergeek…gotta let the things that don’t work go, and just use what does. Stick around here…IT WORKS!!

  5. So once we’ve caught something wild in our snare, and we quickly shoot it, is there any need to hang the animal and let it bleed out or do we go straight to skinning?

    • Matt in Oklahoma says:

      HBM I would bleed it out of all game animals if possible. The blood is normally where the “gamey” taste comes from that steers most folks away from game. If you can soak the meat say overnight, even better. At least wash it and work it with your hands as much as possible. For an experiment try 2 pieces with one blood soaked and one having been washed and soaked and see for yourself.

      Knowledge is Power, Practiced Knowledge is Strength, Tested Knowledge is Confidence

      • Sweet! I guess I will give it a go and see what happens. If it still tastes gamey, I will just boil it in bouillon. Bouillon makes a flip flop taste yummy:)

  6. axelsteve says:

    computer geek. There is a difference between marketing and product. Or garbage in garbage out. At least you took the initiative to read his blog and look at others.Mr Idahos blog is useful,I guess. I am just a prepper/ survivalist and I don`t like some sights.I used to work at a auto dealership and when it comes to salesmen there is a difference between a good salesman and a lot lizard.I don`t get any lot lizard vibes at this blog and that is why I stay here.

    • ComputerGeek says:


      Thank you for your honest reply. So what you’re saying is that he (JWR) is simply better at marketing his name and his blog as “the best” but good marketing does not make it so.

      You hear that M.D. you need to become a better marketer to compete with the Mr. Idaho marketing stud. I know he (JWR) has mentioned his staff before I wonder if he has a marketing and advertising staff?

      • axelsteve says:

        If you have to say that you are the best ….then you are not.

      • "Big Jim" says:

        M.D does’nt have to compete w/ anybody !
        The fact that he relates to the “little market” is irrelavant , what
        matters is he is #1 and anyone that checks out both sites knows this ! Creekmore , you da man , let’s hope you never follow the
        JWR’s of Prepville NW Territories……. ;-}

  7. Wow, I need to find a pond with a beaver and learn how to trap! One might run out of ammo (horrors!) but traps are re-useable.

    BTW, I really like the logo you ended up with.

    • So are bow and arrows 😉

      • I need to get a bow and learn how to use it. This is one of my resolutions for this year. What would be a good one to start with. I had a friend let me test his out and the weight was extremely hard to pull back and the width was too wide for my arms?? I am about 5 foot nothing and weigh 110lbs. I had this issue when I was picking out a shotgun that would suite me….I ended up with a junior model 870 20 gauge and it rocks!! Do they make junior model bows?

        • NorCal Ray says:

          Hillbilly mom,
          Back in the late 80’s early 90’s Bear made a compound bow called the Black Mag. It is about the size you would need and is powerful enough to kill wild Boar and Deer.

          As to your question about “Whether or not anyone makes a junior bow” the answer is yes. All the major bow companies make bows in junior sizes.

          If you plan to hunt with it you will need a bow with at least #45lb draw weight.


        • Matt in Oklahoma says:

          Hillbilly mom yes they make some very good junior model bows. Also look into some “fishing” bow models as they are usually a lower poundage on the pull too. I have a teen daughter bout your size and she is lethal with hers!

        • They make bows for all sizes of people. It depends on your draw length and bow poundage. There a tons of websites that discuss this in length. You might also want to look into a crossbow. I have one and love it. I couldn’t hit the side of a barn with a regular/compound bow but am pretty accurate with a crossbow.

          • Thank you for all of this helpful information Ray, Matt and Dan. I will be actively looking for one now. Crossbows sound fun, but I am leaning towards a good solid compound. I do plan to hunt with it, although I have been trying to find research on using bows for home security as well…??? I have my shotgun locked up in a gun cabinet, but I fear I wouldn’t be able to get to that in time. I have to keep my guns and ammo locked up separately so my toddler doesn’t get anywhere near em. I am looking into bow options and trying to see how effective they would be in this case. ie if I could leave it by my bed at night… thoughts???

        • Well I have a crossbow , I got it because bolts are easier to make if I had to , and the fact that you can get good with one in a short amount of time , if you can shoot a rifle now , a crossbow is a very smooth transition .

