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#2998034 - 02/06/12 10:54 PM Stories of smart beaver
goldy Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 4426
Loc: minnesota
I'd be interested in hearing stories of experiences some of you beaver trappers have had with smart beaver and what you've done to catch them. I do all our county ADC beaver trapping, I've ran into several very shy ones. But one stands out. It's a long story, so bear with me.
This particular beaver ran a couple mile stretch of county drainage ditches. It took me years to finally catch it. Not years of continually trying to catch it, but years from the time I first lost it. Just about every year it would find a new mate and build a lodge and dam somewhere along the main drainage system or on one of the fingers. And every year I would catch the female, but not that male. The way the ditch system is, there weren't a lot of natural set locations. It was the luckiest beaver on the face of the earth.
The first time I lost it, and the time I educated it to 330's, the weld broke on the jaw of a 330. Never could get it to go through one again. It didn't matter how well I camouflaged it, it would not go through a 330 again. How it knew the 330's were there after that, I have no idea. I tried winding grass around the jaws, grass in front of it, sticks through and around the jaws and springs, you name it I tried it. Never again could I get it to go through a 330 or even a 1216. At first I thought it might be shy of my scent, but that proved not to be the case. I tried setting 1216's and 330's over the entrances in the house one winter. He'd have none of that. After about three weeks, I felt sorry for it and pulled.
He wouldn't go through snares either, or let me rephrase, he wouldn't go all the way through. At least a half dozen times he entered my snares but backed up and pulled out before the snare was tight enough. The loop would be pulled down to about 4", and the snare would be pulled backward. Most of those snare sets were in runs through the flooded grass, so camo was easy. After he pulled out of a snare in a run, he wouldn't use that run again. The fact that he knew enough to pull back before the snare tightened was amazing because he would be pushing flooded grass with his chest and head. I think he could hear the lock sliding on the cable, it does make a certain sound. That's the only explanation I can come up with. I had some other snare set locations that seemed deadly, but they either caught the female first or otter. One time though I did have it in a snare under ice, the loop was pulled tight. Most years I couldn't make under ice sets where the beaver built it's house though because the water wasn't deep enough in the drainage ditches.
At least twice I lost it in footholds. I seldom have sprung traps anyway but both times I was using traps I no longer use. Just bad luck. I knew I'd know when I caught the beaver because it would be missing toe nails. The first time I lost it was in a bait set, the second was at it's own castor mound. After the second time, it wouldn't come to the bank again for almost a year. It would just cut brush hanging out in the water and eat it there. It only made a castor mound one time after that too, and that was years later. I set a trap at the mound, covering everything good. It abandoned the area. Again, everytime I set for that beaver I was using rubber gloves and boots. I tried to keep things as scent free as possible. I'd check the sets every third day. Just didn't matter. Many times it built a small dam on one of the many drainage fingers that went into some sod and vegetable fields. But as soon as I would make a set, and I seldom used any kind of lure, it would abandon the area.
His downfall was he liked to plug a particular culvert. Didn't matter if he was going to make a colony or not. He just liked to plug the culvert occasionally. One fall the culvert was plugged. Got the call to take care of it. I set some well camoed snares in the flooded grass and willows leading to a popple tree they had cut down. The next day I had the two beaver waiting for me. I had finally caught him! But no, they both had all their toes. What a let down that was. It happened a few times after that too where I caught other beaver there, but not him. Last spring the culvert was plugged again. I made a couple sets, one with popple. He proceeded to go up on dry land behind it and steal it. So I put a well hid trap where he came ashore. And of course, he never tried to steal the bait again. I tried every trick I knew over the years. Nothing worked. Once I tried ripping some of the sticks out of the culvert and putting them on shore near the culvert. Within a day or two they were back into the culvert again. So I did it again, arranging the sticks discreetly so he had to come into one of two places to get them. I set footholds in those two places. The next time he plugged the culvert he cut fresh sticks. He never touched those sticks by the culvert again. Now, when I pulled the sticks out of the culvert that time, I didn't have any gloves on and I was laying on the top of the culvert. My scent was everywhere. But still within a day or two of that he plugged the culvert with those sticks so it makes me think it wasn't totally human scent shy. I could go on and on with the sets I tried, but this story is long enough.
The landowners by that culvert had to have thought I was less than competant. It was embarrassing to say the least. Part of the problem was he would plug the culvert and not come back again for a week or more. We had had a lot of rain all spring so water levels were changing a lot. Finally the water stabilized. I noticed the last time he plugged the culvert he had cut some tag alders out of a clump. There were a couple alders left in that clump, so I set a trap in front of where the alders were and tore open part of the dam inside the culvert. The water stabilized perfectly, leaving about 2" covering the trap. It was a shot in the dark with all the other alders around there. I was nervous about setting a foothold there. No place to drown and lot's of places to tangle. Finally after about a week or more of no action, I caught him perfectly by a back foot. It was definetely him. Missing toes and all. What a pleasure it was to tell the lanowners and the county ditch inspector! I've had a couple others that took a little time, but none even close to him.


