How to Trap Beavers
VIDEOS: If you want to know how the trap, catch, kill or get rid of beaver. We have plenty of beaver trapping videos for you to choose from. We have beaver trapping videos using body grip traps in or under the water. The beaver channel or beaver run is a standard place to set a kill trap. We have videos on trapping beaver using foothold traps on castor mound sets, beaver slides, beaver cross-overs and on beaver dams. If your into snaring beaver or need to learn how to trap beaver with a snare, enjoy and learn from our beaver snaring videos. We film snaring beaver in open water, on the ground and under the ice. We even have videos explaining snare supports, kill poles and how to load a 1x19 beaver snare. Since you are looking up beaver trapping videos, don't forget to look up our otter trapping videos as well. We also have beaver trapping and snaring videos from Predator Control Group and Clint Locklear while on our beaver control jobs.
RADIO: This is a sister site to Wolfer nation and you are more than welcome to join in on our trapping forums. If you are new to beaver trapping and snaring, these forums give you a chance to talk too and ask questions you may have about catching beaver with other trappers. If nothing else, you can just read the posts in the trapping and snaring forums to pick up some beaver trapping tips. There is no reason to be shy, jump in and join our beaver trapping community.
INFORMATION: We have tons of beaver trapping articles on how to trap and snare beaver for you to learn from. If you are using body grip traps on castor mounds, we have professional information for you to read. It does not matter if you trap beaver up north under the ice, in the beaver swamps in the south, creeks in the mid-west or snare beaver under ice in Alaska, you will find a lot of beaver trapping skills to enjoy and learn from. Most of the articles are from Clint Locklear, he has taken 1,104 beaver in a single year, so you know you are getting plenty of beaver information you can rely on in your own trapping adventures. If your wondering what is the best beaver snare, we cover that. If you are wondering what is the best beaver trap, we got that covered too. Learn about beaver lures, castor and food lures. If you are looking for real world beaver information, you have found the site you were looking for. Enjoy!
I have been snaring for many years and have taken for granted how snaring can become an art form. Since I get to meet trappers from all over the country that are at different skill levels, I get asked all kinds of questions. Some are quite advanced and some of the questions are from the beginner snare man. I personally love to talk shop and enjoy talking to trappers about snaring. Personally, I believe that trappers should help out other trappers. The way I see it, if a trapper does better on his line, the longer he or she will continue to trap and be excited about the whole experience of trapping. One thing about being excited, it spreads and trapping will be better off in the long run. So if we get to meet at a convention and you have a question about snaring or trapping in general, just ask away. If I can help, I will. Most of the questions I get asked are about snaring and footholds. So I will be going over snaring in detail, from the most basic principles to the more advance procedures.
I think that there are three major principles that have to be applied to each and every snare set. The first principle of snaring is having a steady and stout snare support. The support needs to be rock steady for the snare to fire or close properly. If the snare support is flimsy and gives when the animal comes into contact with the cable, it may not fire when it needs to. This accounts for many hip snared animals or knocked down snares. I tried and used a method of supporting that caused many headaches. I saw this method from a "professional"Ě. They showed bending a #11 or #9 wire and placing one end into the ground and hooking up the snare on the other end of the wire. It was a fast way to support a snare, but the method was and is a sorry way to support the snare. The problem was that when an animal came into contact with the cable, the whole set-up would spin in the ground. I did catch animals this way, but knocked down loops were common. The support is not rock solid by just pushing the wire into the ground, and it breaks rule #1. You can, however, bend the bottom of the wire into a inverted S and the wire won't spin in the ground in most ground types. #11 or # 9 wire always makes a better support that 14 or 16 gauge wire. The heavier gauge wire is stiffer and holds the snare in place better. The smaller stuff allows the snare to move more and this causes you problems. If you are not using a one piece support system and are tying off your support to trees, brush or a stick, go with the heaviest wire you can twist up tight. #11 is a lot easier to tie than #9. This is what I use when I just carry wire and snares. If you must use 14 gauge wire, keep the wire as short as possible from the snare to the tree or bush. The longer the thin wire is, the more movement you will have. You can quickly double up 14 gauge wire and get the support you need. Just remember the only thing that should move when an animal hits your snare is the lock. I love to trap and snare with other professional trappers, I get to study their habits and methods on a real trap line. This is great for the spirt and I am always looking for a better way to run a line or a little trick to make my line better. I spent 10 days on the river with Newt Sterling and he is without a doubt a competent snare man in his own right. Newt only uses 14 gauge wire for his support wire. He has come up with a inverted S to hold his cable and always has two points of contact for his wire, mostly a stick and the ground. One thing I noticed is how short he kept his support wire to his stick or tree. I have to admit that I saw no draw backs from his system.
