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A Guide To Raccoon Hunting
Today’s raccoon hunter often uses more sophisticated gear. The gun is probably the same, but now often outfitted with a large-objective scope. The hunter will want waterproof footwear as always. But the carbide headlights are antiques now, replaced by more reliable lighting systems featuring long-lasting, rechargeable power systems and bulbs that last thousands of hours. Gun lights are available as well that fit on a rifle scope and allow the hunter to shine the coon and make pinpoint killing shots.
Hunters of yesteryear often spent days searching for a dog that strayed, but today’s coon hunter can use high-tech electronics such as radio-frequency or GPS tracking collars to pinpoint his dogs’ whereabouts up to several miles away. Some units actually allow the handler to know what a dog is doing by using behavior systems that are part of the collar. You can tell if a dog is moving or has stopped, if it is barking or if it has treed.
One other piece of equipment often used by coon hunters is a specialized caller known as the coon squaller. When the hunter doesn’t have a clear view of a treed raccoon, he blows the call to produce the raspy sounds of a fighting coon or coon in distress. This coaxes the raccoon to look down so its eyes are more easily seen, and sometimes brings a coon down a tree ready to fight.
Raccoons are common these days almost anywhere there are woods and water. So if you can find public lands where hunting is allowed or private property where you can gain permission to hunt, you shouldn’t have much trouble determining a good spot where you can turn your dogs out. Check season dates and regulations first to determine what’s legal where you hunt.
Some hunters train their hounds to range out in search of game while they sit and talk, and others train their dogs to hunt while they walk. Arguments can be made for both sides.
A hunting party using the range method will often choose a spot to sit and talk, build a campfire and let the dogs strike out on their own. The dogs may cover a lot of ground, so the hunters must be alert for distant barking and go to the hounds when they tree, no matter how far or how hard the going. Good coonhounds know their master will never desert them, never fool them, and that makes them stay at the tree. When that feeling of security is broken, the hunter can no longer be assured the dogs will stay. It is for this same reason hunters who train their dogs to range usually stay at their starting point unless the dogs tree. For if no coons are found, the dogs will return to the hunting party at that spot.
Hunters who walk with their dogs depend on their own knowledge in taking their dogs where coons are most plentiful and then remaining in territory where hunting is likely to be good. In this case, the handler must exercise some control over his hounds, keep in touch with them and hasten to the site when they have treed.
With either method, when the hunter arrives where the dogs have treed, that leg of the hunt comes to an end. For some hunters, there is no killing. When the eyes of the coon are seen, the hunter leaves the tree with his dogs in tow, and they find another coon to hunt. If the pelt and meat are desired, however, the coon is shot, and then the chase begins anew.
There is much more to be learned about coon hunting than we can cover here, of course. But the basics just presented should be enough to help you decide if you truly want to be a coon hunter, and if you do, to get you started. Should you take up the sport, there’s little doubt you’ll find it a most satisfying pastime that will bring many years of enjoyment.