A Sure Fire Raccoon Trapping Solution

ferocious-raccoonFirst off, always “Know and obey your state game laws!”

We live in the Gulf Coast area and we have a huge population of raccoons; therefore livestock predation is a constant problem. In my case especially so, as a neighbor routinely puts out bags and bags of cracked corn on the ground outside his back door to attract the birds and deer he likes to watch in his dotage (I know I’m enjoying my dotage).

Our six acres are positioned on the outside edge of this very rural neighborhood. Since we’re between that neighbor and the deep woods, we’re therefore on the superhighway between the attractant and the nuisance critters’ dwellings. My neighbor is old and he’s in very poor health so I don’t confront him about this. I’ve pointed out that I could give him more fresh eggs if he would just desist, but he didn’t take the hint.

Due to the nature of my job, Marjory’s recommendation on her DVD to “get a farm dog” is not a good option for me. Though I have set up a comprehensive defense system, we still have catastrophic losses a couple times a year. Speaking about getting your first livestock on her DVD, Marjory succinctly mentions, “you will have losses.”

For newbs, allow me to describe what this might be like…

Just last Tuesday, a big predator broke through the multiple fences and other deterrents that I have set up, and murdered ten of my critters. Both of my last two ducks, three lovely young pullets that were just weeks away from starting to lay, plus five mature rabbits.

We had settled in for the evening, when over the soundtrack of a sci-fi movie, we heard a commotion in the back yard. I sprinted out the back door, with firearm in hand, to take in the scene. You dohave a gun-mounted light, don’t you? In the deep dark of night I saw flashing images of the carnage with blood everywhere. I took a few seconds to make sure I correctly understood what was going on… and then I could tell that the commotion I heard was coming from the chicken coop. Suffice it to say I got my rage on. Defending your livestock can be a sad and ugly business.

Poignantly, the male duck did not have a mark on him. His neck was stretched out through the fence that surrounds the veggie garden, as if to get away from the monster… or as if he’d hung himself. Either a heart attack, or grief for his shredded mate, did him in.

The point I’m trying to make is this: We homesteaders have serious predation problems and we need serious countermeasures that work around the clock.

raccoon-trapFor raccoons in particular, the best solution I have found is this simple trap here. While you’re at it, go ahead and pick up this “set tool” for another dollar. It’s much safer than using a screwdriver to set the trap, like I did for a few weeks.

The idea is that the raccoon can’t resist sticking its arm down inside the barrel, which sets off the trigger and causes the wire to clamp down on the coon’s arm.

I get it – this might seem terribly cruel to those of you who haven’t gone out in the morning to find your cute little baby turkeys and “wabbits” turned inside out. You might not get it… yet. Since the dawn of time there’s been an abject fury that farmers have felt when their livestock are attacked. I’m sorry, but all polite, civilized considerations are secondary. Perhaps one day you too will know that primal anger when your lovely little hand-raised chicken Henrietta is squawking in terror.

I have placed these traps in a perimeter circle around my livestock, and there are a few inside the first line of fencing. I can attest that they are rather easy to set up, easy to check, easy to use, and much more effective than the “havaheart” style. I have set these up right beside the “havaheart” and I would guess that they catch about 8 times more. Interestingly, I have never caught any other critters in these traps; they are perfect for an extremely targeted predator niche.

A few notes on using these traps:

1) Though these traps are relatively easy to deal with, be extremely careful when handling them. Never let children play with them. Train children about them like you would a firearm. Never, ever, put a finger inside the barrel of one of these traps.

2) You must anchor them in place with some sort of non-chewable thin chain or metal cable.

3) The best bait I’ve found is either some sort of canned fish (anchovy, herring, catfood, etc.) or sweets like marshmallows. I alternate baits and both of these seem to work equally well.

4) We get rain almost daily in the summer, so I cover these traps with a small plastic cover with holes on the side so the scent can drift. The small black plastic nursery nursery plant pots work fine for this. Any “customers” just knock the cover off and have at it. I imagine that they feel smug at their own cleverness for outwitting me… at least for a little while.

5) You must be diligent in keeping the traps baited and in good repair. I’ve had livestock losses whenever I have gotten lazy.

6) They rust. I haven’t painted mine yet – I’ll get to that one day; that’ll be chore number 6,783. I plan to try “Phos” coating on one to see how that works. A powder-coated option from the manufacturer would be a nice addition.

7) When they get rusty I use a tiny metal mill bastard file to clean the trigger surfaces that rub together, and then I put a dab of wheel bearing grease on them. This works nicely.

8) For you cat lovers, I have never once caught a cat.

9) For humanely dispatching the enemy I use a special .22 round called a “CB Long” and I favor those made by CCI. They are amazingly quiet; quieter than some pellet guns, and they sound like a tree branch breaking. By the way, they are powerful enough to take out armadillos as well. Alas, with the current .22 shortage, CB Longs are getting very hard to find.

10) Did I mention: Know and obey your state game laws!

Thanks to Cap’n Dave for participating in the [Grow] Network Writing Contest.