The second rule is to always have your snare in the middle of the trail. Always, always, always hang your loop in the dead center of the trail. You don't want the animal to deviate from his natural path. If you do, the animal is likely to stay on his path and miss your loop or knock the loop by hitting the side of the loop. Don't make the mistake of blocking down the trail to meet your snare. Make your snare match the trail. Also, keep the snare perpendicular to the trail. The snare should never be slanted in the trail. When this is done, the 9" opening you have for the beaver will be smaller than you want for the beaver. Your 9" opening may be closer to six inches or worse when the beaver tries to enter it.
The third rule is to have the snare the same angle as the ground. If the ground is level, then the snare needs to be level. On the other hand if the ground is at a 45 degree angle, your snare needs to be at a 45 degree angle. If the snare is on the level and the ground is say 30 degrees, the opening is not in the correct placement. A lot of beaver country have steep banks on them. You can catch beaver on these steep banks, but you will get a certain percentage of knocked, pulled down snares. If you have to set these slopes up, I would suggest placing two to three snares on the trail to make up for the knocked down snares. For this reason wammy's or plastic tubing is useful on a snare. If the wammy or tubing is tight you can simply twist the tubing and turn the snare to the right angle. This is hard to do with straight wire and valuable time can be wasted trying. If at all possible place your snare on a flat spot on the trail or if legal set the snare on the top of the bank. The reason is a beaver will be hugging the ground and pulling with his front legs out in front of his body. This causes him to possibly pull the snare down as he climbs the slope. Don't get me wrong, if you have to snare on a big slope, it can be done. By having the snare on the slope's angle it keeps the bottom of the loop further from the beavers legs and he should contact with his head first. There you have it, the three snaring rules to keep in mind. There are many other tips and tricks we will go over, but basic rules are the hart of a snare set. No matter how advanced your snaring becomes, you have to have a base line system to make the snares preform for you.
Let's take a few minutes and talk about blocking down a snare. The same principals apply to your conibear sets. When one cruises the trapping magazines and books, how does one learn to block down the set? Mostly you will see sticks stuck in the ground making a wall or fence on both sides of a snare. I call this fort making and there is a better way to get a beaver where you want him. Don't get excited on me, the fort building will work on most beaver. Keep in mind that a high rolling beaver man wants and needs every beaver that come in contact with his sets to enter the kill area. It is hard today to find many virgin beaver that have not had any contact with a conibear. And how do most trappers block down their set? The fort building method is what you find on most beaver lines. I can tell you from years of control work that beaver can learn to avoid a restricting wall of sticks and these beaver will avoid the set. So why in the world would you make a set that will not take these beaver. Keep in mind what a small percentage can mean to your bottom line over the whole season. I will say something here that will raise some eyebrows, and that's fine. This is from my own experience and I understand that it goes against the traditional beaver knowledge, but try it and see if it works for you. I use a lot of privet, which is a green live shrub that the beaver love to eat, to block down snares and conibears. How can this be? For one thing, the lure I'm using has more immediate appeal than the privet. If you lure up a set and the brush holds more appeal than the lure, you should take a good hard look at your lure choice. Also I do more of my trapping in the south. There is always something green for the beaver to eat, somewhere. You northen boys may be saying that won't work here, but have you tried it? Or have you allowed people's statements on trapping brain wash you. Now why in the world would I use a still green stick that has leaves on it to block down a set? It's natural! A wall or sticks is not natural, period. I use a lot of river cain when it is available. This plant is in the bamboo family and the tops of the stems are full and green. River cain can block down a run or creek in seconds and if some care is taken, it can make a conibear disappear. Beaver will eat river cain sometimes, but hardly do they mess with my blocking. Grass can be used to hide and block