August 2006 School Days

Finding a Flattail Den

Tuff Wimberly
Archie, Missouri, Age 14

The 2005-2006 trapping season was my first season of trapping on my own. I had been with my dad and uncle on their traplines in New Mexico, but it would be my first chance to run my own line.

I live in the country on a 26-acre piece of land in Missouri. My brother trapped the land the previous year and only caught one raccoon — with a little help from me. However, this year was much better.

We caught seven raccoons, a ton of opossums and some bobcat fur, (the ‘cat pulled out). But the best thing I caught in a trap was a 36-pound beaver.

A small creek on our property has quite a few beavers in it, some muskrats and other animals you would find in a creek.

I saw a beaver a few years ago when I was deer hunting. Every time I went to my stand, I saw it swimming up the creek carrying a stick.

This winter, after watching the movie Jeremiah Johnson 20 times, I decided I wanted to catch that beaver.

One weekend, my dad and I went looking for the beaver’s den. We found it right away. Then, we bought a #330 bodygrip trap. It was really hard to set because we had never owned one before and didn’t have the proper tools. After we finally got it set, we took it to the den and placed it near the opening.

I checked the set every day after school for two weeks. But each day, I found that no beavers had even been near the den. I was beginning to think the beaver had moved to another part of the river and I would have to find a new place to set my trap.

Then, my dad told me that the beaver probably had many other dens along its territory.
Finally, on Super Bowl Sunday, I went to check my trap and couldn’t see it.
At first, I thought it had fallen over and I would have to reset it. As I got closer to the set, I could see something brown floating in the water.

It was just before dark, and I couldn’t tell what I was looking at. When I got to the water, a huge smile swept across my face. It was my beaver!

I went back to my house and got my dad. We drove back to the creek on our all-terrain vehicle and took several pictures.

The beaver so heavy, I had a hard time lifting it. When we got back, we put it on a scale. It weighed 36 pounds.

I skinned it, and also removed and saved the castor glands.

I called my grandpa and told him. He had caught many beavers in ditches along the Rio Grande River. He was very happy for me, and made sure I handled the pelt correctly.

I can’t wait for next year’s trapping season so I can catch more beavers, and hopefully, a bobcat that got away.

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To be considered, send a 300- to 500-word story and a clearly focused original photograph of the trapper or hunter with a catch, kill, fur or trap to: School Days, The Trapper & Predator Caller, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990.

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