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Typically, submersion trapping systems are used to trap beaver.

  • In late fall and early spring, beaver are trapped in open water.
  • In the heart of winter, traps are set through the ice. Because fur quality improves as winter progresses, the pelts that bring top dollar are caught through the ice or just after it melts.
  • Set all traps to ensure the beaver will die quickly. The beaver is powerful and intelligent and may escape if not killed within a few minutes.

When seeking beaver, make sure you have the proper equipment to set underwater traps and handle this large furbearer. You will need:

  • Heavy coil-spring or longspring foothold traps
  • Large bodygrip traps
  • A long-handled ax for cutting bait and chopping holes in the ice
  • A trowel for digging or building up trap beds
  • Long-sleeved rubber gloves
  • A trap hook

When using bodygrip traps in beaver sets, many trappers take the following steps.

  • Twist the wire triggers together, and center the trigger. This reduces the risk that beaver carrying vegetation will spring the trap prematurely.
  • Set the trap so that the trigger is on the bottom. This reduces fur damage.
  • Use traps with bent corners. This also reduces fur damage.
  • Use a stabilizer to keep the trap in the desired position. Otherwise, use sticks or poles to support traps in channels, in front of dens, or in other desired locations. Non-powered cable devices and cage traps also may be used in submersion systems for beaver.

Slide Set for Beavers

One set that works well on beaver is similar to the slide set used for muskrats. The set can be used at a slide or at any spot where beaver can be lured to a bank. It can be used even when the water surface is frozen if an opening is broken near the shore.

Follow these steps to make the set.

  • Use a foothold trap. Wire a large rock (or cement block) weighing about 20 pounds to the end of the trap chain. Wire an 8-pound rock to the chain within a few inches of the trap to pull trapped beaver down quickly. (A sliding wire can be used, but the two-rock method is better.)
  • Set the trap in shallow water, 8" to 12" away from the bank. Use a trowel to dig away or build up the bottom to the proper elevation.
  • Place the heavier rock in deep water at chain length.
  • Put a few pieces of food, such as freshly cut aspen boughs, on the bank. Other suitable bait cuttings include wild cherry, apple, or whatever beaver are cutting locally.
  • Add lure to the boughs.
Slide set for beavers

Scent Mound Set for Beavers

The scent mound set is a variation of the slide set. This variation is effective along streams where beaver are using bank dens.

  • Beaver make mounds of mud and mark them with their scent glands. If you cannot find a scent mound, make one. Mound mud near the water's edge. Add a few drops of lure to the mound.
  • Approximately 3" to 4" into the water, set a foothold trap. Wire an 8-pound rock to the chain near the trap. Wire a 20-pound rock to the end of the chain in deep water. These rock drags ensure immediate submersion and death.
  • On mud-bottom streams, use a sliding wire if rocks are not available.

Open Water Set for Beavers

This set is made like a scent mount set. However, use fresh poplar cuttings or other food as bait, instead of using lure.


Under-Ice Set for Beavers

This set can be used where ice is thick and low temperature makes an open water set impossible.

  • Be very careful when making an under-ice set.
  • Make sure the ice is safe.
  • Have someone with you in case you need help. Beginners should not try to make an under-ice set without help.

Pole Set for Beavers

One type of under-ice set is the pole set. Follow these steps to make the set.

  • Cut a hole in the ice in the general area of the beaver's lodge or den. Traps should not be set too close to a beaver's lodge, as a trapped beaver may alarm others in the lodge. In addition, your state may prohibit traps too close to a lodge. Check your state regulations.
  • Choose a dead pole, 3" to 4" in diameter. The pole should be long enough to extend well above the ice while touching the bottom of the pond.
  • Nail fresh aspen or other boughs crosswise to the pole.
  • With wrapping cord, tie a heavy longspring foothold trap to a platform immediately below the bait. The cord will break when a beaver is caught and attempts to pull away.
  • Wire the trap chain to the pole. Insert the pole into the hole in the ice. Push the pole into the mud and at a right angle to the pond's bottom. Also, insert two dead sticks into the bottom, just behind the bait sticks, to prevent bait stealing. Fill the hole above the trap and bait with chopped ice, which will freeze solid. When a beaver is captured, it will drown under the ice.

This set also can be made with a bodygrip trap or non-powered cable device. Cable devices require additional poles to position and anchor the device, and cables probably will need to be replaced each time a beaver is caught.


Tepee Set for Beavers

Another type of under-ice set is the tepee set. Instead of attaching the trap to a single pole, this set positions the trap between two sticks, arranged in a teepee shape.


Canal Set (Channel Set) for Beavers

Beaver follow underwater paths called channels. The canal set places a bodygrip trap in one of these channels. The canal set is one of the better beaver sets. It can be used either under the ice or below the surface in open water.

Follow these steps to make the set.

  • Use sticks to anchor the trap and hold it upright in the channel. Place the sticks inside the trap springs so that they won't block the jaws from closing.
  • Center the trap in the channel. (Beaver swim to the middle.)
  • If the channel is too wide, place sticks or brush to narrow the channel and force the animal into the trap. In open water, place a small log or limb over the trap to force the animal to dive under and into the trap.

The large bodygrip traps used here are very powerful. They are not recommended for use by young trappers.

This set also can be made with non-powered cable devices or cage traps attached securely to stout poles.

Canal (channel) set for beavers

Avoiding Otter With Beaver Sets

Otters and beavers can be found in the same habitat. To avoid catching otters in beaver sets when otter trapping is not allowed, trappers must take precautions. Suggestions include the following.

  • Avoid setting traps in places where otters travel such as along beaver trails, across beaver dams, in abandoned beaver lodges or bank dens, and along trails between ponds and besides shorelines.
  • Use bait that will attract beavers but not otters.
  • Adjust the trigger on bodygrip traps to catch beavers but allow otters to pass through safely.
    • Move the trigger to one side.
    • Shorten the trigger.
  • With cable devices, set the loop to 9 to 10 inches in diameter. Use a loop stop to keep the loop from closing small enough to trap an otter (about 4 inches in diameter).
  • Catch beavers as quickly as possible using multiple traps. Then remove all traps from the area.
  • If you do catch an otter in a live-restraining device, use a catchpole to release it unharmed.