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#28928 - 03/18/24 01:03 AM Beaver traveling seasonally for crops? Long post.
Richard2 Offline
Member

Registered: 03/01/13
Posts: 125
Loc: TN
Hereís the situation- middle Tennessee, 1800 acre hunting lease, about 700 acres of bottom land planted in corn yearly. This 700 acres of bottom land is split by a good sized stream/small river which has a farm road running along it, it has a fast semi mountainous current, year round trout habitat, itís cool water. Four of the folks in that 20 person hunting club are folks I know, like & respect. All four have seen during both bow & rifle season ( October-January) many beaver along that stream, all of them have stories about walking/ driving along that road before sun up/after dark & seeing beaver very often. Fast forward to March 11th. That same road along that same stream, many old slides/pullouts, very very little (and old) trees, brush cut. My question- is it possible that the beaver are actually traveling to temporarily feed on the corn being raised there? During the deer season when these folks are in there, the corn is still standing. With google earth I can find no swamps within a reasonable distance to lead me to believe they are within a reasonable range to travel to the corn fields, Iíve found no sign along the 4 miles of stream to lead me to believe that there are several small family units every mile or so that travel to feed on the corn . I am primarily a southern swamp trapper, easy peasy, wade in, find it, set it) Hal, tell us about the cotton fields you trap in west Tennessee, does this sound relevant ? Do they travel fairly far & temporarily for a food source? Iím confused as to what is going on here?

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#28930 - 03/18/24 08:40 PM Re: Beaver traveling seasonally for crops? Long post. [Re: Richard2]
Hal Offline
Moderator

Registered: 07/17/00
Posts: 10230
Loc: Blue Creek, Ohio, USA
No fresh sign? They ate the corn and went home.
_________________________
Endeavor to persevere.

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#28941 - 03/28/24 01:02 AM Re: Beaver traveling seasonally for crops? Long post. [Re: Richard2]
redsnow Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 06/11/06
Posts: 3013
Loc: WV
I've read your question and comment several times. Like you said, 4 miles of stream and 700 acres of corn, that does sound very easy. We'll talk about that in a minute.

Thinking about the "corn farms" where I've trapped beaver. I'll go out on a limb, and tell you in my experience, as a rule there is a beaver den within 200 or 300 yards of where it's cutting. I mean "usually", not always, but most times. I know if you're trapping a big lake or big water it might be more than 300 yards.

I've found beaver dens within 50 feet of their slides. Mostly bank dens around here.

Just about a year ago, a man asked me to trap a beaver near his river camp. I'd scouted that property, maybe 2 months before, there was nothing but old sign. It had cut a few small trees, the stumps were dry, the chips were old and dry.

I like to scout after a high water, I'm working with a clean slate. Any tracks or sign that I find is new. The place was dead, nothing fresh at all.

I think that I mentioned this before in one of the "wood cutting" threads, but I'll tell you again real fast. Big Donnie asked me to sharpen his chainsaw, looked like he'd hit a rock. Long story short, I sawed off the bottom of my weeping willow tree. Just to make sure the saw was cutting smooth, and the teeth were cleaning themselves. You know how dull saw teeth will get all gummed up and all. The saw looked good to me.

Longer story short: I've got a willow limb in the back yard that I don't need. I hauled the limb to the river where the man had been seeing the beaver. Dragged it out to the river bank, flipped it around where the bushy end was in the water. I didn't wire it fast, it was too big for a beaver to drag, in one piece.

I forget, 2 or 3 days later I went back to check my bait, and it was gone! Fresh peeled sticks, laying around, also found it's den. I've trapped that property lots of times, and knew about where it's den would be.

Just as well say that property is over an hour round trip, from here. I caught it the first night, in a simple baited set, with an MB 750. I wanted a beaver to cook anyway, or I wouldn't have messed with it.

That single beaver didn't leave much sign.

Another thing that I was thinking about, it's very possible on the property in Tennessee. Maybe one of the other 16 members of the hunt club worked over the beaver back in December or January?

But above I gave you my thoughts about beaver cutting within 300 yards of and a den or lodge. You guys give me your thoughts, agree or disagree. I know sometimes it'll be over 300 yards.

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#28942 - 03/28/24 10:12 AM Re: Beaver traveling seasonally for crops? Long post. [Re: Richard2]
musher Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 07/22/03
Posts: 2382
Loc: Qc.
There are no corn beaver where I live.

But beaver will travel much more than 300 yards from their lodge to feed. They will go probably go that far on land to feed - if they have to. It isn't a good idea in wolf and bear country.

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#28943 - 03/28/24 11:34 AM Re: Beaver traveling seasonally for crops? Long post. [Re: Richard2]
redsnow Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 06/11/06
Posts: 3013
Loc: WV
My comment above could be confusing, I'm not saying that a beaver's den will be between 200 to 300 yards from where they are feeding. What I mean is on a fast or semi-fast stream, their den will be within 300 yards of where they are feeding. Not always, but usually.

I agree, in a lake or big pond they will travel a longer distance to feed. That's calm water, they'll go to their feeding area and then back to the lodge.

We have places on our streams that are too swift for a beaver to swim upstream.

When beaver are working a corn field, they take the corn stalk, corn and all. And drag it back to the water. As far as I know, they drag them out 1 stalk at a time.

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#28944 - 03/30/24 06:45 PM Re: Beaver traveling seasonally for crops? Long post. [Re: Richard2]
Hal Offline
Moderator

Registered: 07/17/00
Posts: 10230
Loc: Blue Creek, Ohio, USA
I've seen beaver dams six feet tall make predominately of corn stalks. Here is the ultimate conclusion. If you don't see any fresh sign, the beavers aren't there. If they've eaten all the corn, or it has been harvested, they will start to work on the trees. No fresh sign, no beaver.
_________________________
Endeavor to persevere.

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#28945 - 03/31/24 12:43 PM Re: Beaver traveling seasonally for crops? Long post. [Re: Richard2]
redsnow Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 06/11/06
Posts: 3013
Loc: WV
I agree and sometimes there won't be much sign.

I'm not sure if beaver do this everywhere or not? But a lot of times when beaver are working a corn field, they will go back in the field, maybe 50 or 75 feet and just clearcut.

Some of the field corn farmers plant will grow to over 10 feet tall. In late summer, early fall you can drive around the field, everything looks good. Other than a path across the lane, and the grass and weeds all "brushed" down headed toward the river.

Years ago I was out with a farmer, it was a new property to me. I was scouting, he was showing me the property lines. I stopped at a beaver path, same as described above, and said let's go see what's going on.

We walked out into the corn field and just came into a clearing. That was a first for him, he'd never had that much beaver damage before.

On the lower end of his farm there is a little backwater/point with a beaver bank den. They had mud/sticks piled on top of the den, like a lodge, but it's a bank den. Other than maybe a few little maple branches, their entire feed pile was corn stalks. Some field corn will yeild 3 big ears. They had the corn stalks crammed up under the tree roots, that was their winter food supply.

Last summer my daughter and I scouted that farm from our kayaks, there wasn't any beaver sign.

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