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By Dick Scorzafava

Beaver castors have been one of my secret ingredients for getting a new bait started over the years.  They are the best way to activate a new bait site.  Baits that took me several days or weeks to become active can be activated in just hours because of the beaver castor’s greater attractant powers to any bear.  The scent from the beaver castors will suck a bear in from over a half mile downwind depending on the wind velocity, temperature, and atmospheric pressure.  Their aroma travels through the woods leaving a very natural scent trail right back to the bait location from where the castor scent is emanating.  They are one, of if not the best attractant for black bears all over North America that I have used.   They have never failed me anywhere I have used them across the entire North American range.  I even use the beaver castors after the bait has been established to keep the bears coming in and attracting any other bears that may be wandering through the area.  This works especially well in the spring during the breeding season when boars are on the move looking for hot sows.

Several years ago I shot a big old boar that we had no clue was in the area when he came into the bait one evening.  We had scouting cameras on the bait since we opened it up that spring and never got one image of him at the bait.  He came in, and went directly to the scent wicks I had soaked in the beaver castor and presented me a good shot.

Because a mature boar’s home range is so large I assumed he was cruising through the area looking for a hot sow when he scented the beaver castor and came into investigate.  These old boars are smart old buggers and may have also scented the two sows that were coming to this bait regularly.  We surmised that from all the captures on the scouting cameras.  The bottom line is he came to the bait attracted by the beaver castor and I was able to shoot him.

The beaver is the largest rodent in North America.  They are a common furbearer that inhabits the waterways of every state and Canadian Province.  Beavers are a desired food sources for bears and the odor of beaver castor drives them absolutely wild.  I know old trappers who use castors in all their trap sets because it has been so productive for them over the years.  Also many guides I know trap beavers all winter to use on their bear baits in the spring because they know their attractant power for bears.
Beaver castors are glands.  They have been called preputial, musk glands or simply castors.  Beaver castors can be used with or without baits from predetermined positions or even while stalking.  They are my favorite overall attractant for bear because I have had such great success using them over the years.  Like the old saying goes if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Beaver castors are not especially complicated to remove from a beaver it’s a simple matter of knowing where they are located and then removing them without cutting or rupturing them in the process.

The castors are located just above the anal vent area on a beaver.  Lay the beaver on its back and make a cut with a shape knife from the vent up the belly just under the skin on the fur about eight inches long.  Carefully with your fingers peel back the skin on each side of the incision to expose the area where the castors are located.  They are hidden under a very thin membrane of muscle on each side of the incision.  Cautiously cut through the membrane and carefully start peeling it away from the top of the castors.  The castors are directly under this membrane so be extremely cautious not to cut into the castor.  I find it much easier if I squeeze the membrane with my index finger and thumb.  This allows me to pull the membrane away from the castor and safely cut through the membrane without cutting into the castor.  Once the membrane is cut away and pulled back the castors can be plainly seen on each side of the incision.
At this point, the castors are ready to be removed.  Gently grip one castor with the fingers of one hand and with the fingers of the other hand pull the membrane off the castor and work it out very slowly.  Its important that all the red membrane be removed from the castor but be particularly cautious because the castors can be very fragile and tear exceptionally easily if a great deal pressure is applied to them.  Each castor can take different amount of pulling on them before tearing, and the only way to get proficient at this is with experience.

You are now ready to remove the castors from the beaver and that is accomplished by making two cuts, the first cut is from the penis on a male or from the thin membrane on a female.  The second cut will be from where the castors are attached to the anal vent.  After the castors have been removed they must be hung to dry for four to five days.  I hang them on a nail in my garage because it has low humidity. When the outside of the castors get a leathery look and feel to them, they are partially dried and need to be removed put in zip top plastic bags and placed in the freezer until there is enough to be ground up.

When there are enough castors in the freezer grind them up frozen and mix in glycerin at a rate of 7:1 ratio.  If I plan to store them for extended periods of time I preserve it with sodium benzoate.  This gives me a paste that can be easily applied to anything I want at a bait.

I have a DNR friend who has the best results trapping problem bears using this paste.  I like to also apply the paste to several scent wicks and hang them at the bait just before I get into stand for an added bonus at the bait.  Several of the scent manufacturers have realized the drawing power of beaver castors and have manufactured attractant lures with the beaver castor scent.  Also you can purchase beaver castor paste from several of the trapping supply houses.  Beaver is a natural food source for bears so its scent is very natural to them.  Ever smell your neighbor grilling steak on the grill when you’re hungry? Every time I do, I want to go over for dinner.  So does the bear when he gets the scent of the beaver castor.

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