Equipment for beaver trapping has to be pretty heavy duty. Beaver are fighters to the end and will twist in a trap until it escapes. Swivels are a must here as with the more swivels the chances of escape are reduced. Number twelve gauge or stronger wire is also a must. Trap six should be no smaller than a 4 for foot traps or 330 conibear size. Traps have to be marked with your name on every trap and in ice trapping your name tag has to be above the ice so your traps can be identified.

The goal is to quickly and humanely dispatch your catch as quickly and efficiently as possible. Traps wired to large rocks will hold them under water to efficiently dispatch them. The goal is to avoid losses because a beaver who has escaped from a trap is an educated beaver and a little harder to catch.

Example: my friend Mark called a month ago, a beaver had moved in and started munching his prime fruit trees. I stopped in and told Mark: this will be like taking candy from a baby”. Open mouth, insert wader. The first night I pinched him with a foothold and now its game on. This is one smart beaver and thus far has stumped me at every turn. Mark is certainly amused with this battle. When I stopped the other night he asked if “I knew of a good beaver trapper”. Do not underestimate these toothy critters.

Now a few sets and some good news. Prior to this year if you trapped beaver you could not put a trap within 10 feet of a beaver house or dam. Effective this year in Vermont the ten foot rule is gone. The theory behind this process is if we can trap more of them during beaver season it will mean trapping less of them in the summer months as nuisance beaver when their fur has no value.

An easy set is a spillway set. Spillways are little water ways between ponds where beaver travel. If the water is deep enough this is the perfect spot for a 33 coni bear. If shallow water exists a number four will work just remember swivels and no objects close by to tangle in.

A trail set is another producer. Find a place where a beaver leaves a pond to travel on land to fill his pantry. Place a number four in four inches of water anchored deep and you should get a rear foot catch.

A feed pocket set works well also. Find any piece of wood with the bark stripped off will catch a beaver’s eye as a potential meal and they will investigate. Again, remember the 4x4 rule.

Castor mound sets are constructed by placing a mound of mud on the set and pouring some castor on it. Beavers are territorial and will investigate any intruders.

These pre-mentioned sets work well before freeze up but will be difficult after and God knows when that will happen so plan to be flexible. After freeze up the work begins. This type of weather usually weeds out the real trappers from the wana bees. Chopping ice every day will test you to the extreme. Frozen fingers are the norm this time of year.

Hopefully you marked your turf before freeze up. There is nothing worse than chopping through a foot of ice and hitting dirt. My favorite set is a leaning pole set. Chop a whole in the ice and put in a leaning pole, nail a platform on it to make a shelve large enough to hold a number 4 wired to a pole with some stripped branch bait tied above. A 330 tied to the pole will have the same results.

A WORD OF CAUTION: DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT REACH UNDER THE ICE TO CHECK YOUR SETS. There is nothing worse than having your hand securely held under the ice while you are on to. Unless you are into chewing your own arm off please carry a trowel or stick to check your sets with. On 330s be sure to carry a safety and use it until your setup is complete to prevent miss firing. At last check human hide has no value on the market.

There are tons of sets, buy a good video or book, and check them all out. Once you catch a beaver dispatch if necessary and clean at the scene then hang to dry completely .Lay flat on their back and cut from the base of their tail to their chin. Slowly roll and remove their fur. Once removed; it’s off to the fleshing beam to remove what you did not get in the skinning process. Once fleshed it’s time to tack to a pre marked fur board or hooped to get a oval shape. Watch the knife work as any mis-cuts will reduce the price of the furs.

Once dry it is off to the fur dealer and depending on the year you could be looking at a twenty dollar bill for your efforts. Do not forget the castor sack located near the anus and freeze these for sale down the road or your own lure making. And the skulls, they are highly wanted for decorations of cabins.

As far as table fare, beaver are good to eat. Remove all fat from the beaver and season with salt, pepper and other seasoning of your choice. Place a rack in a roaster with a drip pan for the excess fat to run off. Cook at 450 for fifteen minutes to sear the outside, then lower to 350 and cook for thirty minutes per pound making sure it is totally cooked. Lemon slices on top add a little extra zest. Beaver can be used in stews.

There you go, enough info I hope to get you started. Beaver are a challenge but remember I said trapping is not easy.

Keep your waders patched and lures in the shed and be sure to take a kid with you.