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Updated 2012

THE RACCOON:

By John A. Vance, Environmental Eng. Tech., & Outdoor Writer - Member: Outdoor Writers of Canada, et al. Forty year 'pro' writer, outfitter, outdoorsman. Regarded as an 'expert in the field' concerning water and most wild and outdoor pursuit.
(Latin name; Procyon lotor)

In my opinion, the raccoon is one of North America's finest critters! Indeed, this little fur ball has been responsible for putting much food on my table, both, directly from it's delicious meat, and indirectly from the money received from the excellent fur that I've processed and sold!

Myself, and others, have been able to survive 'hard times' because of the raccoon - and I owe this fellow creature the utmost of respect; whenever possible I must use my education, expertise, and compunction to help the raccoon remain as a 'sustainable' entity within the balance of nature. I want the raccoon to not only survive, but to thrive and do well so that future generations of raccoons and people alike, will be able to share our continent together symbiotically. The raccoon is a precious re-newable natural resource, and a source of sustenance for many of us - lets' all keep it that way! 
 

photo shows 'typical' coon bush, from the text below; not seen is the open ditch and culverts also in the vicinity
 
 
 

RULES OF THE ROAD! 

Firstly, I must address  a couple of items when dealing with the raccoon; Raccoon may be spelled with double 'r's or with a single 'r'; both are correct. Most people when talking of raccoon, will call them simply 'coon' or coons, which is also fine and dandy, and correct, although to call them coon(s) is slang – but only a stuffy old English teacher would really find fault! 

Young coon are sometimes referred to as kittens, and sometimes as 'coon puppies' - personally I prefer coon puppies, being a 'dog person' as compared to a 'cat' liking person. Too, because of the Internet, and its global operation, I must mention that we will be dealing with raccoon, and later you'll hear me deal with the term 'coon dog(s)'. Apparently there is an animal called a 'raccoon dog' in Europe/Asia, but here I'm dealing with raccoon hunting dogs. 

As a special note, the raccoon dog is regarded by many as a 'nasty' critter in it's range. Most authorities feel it would be a scourge, and in incredible detriment to North America's eco system if the raccoon dog were to gain access to our continent. 

Photo, the author, his dog 'Shadow' and an afternoon's work - I made over $250.00 for my wanderings!
 
 

The raccoon's range is large, and fortunately for both people and coons alike, is expanding. Most of the US has a coon population, which while pushing ever north and westward, is at present, only  a few hundred miles into southern Canada. Many farm folk regard the coon as a nuisance, and consider them as a problem animal. Coon can and does destroy much corn and other crops. This causes a dire need for people to be involved with population control of this fine denizen, but I must be quick to add that I'm talking about a 'sustainable' population, and control within a healthy and vibrant raccoon population - not annihilation, nor even a drastic population reduction. This is one of those 'dicey' areas where we will have 'trade-offs', but the raccoon is a priceless commodity in regards to part of our 'wild' North American heritage, and in respect of the needs of agricultural pursuit! I believe the needs of both raccoon and people are served well with the system of population control within that species, by both hunting and trapping, when using modern-day humane techniques of capture and killing the coon, thus helping to keep the population in check and balanced. Hunting/trapping seasons being regulated and honored, allow for great conservation of this re-newable, and very valuable natural resource - 'Long Live The Raccoon'!

HUNTING/TRAPPING THE COON!

Photo: three fine 'prime' coon pelts taken in late November!

This fine furbearer, with phenomenally exquisite pelage (fur), has for the past 30+ years, been responsible for several thousand dollars annually to my family budget. 

Take a look at the picture above, it's typical coon hunting territory. Not seen is an open drainage ditch just to the left of the photo. It has several large field drainage culverts also emptying into it nearby. 

The type of bush that I like to hunt will be of mixed, both coniferous (trees that keep green leaves all year, like pine trees) and deciduous trees (trees that drop their leaves each autumn, like maple and oak trees). If a corn field is nearby, all the better, and if their are tangles of wild grapes also in the vicinity - you'll be in luck! If you can find such locations, with streams, ponds etc. nearby - well - this is coon heaven, and you should do well in such locations. 
 


photo: use hyper velocity ammunition for coon shooting! Seen here are Federal's HYPER VELOCITY 22 slugs, some that were 'dug-out' of coons, to show that they 'mushroom' well!
(see 'field test 'section of this home page for  more detail)
 

Those wishing to prepare their pelts for sale would do well to harvest coons late in the season, and I rarely even begin to take coons before the first of November. Indications of markets tell us that the large and extra large coons will bring a good dollar, whereas the lighter early and small coon will be nearly valueless – and I take only coon that are prime. 

When hunting coons I like to use the HYPER velocity 22 ammo, and shoot them ( coon) in the head, which causes an immediate and humane kill of the animal. This immediate kill is needed, so that the dead animal, in its death throws will 'kick' itself out of the tree. Of the several hundred raccoon I harvest each year, I'll only have possibly two 'hang-up' in a tree crotch. It is usually a simple matter to climb the tree to 'shake out' such a stuck animal. Never leave a coon to go to waste. If you are prepared to harvest a coon - also be prepared to do what's necessary to retrieve the animal once harvested - even if it means climbing a tree. 

