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Raccoon Hunting Questions

The purpose of this page is to ask technical questions about raccoon hunting.  Certain questions will be posted for discussion or input.  Example: where to find a certain hunting product.  Questions are sometimes answered by raccoon hunting veteran, Bob Rakow (see Raccoon Hunting Basics and Beyond ) and his son, Dr. Tom C. Rakow .  If you have a question, thought, or response to another question or thought, please fill out the form and click submit.

(Bob Rakow went to be with the Lord 8/22/98.)
We now have four pages!!  Make sure you read all four!!
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Jennifer   Do you have any idea where I could find a video of dogs tracking and treeing a raccoon?

Bob and Tom  Neither of us currently know about any such video (perhaps someone in cyberspace does!).

JOverton  There is a video called Coon and Squirrel. It is a great video and is very informative, as well as exciting (if you like coon and squirrel hunting which I assume you all do). You can probaly find it a large video rental store in the hunting section. I have rented this video many times and tried to buy it off them, but they won't sell it. If anyone knows where I can find one to buy, please post a message.

Joshua  Jennifer, There is a video hosted by Ken Tucker called the best of Coon and Squirrel hunting. A Five-Star video in my opinion.


R Hogan  Dale Chain has Coon Hunting on Mules and Competition Coon Hunting available through Nite Lite catelog 1-800-648-5483, also Mr. Bill Tinnin of Tinnin Lite in Inverness MS may be able to give you some information on a few videos they made a few years ago his phone number is 601-265-5900

crowngram  Can you hunt coon with a Dalmatian?

Bob  Although I have never hunted raccoon with a Dalmatian, I'm sure you could.  I have personally used bird dogs, shepherds, and Terriers (for more discussion on this topic, see "Raccoon Hunting Basics and Beyond" ).

Tom  The Dalmatian is classified as a non-sporting dog (e.g. others in this group include Poodles, the English Bulldog, Chow, and Boston Terrier).  However, the Dalmatian is very athletic, intelligent, and considered to be one of the more ancient breeds.  One thing to remember is that just because a dog belongs to a particular breed does not necessarily mean it will or will not excel in hunting.  Indeed, certain breeds may have traits, temperament, or a nose which makes training easier (e.g. a Golden Retriever will generally be much easier to train to fetch than will a hound).  Nevertheless, even certain hound breeds may look great (e.g. if they have been bred solely for show), but can be lacking those innate hunting abilities which are needed on a trail.  In our household, we have a young Dalmatian which, from my personal observation and experience, seems to have the nose and would probably work very well.

Will  response for >> crowngram <<  I haven't used a purebred dalmation for coons, but some friends and I use bluetick/dalmation crosses.  They're not fancy, but they certainly get the job done.

Joey  Anyone hunt hound crosses (all hound)?

Tom  A hound cross can work well - especially if both parents have good agility and exceptional hunting ability.  The temperament of a dog's offspring may also be tempered to a degree by crossing (as is also so by selective breeding within the same breed).  Furthermore, by crossing outside of the hound group, one can also produce dogs with extremely desireable hunting traits.  I especially remember a litter of pups that a particular Bluetick of mine produced.  I purposely had her bred with a terrier that we used for flushing pheasants.  From the perspective of trying to obtain offspring that were excellent hunters, this was a success.  In fact, for years afterward, I was told about the superior raccoon hunting skills of one of these crosses by an individual who got the dog at a very reasonable price.  He even requested to be on a waiting list if there were more from this pair.  The problem is that most people are hesitant to purchase a cross.  If you want to raise a replacement pup from your favorite hound (which just so happens to be a cross), you may have a difficult (or at least a harder) time finding good homes for the rest of the litter.  This was the case with the aforementioned pups.  Even though my dad (Bob) was known to have some of the very best coonhounds in that part of the country - people were hesitant to buy a cross.  I think most automatically assumed that such pups are a biological mistake - a litter of pups that were not planned.  Another fellow who bought a pup (also at too reasonable a price) was very pleased with the dog.  Nevertheless, he told me afterward he purchased the pup because he figured he might get lucky and get one of the pups that carried the hunting ability of the Blueticks for which Dad's dogs were known.  Basically, the point is this. For the pure joy of raccoon hunting - hound crosses can be tremendous.  But, with regard to resale value or producing replacement pups, there are some additional problems to be taken into consideration.  Namely, even total hound crosses are more difficult to sell at a price that will cover your expenses.  Furthermore, whether you start with a cross or a registered dog, you are certain to spend a significant amount of time training the dog - so be certain to start with the type of coonhound that you will be pleased with in the end.

