Coon hunting has been around since the beginning of hunting, but the sport has seemed to fall off the radar of recent. The population of coons is higher now than what they have been in many years. As a result of their high numbers, rabies is being spread, and the nests of birds and turtles are also feeling the impact of all these coons.
Raccoon hunting is unlike any other hunt you are used to. Raccoons are moving at night when they are active. That means when normal people are sleeping you will be out hunting. I say normal people, because there is nothing normal about a coon hunter. However, it is possible to call coons in during daylight hours, night hunting with hounds is the more popular choice.
I remember as a kid having supper with my family, filling up the coffee thermos, getting the dogs in their box, and heading to the woods. While other kids my age were getting ready for bed, I was close on my dads and grandpas heels, as we trudged through the darkness following the howling of our hounds. After a successful night of hunting we would head home and skin the coons for extra income. Those are memories I will never forget.
Unlike hunting other popular animals like deer, squirrel and rabbit where dogs are not necessarily needed, to be a successful coon hunter it is good to have a dog to tree the masked bandit.
Having a hound is one reason many people never get into coon hunting. They think the hounds are too hard to train, cost too much to feed, and that the price received for coon pelts is not worth their time. Also, buying a hound that is already trained is not an option for many hunters either. A trained hounded can fetch a premium price.
This is all a shame. Coons are good to eat, and hunters can actually make some extra income. Coon prices are not as high as they have been in recent years. But with the high numbers it is not hard to get five or six coon a night. That adds up over time to the dedicated coon hunter. The die-hard coon hunter does not hunt for the money though. They say it is the chase with the howling hounds that get them out at night. Some even compare the hounds howling to music in their ears.
There are several breeds of coonhounds, but the most popular are the Bluetick, Plott, Black and Tan, Redbone, Treeing Walker and American English coonhound.
The Bluetick gets its name from its coloration. This breed is well known for being able to trail and tree coons, and for its distinguishable bark.
Plotts’ are a strong dog that are used by a lot of bear and wild boar hunters. However, coon hunters are growing fond of them for their endurance and courage.
The All-American black and tan is one of the favorites among coon hunters. This breed will stay on the trail of a coon until the very end. For the hunter seeking a determined dog look no further than the black and tan.
The redbone is known for its ability to hunt and swim through anything. This dog is a good choice when looking for a hound that can trail a “cold” coon trail.
The favorite in my pack of hounds has to be the treeing Walker. The breed is perfect for tracking and treeing coons. All likes this dog’s competitiveness. It is an active, alert, brave and smart animal, never wanting to stop and always wanting to please.
Whatever breed you choose to hunt with is up to the individual. For best results when hunting more than one dog, try and stay with the same breed. They seem to work better together.
The equipment needed by the coon hunter is not extravagant. All that is needed is .22 caliber rifle, waterproof footwear and a powerful light to spot treed coons. Some hunters use a coon squaller call. When a coon is treed, but not within view, all a hunter has to do is blow on the call that reproduces the sound of a fighting coon. This will cause the coon to look down, making it easy to see his eyes.
Knowing where coon’s hangout is the beginning of a good hunt. I prefer to let my dogs out and run. Once the barking begins of a dog on the trail of a coon we follow the barking as close as we can. Often times we are far behind, unable to keep up with the running coons and hounds. When the cries of the hounds ring out that they have a coon treed we get there as soon as we can. At times we could be miles from the treed coon.
It is not uncommon to have two or more coons treed in the same tree. Coons often run in family groups. I have walked away with four coons shot out of the same tree. When making a killing shot on a coon, aim between the two glowing eyes of the coon. This is a quick and humane death every time.
Raccoon numbers are skyrocketing. If you can hunt public land or have permission to hunt private land you should have a successful hunt. Check season dates and make sure you have permission to hunt the ground you are on. It is possible to get on ground you don’t belong in the middle of the night.
Enjoy the hunt. Remember, that most normal people are at home under their warm blankets sleeping while you are out trudging through the thorns, water and cold temperatures.