Raccoon calling makes for good fun: Patrick Hybertson

Patrick Hybertson
South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks

We are currently in the time of year that the fur quality on our local furbearers should be prime. One of these furbearers is the common raccoon. Fur prices are not the best this year. However, that does not mean a person cannot get out and partake in an uncommon, yet fun activity, calling raccoons.

Some of the equipment you would need is suitable camouflage for the environment you are in, an electronic caller or hand squaller, and an optional choice is a decoy to use with the callers. A decoy I use is a Mojo Critter 2 along with my Foxpro electronic caller. Definite additional equipment is a firearm. Rimfire firearms such as .22 long rifle, .22 magnum, .17 HMR, .17 WSM, or a 12-gauge shotgun are preferred. With proper shot placement and ammunition, these are effective at taking raccoons with minimal pelt damage. Other optional equipment choices would be a seat of some sort and shooting sticks (I use both).

Places I have called raccoon are abandoned buildings, brush piles, large trees with den holes, and even thick cover where they have a hole in the ground for in-field use and location. In regard to set up, you are trying to locate one of these denning sites and set up the caller on the backside/side of the hole you believe they would come out. The reason for this is to make them fully commit to coming out and investigating. That way when they are harvested, they fall to the ground and not back into the den. Should they fall back into the den, I would advise to attempt to retrieve the carcass so it does not spoil the denning site for future use. We also should place our decoy next to our caller so it gives them something to focus on and further draw their attention. This is very helpful in allowing you to move a little more freely without them looking at you and shying away. Stands overall should take five to ten minutes and focus should remain on one denning site and not blasting sounds for a whole area and spoiling it. Multiple stands can be made at a location if proper sites are present. Sunny winter days after a cold streak where there is a warmness to the air and before all the snow in a standard November work for when to go and seem to produce well.

Sounds that are used primarily are raccoon fight and raccoon pup distress. Otherwise, prey distress like woodpecker or other birds are nice too. If I play the sound continuously, and if they're interested, they come out immediately. You need to work them more with either sounds or the volume, which is typically at medium level and fluctuating based on the stand, if you see one peeking and not committing.

Overall, raccoon calling is an exhilarating experience that is fast paced and fun when the days are successful. I highly recommend it and wish you luck should you give it a shot.