Open Water Trapping in Yukon
Open water trapping season in the Yukon is short. The season for water animals opens on October 1st. Since the lakes will freeze over in November, time is not on our side when it comes to open water trapping. Even though October is a busy month for us, it is still one of my favorite times to be in the bush. The land just seems to come alive. Toobally lakes are a favorite resting spot for a wide variety of waterfowl on their long migration south. Dozens of species of feeding waterfowl ensures a cacophony of sound 24/7. Both big game and furbearers are also on the move; the first hard frosts reminding them that a long cold winter will soon be upon them.
The beaver population on our trapline is quite good, and although beaver prices have been low on the wild fur market, the local market for tanned beaver pelts remains strong. We manage our trapline as carefully as we do our fishing. To do this effectively we have to be aware of furbearer populations. This means being prepared to increase or decrease our harvest based on what we are seeing on the land.
Numerous studies have proven that beaver can sustain a harvest rate of 25-35% of their population. We have found late fall to be the best time to assess our beaver population.Beavers live in a family unit that is referred to as a colony. A colony will usually consist of two adults and as many as two generations of offspring. The surest way to assess a beaver population is to visibly inspect and count the active colonies in your area. It might come as a surprise to some, but over-population is one of the biggest threats a beaver colony faces. Beaver will eat a variety of plants during the open water season, but their survival depends on the twigs and bark of deciduous trees and willows.
One of the main things we look for when assessing our beaver population is their food source. A colony of beavers need a food source that is close to the water. The farther they are forced to go from the water’s edge for food, the more susceptible they are to predators.
I had been out on the line since early September doing some guiding and trail work. Reggie was scheduled to fly in on October 7th but weather delayed her arrival by a few days and she didn’t get in until October 9th. I had identified the colonies I wanted to trap by the time Reggie made it in, so we were able to get some traps out right away.
My Favourite Set For Open Water Trapping
One of my favourite open water sets for beaver is the entrance set. A beaver house will have at least two underwater entrances. If I can find one, Im in business. Using #9 wire, I hang a 330-bodygrip trap right in the entrance. This is a surefire set that produces beaver on a regal basis.
The weather continued to cool off and by the 15th ice was forming along the lakeshore. I have never seen shore ice forming this early. Our open water trapping season was coming to an end. By the 25th, the river was running ice so we decided to pull our traps and head for home. After a busy summer at the lodge, we had enjoyed our ‘alone’ time in the Yukon wilderness. We both felt rejuvenated and ready to tackle our winter trapping season that is just around the corner.
For more of my trapping articles check out Trap and Trail Magazine