Bob  Yes, you can hunt crossed hounds.  You should make sure they are not crossed with fox hounds or coyote hounds.  Beagles will work okay for coonhound crossing.  The nose is what counts for tracking.

Joe  I'd like to get a squirrel dog....  Could I go to the local humane society and put in my order for a hunting dog cross (such as Lab-Terrier or German Shepherd-Heinz57) and take my chances it will make a squirrel dog?  It doesn't have to be a pup.  I have raised and hunted with beagles and have tagged along on some coon hunts.  I love hounds, but cannot spend hours chasing after them or waiting hours for them to come back from chasing deer. I want a dog that hunts close in.

Tom  Picking a dog requires a great deal of committment on behalf of the owner (master).  Picking a dog to train should involve a number of factors.  Of course, a breed traditionally recognized for the type of hunting you plan on doing is normally a wise way to begin.  Hunting ability is vital.  I believe that it's also extremely important you select a dog that exhibits the kind of temperament you are able to work well with.  However, identifying and choosing such qualities in a canine comes with experience.  Furthermore, the distance that a dog ranges out needs to be kept in control by the owner.  I believe control in this area has more to do with training than with breed type.

Andy  Should I get a walker pup or a english pud or a bluetick?  Now be honest!

Tom  We really can't tell you what breed of dog to select.  Personally, I'm convinced that compatibility between dog and owner is crucial.  Some breeds have traits or temperaments that can make ownership more enjoyable or condusive.  Even within the same breed, dogs can vary greatly.  If possible, spend some time with a litter and see how the pups interact.  Pay special attention to alertness, not just cuteness.  I also pray!

Stacie  What exactly is a Nite Champion?

Tom  The American Kennel Club (AKC) sponsors various events for coonhound enthusiasts.  When dogs participate in these competitions, they are judged and awarded points according to a specific standard criteria.  According to the person I talked to at the American Kennel Club, to be an AKC Nite Champion the dog must win 100 AKC points with at least one first place in an AKC licensed Nite Hunt.  A Grand Champion Nite Hunt dog must win three first place wins as a Nite Champion in an AKC Nite Hunt.  To be an AKC Senior Grand Champion, the dog must win three first place wins as a Grand Champion.  To find out more about such events, we suggest that you contact the American Kennel Club or the United Kennel Club.  You can also find their sites on the web.

Red  Where can I find the complete rules for UKC, PKC, and AKC hunts?

Tom  We suggest that you personally contact these organizations.

old smokey  What are the rules on a coon hunt on the point system?  I've never been to a point scoring hunt, and I would like to know if I was being cheated on a friendly hunt.

Tom  We would suggest that you contact one of these organizations. Next time, if you have it in writing, the issue will be settled!

backstraps  How can I find the coon hunting hall of fame list or information.

Tom  Anyone in cyberspace have an idea?  Bob, my dad, thinks he belongs there!

Joe  I got a mt. curr for Christmas this year.  She was 7 months old when I got her.  I took her squirrel hunting everyday.  After I shot a few out on her she began finding them, but not barking.  I shot one out and it went into a hole.  She found it again and began digging it out she started barking.  I thought I finally got her to bark, but the next evening when we went hunting she would just run to the tree and just looked at the squirrel, but would not bark.  Any advice?

Tom  Your dog is still a pup and is learning.  However, you have already started giving your dog some valuable experience - but you need to be patient.  One thing you can do is to teach her to bark on command.  Do this by using a little bit of food and a sign (e.g. wiggle your finger while saying speak) and give her the food as soon as she barks.  In psychological terms this is referred to as controlled stimulus (CS) - controlled response (CR) or what is commonly called Positive Reinforcement.  The food is the CS, the barking is CR.  Then, the next time your dog sees a squirrel up a tree, get the dog barking.  When she does, praise her for this positive behavior.  In time, she will catch on!