          • Great, thanks guys. I will talk it over with the hubby and see what his thought are on going further. I am a great shot with my rifle and I picked up trap shooting pretty easy as well. I think I am ready to try my hand at bow now. I will look at these sites you suggested and go from there. As for the home protection using bows, my husband brought up the same thoughts pertaining to the bow not being much safer. I will keep searching for solutions on this.

            • Gee, HB Mom, I just can’t see a bow being a realistic SD weapon in the home. The distances involved, second shots, level of stress to get it right…I think Matt suggestion of a small safe opened with short combination/fingertip press would be better. Didn’t you say that you were fair with you hubby’s .45 at one point? If you have time to mount up bow you will hve time to open small, bed side safe and acess handgun.
              You certainly have the will, I have no doubt that you will find a way. Good Luck!

            • NorCal Ray says:

              Hillbilly Mom,
              They also make special Bird Hunting Arrows that will allow you to shoot Quail, Pheasants etc on the wing and not lose your arrow.

  8. Leg hold traps are illegal in my state (WA) and a lot of other states and will be illegal at the federal level in the near future. Hard to find in that case…

    • Matt in Oklahoma says:

      @ Sulaco yep, leg holds are still around now and make good dead zone coverage too. Like most things discussed they need to be aquired now and used now. You cant read, no matter how good a writer Buckshot, MD or anyone is, and think you know!

      Knowledge is Power, Practiced Knowledge is Strength, Tested Knowledge is Confidence

  9. ComputerGeek says:

    Do any of you use the free Alexa Toolbar? Looks interesting…

    • Extra toolbars are, for the most part, unnecessary — even duplicative — and possibly harmful. Many of them contain malware, and most of the ones that don’t are security issues, because they track you. Alexa is considered by some to be malware/spyware itself. I’ve

      You can get add-ons and extensions in Firefox, and probably in IE, Opera, Safari, etc., to have just about any capability added to the toolbar your browser already has. 🙂

  10. I used to work with a guy that was a barge man down the Mississippi river , he said that every once in awhile they would see a dead beaver all bloated up like a fury beach ball , they would always make the new guy ( who didnt know any better ) to pull it away with a gaff . He said the smell was beyond description when the ” balloon ” poped lol .

  11. SrvivlSally says:

    Bruce “Buckshot” Hemming,
    Thank you for the awesome article. If there is ever a time when there is no real meat to eat, I would not have a problem recalling your teaching.

  12. Allen Currie says:

    Looking for a beaver pond? Get a terrain map and look for a swampy area. Beavers have all sorts of time to dam little flows of water into big beaver ponds

  13. Interesting stuff. I have seen plenty of beaver before and never thought of trapping them. I know they can be major pests, but they never bothered my uncle who owned a farm. He let them build dams and cut trees as they pleased so long as they did not flood the road. I never knew they could be good to eat (well I used to eat a different type frequently but if I write more about that here you would probably ban me from future comments). For meat, I would gladly trap away. Wish I would have known they were good eating back when my uncle still owned his farm.

    All the best,

  14. Mike Undercofler says:

    Very informative Buckshot.

    I’m intreuged about snares for beavers. I’ve always used leg hold and slide wire sets.

    You mention you use 1/2 inch rebar pegs. Have you ever tried the “corckscrew” pegs? They are “designed” for tying your dog out. Much easier to get into, and back out of the ground.

    I use them for my fox and coon ground sets. I wonder how they would hold up for a lower center of power creature like a beaver, in the soft mud of a pond bank.

    Oh, and… If you happen to have a smoker, the backstraps make excellent bacon. I’ve always just ground the rest up for sausage.

  15. axelsteve says:

    I have never trapped game before. I do not think that there are any beaver in my part of Kalifornia.They would probably be protected if there is any.I wonder if they taste anything like spotted owl?

    • Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

      steve, surprisingly there are beaver all over California. I don’t know if they are legal to trap, but I sure would like to give it a try. Can’t use a leghold trap, that’s for sure. But I wonder if a snare is still legal? May have to call Yountville about that. I bet there are beaver at Lake Pillsbury.

      Saw a mink in Cache Creek a few years ago. Heard they are still fairly common in NoCal, too.

