- 3 Reasons To Raccoon Hunt | A Beginner’s Guide to Hunting Raccoons with Hounds
3 Reasons To Raccoon Hunt | A Beginner’s Guide to Hunting Raccoons with Hounds
By Steph Lane
So you think you want to be a raccoon hunter? Or maybe you're a skeptic like I was just a few years ago. Over the next few months, I will take you through a series of stories, how-to's, and good-to-know that I experienced firsthand while learning the ways of a raccoon hunter. I hope to support, educate, and encourage some of you on your journey with this often misunderstood pastime!
I have been trekking around in the woods most of my life. Chasing after anything with fur or feathers, raccoons, however, were not on my list. My thoughts at the time were, "well, I am not interested in eating them," "walking around in the dark sounds sketchy," and "how fun can looking for a raccoon be?" It took one hunt for me to see how wrong I was and fall in love with the chase and the hounds.
Why do people raccoon hunt anyhow? The tradition of raccoon hunting has been around and in practice for centuries. Historically hunters were after their pelts for warmth, money, or trade. Today, much like the tradition of hunting as a whole, the amount of hunters participating grows smaller. And from my experience, for those who raccoon hunt with hounds, it is sacred.
A Little Advice For Geting Started Raccoon Hunting
My first piece of advice would be to find someone who does it already and tag along. Ask questions, observe, and listen. Let the hunter, and the dog, teach you! You don't know what you don't know. You will be surprised by what you learn if you let yourself.
With access to a heavily wooded area and with a dash of time, patience, and practice, whether you wish to trap, use electronic calls, or get yourself a coonhound, you my friend, can find success in raccoon hunting!
The Basic Gear Setup For Raccoon Hunting with a Coonhound:
- A good hound or a friend with a good hound (Find a hunting buddy on GoWild)
- .22 caliber rifle
- Hip waders are preferred but a pair of comfortable boots are ideal for a long up or downhill stroll in the woods
- A can-do attitude will help!
Additional Gear Suggestion:
- GPS Tracking System makes getting lost a lot less likely and gives you eyes on your dog even from a long distance
Coonhound Breeds To Choose From
I was first introduced to raccoon hunting with a couple of treeing walker coonhounds, "Snitches" Get Stitches, and "Monster" Bawls. It was my first introduction to the breed, and I don't know if I could ever have another coonhound breed. But there are multiple breeds to choose from, and all of them have a place in the woods chasing and treeing raccoons!
There are seven breeds of coonhounds recognized by the United Kennel Club. The first recognized breed was the black and tan coonhound, registered in 1900. Other breeds include the red-bone coonhound, Treeing Walker coonhound, English coonhound, American Leopard hound, Bluetick coonhound, and Plott coonhound.
Fun fact, the Plott hound is the only one of the seven whose ancestry doesn't trace back to the Foxhound! We will discuss more on what makes all of these hounds special later in this series.
Why Should You Raccoon Hunt?
I can't say for sure what you may love about raccoon hunting would be the same reasoning as mine. Let me tell you what I love and why I think it's vital raccoon hunting stays alive, and then you can hit the woods and decide for yourself!
1. Raccoons are a major source of crop and egg layer nest destruction.
While raccoon populations are hardy, they are a big part of the declining numbers of pheasants and turkeys in some areas due to the accessibility of their nests and eating their eggs. An overpopulation of raccoons spreads diseases such as rabies, and their growing populations push them out to urban areas, sometimes causing a mess of issues.
2. Harvesting Raccoon Pelts & Eating Raccoon Meat
Although the price of fur has significantly declined over the years, there are still ways to utilize their pelts and sell them if that is of interest. And yes, you can eat them! There is an array of raccoon recipes online to give a try: tacos, barbecued raccoon, burgers, casserole and more!
3. Experiencing The Raccoon Woods at Night with Your Hound
There is something magical about the woods at night. You will hear things you have never heard and see things from a new perspective. The relationship between a handler and their hound, listening to the sounds they call out as they find a track or tree up a raccoon, communicating with us about their progress the whole hunt through. When everything falls into place, your hound barking every breath, and you shine that tree to see you have successfully found yourself a raccoon.
I have learned so much from becoming a raccoon hunter and met some incredible people and some amazing hounds. It has opened my eyes, changed my world, and it's made me a better woodsman.