Bob  He is pretty young to be taught alone.  If you can run him with another experienced dog, this will be helpful.  It takes a lot of coaxing at the tree and praise to get the dog to treeing and make him speak.

Jeff  What do you do to get a walker coonhound to bark at a coon or get interested in hunting them? He loves to hunt in woods, but has no interest in coon.

Bob  You should find someone with another good coonhound and run him with him and let him smell the coon if they catch one.  Or you could get a lead coon to get him interested.

Tom  Not knowing how old the dog is, I would remind you that some dogs develop at a slower pace.  Dad (Bob) mentioned a couple of ways.  Another possibility is to use a road kill (one found on the road) to introduce your dog to the scent.  Praise him verbally when he barks, etc.

Keith  I have a large raccoon skin I want to make a warm winter cap from.  Could you tell me how?

Bob  There are people who you can hire to make a coon hat from the hide or if you tan and line it and shape it, you might be able to make it fit your head.

Tom  Either a taxidermist, an individual who is a member of a rendezvous club, or a company (perhaps listed in the back of a hunting or trapping magazine) could help you out.  If you want to do it yourself, I recommend that you order some taxidermy catalogs from the advertisement section of hunting magazines and look for a book with illustrations at your local library.  This is how my wife and I made a bear rug awhile back.  It was alot of work, but it turned out fine.  We learned to appreciate the art of taxidermy and saved ourselves money.

Jeff  I need some advice on training my coonhound puppy.  I haven't started, but when I do, I want to do it right.

Bob  The pup should be at least eight or nine months old before you train him.  Find someone with a good coondog to let him run with and get trained.

Tom  A couple of key points of advice.

  1. Get your dog started on the right track.  Try and hit an area that has a heavy concentration of raccoon and therefore increase the odds that what your dog is running is raccon and not something else.
  2. Do what you can to keep your dog "straight"  A major concern for any dog owner is that their dog is chasing what they are supposed to be chasing.  A young dog needs to be kept in control and not allowed to get started running deer or some other critter that crosses the path.  Don't unnecessarily tempt your young dog (e.g. don't hunt an area you know will be loaded with deer - or hunt during the peak deer rut in your area).
  3. You could also subscibe to one of the coonhunting magazines.

Mike  I just got my first Walker pup.  He is five months old, and I would like to know if and how I can start training.  I live in Oregon so I can only legally run him on coon, but they could repeal the law against running dogs for bear and cougar.  Any advice I can receive would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!!!

Bob  You would have to be sure you are in coon country, rather than bear or cougar.  I suggest you find someone with a lead coon.

Chris  I am from Pennsylvania and I am 15 and just got into coonhunting last year.  I got a pup named Buster.  I have been working with him almost every day.  I have been dragging a dead coon around and then hang it up in the tree.  Buster will run on the track and tree it, but he won't bark on the trail.  When he trees it, he does not stop barking and the only way I can get him home is to drag it back to his dog box.  I was wondering if this is a good way to train and how do I get him to bark on the trail?

Bob  You have a good coon dog.  You will get more coon with a silent trailer as long as the dog trees.  Don't worry about him barking on trail.  Sounds like you are training your dog right.

Lee  I have a Bluetick pup and she is around 8 months old.  I have been running her with two other Blueticks who are both really good dogs.  However when we turn the dogs loose, MAX and SADIE (the two dogs that I am training with) head off into the woods and my dog (KATIE) will only follow them about 50 yards or so into the woods and then she comes right back to me.  She will wander around in the woods but rarely too far from the truck.  When the other dogs tree, KATIE will walk with us to find them and when we get to the tree she shows only minimal interest.  Sometimes I take KATIE by herself and drag a dead coon on a string and hang it in a tree.  She barks like crazy while she is still tied to the truck, but as soon as you let her go she hits the track and goes directly to the coon, but doesn't make a sound.  When she gets to the tree, she might look up a time or two, but then she seems to loose interest, or so it seems.  She comes from a great blood line so I know that it's in her.  My question to you is:
  1. How do I get her to go with the other dogs?  She is the only dog that I have so she doesn't have any contact with another dog other than hunting 2-3 nights a week.
  2. Do you think she is becoming too dependent on me?  Could that be why she keeps coming back to the truck?  Or do you think that she is still a little young and not quite ready to run with the big dogs.  Do you think I should board her with the other dogs so she will feel more attached to them?  Or will instinct just all of a sudden kick in and make her go?  That's what Troy (my hunting partner) says.

