Raccoons have been hunted for a long time, Native Americans were the first one who hunted this animal for their fur and meat. Nowadays, coon hunting is most usually associated with the rural parts of the Midwest and Southern United States. In modern days, every coon hunt is done with a coonhound, a special dog breed that dates back to the late 1800s.
Years of hunting didn’t bring down the population of raccoons until the Great Depression in the 1930s. That was when the extensive hunt even made them rare. However, thanks to the conservation efforts, mainly in the 50s, this animal became quite common again. The coon hunt reached its peak in popularity in the late 70s, but it faded by the early 90s. These days, there are regulations that restrict hunting seasons and daily game per hunter in order to preserve the coon population.
More About Coonhounds
The early coon hunting dogs were in fact foxhounds, but due to their flaws with hunting coons, breeders developed and trained special breeds. These dogs are released to the areas with increased raccoon activity.
They use their strong sense of smell to track a raccoon until they eventually “tree” it. Treeing is a successful outcome of a hunt where the raccoon ends up in a tree with the coonhound at its base.
Hunters can choose whether to follow the dog or not. Usually, they wait in the back until the dog “trees” a raccoon. During the hunt, they might use some sort of transportation like a horse, mule or an all-terrain vehicle. A prepared hunter will always have a headlight or at least flashlight with him to help him locate the coon.
To showcase the impressive abilities of their hounds, coon hunters also hold competition hunts. There’s even a Coonhunting World Championship, which is one of the most prestigious awards you can get in this sport.
Coon hunting was so popular that even books were written about it. The most famous ones being “Hound-Dog Man” and “Where the Red Fern Grows”. Many country songs with this thematic also show that it plays an important part in the American society.