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.
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.
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.
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.