down your conibear with great speed and looks very natural. The grass I use does not grow on every creek or river. I'm not a grass expert, but any grass that grows in clumps and has a good root wad will work. All you have to do is take your shovel or digger hammer and dig up the grass with root wad and place it on each side of the snare. If this type of grass is handy and plentiful, you can stagger the clumps of grass to look natural and guide the beaver into the snare and not have the feeling that he is getting blocked down. I prefer brush because it takes up a lot of space and fills in gaps quickly. If I cant find any brush to plant, then the next thing I look for is down tree and brush tops. I can lie the top on it's side and prune in the opening and still have a natural blocking that won't spoke the beaver. Some of my lines are in cedar country and this evergreen tree makes a great blocking material. Small trees are best, but the top can be cut out of larger trees and works just as well. You have to use your imagination when blocking down your snares. You want to make the snare location blend into the landscape. The snare is made to catch an animal while he is going about his normal activities. A good trapper will make the location so the beaver will have no reason to hesitate at the snare location. If all I have to use is sticks to block down a location, I'll use sticks. I will not make the traditional wall, but try and make a bramble or a location seem to have a washed up bundle of wood and brush.
I have started using more and more metal fence on my line for speed and to speed up remakes after high water. You can buy new fence or find old fence. It does not matter what size wire grid the fence has. I would not recommend a very small grid fence, like 1/4 inch or ¬Ĺ inch. You want the water to flow through the wire and not cause a dam effect. When this happens, the fence may get to much force put on it or turn the trap opening into a spillway. This spillway effect causes the water to speed up and all the trash will be funneled into the snare or conibear. When blocking down a creek with snares or conibears place your fence or blocking in two or three different locations. If your blocking is staggered, you have a better chance of doubles or triples. I have used two different methods with the wire fence. One is to cut a hole for the snare or conibear in the fence. The other method is to block down the creek and leave one end open, just wide enough for the snare . Both ways work, but by not cutting a hole it the fence, the fence has more strength. After high water, the whole fence does not twist up as badly as the cut fence.
Another way to block down a creek that is over a few feet wide is to place a log or thick tree top in the creek and leave just enough room for the snare. If some good size logs are handy you can place them on the creek to form a X. By leaving some of the logs on the bank you will have an opening on each outside corner of the creek. Just place a snare in each opening and you have a natural obstruction for the beaver to navigate.
If you are new to snaring I am willing to bet that you have heard of using anywhere from 8" to 14" loop to catch a beaver. I have tried them all, and have settled on a 9-91/2 inch loop. The type and size of your cable effects the loop size you use. Slower and larger cable diameter seems to work better with a larger loop. One thing will come clear to you when you use a 11-14 inch loop, most beaver will be caught by the hips. This type of catch leaves the worst snare mark on the hide and is the most noticeable on a finished hide. Most fur buyers don't get so excited by a neck or neck and one leg catch. I hear trappers say all the time, I don't snare because of snare damage. In the real world conibears leave marks on the hide. If a trapper was truly torn up about leather marks, he would only use foot holds. I have used relaxing locks and found that they cause a lot more damage than locking locks do. The relaxing locks are cheaper in the beginning but cost you at the fur buyer's table. Another snaring myth is that a smaller cable does more damage to the hide, but after over 1,000 beaver on 1/16 cable this logic doesn't pan out. In theory this makes perfect sense. By using one of the support systems we talked about, and by keeping out of entanglement, 1/6 cable does no more damage than 3/32 cable. The entanglement is what causes the most leather damage. Beaver are going roll and thrash in a snare. By having something for the beaver to twist up on the snare starts binding up like a tourniquet. Also by not having a swivel close to your beaver, the beaver will get the cable in a bind and kink the cable. As the beaver rolls, the tourniquet effect gets worse.
