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Coon Hunting: The Best Time, Bait and Other Tricks [Full Guide]

Lake view with two raccoons in the distance
Get the Best Raccoon Hunting Tips

The North American raccoon is a vicious creature. Albeit small, this masked scavenger can weigh up to fifty pounds, has incredibly sharp claws, and razor-like teeth. In other words: any hunter, seasoned or otherwise, should not underestimate them.

Noted for their intelligence, raccoons are as savvy as they are fierce, and a general sense of their routines and habits is an essential component of becoming a successful hunter. The following list of raccoon hunting tips should help give even the novice hunter some fundamental insights into what they should know before getting started, when and where to find these ferocious little critters, how to track and lure them, and the best tools for getting the job done.

Food: The Great Motivator

Like most animals, food is a great motivator for raccoons. They are most at home in densely woods areas (their natural habitat), where nearby streams provide a variety of food options and tall trees help insulate them from predators, though this seems to have changed significantly over the last hundred years. Since the 1920s, the raccoon’s adaptability has extended dwellings to also include cities and suburbs, where they have become quite the nuisance thanks to their propensity for trash foraging.

Like many smaller predators, they are largely nocturnal, often emerging in the evening hours to hunt and scavenge for food. Don’t let that fool you into thinking nighttime is the only time for hunting coon, however, as they will always take advantage of an available food source, even if it means venturing out of their dens during daylight hours.

Hardly selective in their dietary preferences, these little bandits have been known to ransack trash bins in the city and decimate chicken coops in the sticks, all in the name of a good meal. In fact, they are considered among the world’s most omnivorous animals, feasting on everything from insects to amphibians, chicken eggs, and all manner of trash.

The Bait & Switch: Using What You Know

Using what we know about this animal’s dietary behavior as a tool, successful trappers and hunters have been known to lure raccoons into their clutches with a variety of different bait. Some of the most effective items for enticing these food-motivated vermin include boiled eggs, marshmallows (yes, you read that right), and foods that give off a strong odor, such as canned cat food.

Wooded area at dawn

Go Ahead, Lose the Forest for the Trees

Although they have managed to make a home just about anywhere these days, raccoons tend to prefer the hollows of old oak and other trees, where an elevated position helps keep them safe from larger predators. When being pursued, they will often seek refuge in the limbs of trees, a term known to hunters as “treeing.”

They are also creatures of some routine. Although these nightwalkers have been known to abandon a sleep spot after only a single night’s rest more than 50 percent of the time, a recent study found that they also tend to return to spaces they deem safe, sometimes than ten times. So if you’ve managed to track a raccoon to its den, it might be worth the patience of waiting for him to catch some Z’s.

Some of the most popular urban habitats include attics and chimneys, where many a coon has been known to stow away. If this is your predicament, traps can come in especially helpful, as you will likely want to chase them from their lair before making your kill.

A Small, But Scrappy Mark

As mentioned before, these sneaky little critters are both wildly clever and incredibly dangerous, and both of these things should be seriously considered when hunting coon.

Gifted with incredibly dexterous front paws, which allow them to dig under shelters and unhook gates, a raccoon’s cunning is thought to surpass even that of the fox. They have been known to slips traps (and are especially good at jimmying locks), devastate flocks, and aggressively confront potential challengers. And in water—where they will sometimes run, when being hunted in the woods—raccoons have been known to pounce on the heads of pursuing hounds, drowning their attackers on the spot.

In addition to their flight-club mentality, raccoons also carry a host of diseases that can make coming in contact with them especially unpleasant. Not only are they considered one of the primary hosts of the Rabies virus in the United States, but they can also carry distemper (lethal to unimmunized dogs and cats) and an array of other parasites and bacteria. Close contact with them should absolutely be avoided at all costs.

Timing is Everything

Enjoyed by many hunters as a stopgap source of entertainment, time of year is central to a successful coon hunt, both legally and otherwise. The hunting season typically begins in September (just before deer season kicks off) and runs through February (about two months after deer hunting has completed).

