This is a varmint and predator hunting blog, so it’s only fitting that we spend a little time looking at hunting the largest rodent in North America. Compared to prairie dogs, rats and other rodents, this critter is a relative monster. Forty- and 50-pound animals aren’t uncommon, and there are stories about big ones that tip the scales at 100 pounds. That’s a rodent twice the size of a big coyote.
Of course, what I’m referring to is the beaver. Not only is it the largest rodent in North America, but it runs second or third in the world for the overall rodent size crown. Beavers live from Mexico to northern Canada, so they’re present almost everywhere.
But why hunt them? Personally, I wish we didn’t have to. I like beavers and the dams and ponds they create. However, it’s a matter of wildlife management. There are just too many beavers, and their industrious nature that I admire is sometimes damaging. A few decades ago beavers weren’t a problem; there was enough demand for their wonderful fur that trappers could get an honest return for the effort involved in catching them. It created a reasonable balance.
But the current low prices for beavers have diminished trapper interest, and in many parts of the country, their number have exploded enough to become not only a nuisance, but a hazard as well. The county I live in has to pay trappers to remove problem beavers when they flood roads, block culverts and drop trees across power lines. That’s where hunters can help.
Hunting North America’s largest rodent is exciting, challenging and rewarding.
There’s no doubt that trapping is the most effective way to remove beavers, but not everyone, myself included, is a trapper. So, when beavers become a problem, I don’t mind helping a landowner by shooting the troublesome ones. Beaver control is best done at this time of year, as it’s now that the beavers are building new dams and thus creating new hazards. In my part of the world it’s legal to shoot beavers on private land with the permission and blessing of the landowners. That’s not the case everywhere, and you must check out the laws in your region before putting a beaver in your sights.
In my next post we’ll look at some beaver shooting techniques and the guns and ammo to do it with. Stay tuned.