I also use 5/64 cable on beaver in the 1x19 cable. I personally believe 1x19 cable is better suited for beaver. I always load my 5/64 cable to speed it up and get better catches because of it. I see no reason to use 3/32 cable on beaver, but if you feel you need this size of cable, make sure to load your snare. Beaver are not fast animals. They will see the snare and walk through it and if your snare takes a lot of pressure to get the lock moving, then expect a lot of hip caught beaver. Keep in mind a beaver will not hit your snare like a cruising coyote. He will make contact with your loop slowly and this will not cause the lock to slam shut like most animals. This is clear after seeing how many beaver get one leg through a loaded 1/16 snare. It's hard to head snare a beaver with 5/64 and 3/32 7x7 aircraft cable. I get a lot of head catches with 1/16 1x19 cable. Now keep in mind that even head catches won't kill most beaver, but with a kill pole, about 40% will be dead. So why is a head catch important to a fur trapper? You don't get hit as bad by a uniformed fur buyer with a cable mark on the neck, as opposed to a mark around the belly area. When the law requires a larger cable than a 1/16, I will use 5/64 1x19 cable. The difference between 1x19 and 7x7 aircraft is night and day, its like comparing a Yugo and a Super Duty Power stroke truck. So why is the 7x7 cable so popular? It's because it's what's been put in print so often and is a few dollars cheaper per thousand feet, not because of it's quality. If you have never tried 1/19 cable, you should.
There is also a lot of confusion on how high the loop bottom should be from the ground. Sorry but there is no steadfast rule here. The distance depends on the ground slope and how tight the cover is. As the slope gets steeper, the loop gets lower. The level I like my loop to be 3-4 inches off the ground. The tighter the cover means that the beaver's head will be lower to the ground. This goes for any animal. No animal walks with his head high if brush or grass is hitting him in the face. The animal will drop his head to meet the brush with the top of his head.
One frustrating part of snaring is knocked down loops. It happens to everybody, just reset the snare and move on. If you see something that needs to be fixed then fix it. Everyone gets snares knocked down, just not everybody admits it. The problem could be a coon, muskrat, deer, dog, kit beaver or a thousand other things. What is the right size loop for a fifty pound beaver is just too big for a 15 pound beaver. There are different size beaver in any full colony and one size loop does not fit them all.
On banks that have slides that are cut into them and the cuts have a drop off to the water that make a sharp drop, set your snares further up the bank or more into the water. Don't place the snare where the drop off is. The beaver will knock down the snare almost every time. One big thing to keep in mind is that a beaver can be a water or land animal. If he is in the water he is a water animal and he can be snared without much problem. The same goes for when the beaver is on land. What you need to be aware of is the transition zone and keep your snares out of it if possible. We can predict how the beaver will act while swimming and how he will be walking, but not how he will transition from water to land and vice versa. This transition zone is knocked down snare city. If possible, keep your snare where the beaver will be walking or swimming, not where he will turn from the water animal to land animal. Let's say the water is two feet deep and gets shallow right at the bank for a few inches before the land starts. Don't put the snare in the few inches of shallow water. Beaver can swim in shallow water and walk in deeper water than they have to. So which is this beaver going to be doing? You don't know and so you only have a 50/50 chance to get your snare placed right. Now if the water is two feet deep and gets shallow less than six inches deep for a few feet, you can bet the beaver will be walking. Place the snare close to the shore, because the transition zone is where the deeper water meets the shallow water. The beaver, even in shallow water, is a land animal. On the first example with the deep water and only a few inches of shallow water, place your snare 6-12 inches back from the shelf of shallow water. In the water, the snare needs to be 2/3's under the water. Or you can place your snare 12 inches or more up on the bank with a 9" loop 3-4" off the ground. The water snare needs a different loop size than the land snare. Whatever you decide just stay out of the transition zone.
