The trap may be set at the entrance to the holes in the banks, two or three inches under water, implanting the stick with the castoreum bait directly over the pan, a few inches above the water. If the water should be deep near this spot, it is an excellent plan to weight the end of the chain with a large stone with a “leader” from it also, as already described. Insert two or three sticks in the bank beneath the water, and rest the stone upon them.
When the beaver is caught he will turn a somersault into deep water, at the same time dislodging the stone, which will sink him. No sooner is a break ascertained in the dam than all the beavers unite in fixing it, and this peculiarity of habit may be turned to account in trapping them. Make a slight break in the dam, five inches across, beneath the water. On the under side of the break, and of course, on the inside of the dam, the trap should be set. The beavers will soon discover the leak and the capture of at least one is certain. The trap may be also set where the beavers are wont to crawl on shore, being placed several inches below the water in such a position that they will step on it when in the act of ascending the banks. Where the weighted stone is not used, the sliding pole page 145 [Page 182] should always be employed, as it is necessary to drown the animal, to prevent amputation and escape.
The food of the beaver consists chiefly of the bark of various trees, together with aquatic plants. The fur is valuable only in the late fall, winter, and early spring.
In skinning the beaver, a slit is made from the under jaw to the vent, after which it is easily removed. It should be tacked to a flat board, fur side in, or stretched by means of a hoop, as described on page 275.
The muskrat, or musquash, is very much like a beaver on a small scale, and is so well-known throughout the United States that a detailed description or illustration will hardly be necessary. Reduce the size of the beaver to one foot in length, and add a long flattened tail, instead of the spatula-shaped appendage of this animal, and we will have a pretty good specimen of a muskrat. The body has that same thick-set appearance, and the gnawing teeth are very large and powerful. Like the beaver, the muskrat builds its dome-like