Trapper & Predator Caller Field Editor Lance Homman
responds to a reader’s questions on calling raccoons
Q: I would like to get started on ’coon calling. I would like to use mouth-blown calls. What are the best calls? Do you change calls from early season to late season? When is the best time to call? — D.G., Wisconsin
Lance Homman Responds:
Calling raccoons is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting forms of predator calling available. Even better, the action is fast with little waiting. I know you’ll enjoy yourself.
As a matter of safety, I encourage hunters to use electronic calls whenever possible. Recognizing that the price of these calls can exceed some guys’ budgets, mouth calls are a viable alternative. But I strongly encourage you to be as alert, and as safe as possible because responding ’coons are coming to what they perceive as a fight rather than food or out of curiosity.
By the time they get to you, they’ll be pretty ramped up and looking to scrap with whoever or whatever is making those sounds. I’ve never had a coyote or bobcat try to attack me after responding to conventional predator calling, but I’ve seen numerous instances where responding ’coons spotted me or another gunner, redirected their course and charged directly at us while growling and popping their teeth. Hunt with a partner, if possible, for the extra set of eyes.
As far as the type of call you should use, several of the big name call manufacturers and vendors offer raccoon squallers and ’coon calls.
Try to find one that will produce higher pitched kitten ’coon distress sounds, and another that cranks out the growly, gravelly roars of a mature boar or sow.
You and your partner could try calling at the same time to simulate two ’coons in a fight to the death, or a single ’coon working over a bird in distress. If by yourself, try a single juvenile ’coon chattering and purring. The former will usually elicit an aggressive response, while bird distress, purring and chattering triggers what we call “looky loos” and slow shows.
Because the woods are full of young ’coons during the early season, we often rely more on less aggressive and non-confrontational sounds in the early season. Overly aggressive sounds will tend to force immature ’coons deeper into the den trees rather than compelling them to step out to see what’s going on. At the same time, a good sound to use in the early season is that aforementioned ’coon-over-bird distress sound, or chattering ’coon kittens, both of which can be reproduced by a team of callers with some practice and experimentation.
In the late season, as breeding season approaches, ’coons become much more territorial and aggressive, thereby making the very basis for calling ’coons — their love of a good fight — even more relevant. Agitated boar raccoon growls or the sound of an enraged sow protecting her litter will both often trigger explosive responses from den trees and abandoned buildings where ’coons tend to gather to stay warm and mingle.
In my state, we cannot call at night with artificial light, so we’re limited to daytime calling. Because we are fur harvesters, ’coons are just one species that we call and take each year.
Generally speaking, we hunt coyotes and bobcats the first few hours of the day. Then, when the winds make coyote hunting difficult or the temperatures warm up a bit, we switch out guns and head to the river bends, where we target ’coons during the midday until coyote hunting conditions improve.
With this system, we’ve effectively turned the otherwise less productive midday period into a fur harvesting bonanza by taking as many as five to seven extra pelts during a time when we otherwise would have gotten nothing.
Even if you don’t have an electronic caller, you can still manage a few raccoons called in each season. Where and how you get that done in your area will be a matter of personal effort and experimentation. Pick up a couple of calls and try a variety of different approaches until you find a technique that works for you.
Most importantly, hunt safe and have fun.
Lance Homman, of central Kansas, is a Trapper & Predator Caller field editor.
The new ICOtec GC300 call is an affordable and effective electronic predator call. And the best news for potential ‘coon callers is that the GC300 features a Raccoon Baby Distress sound that will bring in raccoons from every direction when it starts blaring through the speaker.