Snares can be set in the water to catch beaver that are swimming. Like I said before 2/3's of the snare has to be under the water. You have to block down the beaver if it's not a tight location. It is much easier to snare beaver on top of the water than it is under the water, unless you cheat a little. By cheating I mean using string or fishing line to trigger your snare. I picked this up from Slim Pederson. He uses this on his big loop snaring for coyote and cats. This is done by tying the string to the lock and across to the other side of the loop on a 45 degree angle. Keep some slack in the string so you give the snare a chance to lock up behind the head. A tight string causes the lock to be pulled down in front of the cable and you don't get a catch. I use this system to snare under the water because the beaver is streamlined under the water. Place your loop on location just like a conibear and you'll get the beaver. If I don't have a string, I will drop the loop size down to 8-81/2 inches.
The best teacher you can find is your trap line. If you have a problem with a snare location, study the location and whatever sign you can find. Take the time to think about what you see and think about what happens as a beaver encounters your snare. Snaring in it's basic form is a simple process. To move your snaring to an art form takes time on the line and more importantly an observant and open mind. Just think about it for a moment, if snaring was so easy, how come more trappers don't go out and snare 200, 300 or 500 beaver a year. It just wont happen with standard snaring methods. On the other hand there are more out there than you may imagine. There are also many states that have beaver in numbers to snare 500-1000 beaver in an all out snare attack. Seek and ye shall find.
"You may be on the right track, but if you just sit there you'll get run over."Ě
"The way to succeed is to double your error rate."
Thomas J. Watson
"There is a time to let things happen, and a time to make things happen."
String'n Cable for control beaver
You shake your head as you see your last conibear, itís sprung just like the other four. Your client is looking over your shoulder and you can feel his confidence in your ability fading fast. You have a couple of options; you can do what you have been doing and hope the educated beaver make a mistake. Or you can use one of the three tools that you have left at your disposal, rifle, foothold or the snare. Today we will go over the steel snare. If you learn how to properly use this tool you will have an ace in the hole. Sometimes the beaver seem to know more about conibears than we do, this is why a control trapper has to know more about trapping than how to set a #330.
Letís start this off with why snares are so important to the control operator. First off, if you are just getting started with beaver in your business, we have to make something clear right off the bat, beaver do see snares and they will walk through one if itís not set properly. Second, beaver do get location shy, blocking shy, and square shy. Yes the beaver is an overgrown rat, but he is not dumb if he survives a bad or sloppy trapping experience. If you talk to as many trappers as I do one thing becomes clear, beaver get most of their education from conibears rather than footholds or snares. Why is this? Well most beaver trappers only use conibears. The conibear is a great trap, no question, but it has some drawbacks. One, itís very visible if itís not totally submerged. Two, if something goes wrong at a set the beaver may experience pain, which will scare off future explorations. Three, most trappers block down the set and make almost a visual pen to guide the beaver. Fourth, the triggers are mostly in the face of the beaver and no animal including us, likes this. Now on the other hand, how does the snare deal with these problems? First, the right size cable is not as visible to the beaver as the conibear. Second, if the beaver comes into contact with a snare and you get a miss, the beaver does not feel pain or get rattled. Third, you donít have to block down a snare very much. This helps prevent bad memories of getting blocked into something. Fourth, the snare does not have a trigger to hit the beaver in the face. One other point is that conibears can be a frustrating tool in the warmer months. Turtles seem to have a talent for finding the perfectly placed conibear, just before the beaver show up. I have had plenty of days with a turtle catch way over 20 snappers a day. As you can guess this is a waste of the control operateís time. You are getting payed for beaver not turtles.
I think we should start at the beginning for guys who may not have very much experience with snares. The snare is a simple device, but when a trapper opens a catalog to buy snare parts or complete snares it can be confusing. There are all kinds of locks, swivels or not, cable size and composition, stops, springs, cable length and the question of loading a snare or not. I will cover what I use and why on my beaver control line, length, locks, cable and support systems. I have used almost everything on the market at one time or another, some things work good and some work to a degree. Letís start with cable. This is simple right? Not really. By not getting too technical there are several kinds of cable on the market. We can use 7x7 aircraft, 1x19 aircraft, swaged cable (smooth line cable), Thompson cable, stainless steel cable and the list can go on and on. The two most common are 7x7 aircraft and 1x19 aircraft cable. These are easy to obtain and use. All cable have strengths and weaknesses for the snare man. It takes a lot of testing and experience to play with and find the best cable for you. If you are going to take snaring to a proficient level, I advise you to listen to your own line and find out what works best for you. A beaver is a beaver and a snare is a snare, but throw a trapper into the equation and what works for one guy wonít work for the next. Now saying that, I will be explaining my snares and there usage from my personal experience.
