Q: I have been using corn bait around my traps. In Illinois, it is illegal to use anything composed of mammal, bird, fish flesh, entrails, fur or feathers unless it is concealed completely from sight or 30 feet away from the trap. I am afraid meat would freeze in winter if it was concealed from sight. What would be some other baits for raccoons? — M.R., Illinois
Serge Lariviere Responds:
Raccoons love corn. However, I very seldom use corn for bait. For some reason, I have never had much success using corn, even fresh, for bait. It seems the ’coons know there is plenty of the stuff in the fields and don’t need to work to get a piece that has already started to dry out.
This being said, sweet baits rock. Near corn fields, or for ’coons used to feeding on corn, two baits really shine.
The first is marshmallows. Simple, cheap and almost too basic, but they work.
The second one I use most — because I can get it by the hundreds of pounds — is pastry scraps. Cakes, donuts and pastries that failed to make it to store shelves make outstanding bait that is available in huge quantities. In a pail set, I throw the equivalent of two cups in the pail and one cup outside of the pail. I want the ’coons to try the bait for free and then reach in for the rest of it.
I do the same with marshmallows, a handful in the back near the trap, and a few outside. The drawback of marshmallows is that squirrels and birds will pick them and carry them away. Cake scraps cannot be carried away.
Sweet baits also reduce non-target catches and, at least in box or pail sets, they outperform any meat baits in early season.
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