Raccoons are related to the bear family as visually seen by looking at its flat feet and various organs; although it’s bushy tail sets them apart along with its size and weight. Raccoons weigh in around 11 pounds for females and 17-25 pounds for males with recorded weights of 45 pounds. They are black and grey in color with a prominent black face mask.

The mating season takes place in the winter months and 63 days later a litter of 4-6 kits are usually born. Baby Raccoons make great pets, much like house cats with one down fall as they are quite mischievous. It should be noted though it is against the law to possess them and being a major carrier of rabies it is not a good idea to try to make pets out of them.

Raccoons are nocturnal, for the most part but can be found sunning themselves on warm days. Raccoons are fond of water and can be found anywhere around lakes, ponds and streams. Raccoons make their homes in large trees or holes in ledges or in cities in attics, cellars, chimneys, or any dark cool place.

Raccoons will eat the following foods, trout, catfish, crayfish, mussels, frogs, tadpoles when living near water. When not near water the staples are sweet corn, apples, nuts, mice, and any food source your trash can or dumpster will hold.

When scouting for Raccoons, you should check out any area where water is found. It is thought that a Raccoon has to wash anything it eats and it does appear to be that way. New studies say they are just playing with their food but I like the washing idea. Also along corn fields as Raccoons will wreck a farmer’s field in short order as soon as the corn matures.

As with all we trap look for tracks, scat and visible damage and be sure to talk with the landowners. They are there 24-7-365 and know what is there and where you can find them. A farmer loosing corn every night will welcome you with open arms to rid his property of these corn eating bandits. Also look around old woodchuck dens or fox holes for scat as a Raccoon will seldom poop where he sleeps. Any culverts or bridges should be checked closely as these are favorite run ways for Raccoon.

There are a variety of traps to use trapping Raccoon but you have to remember that although small in size pound for pound Raccoons are a strong animal. I would suggest nothing less than a number two longspring or double coil. I have caught Raccoon in 1s and 1 1/2s but only because they found my mink or muskrat traps before the mink and muskrat did. As with all trapping, swivels are a must as without them your trap chain will bind up and a Raccoon will wring out of a trap. Swivels are a cheap investment and will save the heartache of a sprung trap.

As with a variety of traps to use there is also a variety of sets to make. The sets consist of the following: artificial or natural bank hole, sand bar set, log set, stream bank set, water hole set, hollow log set, bait house set, overhanging stump or tree set, overhanging bait set, bridge abutment set, culvert set, guide stick set, land sets, dirt hole sets, hollow tree, log crossing sets, and whatever sets you can develop that will catch Raccoons. If I covered every set here it would turn into a book so I will spare you and just offer my two favorite sets.

Number one on my list is culvert set. As always permission is the first job to complete. A check with the local road foreman will usually get good results and will let the foreman know that there are traps there so if the culvert is slated for cleaning you will not be missing traps. Hopefully you have scouted and know that Raccoons are using this area to save time and energy.

With the culvert set I normally place a well staked number 2 longspring in the inlet end of the pipe. A couple of squirts of fish oil on the top of the pipe inside and you set is weather proof. If it is impossible to stake due to large rocks a well wired log drag will hold them in place or you can utilize one of the large rocks nearby.

My second favorite set is the hollow log set. Raccoon check out all hollow logs for possible food sources so a well staked number two inside the log with fish oil or a couple of sardines in oil tossed inside will work fine. These sets are nice as they remain weather proof and will save making resets due to inclement weather

I know I said I would tell you two but I have one more that piles up the Raccoon. Logs lying over streams are great places to set traps. Raccoon love water but will dry cross if at all possible. Raccoons remember where these crossings are and use them on a regular basis. To make this set simply chisel out notch that your trap will sit in on the top of the log. Bed the trap so it is somewhat solid and wire to the tree. If the water is deep enough leave enough wire so the Raccoon can reach the water and it will drown in short order.

Other traps to use are the Raccoon cuff type. These traps catch only Raccoon as the Raccoon has to reach in for the bait and the trap fires and catches them. Be sure they are secured as with the other traps. The egg trap is another trap to use where if nuisance trapping and you fear catching a domestic animal these traps eliminate these fears.

Now hopefully you have caught a Raccoon and it is very much alive. This is where caution kicks in. The Raccoon may be sound asleep but I can assure you it will not be for long. A caught Raccoon will tear you apart if given the opportunity. Let the Raccoon calm down and try to dispatch it by shooting it in the forehead with a 22 caliber gun. If shooting is not an option a snare pole will work by submerging it into deep water.

As I said before Raccoon are major carriers of rabies so if blood is present please be careful. Use of latex throw away gloves should protect you in this case. Wash the Raccoon off in the stream if available and then upon returning home hang to dry. Once dry Raccoons are case skinned as described in previous articles. If you plan on eating your catch, skin wet and hang fur side out to dry. The fur should be combed to remove any burrs or dirt. Once skinned place on the fleshing beam and remove all fat and meat. After a couple of days you will need to wipe the pelt as grease will develop. Once cleaned place on a #4 stretcher, fur side in and allow to dry. Use latex gloves for this whole process.

As for the carcass, cut into pieces and boil for twenty to thirty minutes or until the meat starts to leave the bone. Slice the meat into slices, roll in butter, toss in flour and fry until well done. I know, the thought of it is kind of ????????. But I tried it, and it is not that bad.

If you cannot belly up to the table, cut the Raccoon into chunks and use as bait for other parts of your trap line.


I hope you can get out this fall and spread some steel. It is just a nice way to spend some time outdoors and while trapping you can scout for the up-coming deer seasons.


As you read in the last issue, the hunting community lost another great friend. Dale Merrill of #9 Lakes Outfitters in Bridgewater, Maine lost his battle with cancer recently. I have known Dale for about five years and respected him deeply as a guide and a friend. The first time I spoke to him I hung up and told my wife it seems I have known him forever. For the last four years Dale and his wife Louise have opened their lodge up to a bunch of crazy Vermonters and we had fun. I received the call of Dale’s passing and it was like a kick in the gut. I asked myself why the good ones go so soon and clearly did not have an answer. We are all headed for this and I clearly hope when it is my time that St. Peter has the day off and St. Dale is there at the gates to meet me, with a stand ready for me to crawl into. My deepest condolences to Louise and family. For those who wish contributions can be made to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife, attn: Conservation Camp in Dales Memory. I will miss you Dale!!!!!

My traps are ready, the wood is cut, split and stacked, and the honey dew list is done so it will be a great fall. I have a lot of time off so I will trap until my heart is content. Keep your waders patched, your lures in the shed, and take a kid outdoors. See ya on the trap line.