I personally use 1x19 cable on my control and fur lines. This cable is stiff in comparison to 7x7 aircraft cable. This cable is also wound different than 7x7 cable. I know that if you are new to snaring you probably think 7x7 is the only cable to use, not so. I have used and caught over a thousand beaver in 7x7 cable and a few observations have been made. The most important point against the 7x7 cable is that the cable separates quite easily. This can be a big problem with beaver. When the beaver is caught he does pulls on the cable, but beaver do far more rolling that jerking. This rolling causes the cable to get in a bind and kink. Once 7x7 gets kinked the individual cable strands start to separate. Due to the way the cable is made, it separates faster than 1x19. When this separation happens, you lose the strength, because you start losing the cable effect and start depending on individual cable strand strength. The more the cable kinks and separates, the closer you are to losing your beaver. This is my biggest problem with 7x7. I just donít get kinking and separating on as many 1x19 snares. Donít get me wrong, this can happen with 1x19 cable, but itís a lot smaller percentage. Also by having 1x19 (a stiffer cable), I can control the loop shape. The 1x19 can make a perfect circle. This allows me to control how the beaver encounters the cable which allows more head catches and also more head and one leg catches. 7x7 cable is floppier and makes a tear drop shaped loop. This may not matter to the fur trapper, but makes a big difference to a control trapper. The tear drop shape is higher than it is wide. On big beaver this loop shape makes no difference, but smaller beaver can walk right through it. Sometimes the loop will be partly closed or it can look undisturbed. If you are getting payed to catch all of the beaver in a particular area, this can be a problem. By having a circle shaped loop and loading the snare, you can catch 15 pounders and monster beaver in the same loop. This is accomplished by giving the beaver only somewhere to put his head and having the bottom of the loop contact the chest of the beaver. The tear drop shaped loop, especially close to the ground, allows the beaver to walk through the snare further before contact is made with the cable. So why is 7x7 aircraft cable more popular than 1/19 cable? To be honest I donít know, tradition, cheaper, lack of understanding or maybe it has just been in print more. In my humble opinion, 1x19 cable is the Cadillac of common snare cables, it plain holds together longer and is stronger than its 7x7 cousin. If you are going to make your own 1x19 snares let me warn you a little bit. 1x19 is slicker than 7x7 and you need to use two aluminum stops on your snares, I have had too many beaver pop the one stop off of the end of the cable. Now I use two stops and hammer them on which has stopped this problem for me.
Before we get into snare locks, letís talk about swivels. To me the swivel is far more important than what type of lock you use on beaver. We discussed the rolling a snared beaver does and what happens. Now letís keep the cable from kinking in the first place. This requires a swivel. More important than having one, it has to be located in the right place. I have tried about every swivel idea I could think about or find in print. After many bad experiences with bad swiveling, my conclusion is the swivel needs to be as close to the beaver as possible. My snares are set up to only open to a 12 inch loop before a swivel is in place. I donít make 12 inch loops for beaver, but the extra 2-3 inches is for a support collar or support wire. The closer the swivel is to the animal the less chance the beaver have of kinking the cable. I have used standard wire swivels, custom double wire swivels and box swivels on my snares with good results. The wire swivels work well, but they only let one end of the cable spin under pressure. I have used and like the box swivels the best. This setup allows everything to spin which means it takes a lot more to bind the cable. I have used Newt Sterlingís otter snares a lot. Since otter fight and roll so hard when caught, Newt has a box swivel next to the lock, 6-8 inches of cable to another box swivel then you add an extension cable from the second swivel. After seeing how this setup tames an otter, I am willing to bet this setup will turn out to be THE beaver snare of the future. I may step on a few toes here but that is not my intention. If you build or buy a snare over say 50 inches long and the swivel is on the end of the cable, then most of the time you donít have a snare this is swiveling. The first time a beaver wraps the snare around something, the snare is no longer working and the cost of the swivel is a waste of money. Unfortunately the mid cable swivel takes longer to build and costs more money to make. As a control trapper the extra time and money is not wasted on a $40-$100+ beaver when getting less cable damage from your snares. One saved beaver will pay for many extra swivels, plus your reputation is on the line, to catch and hold the beaver. Now, you canít pick up a catalog and buy a mid swivelled snare, but there are companies that can custom make them or you can build your own.
