After faking out the author by temporarily gnawing on a tree on his brother's property, the beavers have returned and turned the top 30 feet of one of the original trees into nothing but wood chips. Credit: Courtesy of John Holyoke

Captain’s log, the end of November 2021: They’re back. In numbers, I think (although, as I’ve pointed out earlier, it’s really tough to get an accurate count of an opponent that’s as ruthless and well organized as the foe that I’ve been battling). There might be one. There might be 100. All I know is, they don’t show up on trail cameras, and don’t make any noise.

And I know this: They’re back. But I already said that.

As regular readers may recall, this epic battle with my rival(s) has been going on for some months now. (I know, I know: For there to be an actual rivalry, both sides of the battle must have some realistic hope of emerging victorious … let’s not focus on that technicality right now). First, the beaver(s) chewed down one of my trees. Then, as I tried to capture trail camera footage of the culprit(s), they managed to sneak in under cover of darkness and chew down another nearby tree.

I was angry. I was disappointed. And I was the laughing stock of my hometown. People approached me in grocery stores. People laughed at me on the street. But then, I got lucky. Or so I thought.

The beaver(s), bored with the lack of a real rivalry, moved upstream a bit, and began targeting the trees on my brother’s property. I might have cheered. I might have laughed. But trust me: Reports that I had spread tasty-looking branches all over my brother’s lawn in hopes of luring my beaver(s) onto his lawn are false. Or, at the very least, those reports can not be confirmed by anyone who can be trusted. I think.

Either way, the beaver(s) moved upstream and began doing that beaver thing: They chewed. They gnawed. And they ate. Yum-yum-yum. Downstream, we rejoiced. Our problem was solved! My beavers (finally) belonged to someone else! Good riddance!

But my brother doesn’t play by the rules. He’s one of those win-at-all-costs guys. He decided to (forgive the pun) bite back. Or, at the very least, he gnawed back.

It seems that he wasn’t nearly as understanding as I was, and was not willing to let the beaver(s) chew down every tree on his own streambank. So, like any other win-at-all-costs brother would do, he decided to fight dirty.

No, he didn’t shoot the beaver(s). No, he didn’t harm it (them). Instead, he went to the hardware store, bought some supplies, and proceeded to erect miniature beaver-proof fences around all of the tastiest looking trees on his lot.

All of which sounds like a great idea, you might think. You might think so. Me? I don’t see it that way.

You see, I’m the guy who lives just downstream. The guy with the tasty-looking trees that are already lying on the ground. The guy who didn’t go to the hardware store. The guy who didn’t install all those cute little beaver-proof fences around my trees.

So what does that make me?

Landlord to a herd of beavers. Again.

Not that I really spent much time thinking about that at first. No, I was perfectly content laughing at my brother’s (apparent) expense, and celebrating the upstream migration of my rivals … enemies … foes.

But then, just the other day, when returning home from a trip to town, I glanced at one of the (formerly) stately trees that had lain in my side yard, and realized that it was much smaller than it had been.

Upon further inspection, it became clear that the beaver(s) had returned. Man, did it (they) return.

The tree in question was 30 feet shorter than it had been, and piles of wood chips littered the stream bank. All of the limbs were gone, and a packed down path led from the stump all the way to the water.

Not a problem, you might think. Me? Well, I’d begun figuring that one beaver’s destruction might become one homeowner’s future firewood. All I needed to do was find someone with a chainsaw who might lop the beaver’s trophy tree into fire pit-sized chunks (I have sworn off all experiments with saws, grinders and nail guns, as I think that after you’ve reached 50 years of age, it’s too late to take up hobbies that might cost you a limb).

But that doesn’t appear to be the way things are going to play out.

The beaver(s) has (have) not only chewed down my trees … it (they) has (have) also stole (stolen) my firewood.

To which I’ve only got one thing to say.

I give up. Beaver(s): You win.

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John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...