Edited by goldy (02/07/12 03:18 PM)

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#2998053 - 02/06/12 11:10 PM Re: Stories of smart beaver [Re: goldy]
Jtrapper Offline


Registered: 12/22/06
Posts: 15434
Loc: Alabama (Bama for short) 108 y...
Those 'phantom' beavers are always such a joy to deal with, lol.

Your set was a specialty set, ive noticed each beaver like that usually has to be caught with some sort of customized one of a kind set that fits that location and that beaver, sadly no one size fits all set has come along to handle all of these type beavers.

Spent 3 months worrying with the worst one ive had to deal with some years ago. Long story short, finally started thinking the dang thing was scent shy, not lure shy, but shy of my odor! Each time id make a new set where it was going it would quit going there. Finally set a single snare between two clumps of grass it would swim between now and then and check it for a week FROM THE BRIDGE! Never actually going down into the water. Set it on a monday and finally that friday I decided that wasn't going to work either and went down to pull it up. Nothing was cut down or torn up but that beaver was laying flat of it's back under water DEAD! Hip caught.

Old female of course. Right when I gave up the set caught it, lol.
_________________________
Not my circus, not my clowns.

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#2998058 - 02/06/12 11:13 PM Re: Stories of smart beaver [Re: ]
goldy Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 4426
Loc: minnesota
Originally Posted By: woodsman/trapper
Was he an old heavyweight?
Surprisingly not. Was in the 50-55 pound range. Had a huge tail though. Had to have been at least 10 years old, probably older. It took me at least 8 to finally catch it.


Edited by goldy (02/06/12 11:19 PM)
Edit Reason: addition.

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#2998063 - 02/06/12 11:16 PM Re: Stories of smart beaver [Re: goldy]
Boco Offline
trapper

Registered: 08/08/11
Posts: 359
Loc: james bay frontierOnt.
12 ga and a nice moonlit night.

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#2998064 - 02/06/12 11:17 PM Re: Stories of smart beaver [Re: Jtrapper]
goldy Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 4426
Loc: minnesota
Originally Posted By: Jtrapper
Those 'phantom' beavers are always such a joy to deal with, lol.

Your set was a specialty set, ive noticed each beaver like that usually has to be caught with some sort of customized one of a kind set that fits that location and that beaver, sadly no one size fits all set has come along to handle all of these type beavers.
Very, very, true. One thing we have going for us up here though is beaver absolutely love popple. Often some sort of set using popple will catch them. You guys down south don't have that luxery.

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#2998070 - 02/06/12 11:20 PM Re: Stories of smart beaver [Re: goldy]
Jtrapper Offline


Registered: 12/22/06
Posts: 15434
Loc: Alabama (Bama for short) 108 y...
No everything around them down here is like a salad bar, they might eat this tonight, then eat that tomorrow night, lol. Not really stuck on any one thing.
_________________________
Not my circus, not my clowns.

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#2998334 - 02/07/12 07:42 AM Re: Stories of smart beaver [Re: goldy]
Ryan NC Offline
trapper

Registered: 02/04/09
Posts: 26
Loc: Morganton NC
ya know that is a very depressing story considering I must be trying to catch his long lost brother right now...

I've never known a beaver to be shy of human scent but I'm leaning to thinking jtrapper is correct that they can become so. I've thrown every trick I know of at this critter for just a hair over 2 weeks, 5 of his buddies have gone the way of the dino's. 8 snares, 4 legholds, 6 conis and I can't him to go near any of them. Resorted to setting snares on a couple of his castor mounds with nothing else with the same results as you, snare closed down most of the way and pulled back into the water but no beaver... I'm still debating whether it's embarrassing or or just plain frustrating, property owner expected me in and out in 7 days with no damage after that. The damage has stopped as it won't come outa the water now, but there are fresh chew sticks in random spots every night and LITTLE mud pies have been left near a couple sets right at the water line... I'm the second person in so I'm expecting it to be missing toes or some other outward sign tho I've not a clue how it knows the the leg holds are there. IF I could just find his bank den I'd be able to out wait him out or if I could use a shotgun without danger to the houses, if, if, BUT ONLY IF... GRrrrrrrr Looks like the gas station got the profit on this one!! lol
_________________________
Just a Dang Mountain Moron who says it's about time to get ready for fur season! smile

Ya can't fix stupid, not even with duct tape!

