beaver trapping, water trapping — December 17, 2013 at 4:28 pm

How to catch beaver in foothold traps, a few tips that will help


  Some different ways to use a foothold trap for beaver trapping

beaver trapping footholdI don’t really feel the need to go into great detail on conibears. There is more information on the use of body grip traps in the modern era of trapping than there ever has been in history. Most modern beaver trappers live and die by the 330 body grip trap. However, when an average beaver man wants to step up his game to the next level, conibears don’t make up a complete system. When this happens to a trapper, he will gravitate to a snare or foothold. The foothold trap was used by the mountain man and this simple device still works today. So why has the fur trapper stopped relying on this time proven and functional peace of equipment? I think the body grip traps made beaver trapping just a little too easy. This made the beaver man forget about the foothold and what advantages it has on a line. Trappers forgot to learn about beaver behavior and other beaver trapping fundamentals. Most modern conibear men only know what a choke point is or what a beaver den is. If you were to take away the dam crossover or channel sets from the modern trapper, he is lost. This is a shame and a beaver man should know how and learn to use any piece of equipment he has at his disposal. Not only should you know how to use snares, and conibears but also footholds. I will take a piece of fur any legal way I can. A beaver is a beaver no matter how you get your hands on him-trap him, snare him, shoot him or run him over with a truck. If you’re trying to make a living from a fur check, you take fur any way you can get it and be grateful for it. An example of this survival mind set is getting some fur for free. There is no way I am going to pass up a fresh road kill beaver, otter, mink, coon or fox.. If the fur is good its like a free gift, that has no expenses tied up in it. If you know of a trapper that hates to put up beaver and is going to float them down the creek or have a friend that coon hunts and is leaving coon in the woods, have him save them for you. Even put a freezer at his house if you have to and pay him a little for the power bill if need be, but a pro takes fur any way possible. A serious trapper does not look at trapping as a sport. It’s a way of life and his job. It’s not always fun or pretty. Why am I diverting from the topic on hand, footholds? I’m really not. If you want to make large catches of beaver, learning how to use a foothold is your job. So if you’re not proficient with one, you need to get that way. I have already discussed how I feel about slide wires, chains and weights, short and long chains and sliding rod rigs in the past. I will try and put into words where and how to use footholds. You may not get the hang of leg iron right away-it does take understanding, determination and practice. But if a trapper fights through the learning curve, he will be on a different plan than the average trapper in the modern world and be able to reap the benefits. Just like snares there is a transition point or zone that can give you headaches if you don’t understand the beavers habits. Just like in snaring you have to know what animal you’re trapping for, a land animal or a water animal. Where most people seem to have the most trouble with footholds, is water that is ten inches to two inches deep and shallow angle slopping banks. What do you think the beaver will be doing and at what exact water lever will he be doing it at? Well, you don’t know and I don’t know either. Every beaver will act a little different in this depth of water. Some will start walking as soon as they can. Some beaver will wait to the last few inches to put their front down and start walking. And some will start becoming a land animal in between the two. So where should the trap go in for a front or back foot catch? You could guess and hope for the best, but why? You can’t control this situation by plunking down footholds, I don’t care if you counter sink the trap or not. Let’s start at the picture book sets and banks. In the real world these perfect situations don’t show up around every bend in the river, but you will find several on your lines. The best location for a back foot catch is on a bank that is some what steep and the water is 12-30 inches deep, with the bank that may be 10-30 inches tall. You can make a castor set or any set for that matter. What is important is to have our trap where the beaver puts his foot down. If the bank goes strait down, your trap needs to be about 10 inches back from the straight bank. The water depth can be anywhere from 10 inches to 3 feet. In this situation the beaver will dive under the water and push off with his back feet. His front feet will stay close to his chest until he is at the top of the water. If you take your time and don’t disturb the water you can sometimes see the bottom and see the area of different color that is being used as a platform. This type of situation is the easiest kind of location to set up. Now what if the bank is more of a slopping bank? This can be a trickier propasition. In order to make a back foot catch, your trap has to be farther back. Most of the time this position is between 16-20 inches. This really depends on the size of beaver that visit your set. A good average of trap position is 18 inches. The trap needs to be off center about six inches, dead center, on the down stream side of the travel way. On real shallow water it is in your best interest to go for a front foot catch. This is because there is no way to really know where the beaver is to drop his back feet. Remember not all beaver do the same thing in shallow water. If you are dead set on a back foot catch, you can dig out the mud in front of the set. But this needs to be done in such a way that the beaver thinks he is still in deeper water.

Now let’s get into how to put iron on his front paw. There are several ways to accomplish this. We can just put the trap a few inches offset real close to the bank. This will work some of the time, but it has a high snap off rate. If you are in deeper water you could dig out a 12 inch U in the bank and have a shelf 6-8 inches down in the water. The beaver will enter the dug out U and hit the shelf with his chest, put his front feet down and get caught. It is always best to have your outside jaw a few inches from the end of the shelf. We don’t want the beaver to pull our trap off of the shelf. We can make this old stand by set even better. Let’s dig the pullout to be 24 inches back in the bank. Now keep the shelf shallow, about 4 inches deep from the beginning to the end. Dig a deeper hole 6 inches from the outside edge that is 6 inches deep. Now the beaver will hit the shelf and climb on it, and then step down into your trap. This will have a lot less snap off’s for you. Instead of having dirt for the beaver to hit, you can use rocks, gravel or a good size stick for the beaver to hit, climb over and then step off of. I find this step over method to be way better than anything I have tried to date. I also try and use this on my dam crossover sets or any trap that is used on a front foot catch. Now let’s take this idea to a harder set up-real shallow banks. First off, this is not the best place to catch beaver, but it can be done. You will find that beaver will pay less attention to your blocking and may come up to the set from anywhere. But in the real world this may be all you have to work with. I like to make a showy slide up to my attraction or lure. This slide may only be a few inches deep. I will dig a hole large enough to get my foothold or footholds a few inches deeper that the rest of the slide. I will bed my trap and then dig a small trench to allow the water to fill up my trap bed hole that the traps are located in. When the beaver walks up the slide, he will step down into the traps.

One thing that always needs to be on your mind is the water current. If there is any water current, the beaver will always come in from the down stream side. The stronger the current, the more the beaver will hug the down stream side next to the bank. You never want to have your foothold on the up stream side of the current. If you have a hard time understanding this concept, just go out and watch how ducks come up the bank in current. If you are working in dead water or swamps this is not such a big deal. In this kind of water you need to look out from your set and see how and where the beaver are most likely to swim around to get to your set. Keep in mind that the beaver will be making an arc around an object to get to your set.

If I am trapping a mixed line, I like to set blind sets with smaller traps in beaver slides, castor mound sets, and feed area sets. This is a fast and simple way to rack up beaver and other animals. Just pick a trail the beaver are using and quickly bed your trap off center of the trail. I like to use two or three sets in a slide. Don’t worry about sifting dirt over your traps, just brush some grass or small leaves over the set and keep moving. A step over stick is a good idea, but make sure it takes some force to move the stick. We don’t want the stick to be kicked into the kill area.





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