beaver trapping, snaring, water trapping — November 30, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Snaring Beaver, let’s talk about the beaver snare, shall we

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Beaver snares, what makes a good snare for fur trapping or control work

how to snare beaver

You shake your head as you see your last conibear, it’s 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.

Let’s 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 it’s 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, it’s very visible if it’s 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 don’t 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 operate’s 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. Let’s 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 7×7 aircraft, 1×19 aircraft, swaged cable (smooth line cable), Thompson cable, stainless steel cable and the list can go on and on. The two most common are 7×7 aircraft and 1×19 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 won’t work for the next. Now saying that, I will be explaining my snares and there usage from my personal experience.

I personally use 1×19 cable on my control and fur lines. This cable is stiff in comparison to 7×7 aircraft cable. This cable is also wound different than 7×7 cable. I know that if you are new to snaring you probably think 7×7 is the only cable to use, not so. I have used and caught over a thousand beaver in 7×7 cable and a few observations have been made. The most important point against the 7×7 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 7×7 gets kinked the individual cable strands start to separate. Due to the way the cable is made, it separates faster than 1×19. 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 7×7. I just don’t get kinking and separating on as many 1×19 snares. Don’t get me wrong, this can happen with 1×19 cable, but it’s a lot smaller percentage. Also by having 1×19 (a stiffer cable), I can control the loop shape. The 1×19 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. 7×7 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 7×7 aircraft cable more popular than 1/19 cable? To be honest I don’t know, tradition, cheaper, lack of understanding or maybe it has just been in print more. In my humble opinion, 1×19 cable is the Cadillac of common snare cables, it plain holds together longer and is stronger than its 7×7 cousin. If you are going to make your own 1×19 snares let me warn you a little bit. 1×19 is slicker than 7×7 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, let’s 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 let’s 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 don’t 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 Sterling’s 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 don’t 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 can’t 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 1×19 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 don’t get 1/16 1×19 cable confused with 1/16 7×7 aircraft cable. If you use 1/16 7×7, you WILL lose most of your beaver. It’s too weak and separates way too easy. When I am using extension cables, I will use 5/64 1×19 cable. I don’t use this big of a cable often, because I don’t 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 7×7 cable, 5/64 or 3/32 size cable will be needed. Keep in mind when the 7×7 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 1×19 cable allows the trapper to go about one size smaller than 7×7 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 1×19 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 figurations, 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 don’t think we need to cover all locks here; I’ll 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.  

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