A lot of raccoons are shot with airguns while raiding trashcans, pillaging the hen house, or making a general nuisance of themselves, and in fact this is an application for which airguns excel. A well placed pellet from higher powered .22 at reasonable range is strong medicine for these tenacious and tough animals. And raccoon pest control often takes place in settings where the ability to be quiet and limit the range is advantageous.
I also take a few every year when out hunting other quarry, these opportunistic shots can happen when you’re in the field at daybreak or dusk as these are the times when coons are starting or ending their foraging for the night. Several times over the last few years I’ve been out before daybreak squirrel hunting, and as I used my binoculars to glass the surrounding woods have spotted a raccoon high up in the trees. The moderately powerful guns in .22 or .25 caliber that I use for small game are fine for even a big old boar coon at 35-40 yards, so long as the pellet lands a clean brain shot. I find a heavy round nose pellet delivers good penetration and hits with authority. Last year I took coons with the Marauder .22 and .25, the FX Verminator .22 and .25, the Daystate Wolverine .22, the FX Gladiator .25 and several others in the 30-60 fpe range, as well as a few with springers such as the Nitro Piston .25.
But my preference is not shooting them over the trash can or walking up on them by chance, but rather to go out with an e-caller and the intent to lure them to me in full-on predator mode! This is the most exciting way to take them; depending on the time of year a raccoon fight series can bring a coon charging in at a full run. Another call that’s worked well for me is a woodpecker or rodent distress. Hunting at either dusk or dawn I’ll find a den tree and set up at 50 or 60 yards and drop the call about 40 yards from the tree then start calling. A lot of hunters have no idea how aggressively a coon will close on prey, I’ve had a few just about run up my leg when using a mouth blown call!
My hunting kit includes several e-callers that I use for predator and crow hunting, but my all around favorite is the Foxpro, there is an extensive sound library and lots of sounds that can be downloaded, there is plenty of volume, and the sound fidelity is great. I’ve used mouth blown calls, but it’s logistically less convenient (especially when lamping), not to mention I prefer having the sound source further away from my person. The first time I had a raccoon charge me while is was sitting on my backside using a mouth call, I almost ended up with a bandit jumping in my lap. Believe me, that 20 lb coon looked like a texas hog at eye level!
When hunting at night, we’ll set up along the borders of mown corn fields, using the same call sequences mentioned before. Using either a scope mounted light or with a partner using a handheld light to sweep the field, the bouncing glow of eyes bounding towards you is the sign to get ready! For this type of hunting I prefer the mid bore guns, as the ability to reach out further and to take body shots will up the hunters success rate. I’ve been using guns in the .30’s generating between 80-150 fpe which gives the option of head, broadside, or quartering chest shots. I’m anxiously waiting for the FX Boss to arrive on my doorstep, as on the range I postulated the outstanding accuracy, moderate power, and high shot count will make this an ideal option on raccoon.
In my opinion the raccoon is the best quarry for the air gun hunter just starting on predators; the populations are high in most of the country, the seasons long, they respond aggressively to the call, you don’t have to have a specialized gun if you pick your shots wisely, and is a great way to get fur in the truck!