It is important to note, however, that during especially cool temperatures, many raccoons will take a winter rest, significantly reducing their activity in an effort to conserve energy. The best time to find them out and about usually arrives in late January, as the days start to become longer and males emerge from their den in search of a suitable mate. “Squaller” calls, which mimic raccoon fight noises, can be an effective method for attracting males, but it’s worth remembering that they are especially aggressive and territorial during mating season, so be prepared to shoot when using such noises to attract these angry creatures.

Man’s Best [Hunting] Friend

Coonhounds are easily one of the best resources—next to a gun—to have by your side when hunting, and this is especially true when it comes to this hostile and clever animal. With their powerful ability to detect even the lightest scent, hounds are often released at night into a forest or field and allowed to scent out potential prey. Once they have located their target, they will emit a loud baying noise, indicating to the hunter that the coon is ready for retrieval.

As with most purebreds, you should expect a well-heeled hound to cost you a pretty penny—sometimes upwards of $40,000. Some of the most popular breeds include the Black and Tan Coonhound, the Redbone Coonhound, the Bluetick Coonhound, the English Coonhound, the Treeing Walker Coonhound, and the Plott Hound.

The Essential Tools

  • Coon Light – So you’ve treed a coon. Now what? You’ve really got two options. You can shake the tree and hope for the best—as this could easily result in a very angry raccoon clawing its way through the air in your direction—or you can invest in a handy coon light, a small hand light, which can be used to catch a raccoon’s eye, temporarily blinding them while you take the perfect shot. If hunting at night, no one should go without this nifty and relatively inexpensive tool.
  • Callers – Raccoons are known to make a host of different noises to communicate with one another, and learning to mimic these noises can be an particularly good way to coax them from their dens or out into the open. But if you aren’t well practiced in the art of coon calling, it be might be worth investing in a calling device. Raccoons respond quite well to calls, and this is one of the most effective ways to draw them out of hiding, or prompt a confrontation—especially during the day, when they tend to be less active.
  • Traps – Not all traps are created equal, especially where this crafty scrounger is concerned. In addition to choosing the ideal bait (see above), it is important to select a trap with gaps in the wire no larger than a quarter of an inch in width, so as to avoid unanticipated escapes. Caged coons can be especially volatile, so if you plan to go the trapping route, be sure to do your research and don’t skimp on the hardware.
  • Firearms – I’ll admit it, I like my shotgun too, but it is not the best weapon for this job—especially if you plan to salvage the pelt (read more below). Similarly, you should also avoid bows and arrows for smaller prey such as these. Rather, small caliber hunting rifles are the ideal firearms for a quick, clean dispatch.
Blurred man holding a rifle aimed at the camera

Pro tip: Outfitting your rifle with ammunition specific to varmints or predators is a surefire way to guarantee each bullet hits with maximal impact. Additionally, a specialized scope can help improve the accuracy of the kill, specifically when hunting at night.

Making the Perfect Shot

Like many pests their size, raccoons can be squirrely little targets, and all of the tools mentioned above should be seriously entertained, if you want to be successful in your pursuit. Assuming you are using a rifle as recommended, the best way to ensure an effective kill is to aim for either the head or the heart—two areas sure to cause lethal injury and the most humane way to dispatch a raccoon.

Which of the two you opt for is largely a matter of preference. Though the head makes for a smaller target, a headshot is most likely to stop the animal in its tracks, in the event you should need to take a second shot. Largely considered the cleanest and most humane way for killing a raccoon, the headshot is also the preferred method of most hunters.

If using a relatively powerful rifle (and the varmint cartridges), then a chest shot should do the trick just as well, provided the shot is a good one and there is no immediate risk of the animal making. The goal is, of course, to kill the animal as quickly and as humanely as possible. Knives are also an option, but generally not something we recommend, as the aggressive nature of a raccoon (especially when cornered or in pursuit of a mate) should not be underestimated.