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#2998396 - 02/07/12 08:19 AM Re: Stories of smart beaver [Re: goldy]
Jim Blakley Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/23/06
Posts: 3046
Loc: se. mn... age..62
I had a farmer ask me If I would come out catch and his beaver . I gave him a price and he said great because he had the kid down the road trying to catch those beaver for over a year and only got a foot . So then I told him Id have to raise my price because he now had Smart Beaver. He Got mad and thought I was trying to cheat him .I told him sorry but It would take a lot more time and fuel to do the job . He said he would get someone who could do the job . Last fall I could see that the beaver now had a second colony established about 1/2 mile away . And a lot of flooded corn ! Around Thanks Giving I could see he hired a crew with a track hoe and Cat to do the job ! I wonder how much that cost ?
_________________________
.....Ive been at this Game for 50 years and have no plans to stop................

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#2998402 - 02/07/12 08:23 AM Re: Stories of smart beaver [Re: goldy]
Dam Trapper Offline
trapper

Registered: 04/15/11
Posts: 78
Loc: Backus, MN Cass Cty
I always have a couple of sets where the river exits the lake I live on. As I am only 50 yards from the river exit I can check these traps with a pair of binoculars. Well, I have this natural set where there is a huge castor mound behind two clumps of sawtooth grass that ere just wide enough for a 330. Over the years I have caught a ton of beaver and many otter in this set. Three years ago this set was sprung every morning, I would reset and it would be sprung by evening. So I told my wife to keep a watch on the set whenever she had the chance during the day. One day I came off the line and she had this story that she was excited to tell me. It seems that after I reset the 330 in the morning the beaver would make its rounds of the castor mound. She had the audacity to tell this pro that the beaver was so smart it made me look stupid. It seems that the beaver would swim over to the set, smell the Backbreaker and proceed to back up to the coni and flick its tail and spring the 330. I, for the life of me, didn't believe her...... until I saw it with my own eyes!!! I actually think he would hit the top of the coni so hard it would jar the dog off. To make a longer story shorter, I finally, after three years, caught this sucker on a blind crossover with a #14 and a drowning rod.

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#2998416 - 02/07/12 08:32 AM Re: Stories of smart beaver [Re: goldy]
Ryan NC Offline
trapper

Registered: 02/04/09
Posts: 26
Loc: Morganton NC
DT ya triggered something in my head, I bet ya in my case it is the drowning cable that is turning the one I'm chasing off from the legholds, the water is very clear and you can see the cable even though it's buried a little up near the traps... use the same cable for my snares and extensions to tie off the coni's. That is the like element between all my sets and makes even more sense than human odor! I think it's time to break out the spray paint... it's becoming personal!!!! lol
_________________________
Just a Dang Mountain Moron who says it's about time to get ready for fur season! smile

Ya can't fix stupid, not even with duct tape!

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#2998435 - 02/07/12 08:45 AM Re: Stories of smart beaver [Re: goldy]
MnMan Offline
trapper

Registered: 03/04/07
Posts: 2782
Loc: Central MN, sort of old
Trapstickman learns from experience that an educated beaver can be a severe pain in the butt.
_________________________
I'm just happy to be here! Today I'm as young as I'll ever be and and older than I've ever been before!

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#2998444 - 02/07/12 08:50 AM Re: Stories of smart beaver [Re: goldy]
skippyturtle Offline
trapper

Registered: 01/03/12
Posts: 32
Loc: ohio
i am still dealing with the worst one i have met. he/she no doubt has been pinched by another trapper. it will come to my castor mounds and fire my traps with out moving them from their beds and then prceed to work the set but never move the trap. i put in 330's and it wont work the set at all. put in snares and it doesnt work the sets. tried setting slides and it doesnt use that slide again until the trap is gone. it lives in a creek ant there is no way to set the lodge entrnces as it is deep and i have no idea where they are. i pulled all traps the other day. left the castor mounds in place. i am gonna give it time to get used to no traps then put them back in place without adding lure. i also noticed one spot that it comes through everytime it comes up on its lodge. just a very slight impression but i am gonna place a trap there as well.
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NTA
OSTA

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#2998503 - 02/07/12 09:20 AM Re: Stories of smart beaver [Re: goldy]
MNcooner Offline
trapper

Registered: 10/20/07
Posts: 3377
Loc: MN, just north of Sodom
Nothing like your story Goldy, but last year I caught a female (in the middle of a subdivision, poor lady's property was completely trashed) that I had been after for 2 seasons. Caught her toe the year before, she climbed over two 330s the year before... would not go through snares...

In the meantime she keep having kits of course... and the poor lady's property kept getting trashed. It was no problem to clean out her kits 2 years in a row...

She finally for some inexplicable reason went through a 330... whatever. big old black female, 65 pounds.

it's a good think because this lady was getting um... not happy.
_________________________
Devoted Grubstake disciple

Follower of the gnome


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#2998698 - 02/07/12 11:09 AM Re: Stories of smart beaver [Re: goldy]
Sharon Offline
trapper

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 166
Loc: Northwest Montana ,rocky mtns...
Goldy,I read your story with complete fascination.

