Snaring is a very effective method of catching beavers. A dozen beaver snares costs less than a single foothold or conibear, which is a huge plus. To set a snare you simply locate a slide that the beaver is using, or make one of your own. You want to set your snare right at the edge of the water, so that the snare is not in the water, but as soon as the beaver emerges from the water he is passing through the snare. When snaring beavers you are targeting a body catch, right behind the front shoulders. This is because a beaver’s head and neck taper right into his body. With most other animals the head is larger than the neck so once the head passes through the snare it is hard for them to back out if the snare has started to tighten. With beavers it can be easy for them to back out without the snare having tightened enough to hold them. This is why a behind the shoulders catch is preferable. If a beavers’ front feet get through the snare and the snare starts to tighten there is no way he is going to be able to back out without the snare cinching tighter. For snares I use 48″ beaver snares, which have a relaxing lock (usually a washer lock). Since you aren’t trying to dispatch the beaver with the snare it is not necessary to have a lock that continues to tighten.
Back to location. When you’ve got a spot where beavers are exiting the water, be it a castor mound or a feed trail, you first want to anchor your snare. I like to use 8-10′ of 1/8th inch cable as an extension with a loop on both ends and a swivel on the end I will attach to the snare. I pass the cable around a tree large enough that the beaver won’t chew it off and put the swivel end through the loop. Then simply cinch the cable down on the tree and attach your snare to the cable using the J hook on the swivel. Then I set a 9-10″ loop right at the waters edge. The bottom of the loop is sitting on the ground and the loop is supported by wire or sticks. The loop needs to be at a right angle with the ground, so if you’re setting on a slope you want to tilt your snare so that its at a 90 degree angle with the ground. This is because the beaver is going to come out of the water even with the ground every time, no matter what the slope is, so you want your loop consistent every time. You also want your lock to be straight up at the 12 o’clock position. This way it falls or tightens easily when a beaver passes through it but isn’t so sensitive the loop gets closed by the wind.
The final touches to the set should be fencing. Beavers typically show no aversion to fencing. This is a big bonus to the trapper in funneling the beaver exactly where you want him to go. Fencing is simply placing something in a beaver’s path to encourage him to travel a certain way, you may use a log, standing trees, broken branches, or beaver chewed sticks. Larger branches are good because you do not have to find a lot of extra material, simply break off, or pick up two branches, and push them in the mud angling out away from your snare, making a funnel with the open end in the water and the narrow end at the snare. You may want to put some other smaller sticks right around the snare to ensure that the only travel path is through the snare.
If you are setting in a trail you’re set is complete. If you’re setting a castor mound you’ll want to grab a handful of mud and leaves to put on the bank above your set and place a dab of lure on top of your imitation mound and the set is ready to go. Now you will just have to wait until morning to come get your beaver!