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  • Rodent Trapping

    One of the premier members of this forum affectionately refers to me as a "rodent trapper. While marten are actually a member of the weasel family, this time of year "rodent trapper" accurately describes some of my activites.
    We can begin using traps for beaver sept. 15, and I like to get a few for trapping bait for other species later in the season. Of course I save the furs and either sell or use them.
    This time of year beaver are finishing up their winter residence. Building up their feedpile, enlarging the dam, and building up the lodge. They are very territorial and actively defend their pond from intruders(other beavs). This works to a trappers advantage.
    Beaver will repair any hole in their dam, and one way to bring them around is to open a spot in the dam. You can set a leghold or conibear in the hole and often catch them. Here's a pic of a couple snares I set, and a coni in the background where I opened a hole in the dam.


    In addition to the hole in the dam, I rubbed a beaver castor on some of the willows near the snares. The homeboys will smell the castor and think another beaver has invaded their home and swim around looking for the intruder.

    Beaver will dig new channels sometimes, in an effort to access more feed. Often, these channels are not much wider than the beaver. A few sticks to fence off the channel and a well supported conibear will catch any beav swimming thru the channel. Here's a pic of the set.


    While the dam keeps the water in, it doesn't stop the beaver. If you look over the dam carefully, you will see places the beaver regularly use to go over the dam and head down the stream. These are also good places for a set. Here's a pic of a successful catch in just such a spot;


    The clarity of the pic is not too good, but the trap was between the 2 willows and beyond it, across the water I made a mudpie. Beaver scoop mud from the bottom and deposit it around the edges of their pond. They squirt the juice of their castor on the mud as a marking spot for their territory. A trapper can mimic these mudpies and put some castor on it to entice the beaver. The beaver in the pic was caught in an RBG, a round body grip trap. Same as a conibear, but round. They are designed to kill quickly.

    Later in the year the beaver meat wil help entice fox, wolverine, and lynx into my sets. I'm just about ready for snow!
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
    I have less friends now!!

  • #2
    Nice thread Mt, If we don't get some snow/ice soon I may have to try some water trapping, more than enough beaver around here.

    Comment


    • #3
      yep

      It's getting close to that time. Need to wait a while longer I think if I want the rats prime enough to use for a little parky. Do you guys think I need to wait until it's iced over?

      Comment


      • #4
        rugger

        Rugger,

        Yep, I'd definitely give the fur some time to get prime. Mid winter or so. The guard hairs darken under the ice without any sun.

        Do you guys have a limit to how many beavers you take out of each house/pond?

        Mark
        Mark Richards
        www.residenthuntersofalaska.org

        Comment


        • #5
          If primeness of the fur is your top priority, then yes, I'd say wait at least a month. If other factors weigh into your decision, such as how much effort you wish to put into acquiring the fur, then you may want to consider getting some beaver before freeze up. Each trapper should assess what his goals are, and how he wants to reach those goals.
          While some furbearers do lighten in the sun, I'm skeptical that beaver will darken in lack of sun (under ice). Since an animal can only die once, how could one prove that statement? Pictures maybe?
          There is no limit on beaver where I live and we do not have to tag them. I've never heard of a "per house/pond limit anywhere.
          Hey Takotna, fall beaver sure helps with the " I wish it was trapping season" blues!
          I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
          I have less friends now!!

          Comment


          • #6
            I got a dozen beaver a few weeks ago. I hate taking them this early but most of my beaver trapping is early spring when I don't need the bait for other critters.

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            • #7
              Great post MT. That is exactly what I was looking for with my beaver trapping help!

              Comment


              • #8
                Here, we rely on beavers for food. They are somewhat scattered along the river. I always have self-imposed limits, regardless of what the trapping regs say, because I want to continue to be able to keep harvesting beavers. So that's what I was asking about. Same thing with marten trapping...no limit, but I am careful to spread things out, leave lines fallow, etc. It's easy to wipe out beaver populations in an area if you don't impose your own limits. Weather can also really get them, lack of snow, ice freezing to the bottom of ponds, bad breakup, drought, etc.

                As to the bleaching of hair in the sun, it ain't rocket science. I've taken a few dips under the ice in winter, with a little mag-lite, during what daylight there is. I can confirm that it is friggin' pitch black under there <grin>.

