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The Raccoon


Although allied to the Bear family, this animal possesses much

in common with the fox, as regards its general disposition and

character. It has the same slyness and cunning, the same stealthy

tread, besides an additional mischievousness and greed. It is too

common to need any description here, being found plentifully throughout

nearly the whole United States. The bushy tail, with its dark rings,

will be sufficient to i
entify the animal in any community. Raccoon

hunts form the subject of many very exciting and laughable stories,

and a coon chase, to this day is a favorite sport all over the

country. The raccoon, or coon, as he is popularly styled, is

generally hunted by moonlight. An experienced dog is usually set

on the trail and the fugitive soon seeks refuge in a tree, when

its destruction is almost certain. Hence the term treed coon, as

applied to an individual when in a dangerous predicament. Besides

possessing many of the peculiarities of the fox, the coon has

the additional accomplishment of being a most agile and expert

climber, holding so firmly to the limb by its sharp claws as to

defy all attempts to shake it off.

The home of the raccoon is generally in a hollow tree; the young

are brought forth in May, and are from four to six in number.

In captivity this animal makes a very cunning and interesting pet,

being easily tamed to follow its master, and when dainties are in

view becomes a most adroit pickpocket. Its food is extensive in

variety, thus making it quite an easy matter to keep the creature

in confinement. Nuts and fruits of all kinds it eagerly devours,

as well as bread, cake and potatoes. It manifests no hesitation

at a meal of rabbit, rat, squirrel, or bird, and rather likes it

for a change, and when he can partake of a dessert of honey or

molasses his enjoyment knows no bounds. Frogs, fresh water clams,

green corn, and a host of other delicacies come within the range

of his diet, and he may sometimes be seen digging from the sand

the eggs of the soft-shelled turtle, which he greedily sucks. We

cordially recommend the coon as a pet. He becomes very docile,

and is full of cunning ways, and if the young ones can be traced

to their hiding-place in some hollow tree, and secured, if not

too young, we could warrant our readers a great deal of real

sport and pleasure in rearing the little animals and watching their


In cold climates the raccoon lies dormant in the winter, only venturing

out on occasional mild days; but in the Southern States he is active

throughout the year, prowling about by day and by night in search

of his food, inserting his little sharp nose into every corner,

and feeling with his slender paws between stones for spiders and

bugs of all kinds. He spies the innocent frog with his head just

out of the water, and pouncing upon him, he despatches him without

a moment's warning. There seems to be no limits to his rapacity, for

he is always eating and always hungry. The print of the raccoon's

paw in the mud or snow is easily recognized, much resembling the

impression made by the foot of a babe.

The best season for trapping the coon is late in the fall, winter,

and early spring, or from and between the months of October and

April. During this time the pelts are in excellent condition. Early

in the spring when the snow is disappearing, the coons come out

of their hiding places to start on their foraging tours; and at

this time are particularly susceptible to a tempting bait, and

they may be successfully trapped in the following manner:--

Take a steel trap and set it on the edge of some pool, or stream

where the coons are known to frequent: let it be an inch

or so under the water, and carefully chained to a clog. The bait

may consist of a fish, frog, or head of a fowl, scented with Oil

of Anise, and suspended over the traps about two feet higher, by

the aid of a sapling secured in the ground. (See title page at

the head of this section.) The object of this is to induce the

animal to jump for it, when he will land with his foot in the trap.

Another method is to construct a V shaped pen set the trap near

the entrance, and, fastening the bait in the angle, cover the trap

loosely with leaves, and scent the bait as before with the anise.

The trap should be at such a distance from the bait that the animal,

in order to reach it, will be obliged to tread upon the pan, which

he will be sure to do, his greed overcoming his discretion. Any

arrangement whereby the animal will be obliged to tread upon the

trap in order to reach the bait will be successful.

The beaten track of the coons may often be discovered in soft ground,

and a trap carefully concealed therein will soon secure its victim.

Another method is to set the trap near the coon tracks, spreading a

few drops of anise on the pan and covering the whole with leaves.

The coon, attracted by the scent, will feel around in the leaves for

the bait, and thus put his foot in it.

In the South they construct a coon trap from a hollow log, either

having the ends supplied with lids, which fall just like the Rat

trap page 100 as the animal passes through, or else constructed

with nooses, similar to the Box-snare, page 56. Box traps of a

style similar to that described on page 103 are also excellent, and

a strong twitch-up, of any of the various kinds we have described,

will be found to work admirably.

Many of the suggestions in trapping the mink, page 190, will be

found equally, serviceable in regard to the coon.

The skin of this animal should be removed as recommended for the

fox, and similarly stretched. It may also be skinned by first ripping

up the belly, and spread on a hoop stretcher. page 275.