I am 18-years-old and new to this sport, but willing to do what it takes to make KATIE a good dog.  Your suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Tom  From our experience, your dog's behavior is quite normal.  It sounds to me like your dog is getting great experience.  While it is true that some dogs may be doing much more than yours at 8 months, your dog is still young and could (by coonhound standards) be clearly classified as a pup.  Be patient.  In fact, from my observation, the behavior exhibited by your dog would not be that uncommon for a young dog twice its age. You seem to have what it takes to make a good coonhunter.  Just be patient with your dog.

Bill  My father and I have gotten interested in this great sport of coon hunting.  We have a redbone male who is about 3.  He has done some treeing, but usually he has to be with another dog.  Once or twice he's done well on his own, but he's not real good about treeing by himself.  My father is wanting to get another dog and give up on this dog, but he has interest in the sport.  He stays gone with the other dogs and usually the last one back.  He tries his best I know.  My question is what do I need to develop his skills better?

Tom  Your dog might be on the very verge of really catching on.  Normally, a dog three years old is getting to the place where good training is finally starting to pay off.  Personally (assuming he has been on a significant number of runs and does not chase trash), I would not give up.  Hang in there!  Furthermore, your dog might actually be putting raccoons up, but you haven't realized it.  We found this out with a hound when we placed a bell on his collar.  Initially, the dog (which was about the age of yours) wasn't treeing on his own.  However, after following him by listening to where the sound of the bell led (and seemed to stay) we found the appropriate tree.  Eventually he got to treeing.

BJ  I have a couple year old "Buck Skin" Plott that I would like to make into a good coonhound.  His parents are all bearhounds, but very good ones!  I have worked with him some when he was younger with roll cages, drags, etc., but not as much as I really should.  I have hunted with him now by himself.  I like the way he hunts, but he doesn't ever trail anything unless he jumps it.  I haven't ever really seen him tree.  I don't know if I should give him more of a chance or get another dog.  I have become attached to the dog, he just doesn't seem that interested in coon.  I can only have one dog at a time, and I would like a good coonhound what should I do?

Tom  I'm not sure what your dog is actually "jumping."  However, assuming that the dog has not been running something besides raccoon, he still has time to catch on.  Even so, it is now vital to begin investing a significant amount of time in training.

Josh  I am sixteen and bought my first coon hound.  She is four months old and very smart.  If you can give me any tips, thanks a lot.

Tom  Congratulations on your first coon hound!  You can accomplish a lot by starting with a young dog. At four months, you will begin just getting to bond with your dog by playing with him/her.  I have personally found that it is very difficult to begin teaching basic obedience until around five months.  You can, but the dog's abilities are limited and your time investment is far greater, but this would be somethin that you will appreciate later on.  For example, when you call your dog in the woods, you will want him/her to come.  If your dog is heading for a busy road, it may even save your dog's life.  We would encourage you to keep checking into our Raccoon Hunting Questions site.  I know you would find our new booklet Raccoon Hunting Basics and Beyond to be a blessing in a number of areas with regard to training hints.  Again, congratulations on your dog - and keep checking back in for some additional insight on our Raccoon Hunting Questions site.

Ronnie  If you can't keep your dog that is more than capable of treeing a coon from getting skunks, should you woop him or just give him time to drop his habit?

Bob   Discipline can help break the habit, but only if you get him right away while he is on the skunk so he knows what he is getting disciplined for.  The smell goes with it - for you too.  We do not recommend hitting the dog.