What size cable should you use on beaver? This can become a hot topic, so keep in mind I am only speaking of personal experience here. I personally use 1/16 1x19 on most of my beaver snares. This is a small strong cable, but you have to take some precautions when using it, which will get into latter. Please donít get 1/16 1x19 cable confused with 1/16 7x7 aircraft cable. If you use 1/16 7x7, you WILL lose most of your beaver. Itís too weak and separates way too easy. When I am using extension cables, I will use 5/64 1x19 cable. I donít use this big of a cable often, because I donít tie off to trees very often. If you want to tie off to trees the extra thickness and strength may be needed. If you only want to use 7x7 cable, 5/64 or 3/32 size cable will be needed. Keep in mind when the 7x7 cable starts to separate and break, you only have a small portion of your cable size to hold the beaver. We have to understand something about cable size, the smaller the cable the less visible it is and less blocking is needed at a set. The less blocking you have to do, the less refusals you get from an educated beaver. The smaller 1/16 cable is more sensitive which allows you to take large and small beaver with the same size loop. On the other hand, the larger your cable is the slower and less sensitive your snare becomes. Just remember 1x19 cable allows the trapper to go about one size smaller than 7x7 cable and get the same holding ability. I have been told that I can get away with using the smaller cable because of the experience I have with snaring beaver. There may be some truth in this statement, the more experience you have, the more you seem to be able to get away with. My advice about cable size is to use what you have confidence with. The 1/16 1x19 cable may seem too small to a 3/32 man, but I have more fingers than I lose on 600-800 beaver. The trick to becoming a good snare man is to keep an open mind and be willing to learn and try new things. Locks come in all shapes and figurationís, they all work to some degree, but some outperform on a day in and day out operation. You want something that slides with ease and closes when tension is applied to the cable. I donít think we need to cover all locks here; Iíll just cover what seems to work best for me. My lock of choice is the Slim Lock or Micro Lock. It fires fast, has low visibility and has fewer problems than most other locks I have tried. I have been testing the PCG Reaper lock. I have designed this lock to be very, very aggressive. The PCG Reaper lock should be on the market in a few months. If you are in a relaxing lock state, the PCG Reaper will NOT pass the relaxing lock standards. The lock is not as important as cable type, cable size and the use of proper swiveling. The beaver does not pull off locks like a coon does and locking or relaxing will keep the beaver in the loop. If you are new to snaring, I would try many types of locks and see what you like.
As a professional control trapper always use the best equipment you can use. The few extra dollars you spend on the snares will repay you and your business, quality always pays for itself in the long run. Next time we hit this topic we will dive into support systems, loop sizes and dry land locations.
Ambush'em in the kill area
There have been a lot of snares set over the years and in a lot of different country. Some lines payed off and some seemed to be lazy in comparison. One thing is for sure, how you run a line is as important, if not more as the loops that you hang. I have tried all kinds of line management systems, but the ambush/kill area system rates high on the productive snare line.
I learned this basic principal in the Army. Besides falling out of airplanes, we had to learn the art of war. One of the fundamentals of playing Army was to pick an ambush area and set up a kill area. The ambush is simple in nature. You pick the spot to contact the enemy. You never ever pick a location that is on equal ground, a 50/50 chance of success is a disaster on the battle field. You always pick a location that will have the enemy at a disadvantage where he is confined to a certain area, in a bottle neck. The bottle neck location is the ambush site. Inside of this ambush site is the kill area and the kill area is where you make contact with the enemy. The kill area is what it says it is, nothing in this area is supposed to make it out alive. All of your firepower is concentrated in the kill area. Now why does this principal work? First off, you are waiting for your enemy with your guys on the line, on the high ground with everything in your favor, not his. You pick the location based on your rout to and from the ambush site. The most important aspect of the ambush is to have the ambush placed in an area that the enemy will be. In the Army, this information was based on intelligence; your intelligence is based off of scouting and knowing your preyís habits. The basic reason for the ambush is to concentrate all of the energy in an area to do the most damage possible. You also want this damage to happen with speed. The more force that is used with speed the faster and more efficiently you can overwhelm the enemy. Never, never fight fair. The goal is to win, not give the enemy a sporting chance.
