The History Of Raccoon Hunting

 By: A. Romijn
Organized raccoon hunting has been around for ages, but although nobody can say that the beginning of the 20th century is when it all started, it is a certainty that during that period the popularity of this type of hunting boomed. Certainly, it is a significant part of the American tradition and heritage. Many fathers have spent lots of hours afield with their kids teaching them about hunting, gun etiquette, and respect of property, responsibility and conservation.

Even from its early days, coon hunting was practiced with dogs that were trained in hounds to hunt, trail and tree coons. The hounds were trained to search for the animal's scent and bark when finding a trail. Afterwards, the hound trails the raccoon, giving mouth as track dictates until the tree coon is in is found, or the raccoon is forced by the circumstances to refuge in a tree. Before World War II, competition among coonhound owners was limited to field trials. The dogs had to compete one against each other in water races, treeing contests and drag races, which are still very popular nowadays.

In the last decades, the populations of raccoons have gone up significantly due to the recent drop in fur prices because of the many activist groups' attacks on the industry. Over the years, the competition of coon hunting has grown significantly and now it is a multi-million dollar business every year. Coon hunting is considered by many a necessity because without it, the populations will grow to levels that cannot be managed, causing significant damages. As we mentioned before, the populations have went up significantly in the last period and now, professional snipers have to be hired in order to harvest deer and coyote due to the overpopulation.

Getting back to a more distant history, back in 19th century, the raccoon skins occasionally served as means of payment and sever thousand animals were killed annually in the United States. After the beginning of the 20th century, the number rose in a fast matter due to the reason that automobile coats became very popular. In the 1920s, wearing a coon coat was considered to be a status symbol among college students.

In 1946/1947, the seasonal hunt reached approximately one million animals and two million in 1962-1962/1963. The all-time high record was achieved in 1976/1977 with 5.2 million raccoons killed, and during the 80s, it ranged between 3.2 and 4.7 million. In the first period of the 90s, the seasonal raccoon hunt dropped to 0.9 million because of the decreasing pelt prices.

Another reason why raccoons were hunted by the Native Americans and the Americans was for food. More than that, a barbecued raccoon was a traditional food on American farms and most of the times it was considered to be a festive meal.

Nowadays, there are plenty of coon hunting groups, websites and organizations, but one of the oldest ones is the American Coon Hunters Association (ACHA). Formed in the 40s, it holds the longest running "World Hunt" in the sport of raccoon hunting dubbed "The ACHA World Championship". This year it will reach its 64th consecutive edition.
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