How do you plant in a beaver pond? This is the question that we have been working on for several years now. We decided right away that we needed to drain the pond first. This however, posed its own question, HOW?
We knew that we had to bust the dam, but no one could decide on the best option. Given that we are a bunch of guys and that most guys love to tear things up, we started getting some really interesting ideas. The problems with these ideas were as diverse as the ideas themselves. Trust me if we had followed some of them, I may not have been able to type this now due to lack of fingers or worse. In the end we decided that the best way to do this was through good old fashioned elbow grease and sweat. So last spring (after more debate than is seen in congress) we decided that it was time to start busting the dam.
I am not sure where beavers get their degree in dam building but it is a doctorate(if beavers had built the levees in New Orleans and had access to concrete, they would have never broke). We decided that hoes and axes would probably be the best thing for busting this. Oh wait, we actually decided a backhoe would be best for this, but no one could figure out how to make it float. Looking at a beaver dam is very deceiving. All you see is mud. That is easy enough, right. Just dig the mud out to the side of the dam that the water is going to go on, WRONG. That easy to move layer of mud is just the decoration of the dam. Inside there is a mesh of sticks, logs, tree roots, and anything else that you would wonder; just how does a beaver manage to find this, much less pick it up? Because of this were only able to tear out about 4-6 inches at a time. We would go in a scrape chop dig and drag until the water started pouring over what we were doing until we could not see what we were chopping and pulling on. At this point we would have to stop and wait a day or two (usually 4-5 but that was because we just could not get back out there) for the water to go down so we could see to work again. Funny thing about beavers, they do not appreciate a bunch of guys putting holes in their dam. Apparently since they do not duck hunt they do not see the importance of what we were doing. Every time we went back they had refilled the holes. The good news was that the water had dropped some in the amount of between us busting it and the beavers filling it back in. Also, even though beavers a master builders it takes time for their work to be permanent. When we came back all we had to do was pull all of sticks and branches out that the beavers had packed in, and them drag the fresh mud out. Normally the water level would be at the bottom or slightly above the bottom of this new rebuild. Then the fun of scraping, chopping, digging, and dragging would resume.
After doing this every chance we got in the spring (which was not as often as it should have been) we had the pond down to a decent level. Then everyone got busy (My wife thought that the birth of my daughter took precedence, and I have to agree.) and we could not get out and keep it busted. The beavers completely rebuilt the dam and the pond refilled. However all of this was not in vain. While the pond was drained some natural vegetation had a chance to take root and grow. While this was not exactly what we were hoping to accomplish it was better than nothing. The ducks came into natural vegetation and we had a better hunting season than we have had in many years.
Well as soon as this year ended we decided that it was time to bust it again. We had all summer, fall, and part of the winter to get some plans made and to come up with our best idea yet, THE BRIARY RIVER WAY (Visit us at http://www.facebook.com/BriaryRiver and on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/Thebriaryriverway ) . We jumped in on the dam as soon as the season was over with. I was expecting what we had to deal with last year, and expected to have it down by mid spring. Luckily though when we started back where we were working last year, we found that it was a lot easier. Also we decided to do something about the root of the problem, the beavers. After lots of checking, double checking, and then checking again (like we have said we are not wealthy people and cannot afford a fine and let’s face it I am to pretty for jail.) we found that we were legal and put out conibear traps. We managed to get the dam tore out in weeks instead of months. We caught three beavers and the rest got smart. I went yesterday and there is only small stream of water running through the pond, and the beavers are not going anywhere near those traps. So now the pond is drying out some and we are getting ready to put a Clemson beaver pond leveler in.
Don’t worry we will keep you updated.