This principal also applies to snaring. By picking your location, the kill area, you concentrate your force on a single area. Please, donít get the idea that this needs to be ďliterallyĒ one location. A well feed snare man should run as many kill areas in a day as possible. This concept allows you to run more snares in a day, because you can look at a high number of snares in a concentrated area.
Anyone that talks trapping with me knows that I believe in targeting a single animal at a time. Saying that, multi-species snaring can be done with the kill area concept. The reason is simple. By using snares only, you are not dragging around all kinds of different traps, tools and lures to slow you down. Now, saying that, speed snaring will play a major factor in how many snares one can set in a day. And we all know that the man with the most snares out wins. I could spend a long time on speed snaring, but that is for another time. I will say make, buy or borrow some good snare supports and USE THEM. Snare supports make all the difference in the world to rock solid supporting a snare in a flash.
Every kill area location will be different. The goal is to find bottle necks of thick cover that gives the snare man a chance to nail everything from mink to coyotes. What you are looking for is land features that flows with the animalís movements in an area. A simple location is a thick river bank with a clear field next to the tree line. Most animals will be in the tree line and the trails get used often. Depending on the animal populations and the target animals in the area, you can find coyote, cats, grey fox, red fox and coon on the high bank trail or trails. On the waterís edge you might find coon, beaver, otter, rats and mink. Letís say you have a 400 yard tree line that makes the edge of a 400 yard wide field. You locate caster mounds and slides on the river with a small feeder creek that leads to a pond out in the middle of the field. Your ambush area would be on the tree line at the feeder creek. In this set-up you can set your beaver snares on the beaver sign and in the feeder creek. You will be able to see the mink and coon trails that are on the feeder creek and the river bank. Load up the front of the feeder creek with beaver snares and then back off a little and block down the creek for otter. Now back off the water and set your coon snares in every trail. Then move out a little more and load up the trails for coyote, fox and cats. You will have all the animals that use this area tied up in a relatively small area. You are not running all over the place to set a snare here and there. This saves a lot of time. By picking your kill area, you only have to check a small area. This will allow you to cover large amounts of ground. The beauty of this system is that it is like Christmas when checking snares. You might be pulling out a coyote, beaver and a mink all from a 100 foot section of ground. Water, trees and open fields are a super location to check out. You might not have a feeder creek to work with like our example, but you might find where a tree line or an over grown fence line meets the riverís tree line. In some parts of the county you might work high grass levy systems that meet another levy of swamp.
Interstates and high traffic roads can produce some fast action ambush area. At first you might not find as many kill areas as you would like. But the more you look, the more locations you will find. Just keep in mind that animals are traveling from somewhere to somewhere. Your job is to connect the dots, per say. Once you line out several kill areas, set them up HEAVY. Look at it this way, if you miss the trails and locations play a mental game with it. Take out your wallet in the area you deem to be the kill area and place your wallet on the ground. Now pretend that if you donít set it up right or heavy enough, the critters can own anything in your wallet. You will lose your driverís license, credit cards and cash. This may seem silly I know, but if you set hard enough your money will be safe. Now if you fall into the ďnoughĒ clan, you will lose your money. The ďnoughĒ clan believes in: close enough, good enough, a few snares are enough, all animals only use the big trail and easy work is enough. The ďnoughĒ clan also believes that a few animals are enough. I donít know about you but close enough is right up there with loosing, and we donít do that around here.
So instead of running all over the country side setting a snare here and there, get on the ambush line and get ready to perform a little fur carnage. This is your mission if you choose to accept it. Now go to work.
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