No Muddy 'Coon

Who likes skinning wet, muddy raccoons? No one? That's what I thought. Don't get me wrong, I will take the raccoons anyway that I can get 'em. They take more time and work to get them ready for the boards or the furbuyer when they are a muddy mess. I prefer to catch them before they can get down to the water. Raccoons typically dont start their nightly hunts right at the water's edge, they have to get down there somehow.

Raccoons like any other animal, will take the path of least resistance. They will have trails down to the water, use beaver and muskrat slides, dry drainage ditches, or places where the land falls down to the level of the water.

After identifying these access points to the water, I look for trails to these points. Depending on the area, these trials will be more defined than others. In these trails, or just off to the side, is where the sets will be made.

As far as where exactly to place the sets, I like to stay as close to where the trail goes down to the water as possible. If there is a slip in the bank with a trail going from the bank, to the slip and then to the water, I stay on the trail on top of the bank in case the coon, or other valuable animals, does not drop down.

Set selection for me is pretty simple. Its either a trail set, double hole sets or a dogproof trap set. For dry drainages, if its tight, it gets trail set, if not it gets double dry pockets. For tight trails, I go with a trail set and nothing else. I want them heading down the trail just like they normally do. You can use snares, bodygrippers or footholds depending on what is legal for you and what other animals are in the area.

Where you have a trail going through an open area where there really is not much to keep the animal on the trail or to camouflage a snare or conibear, I am looking at baited sets. With no sign of other desirable animals around, I use dog proof traps right in the middle of the trail. If you put it off the trail, you'll have to depend entirely on your bait offering or flagging to get the raccoons attention to the trap. On the trail, they have to pay attention to the trap and the smell coming out of the trap has a better chance of enticing the coon to work the trap. If other animals are around that you also want to catch, a double dirthole with one hole on each side of the trail with the trap in the middle is great. With the trap on the trail, you have a walkthrough set if the raccoon is not interested in the bait the chance to catch the coon as it walks away still exists. The holes on both sides of the trail will force the animal to do a lot of shifting to check out both holes increases chances of getting its foot in the right spot for the trap.

This little system is fairly simple and you'll get plenty of animals, that are dry, with a lot less work than scrambling down the banks and punching pocket sets all day. If you want the catch the animals, you've got to catch them where they are, you will not catch them where you want them to be. Have fun and go catch some nice fluffy animals next fall.

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