We have over $2,097 in prizes lined up for the Fall 2015 Writing Contest, including all of the following:

– A 21.5 quart pressure canner from All American, a $382 value
– A Survival Still emergency water purification still, a $288 value
– 1 free 1 year membership in the [Grow] Network Core Community, a $239 value
– A Worm Factory 360 vermicomposting system from Nature’s Footprint, a $128 value
– 2 large heirloom seed collections from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, valued at $103 each
– A Metro-Grower Elite sub-irrigation growing container from Nature’s Footprint, a $69 value
– 2 copies of the complete Home Grown Food Summit, valued at $67 each
– 3 free 3 month memberships in the [Grow] Network Core Community, valued at $59 each
– 4 copies of the Grow Your Own Groceries DVD video set, valued at $43 each
– A Bug Out Seed Kit from the Sustainable Seed Company, a $46 value
– 4 copies of the Alternatives To Dentists DVD video, valued at $33 each
– 4 copies of the Greenhouse of the Future DVD and eBook, valued at $31 each

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  • larry.foster says:

    I like those traps and plan to get a few. From 40 years ago, I have a lot of regular leg hold traps but can’t use them of out fear our kitty, Boots, would be re-named “Bootless.” Having lost 36 chickens in 2 nights a few years back as well as other lesser amounts after that, coons are on my most wanted list. Sardines are also an excellent bait.

    1. Cap'n Dave says:

      36 chickens in 2 nights! Wow. That’s a hit. I feel your pain.

      I often buy a stack of anchovy cans at COSTCO (As a “foodie,” I’m a sucker for an occasional homemade Sicilian pizza)….and I save a few anchovies from each can for bait. Works like a champ.

      Alas; these traps do not work at all for the myriad other predators we have to deal with: feral cats, dogs, foxes, skunks, etc.

  • Ramona says:

    Hi Dave, Good article. We don’t have livestock but we’ve had our share of raccoon problems! They have gotten in & took up residence in our garage a good 4 years in a row. Boy, do they STINK! The babies are cute granted, but they make such a mess. We’ve had to trap them & then do a way with them in the same manner as you. I think I will check into your trap. Thanks for the info.

    1. Cap'n Dave says:

      Thanks for the compliment, Ramona! I thought I was just replying directly to the one woman who had coons in her compost… I guess (Editor) Mike thought it worth sharing to all. (In which case I’d-a wrote it gooder.)

      The trap is inexpensive (around $15; I got a dozen and it was about $12 @) and it works very well indeed. I once had a week where we caught a coon-per-night for 5 nights in a row.

      I’d be sad if I trapped a Mom and orphaned some babies… but I’m sadder still when they murder my chicks. War is war, and there’s no negotiating with predators.

  • Robin says:

    Thank you Cap’n Dave. I use this same type (and brand) of trap (currently $17.50 at amazon, shipping included). I don’t about using a “set tool” or a screwdriver – I never even heard of that. I set mine by hand (despite wrists laced with tendinitis and arthritic knuckles). Bait and set is all done in under 5 seconds, not including anchoring it to something. I’ve been anchoring to the yellow birch tree they are destroying – it’s the first thing they devour after awakening from hibernation, stripping the bark several feet high. They also seem to like the limbs from the nearby balsam fir trees, but at least the firs survive.

    Anyone have a suggestion regarding the same attacks – by porcupines? Thank You

    1. Joyce Ann says:

      In Pa. you may dispatch them only if they are destroying crops etc… and you must dispose of them in a manor that keeps them from being dug up by pets or other wild life. You are not allowed to use the quills unless you have a license. We sat out in the yard with a shovel (I do not recommend this) and waited… she let us approach her, she turned but not to run… her large point covered tail was not in a retreat position… it is a weapon, we backed off, she pretended to leave then came back when she thought we had left… a .22 in the head was the end of the story. Since then we found out that a metal collar with the top curled outward would have kept her out of our pear tree… make it taller rather than smaller. It seems the “cracker barrel” bunch say the meat is so desirable that once a dog tastes it he will not worry about the quills and will do anything to get at the meat. They also say it is a vegetarian animal so you can eat the meat raw in a survival situation.

  • tom says:

    Where do you obtain these traps?

  • Meghan says:

    Golly! I had a hard time even reading about trapping the raccoon in those arm gripping traps! What cruelty! I don’t get this at all! I have 40 birds – chickens and ducks and I feed the local raccoons (lots of them!) and they’ve never once hurt my birds. All of my birds go into the hen house at dark and the coons can’t harm them. If you love your birds, you give them a wooden structure that the coons can’t get into. Humans can outsmart a coon without killing it.

    There is such a thing as peace with wildlife. I fence what I don’t want the deer to eat, I pen or lock into the house what I don’t want the coyotes to get, and I house the birds from the coons. I have lost a few straying cats to coyotes over the years, and it was sad but cats love to roam and I can’t always get them all back in at night. I enjoy watching the deer, flocks of wild turkeys, tons of raccoons and even the scrawny, haggard coyotes (from a distance) and I feed most of these critters too. I keep goats, chickens, ducks and many, many cats and dogs (too many to admit to).

    I’ve lived with all this wildlife (even a mountain lion was spotted once) on the edge of the Columbia River with my pets and livestock for 20 odd years and I’ve never had to trap or kill a single wild critter. I wanted to go rescue those poor coons from these nasty traps before this guy here could come out and shoot them! OH ICK!!! SOOOO not necessary!

    1. Joyce Ann says:

      When we choose to raise animals we should also remember to build the “wild life ” out or face the consequences. They are only doing what they should… hunting and eating and raising their young to do the same. This puts a lot of responsibility on us and it is best to start out by building our enclosures properly to protect all the little chickies and duckies. We put our children in a car seat put your chickies in a safe place too or you will have to share.

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