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Trapper's Manual

Trapping Raccoon

Fairly easy to catch, raccoons are not particularly suspicious of a trap unless they have had a previous close call. Trappers can take advantage of their curiosity, keen sense of smell, and sense of security in their home territory. All sets should be lightly concealed when the outline of the trap is conspicuous.

Distinctive tracks in the soft mud along streams and lakes are the most visible giveaways to the raccoon's whereabouts. Droppings, deposited on branches, stumps, logs, or the ground, are also obvious clues of raccoons in the area. Both raccoon and mink are hard put to pass up a log extending into the water or across a stream. Both consider it an open invitation to investigate. So, such a site would be an excellent place for a trap.

Again, for raccoon, trap size is important. Most trappers choose the No. l 1/2 long-spring. Do not use anything larger than a No. 2. For drowning sets, a strong No. 1 works quite well. A smaller trap usually grips the animal across the palm of the paw, rather than high on the leg, and that reduces struggling.

Never attach the chain to a solid stake in a dry-land set. Lengthen the chain to four or five feet, and attach a drag. An excellent choice is a green sapling about five to six feet long and two to three inches in diameter. A sapling allows freedom of movement before getting tangled in the brush and give the animal something springy to pull against.

The 220 Conibear is sometimes used with bait in a cubby set or in an artificial bank-hole set. Although humane, improper use of the Conibear and other similar killer traps has brought about a great deal of bad publicity on trapping. Such a trap gives no margin for error, and the trapper has no chance to release a non-target species. Bait attracts not only raccoons, but also passing coonhounds, hunting dogs, or family pets. So, the potential for an unwanted, tragic kill is great. Therefore, it is up to YOU, the trapper, to guard against such an occurrence. Prevention is the ONLY cure.

A Challenge

Obviously, it is in the best interests of trapping and all trappers to eliminate any possibility of killing an unwanted species. And, therein lies a challenge and an opportunity ... to exercise your knowledge of the raccoon and to study the lay of the land to avoid an unwanted kill. One solution is to set aside the killer-trap unless its use is necessary. If after careful analysis use of a 220 is deemed best, use extreme care in choosing the site and placing the trap. Determine where the animal's hunting forays are taking it, and select a site that minimizes the chance of catching a dog. See the illustrations for such a choice.

Trailing coonhounds lose the scent at the water's edge and search overland to pick up the trail. So, an out-of-the-way depression in the stream bank would be a good choice. There's another dog-proof option when using the 220 Conibear. Nail an old bucket sideways on top of a four-foot fence post, on a post you set yourself, or in the crotch of a tree. Place the rim of the pail near the edge of the post, so the coon has access. Then, put the bait in the back of the bucket and set the trap just inside the opening.

Selecting the proper bait can also help reduce the chances of killing a non-target animal. For example, dogs can't seem to resist investigating, eating, or rolling in any vile-smelling rot- ten meat. On the other hand, dogs and cats have little interest in fruits or vegetables, which are attractive to coons.

Using care and restraint will leave the trapper with a sense of accomplishment for a job well-done, rather than experiencing the sinking feeling of depression that goes with finding a dead dog in a poorly placed or baited trap.

Raccoon Sets

Raccoons like to investigate any natural cavity ... exposed tree roots, holes in hollow stumps, or fallen trees. In such locations, sets are commonly made with the bait at the rear and the trap at the entrance. It is necessary to conceal the trap with rotten wood, leaves, or anything else that occurs naturally in the area. If there is a wide approach to the opening, strategically placed brush or rocks can help guide the raccoon into the trap. The trapper has a wide choice of baits, since raccoons eat a vast variety of foods - sweets like honey and candy, fish, crayfish, frogs, birds, and animal flesh. During winter, corn or peanuts make good baits.

Another successful set involves digging a hole at the water's edge along an overhanging creek bank. Place the trap at the entrance in two to three inches of water, and anchor it with a tangle stake to insure quick drowning. The hole should be 10 to 15 inches across and a foot or more deep. Again, bait may be used. See the illustration under mink.

An overhanging bank, brush pile, or other obstacles force the raccoon to enter the water and make a good bet for a blind set (see illustration). Tracks along the bank indicate where the coons enter and leave the water. Set the trap in shallow water at the point of entry and stake it in deep water. No bait is necessary.

A dirt-hole set illustrated in the coyote section also works for raccoon. However, be sure to use the correct size trap - coyote traps are too large and powerful for raccoon.

Artificial cubby sets are also standard for raccoon. Cubbies are small shelters built of logs, rocks, or other available materials and covered with a brush pile, open at one end. They can be built in advance and baited when the season opens. The trap, set at or just inside the entrance, is lightly covered for concealment.

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