                Good luck to all,
                Mark

                Mark Richards
                www.residenthuntersofalaska.org

                Comment


                • #9
                  Lots of beavers here, very few trappers. They aren't limited to one certain drainage and readily spread out. I see dams and houses in marginal areas even. Trap or shoot out a house, and it doesn't take long for more beaver to colonize the same stream, if not the same house. Beaver are also detrimental to some species of salmon, and helpful to others. Fisheries folks have documented the beavers effect on salmon and in some cases, removing beaver and their dams will help salmon spawning.
                  I wasn't skeptical that it is dark under the ice, Mark. I am skeptical that darkness, or a lack of light, will change the coloration of a beavers, or other animals coat. Have you taken fall beaver from a colony, then taken more animals from the same colony after freeze up and noticed a difference in color? If so, can you attribute that change to lack of light, or were those animals already darker? I've seen people put polar bear and white fox outside to bleach out, but I've never known anyone to put other furs in darkness to darken them. What experience have you had, Mark, to give credibility to your statement?
                  I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
                  I have less friends now!!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Mike,

                    I'm not sure I have enough credibility to provide an answer you'll believe <grin>. 25 years of watching beavers, getting to recognize individuals from certain houses, lots of pictures in the old days before digital. Every area is unique, but here's what I've seen. Some beavers won't come out of their houses in summer until very late at night and early morning. Not sure why. But I think it's learned behavior from parents, because certain houses exhibit it while others don't, going on a couple decades. Other houses/ponds, the beavers regularly come out any time of day, seem generally unconcerned with predators. The ones that come out during the day seem to have blonder coats than the others. In winter (or spring before breakup), when you trap them, all their coats appear much darker. It could be that I'm looking at them in dim light, etc, not sure...but it doesn't match the same color I saw with binocs or telephoto from summer. You can bleach about any fur in the sun, but once it's "dead," it doesn't grow out and darken again. I remember as a boy, in California, my hair would really bleach out in summer, and in winter would darken. After watching beavers all these years, I figured it was the same type of thing. A Ripley thing, eh. Believe it or not.

                    When beavers get wiped out from a house here, it often takes two or more years for others to colonize it. In many cases, it is not recolonized. Fairly poor beaver habitat right here. The place we live is called "Beaver Bend," because it's one of the few places in this particular section of the river where it widens enough to form ponds and a few backwater sloughs suitable for beavers. Lower river and upper river are chock full of houses. Trappers here before me used to regularly subsist off them in summer, and shot houses out. Beaver trappers before me caught otters as bycatch mostly and trapped all the otters out. About 20 years ago, those of us here agreed to do everything we could to avoid catching otters, agreed not to actively trap them. They came back, in small numbers, and it's cool to see them again in summer and after freezeup jaunting on the ice.

                    It's all about taking care of your own unique area, recognizing what is going on, and if you intend on staying and continuing to use a resource, managing sustained yields over time.

                    Best, Mark
                    Mark Richards
                    www.residenthuntersofalaska.org

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My skepticism isn't a result of "who" made the remark. When someone says something I've never heard before, and my experience doesn't validate the remark, I'm skeptical.
                      Rather than have 2 old grizzled trappers discuss this here, I made a post on a trapping forum to see what other trappers, grizzled or not, thought about the idea. Here's a link:
                      http://www.trapperman.com/ubb/ultima...c;f=1;t=013999
                      Check it out. Several other alaskans have chimed in.
                      I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
                      I have less friends now!!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks Mike,

                        Well, I stand corrected. If other AK trappers haven't observed it, must not be happening.

                        Sorry to butt in here, Jon. Good luck out there on fox trapping.

                        Mark
                        Mark Richards
                        www.residenthuntersofalaska.org

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Not butting in

                          Mark you were not Butting in, I was just confused how it got turned into a sustained yield discussion. If the area up around Mike is anything like the Kusko Delta there are SO many beavers with nobody trapping them that some many NEED to be taken. Many are making houses in areas where the water is not even deep enough for them to survive the winter. Ever since the locals in the villages quit trapping them we have a population problem. Out here on Nunivak we have the same issue only with fox. Last year 12-15 footholds and 110 fox in a month and a half. THis year I am pushing for 300 and it still will not hurt the population. Last year all 110 came within 5 miles of the village. Those numbers are SCARY.

                          Good luck on your line also bushrat.

                          Mike thanks for the great thread.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Threads are only great if great people contribute to them, and that includes bushrat. If our direction gets sidetracked that's not necessarily a bad thing.
                            The Sew. Pen. has an extremely healthy beaver pop. and few trappers. Only in a few spots close to human habitations do their numbers get significantly reduced sometimes. While few of the readers can realize it, winter trapping of beaver in western alaska is ALOT different than the interior. Been there done that in both places.
                            Now that there is a trapping forum here, I'm hoping for future discussions and I would bet that David Johnson is hoping for future threads showing trapping in Alaska. I certainly hope that bushrat will contribute to those discussions and help educate others about trapping in this state. Not many other, if any, marten trappers on this particular forum. I miss the woods sometimes and would enjoy scenes from the interior. How about it, Mark?
                            Here's a marten that wasn't too happy to see me. This is from my last year as a marten trapper........almost enough to bring tears to my eyes........haha

                            I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
                            I have less friends now!!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              neat thread Mike

                              I'm not a trapper but I really like these kind of "info threads" from different parts of this great state. Thanks for posting.

                              Oh, and that marten looks like he wants to rip you limb from limb!

                              Comment

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