Learning to trap raccoons is more important today then it has ever been. Fur prices for raccoons are low, which means most experienced trappers don’t have much incentive to spend time and money trapping them. Without an annual thinning of the herd, there will be plenty of raccoons wreaking havoc on deer feeders, turkey and quail nests this spring, and around the house or hunt camp.
Step 1: Choosing The Trap
If you’re interested in thinning out the coon population in your area, then checkout these easy-to-set, dog-proof traps. I’ve used the Featherlite models from PCS Outdoors this fall, and I’ve successfully trapped a few coons.
Dog-proof traps are essentially a cylinder trap with a trigger mechanism in the bottom. When the trigger is pulled, a spring-loaded metal ring closes near the top of the cylinder, handcuffing the raccoon or opossum that stuck its hand down the trap. These traps are ideal for being placed near residential areas because they are far more selective than a leg-hold, snare or conibear that captures any animal that walk into or through the trap. Because raccoons are such curious critters, these traps are highly effective, too.
Step 2: Baits and Lures
There are a number of baits on the market that you can buy, but I simply use dry-dog food. The meaty smell is more than sufficient to tempt a hungry raccoon. I just steal some from the family-dog’s stash when I need to re-bait a trap.
I also use a call lure with my traps. John Chagnon, owner and maker of Lenon’s Raccoon Super All Call Lure, sent me some of his famous lure to use with the Featherlite traps. This is a strong, pungent smelling lure that a raccoon can smell from a long way off. It’s an enticing smell with food, essential oils and other attractants mixed in that raccoons find hard to resist. When a raccoon travels down wind of the lure, it sniffs its way to the setup. Once the raccoon arrives at the baited trap, it sees and smells the bait and begins to feed on it.
This fall I’ve been trapping around a game feeder that’s not far from my house, so that I’m able to check the traps daily. From late November through early January, I’ve caught six raccoons and one possum off of the same feeder. I place two traps at the feeder, each with dog food and a small dose of Lennon’s Call Lure, and I top each trap with a clear plastic Solo cup. The plastic cup accomplishes a couple of things. It keeps rain and moisture out of my traps which would make the dog food swell and ruin. It also keeps other critters like mice and rats from eating the bait. Lastly, it serves as eye-candy to the raccoons, which are naturally curious and want to investigate new things. You can also buy bright colored caps for the traps that do the same thing.
Step 3: Anchor Away
There are several methods used to anchor the traps. You can cable them directly to a tree, drive a disposable or chain stake in the ground, or use a drag system. The drag system works great around feeders because the trapped animal will wander away from the feeder before getting snagged on a tree or brush, allowing deer and turkeys to freely feed at the feeder site. It also gets a trapped raccoon out of the immediate area if you’re running multiple traps at a bait site. Believe it or not, a trapped raccoon will begin feeding on your other traps if its within reach. There’s no need to trap the same critter twice!
Step 4: Monitor Your Traps And Feeders
While dog-proof traps are highly effective, they can take some time to catch a raccoon, especially around a feeder. I have a Moultrie Mobile modem and Moultrie trail camera around my feeder. I have photo evidence of a new raccoon showing up to the feeder almost nightly while ignoring my traps. Then, two weeks later, the raccoon fed at my trap site and got caught. Sometimes it’s best to let your feeder run out of feed, or turn them off, to tempt the raccoon into your setup. Sometimes the raccoon gets bored of eating corn and goes for the bait. Other times a new raccoon moves into the area and skips the feeder and goes straight for the baited trap. The bottom line is it can take time, so set your traps where you can easily check them daily. Check your state laws to see how frequently you must check traps.
I’ve also had raccoons eat all my bait and not trip the trigger. I solved this problem by pouring a couple drops of syrup on the trigger or lacing the trigger with a little Lenon’s call lure to make the raccoon grab the trigger. That worked on two different raccoons this winter.
Regardless if you have problem raccoons around your feeders, home or hunt camp, or if you’re trying to reduce the population prior to turkey nesting in the spring, add some dog-proof raccoon traps to your arsenal. You won’t be disappointed.