Pelt Considerations

If you’re planning to skin the animal for its pelt, weapon choice becomes ever more important, since you will want to effect your kill as cleanly as possible to avoid destroying the raccoon’s hide. This is yet another reason to consider a headshot whenever possible. Though raccoon pelts don’t garner much these days in the way of dollars, they can make for exciting taxidermy displays or a fun cap for your kid.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot to consider when taking up the sport of raccoon hunting, but perhaps the most important thing to remember is to take note of the hunting restrictions in your area. As most of us can probably attest to, raccoons are a nuisance all year long, but it is only legal to shoot them for a short portion of the year.

If you are anxious to get started with the hunt, community boards often serve as a good source for finding potential hunting ground, since many people find a head-to-head showdown with a raccoon to be an unfavorable situation—and will even go to great lengths (and cost!) to have them removed or exterminated. Furthermore, raccoons exist nearly everywhere in the States and have a tendency to create disturbances everywhere they go, so it is only a matter of time before you are sure to encounter one, and when you do, you should now be amply prepared.

We Reviewed The Best Rated Tactical & Military Watches On The Market -Buyer Guide

With the speed technology is increasing, the amount of things watches can now do is actually insane.

With things like weather reports, storm alarms, GPS, and even an inbuilt flashlight, one of these could easily end up saving your life.

They go so much further than telling the time and they’re built to be indestructible.

But with them varying so much in their price, design, durability and what they can and can’t do, how do you choose the best military watch?

Well, I’ve spent the last week researching the hell out of them and made this list of the five best ones that are out there at the moment.

Check these guys out and you’ll definitely find one which is right for you…

Military Style Watches Comparison

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Our Favorite Molle & Tactical Backpacks [The Best Buyer Guide]

These days most backpacks break within a year. Either the bottom splits or the zip breaks off and gets stuck. You’re left with a useless bit of canvas and have to buy yourself a new bag, but which one to pick, how about one using the MOLLE system?

Well as with a lot of products the military has led the way in the best, durable, long-lasting and damn good quality packs out there. On top of that, they’ve made a simple but effective webbing system that lets you add on extra modules to the bag.

Our favorite and best MOLLE backpacks tend to be more comfortable to wear than other bags, they’re built to last and have loads of handy separate pockets and hideaways to keep your gear organized.

Molle Backpack Reviews & Comparison

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All There Is To Know About Gerber Survival Knives [Buyers Guide & Review]

If you’ve ever seen Bear Grylls on TV, you know that having a reliable knife that won’t break on you when you need it most is essential.

Gerber has been making reliable knives since 1939 and in that time have made a reputation for themselves as being a producer of the best survival knives money can buy, which is probably how the Bear Grylls Ultimate fixed blade knife came to be.

If you want a knife that’ll last you the rest of your life and that you can hand down to your kids in the future, these are a good lot to go for.

Best Gerber Knives Comparison

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Our Favorite Backpack for Survival – Guide For Prepping And Outdoors

A hike in the wilderness cannot match any other experience. It tests your limits, sharpens your senses, and gives you a new perspective on human relationships. My out-of-the-city escapes wouldn’t have been so memorable if I hadn’t had proper survival backpacks.

All experienced mountaineers agree it is a demanding task to find the ideal equipment. The offer is overwhelming and you must do your homework well before the grand purchase.

To spare you the torture caused by an inadequate product, we came up with a buying guide and reviews on the highest-rated outdoor bags. We included two pre-made BOBs for those who are not professional preppers yet.

Best Emergency Backpacks Comparison

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Best & Top Rated Anti Theft Backpacks [Best Features and Buying Guide]

Some of the best adventures start with grabbing a backpack, throwing a few essentials and hitting the road. Once you get on the train to the airport, that is when you start rummaging around for your passport and then realize that your zipper is open. It becomes clear that you have become a victim of a pickpocket in the flurry of the rush to get to the airport. You can save yourself from all these issues by investing in a quality anti-theft backpack.

Having one of these secure rucksacks give you the peace of mind that your valuables are safe. It also frees up your hands, because you do not have to keep holding on to the bag for dear life and you can confidently store it in carry-on compartments.