I am always trying to learn of animal behaviour because of all the trapset illustrations in water for varied varmints that I do for magazines.
I thought this thread would be of benefit to me.
And,so it was.
And I appreciate all the stories on here as well.I have learned much-could see illustrations in my head come to life with each story.Several came to mind with yours,Goldy.

Do you intend to keep the pelt for your collection-with it's unique history for you?I certainly would.

Also,as a side note-as I read,I was most impressed with your smooth narrative ability in the telling. I could'nt help but see this published in one of the Trapping issues.Fur-Fish-Game included.With a well done illustration to bring it to life.Seriously.

Thank you all for these amazing stories.I have enjoyed them immensely and have learned much to add to future art in magazines.

I hope more experiences are added here as well.

Thank you Goldy.
Regards, sharon
_________________________
Sharon

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#2998715 - 02/07/12 11:27 AM Re: Stories of smart beaver [Re: goldy]
Ryan NC Offline
trapper

Registered: 02/04/09
Posts: 26
Loc: Morganton NC

Originally Posted By: MnMan
Trapstickman learns from experience that an educated beaver can be a severe pain in the butt.



lmao I'm borrowing this for a couple days... THIS IS MY LIFE RIGHT NOW!
_________________________
Just a Dang Mountain Moron who says it's about time to get ready for fur season! smile

Ya can't fix stupid, not even with duct tape!

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#2998742 - 02/07/12 11:45 AM Re: Stories of smart beaver [Re: goldy]
goldy Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 4426
Loc: minnesota
Thanks Sharon. I actually left some things out and deleted some things while typing because I didn't want it to be too sappy, LOL. I couldn't keep the beaver because it was out of season, I was trapping by permit. Our laws state the beaver must be immediately buried on site when the season is closed. I detested that beaver anyway. I was just happy it was finally gone. I've heard stories of people feeling sad when they finally caught animals they've been after for a long time. Believe me, I was only happy.


Edited by goldy (02/07/12 11:48 AM)

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#2998753 - 02/07/12 11:50 AM Re: Stories of smart beaver [Re: goldy]
4 Fur Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/25/09
Posts: 78
Loc: West Central Iowa
I have learned to never under estimate the abililty of certain beaver to hole up for extended periods of time. I have had beaver hole up for 8-10 days before emerging in a pond that had been dewatered. Several years ago, I called the back hoe in on a ghost beaver. No mystery where the beaver was at after the 75 yard pond had been reduced to a spring fed trickle. On day 30 I noticed where the beaver had enlarged the air hole out in the field about 40' from the den entrance and snipped a few small willows. Day 32 I had the beaver snared up. Wish I could tell you how big the beaver was but a family of bobcat had killed the beaver and eaten over half of him. Wish I could post the picture, but it was pretty graphic. I felt just like you, Goldy! I thought it was a just end for that beaver!


Edited by 4 Fur (02/07/12 11:52 AM)
_________________________
Life Member NTA, FHA and Iowa Trappers Association

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#2999328 - 02/07/12 04:25 PM Re: Stories of smart beaver [Re: goldy]
goldy Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 4426
Loc: minnesota
Come on, somebody has some stories.

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#2999351 - 02/07/12 04:36 PM Re: Stories of smart beaver [Re: goldy]
Jtrapper Offline


Registered: 12/22/06
Posts: 15434
Loc: Alabama (Bama for short) 108 y...
Did the drain the water off route as well one time but had to do it by hand, lol. Set the two entrance's going into what once was a bank den turned into a lodge, no other way out for this one or so I thought. On day 3 she had chewed out the top of the lodge and gone into one of the 100 other holes in the pond, lol. Never had one do that before or since.

CDR at the dam she put back together took her out.
_________________________
Not my circus, not my clowns.

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#2999352 - 02/07/12 04:36 PM Re: Stories of smart beaver [Re: goldy]
Rob906
Unregistered


I have a couple.. First one was in this very small swamp the county asked me to trap it out.. I said sure not a problem figured it came up the small crick from the lake..Well i set up a castor mound and figured it would get him. Well after a week of no action on that castor mound i said the heck with it and tore a hole in the dam which was only a culvert.. Had to rip a hole in it the water was right at the top of my waders with out sinking in the mud.. I set a 330 in the only run in the swamp figured i would have him the next day when he came out to fix the dam.. I pulled up the next day and this is what i seen...

That is a 330 and a tall h stand packed full of sticks and mud still set.. It happen again and then i set up the hut stayed set for almost a week and half before i gave up.. I think the beaver ended up moving back in to the lake.

I have a couple more i can post later...

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