By Josh Boyd
Raccoons are about as outwardly curious of an animal as has ever existed. From trash cans to creek banks, a raccoon will scavenge for food virtually anywhere that sustenance can be found. They also have a widely diverse range of taste; with there being very little that they will not eat that won’t eat them first.
This ferocious appetite and nondiscriminatory feeding regimen lends itself well to those who wish to trap this masked bandit. A wide array of trap sets can be employed to catch raccoons, both on land and by waterway. All of these individual methods yield their own successes when utilized in the context of how raccoons move about the property that is being trapped.
The following are some highly effective, time tested trap sets for putting more raccoon pelts in your fur shed this season.
The Bucket Set
If you are looking for a quick, easy set to make, or are looking to make several effective raccoon sets in a time-efficient manner, the bucket set is one that should be in your arsenal. Raccoons have a curiosity level that far exceeds even that of a child. Even the simplest of visual or olfactory cues can coax a raccoon into your trap. This is where the bucket set shines.
A bucket set is made by placing a conibear trap into the opening of a bucket, with bait being positioned in the depths of the bucket. The bucket is laid on its side, creating a trap outlined tunnel that an unsuspecting raccoon must pass through to reach the bait.
When selecting a bucket for use, those of the square construction are of great value. The square design does not allow a raccoon to roll the bucket as easily as they could when a round bucket is used. Once your bucket is located, notches 2” in depth and 1⁄4” in width are made in opposite walls of the bucket’s opening. The springs of your set conibear are then slid into these notches.
As far as trap size selection goes, #160 and #220 conibears are typically the go-to traps for a bucket set. Both can be utilized efficiently, although where possible, a #160 is advised due to a reduction in the rate of non-target catches. It is very important to mention that care should be taken to only place bucket sets in locations where there is no reasonable chance of encountering domestic pets. This is because conibears are lethal traps and discretion is a must.
Dirt Hole Set
Although many trappers think of the dirt hole set as a widely popular means of catching coyote and fox, the dirt hole set can be a highly effective tool for catching raccoons in numbers. Once again, the natural curiosity of a raccoon makes it vulnerable to such a set as they investigate anything new within their surroundings with little hesitancy.
The dirt hole set is constructed by digging a small hole, no more than a few inches in diameter, at the base of a clump of grass or another similar backing. The hole will extend downward at an angle that ensures that a raccoon cannot peer into the hole from behind the backing. After digging this hole to a depth of approximately 8 inches, you will place your trap.
The most commonly used trap for raccoons when making a dirt hole set is a #1.5 coil spring. You will dig a trap bed in a location that is approximately 3-5 inches in front of your previously dug hole. When seating your trap, you must ensure that no wobble exists in the bed and that it sits level with, or slightly below the ground’s surface. Your trap can be staked in the bed, beneath the trap itself.
Once your trap is set, staked, and placed in its bed, use an optional pan cover if desired and begin covering the trap. This can be accomplished with the use of a sifter to ensure that you have even, debris-free coverage. Bait is then placed in the hole to entice passing raccoons.
A pocket set is arguably the most highly utilized of all water sets for raccoons. The truth is, raccoons cannot stand to pass by a hole in a river or creek bank without giving it a second look. This is why a pocket set makes such a magnificent choice when trapping raccoons at the water’s edge.
A pocket set is constructed by digging a 4-6 inch wide by 12-inch deep hole into the bank of a creek or river just above the waterline. Bait is then placed in the back of this hole, and a trap is submerged in the water just in front of the hole, at a depth of approximately 1 inch.
#1.5 coil spring traps are an excellent fit when constructing a pocket set for raccoons. Your traps can either be securely staked at the bank, tied off with suitable gauge cable and anchors, or be wired with cable to deeper water. This not only makes the pocket set highly effective, but versatile as well.
Proper Bait Selection
The list of items that a raccoon will eat is easily longer than those that it will not. For this reason, selecting bait for your raccoon trapping endeavors is seldom very difficult. The two most commonly utilized categories of bait for raccoons are sweet bait and fish-based bait. Both have their place and are highly attractive to raccoons.
Tuna, mackerel, sardines, and fish scraps are excellent fish-based bait options that many trappers utilize yearly. If going the sweet bait route, honey buns, vanilla wafers, marshmallows, and peanut butter all make welcome additions to your raccoon trapping bait stockpile. Alternatively, some individuals have found great success with the use of dry dog food.
Catching Ring-Tailed Bandits
Not only do these sets get the job done, but also they are easily replicated by most any detail-oriented trapper in a matter of just a few minutes. By utilizing one or more of these sets this season, you will be well on your way to having a fur shed full of raccoon pelts to put up this winter.