By Bernie Barringer
A quick course in snaring raccoons from
a high-volume trapping expert.
The late 1970s through the 1980s has become known to fur harvesters as “the Fur Boom”. Back then raccoon fur was valuable and trappers targeted them at every creek and bridge. A guy who was willing to work his tail off could make a pretty good living trapping furbearers.
I made the majority of my family’s income trapping those raccoons, and to a lesser extent, fox, muskrat and mink. Of course, with good fur prices came aggressive competition, and I needed an edge to stay a step ahead of the hordes of part-timers, long-liners and coon hunters. So I developed a system for snaring coon before they ever got to the creeks where all my competitors set their traps.
A Simple Snaring System
Here’s how I succeeded when competition was fierce. My system employed a simple snare that was fast and efficient. It took about three years before other trappers caught on and my edge vanished. Until then, I piled up some impressive catches including as many as 60 coons in a single day and 200 in a six-day line.
By 1990, I started writing books about my methods and selling trapline instructions. To this day my 1993 book titled “Snaring in the Space Age” is still a best-selling trapping book and is available through several trapping supply dealers (though I no longer benefit from the sales, having sold all rights to it about a decade ago).
One positive aspect to snaring raccoon is the fact that anyone can do it. Any school kid with a handful of snares and the knowledge of how and where to set them can catch raccoons. So here’s my basic course in how to do it.
Four Tips About the Snare
- The best coon snare is made of 3/32-inch 7×7-strand galvanized aircraft cable. You can buy cable at any trapping supply dealer and make your own snares, or you can buy ready-made snares. It needs a swivel and it needs to be staked down solid.
- Do not depend on a strand or two of wire to hold your coon. You need several strands, or better yet, run your cable all the way to the stake. Caught raccoon will roll around and twist, and can occasionally twist wire right off.
- Set your snare in the trail with a loop about seven inches in diameter and about three inches off the ground. Any higher and coons will go right under the snare. If you ever have an opportunity to watch a coon walking or running, look closely at the position of his head and you will be surprised how close his chin is to the ground.
- Here is an important tip that I learned the hard way. Your snare will naturally form a teardrop shape, but you need to be careful not to allow the snare lock at the point of the teardrop to be at the top of the loop. Your snare should close quickly and smoothly, and if the lock is at the top, it will be knocked down by the wind or a deer stepping over it and brushing against it. To avoid this, set the lock at the 11:00 or 1:00 position. A raccoon or fox going through the snare will still pull it around themselves but it will not be knocked down by wind or non-target animals.
Location, Location, Location – Three Essentials to Raccoon Trapping with Snares
How do you find coon trails? Racoons make predictable movements from dens to feeding areas most every night, so it’s easy to find the trails that form between them.
- Water. Most feeding areas involve water, such as creeks, rivers, marshes and ponds. Search the perimeter of these areas and you will find signs of raccoons.
- Den sites. The best trees for coon dens are those that readily become hollow as they age such as silver maples, cottonwoods, oaks and sycamores. Besides tree cavities, coons often den in old barns, brushpiles, even old farm machinery in the woods. I have trapped literally thousands of coon that were living in abandoned farm groves and the old buildings they contain. But these old farms are being plowed under at an alarming rate and the wildlife that depend on them are becoming a thing of the past. If you find one, it can be a gold mine.
- Trails. It’s a simple matter to find the trails that connect the den sites with the feeding areas. Raccoon travel in loose groups, often family groups and if you only set one snare you are missing out. I use what I call gang-setting. If the trail is good enough for one snare it is good enough for three and maybe as many as five. Admittedly, that comes from the days of competition trapping when I felt I needed to get as many as possible as fast as possible before some other trapper, hound hunter or even a car tire got them.
Now, A Few Cautions For Raccoon Trapping By Snaring
Those are some basic ideas, but another important basic is that state snaring laws can vary widely, so do your diligence and make sure you trap in accordance with your state’s snaring laws.
- Some states require deer stops on snares which allow a deer to shake the snare off its leg.
- Some do not allow snares to be set in fences where the caught coon will hang in plain sight, creating a public-relations negative for trappers.
- Never set a snare in an area where the likelihood of catching a pet is high. Check your laws and be careful with any type of trap, snares included.
If you are snaring responsibly, you are using an effective and efficient way to catch raccoon. And it is a lot of fun too!
About Bernie Barringer
Bernie Barringer has been trapping since he was a kid, and hunts a variety of species in several states and Canadian provinces. He has published more than 400 articles in two dozen outdoor magazines and authored ten books on hunting, fishing and trapping. He is the managing editor of Bear Hunting Magazine, and blogs his hunts on his website www.bowhuntingroad.com.
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