Tom  If I remember correctly, every young dog that we ever trained eventually had a run-in with a skunk.  However, Mr. Skunk usually does a pretty powerful job of making this a very unpleasant experience (for both dog and owner!).  This is especially so if the dog gets a good shot in the mouth or eyes.  The dog sometimes vomits, rolls in the grass, etc.  Seldom will a dog take up tracking skunks full-time.  Perhaps, due to a memory lapse, you may periodically have a repeat performance of this behavior.

Racthet jaw  I am fourteen years old.  Can you give me some information on how to train my coon hounds?  I own a one-year-old Black and Tan coonhound and a seven-month-old Bluetick.

Bob  You can run them together, but my bet is on the Bluetick from experience with them (just kidding!).

Johnny King  Don't worry about the bluetick, it is still young enough to wait on hunting.
As for the black and tan dog, concentrate more on it.  One of the BEST dogs that I ever owned was a black and tan.  But at this time, I have a very good blue tick dog.  There is a good dog out of every breed of dogs.  Don't let the color of the dog blind your judgement.  In three months the black and tan should be well on his way, then start your
blue tick.  By then, it should be ready to start.  Good luck and good hunting.

Kevin  I am a bluetick man myself, but I now have a pair of redticks.  One is five years old and an excellent hound, but the other is younger and not as experienced.  The problem I'm having is red fox.  The older dog "Ruby  won't run a fox by herself, but when you run them together, if they strike him hot, they're gone.  I don't believe in the scents they sell in the store and was wondering if you had a remedy for this.

Tom  Don't run your normally "straight" dog with the other.  If you do, you are liable to have this one running fox regularly as well.  If your dog has been running fox for some time, it is going to be tough to stop.  The key is to curb this behavior in the initial stages.  The general tendency is that a dog that is running something other than it is supposed to will taint a good dog.  Not the other way around.  In our booklet Raccoon Hunting Basics and Beyond , although we discuss stopping deer running, the same principle applies.  Try to get between the dog and the deer (or in this case, red fox) while the dogs are on the trail.  Never over-discipline a dog, but you will need to be firm in letting your dog know such behavior is wrong.  It may mean ending the hunt immediately and putting the dog on the leash as a way of further reinforcing that such behavior is wrong.  Of course, you have to make sure that the dog is indeed running the wrong game.  This comes with experience - or actual observation.  Although we have never owned or used one - some hunters have found a shock collar helpful in stopping such bad behavior.  But again, don't let your normally "straight" dog get misdirected anymore.

Mike  I have a four-month-old pup and one day I was going to take him squirrel hunting and I noticed that she would not want anything to do with the gun in my hand.  So then I shot in the air to see if she was gun-shy and she got all nervous.  Is there anything I can do to break her from it?

Bob  Your dog is too young to be hunting.  Wait three or four months, then try him.

Tom  Four months is too young to expect a pup to do much of anything.  It is great experience to get a pup in the woods.  Your pup was probably startled by the noise.  However, it is never wise to shoot any weapon up in the air (bow, shotgun, rifle, anything!).  Afterall, what goes up, must come down!  A dog that is gunshy can normally be conditioned.  I would recommend tieing up a dog (not to your waist!) and target practice.  Begin with a small caliber rifle and over time you can work up to something louder.  That, coupled with your winning the dog's trust, will help the dog.

Danny  I am responding to the man whose dog is scared of his gun.  Wait until feeding time, feed your dog, and beat two loud pots or pans together, then move up to a 22 rifle because this is what you'll be hunting with.

Charles  I coonhunt in South Carolina.  My friend has some good Walker hounds and I go with them often.  I am interested in subscribing to a coonhunting magazine, but I do not know how to get an application or a subscription.  If you could please give me a number or address where I could find one.  Thank you!

Bob  You should try to find a subscription to Full Cry.  Usually it can be found in ads in the back of a sporting or hound magazine.  They have a website which can be found using a search engine.

Jen  Full Cry is great!  It is $20.00 per year or $37.00 for two years. (outside the U.S.A. is $8.00 per year extra).  The address is Full Cry, Box 10 Boody, IL 62514.  Good luck and hope you enjoy if you subscribe.  Happy Hunting.

lewis  The full cry is a good mag. but the american cooner is totally dedicated to the coon hunter. their address is american cooner  114 east franklin,  sesser,ill.62884  e-mail at  God Bless You.