Let us get right into it, and have a closer look at some of the best secure, slash proof, waterproof, and lockable backpacks we managed to round up for you.

Secure Backpack Comparison

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Hunting Gear: Top Scar 17 Scopes – Complete Review And Guide

When your out hunting the last thing you want is to have to head home because it’s getting too dark.

Even worse is if you think you’ve spotted your prey, take your shot and then realize you’ve been mistaken and actually have shot another person.

An optic is one of the most necessary attachments any serious hunter can buy for better shooting, especially long range hunting. They address two key issues when hunting: safety and accuracy.

These accessories allow you to hunt at optimum times, keep your shots on target and increases the safety involved with hunting sports.

In this particular case I will help you choose optics for your Scar 17, which is one of the most widely-used rifles in the US Military and NATO. Scar 17s has many advantages over its brother, the Scar 16s. Mainly, they are much lighter and accurate than the 16s.

This rifle has a mag capacity of 10 or 20 rounds (though its round capacity can be expanded to a bigger magazine). With its standard 16-inch barrel, it can shoot nicely up to 600 yards. With a long barrel (a 20-inches barrel) you can get closer to the 1000 yard mark, as it can reach the 800 yards. You can use it at fully auto, or semi auto. Its semi-auto option is great for hunting.

But which one to buy?

The terminology around optics can be confusing and with the variety of options out there it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But they provide many necessary improvements for our pistol or battle rifle. I’ll help you to start your search and learn to choose the best optics for you to have an excellent hunting experience.

To make it easier I’ve given a brief overview of what sights do and what to look for when buying one for your arms.

In this blog post I’ve also reviewed the top 5 riflescopes for your FN SCAR 17 assault rifle that are currently on the market to help you pick the best one for you.

This choice will depend on what type of hunting you do, the guns you use and your own personal preference but I have to say I’ve slightly fallen in love with the Vortex Razor HD Gen II which for me, today, is the best optic for a Scar 17.

Scar 17 Optics Comparison

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Cooler Than YETI? We Find The Top Outdoors Brands For Ice Chests

The first refrigerators made their appearance in the late 1900’s. Half a century later, in 1951, the first patent was processed that condensed the power of the fridge into a portable icebox. Since then, the technology of the cooler has been refined to a point we can pull out an ice cold beer from a box after 7 days on a boat. These resilient ice chests have been coined with the term rotomolded. And, the company called Yeti had for years turned into the stable for reliability in this new order of the faithful icebox. Naturally, coolers like Yeti soon made their appearance. However, the competition on occasions followed the deceptive path of knock-off brands. That brings up the question, similarly with every product flooding the consumerism of our cities, how can you avoid the pitfalls of buying a knock-off brand its unreliability will make your writhe and raise your hands in the sky seeking validation you haven’t committed a crime in your past life?

Yeti Competitors Comparisons Table

Rotomolded Coolers

Soft Coolers

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Best Big Group 8 Person Tents For Camping And Outdoors -Comparison Review

8 person tents are great. They’re huge and you can fit all your buddies and your entire family into them. Great for when it starts raining so you don’t have to all split up and end the night.

I do know, however, that it can be hard to find the best one to buy with so many options out there.

There are lots of different factors that come into play that you need to consider and I’ve listed the most important ones below.

I’ve also made a list of 6 of the market leaders that are for sale at the moment. They’ve been picked for their value for money, reliability and market-leading quality. Enjoy…

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8 Person Camping Tent Reviews & Comparison

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Our Top Picks In Portable Air Conditioners For Camping -Review

More than often, you will choose to go out camping during super hot summer days. The weather is always unpredictable, and temperatures may shoot up to high extremes making it unbearable to enjoy your time inside a tent. With a  portable tent air conditioner, you can manage internal temperatures to maintain a comfortable camping experience. 

There are selections upon selections of tent ventilation systems available. The question would be, which A/C is worth your money and would get the job done right?  We decided to help take the heat out of it and compiled a list of 6 best tent air conditioner reviews. 

Camping Air Conditioner Comparison

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