    • Matt in Oklahoma says:

      Axelsteve, you know I wouldnt just apply this article to just “Beaver”. Buckshot writes many good articles on many trappings and critters. I even consider gopher traps as force multipliers though it wouldnt be a favorite even post SHTF, protein is protein!
      and no they taste more like bald eagle LOL

  16. Personally I find the links at the end of the articles on JWR’s site informative. I usually just skim the actual submissions because most of them are above my head and too lengthy.

  17. Buckshot, thank you for this well written and informative article.

  18. Trapping is something I have been trying to look into. We have a small trapper’s association up here, so I think I will hook up with them this Spring.

    Good article. Informative and thought provoking.

    • Hi JP in MT, what’s the name of the Trapper’s Assoc ? Could you posta website , please ? Smaller organizations, weather trapping, State Pro-gun Orgs, etc are usually run by members that volunteer their time to do so & could use more support or members. And spreading their message to other perspective members via the internet. Thanks.

      • Me: Soon as I find the info for the association I’ll post it. I’ve seen their booth at the County Fair and since I don’t live that close, I’ll have to check with some friends in town.

  19. Just knowing Buckshot’s awareness of this site and the fact he is writing for it says good things about this blog and the info purveyed here! Good one !

  20. This was a fairly good article, just one correction. I don’t care what you hunt or trap as long as you DO NOT hunt or trap my property. Even SHTF time will not allow you to intrude onto my property even to chase a wounded animal you were hunting. And be aware that kinship ties are very strong in some areas, and trapping or hunting on someone else’s land can be dangerous. ALWAYS get permission first.

  21. blindshooter says:

    I’ve tried eating the beaver here in my area and never liked it, tasted like chalk. I think they pick up nasty tastes from the bark in the swamps and ponds here in the south. The hides are not very good either I guess it just don’t stay cold enough here for them to thicken up. We cook muskrat and it turns out somewhat like squirrel. I guess if the situation called for it I’d eat the beaver but only if I had to.
    good read

  22. Uncle Charlie says:

    One thing Buckshot forgot to mention: conservation. That was a sizable pile of beavers in his picture. While many farmers consider beaver a nuisance, I consider them a blessing. They provide backup water in their ponds and you can always stock them with pan fish as a renewable source of food. So you always want to be careful when you harvest beaver so you don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg. I prefer shooting over leg traps or drowning, however. No need for the animal to suffer. Head shots are the best.

  23. Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

    Great info, thanks Buckshot.

    I knew beavers were good to eat because Jeremiah Johnson always sent his adopted son out to get a beaver for dinner when his Native American “wife” cooked that awful flatbread for their meals. LOL
    Jeremiah Johnson will be on tonight at 7:30pm, on the AMC channel.
    Watch – learn – yearn.

    • "Big Jim" says:

      “twern’t no trouble and watch your topnotch”…there is a blooper in this movie of a helicopter flying in the backgroud !

      one of my top 10’s ,, ;-}

  24. This was a good read an informative. Makes one think about what they are going to have to eat when the grocery store is gone.
    Here, no water = no beaver.
    I’m going to have to write something about eating fried scorpions and tarantulas. 🙁

  25. Chilly Beaver says:

    Great article Buckshot. Ive used conibears and leghold traps, but have never snared beaver, makes perfect sense though, just never done it. When I was a kid we lived on a farm with a creek running through it and there were tons of bank beavers, many over 100 lbs. Im excited to try some beaver meat now, we always ate the tails (ran them through the smoker and they were deliscious) but never any of the meat, not sure why. The pelts made nice extra allowance money for us too. If memory serves, theres a bounty this year in eastern Saskatchewan on beaver because they had a really wet spring and the large amounts of beaver were damning all of the ditches and everything, washed out roads all over the place. First trip of last spring to the in-laws, out of 6 ways into their farm, 5 were unpassable because of the beavers. If left unchecked they can become a great nuisance, so its nice to know that you can harvest all of their parts when managing their numbers.

  26. Dan Morgan says:

    While I have had good luck just getting to my aunt’s pond early and shooting beavers with a .22, my friend’s pond is a different story. His come out late and go in early and shy away from lights so shooting is not an option. I have bought some traps and after 2 weeks have managed ONE beaver. This article is awesome in that you tell some of the beaver habits such as how they swim to the banks.
    Thank you so much for this article. I plan to get more beavers now!

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