Andy  Just a COONER checking you all out.  Some of your points of interest are very interesting.  Don't tree 'em all.

Bob  Always leave a few for the next guy.

Pip  I love your homepage.

Bob  I hunt cur dogs and really enjoy both coon and squirrel hunting.  I like any tree dog that can get treed and stay treed.  Thanks for this site.  Good Luck.  See you at the tree.

Tom  One of my favorite adolescent memories is squirrel hunting my one-eyed dog, Rover.  Another is fresh squirrel pie that my grandmother traditionally made.  Lord bless!

Mill Creek Rock  Very good.


Jen D.  Hello, how are you today? I am pretty good.  I have been raised around coon hunting for all my life, I am 23 yrs. old and from PA. My grandfather hunts, but he is getting up their in age and mostly watches and listens! Well he has 3 Cur pups, 1 for my son who is 6 and the other 2 for my nephews. The puppies are only 13 weeks old. I am looking for information about them, I have tried diffrent things on the computer and still have not found anything, do you or anyone else know any web sites?   I have never
heard of cur dogs! I am just curious to find a little bit about them! Oh, by the way, my pup's name is Pete.  I took him to the coon club my pap belongs to last Saturday.  After the big dogs got done with their treeing contest I took him over to the coon and he dug right in! His daddy is a grand night champion.  I hope he will be someday, too! This is my first coon dog I can call mine! The others were always my grandfather's. I hope my grandfather can see him hunt for the first time.  Well, I could talk to you forever, but it is supper time!    Take Care and happy hunting, Jen & Pete


coondog   Does anybody know how big the biggest wild coon was?  I've heard of some pretty big ones, but I was wondering if anyone knew.

Bob  The biggest I got in the wild was 45 pounds.  Anyone else?

rob  a response to the largest idont know if they get any bigger but i have one mouted
that weight 52lbs no joke

Katie  In North Carolina they are thinking about allowing coonhunting 24 hours a day.  Do you think this will take the sport of hunting?  From an ecological standpoint, do you think this will cause large population declines?

Tom  Because of raccoon's nocturnal habits, I don't think it would change much.

Jesse  How far does a coon run before it climbs a tree?

Bob  Good question!  It depends how close the dog gets to the coon as he has to go up to get away from the dog.  They sometimes go to a den instead of a tree.

Tricia  My husband would rather coonhunt than eat.  I finally talked him into us getting this computer, he said it would be of no use to him.  Boy, will he be surprised when he finds out about all the coonhunting info.  Anyhow, do you think that a coondog can also be a family pet or should it be isolated from being a "pet?"

Tom  Your husband sounds like my dad, Bob. If you don't believe me, ask his wife!  Good question, however, I see no reason why a coondog can't have a dual role.  Take for example the canines that accompany some police officers.  These dogs can be trained in such a way so as to be a household pet or to become very aggressive.  A possible downside to using the family pet to hunt coon would become obvious if your dog "bumped" into a skunk.  If the dog stays inside, you might be motivated to make temporary outside living arrangements for awhile!  A note for your husband. Enjoy your hunting, but keep things in balance.  Besides, the dogs sometimes need a rest - and your family needs you.  Lord bless!

Mason  I'm new to coon hunting and just bought a championship bred red tick.  She is 11 mos old and when I take her hunting she doesn't do much.  Should I be worried about how she is going to perform.  Also do I need to be worried about showing her to much affection, will this make her soft and not want to hunt?  Thank you for your time and response.

Tom  Coon hounds - even some of the finest - don't always catch on right away.  You might find a short "simulated hunt" to be highly helpful (see excerpt from Raccoon Hunting Basics and Beyond ).  Don't worry about showing your dog too much affection.  Unless, of course, you show affection at the expense of consistent training.  In dog training (any type of training), I've found that consistency is key (e.g. the dog needs to respond to your commands).  Actually, developing a close relationship with your with your red tick should help you be able to better read your dog's behavior.  Although our booklet won't have all the answers you need, you will benefit in having it as a resource.  Keep us informed how your dog progresses!

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