Special note: If you are either a trapper or a pelt hunter, you'll be glad to know that I have worked upon some home made bullets that I have cast up that are very efficient at killing the animals, but are a superb pelting bullet as they do little pelt damage. I  make the bullets, paper patch them, and use them in my center fire 22's with amazing results. I use a standard mold  that's on the market for 22 centerfire rifle. If you're a rifle reloader and want to learn more - do email me and we'll chat - John!

I prefer to use a 'scoped' ( 22 rimfire) rifle, and use a semi auto-loader, offering quick shots. I want to kill the animal humanely, and quickly. The scope allows me to accurately 'place' my shots, affording quick merciful harvest. 

If trapping coon, I use the 'killer' conibears only where I don't have many non target animals to contend with, and 'dog proof' them so that I won't catch a neighbor or a hunting dog. I'll most often set my coon traps near water, and especially good are culverts and drainage tile exits/basins. 

Once an animal is dispatched, I like to skin it while still warm, a large coon can be a real 'bear' to skin if left until cold. They are much easier to skin immediately after harvest.. The best prices for coon are from those 'cased' skinned. 

Keep the coon meat for eating, or for market. Check with your hunting regulations, some places allow the sale of raccoon meat, and others don't. In all cases when using the carcass for food - trim off the fat, and discard. Coon meat, with a combination of venison and pork can make excellent sausage, especially the 'pepperoni' sticks. It also adds volume, and you'll get a lot more of these 'wild snacks' when you use this combo. 

Always discard your eviscera (guts) including unwanted portions of meat, back into the wild. Don't discard near any  water of course, but do throw these unwanted portions in remote areas. City folk will squirm and whine if they happen along a pile of these guts - but too bad - if they don't like 'country things' they ought to be back in the city.  Birds and animals will eat on these disposed carcasses all winter and may keep many of them from starving to death during an intense winter!


photo; typical coon hunting equipment.

These discarded guts will be a real bonus for all other meat eating wild animals, and will be quickly consumed. I've seen some gut piles visited late in the winter and being dug up by fox, coyote, wolves and even raccoon.  Often these guts will keep these wild critters from starvation, especially during an intense and harsh winter. Birds and other non predators will also eat these carcasses. IT WOULD BE A TOTAL WASTE TO SEND THESE SCRAPS TO A LANDFILL - don't do it!

The best bushes in which to hunt coon will have a river/stream or lake/pond nearby, and will have mature 'home trees' in the vicinity. Never destroy one of these 'den' trees, and never shoot into a den tree hoping to 'scare-out' a coon - it won't happen, and you'll cripple and maim them - don't ever do this - ever - this is as bad a sin as shooting into a squirrel nest - never ever do either of these shameful practices.


photo: study these 'coon' tracks - look for them near water!

You will be able to easily tell if coon are using an area, especially near water. Coon tracks in a 'coon'y' area will be everywhere. The front foot of the coon is smaller than the back foot, and the front foot track has long 'finger-like' tracks. The back foot track is similar to what you'd imagine a 'person' baby to have. Look at the photo here, and you'll get a good idea. 

You may have to get back a foot or so from your computer for your eye to focus on the whole photo to get a good picture, if you are too close you'll miss the needed 'far view' to really see the tracks well. 

 

Photo: Fur Buyer, Peter K. Dale with a well handled coon pelt, ready to be dried

If you've enjoyed this write up, please e-mail me, I need to know.  If there is no interest - I need your feedback!
Indeed, if there is enough interest, I'll do up either/or a detailed factsheet or audio Cd on hunting coon and preparing the pelts for sale, etc!

In 2012 as I now do an 'update' for this page, I'm glad to tell you I've received many comments over the past few years concerning the coon. I hope this continues. I enjoy conversing with you folks of similar interest!

2012 Update! New for 2012 are my audio Cds on a variety of topics including both open water fishing and ice fishing. Topics such as ( Open water) Walleye Fishing Inland Lakes: Walleye Fishing Rivers;

Walleye Fishing Precambrian Lakes: and a host of others....(Ice Fishing) Ice Fishing For Everyone ( set of 2 Cds):

Ice Fishing for Bluegill, Crappie & Perch: Ice Fishing for Walleye: Ice Fishing For Seniors...and a host of others...

Also new for 2012 – come to my neck-of-the-woods here on the North Shore of Georgian Bay while on your holidays for a variety of workshops – including ice fishing workshops! We have a clean & tidy campground here with access onto the Serpent River which flows into Georgian Bay ( approx a half mike away). So you can bring your own boat if you wish. They have RV hookup as well as tenting and cabins. There is also a small mom/pop Motel ( with Kitchenette Facilities of you wish) here for those not into camping.

Bring along your entire family – or fishin' buds and learn while on your holidays. My prices are reasonable, and I'll tailor a workshop to your schedule on most fishing and ice fishing subjects. Email me for pricing of my various workshops and details as well as any other questions you may have.

We also have superb ATV trails here, and a wonderful night sky-scape – campfire smoke – a true northern experience...John A. Vance


Author: John A. Vance
Copyright © 1998 John A. Vance. . . 

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