MAKING RACCOON BAIT
By:Chris A.Berson (Trapper Dan)
Making your own trapping bait can be a very rewarding experience. There is no better feeling than seeing your hard work pay off. It was this feeling of success that led me to create and fine tune the raccoon bait that I have been using for years and that I have recently began selling. So what goes in to myraccoon bait and how did I decide to use those ingredients?
Being that raccoons are the target species, I first had to consider what they eat naturally. Raccoons are omnivores who eat anything from nuts and fruit to worms and small vertebrates. Urban Raccoons will eat just about anything they can scavenge, but I was after ingredients that can be found in their natural, non-urban habitat. I chose two common ingredients to form the base meat portion of the bait, Rats and a common bait fish called Shad.
The rats I use are obtained from trapping at residences in my area, as theyare abundant in Northeast Oklahoma where I live. Locals get their rats caught and I get free bait ingredients. Instead of throwing the rats away, as many do, I dispatch them and place them in a freezer whole. Once they are frozen solid and enough have been collected, they are chopped until they reach the desired size. Chopping the rats while they are frozen makes them easier to handle during the chopping process and creates less of a mess.
After the rats are chopped, the Shad need to be prepared. The Shad I use do not have the heads or tails on them, nor do the heads and tails go in to the bait. The product used is essentially a Shad fillet. I slice the Shad fillets into strips and small squares to aid in the distribution at the trap sets. I also leave the skin on them. Leaving the skin on them adds to the visual appeal. Raccoons will see moonlight glisten on the scales and will investigate it.
The chopped rats and the cut Shad are then combined with a third Shad ingredient, the Shad guts. The ratio in which they are mixed is 2 parts rat, 1 part cut shad, and 1 part Shad guts. At this point I add Clam Oil to the mix. Clam Oil is chosen as it is another common food that raccoons enjoy and is found in their natural enviroment. All these ingredients are then mixed to together.
The next ingredient is chosen not because it is found in the raccoon’s natural enviroment. It is chosen for its luring ability. This ingredient is Anise Essence Oil. Anise, or Aniseed, has a strong licorice type odor that draw raccoons in. Some say it smells like a black jelly bean.The plant seed used to make the oil is the same plant seeds used in non-trapping applications such as for culinary uses and in liquors like Jagermeister.
The next ingredient added is Muskrat Glands. This gland is also used in many other trapping baits to attract a varietyof species and works well with raccoons. Raccoons are attracted by the musky odor that the glands emit. It is this musky odor that give Muskrats their name.
The final ingredient added has nothing to do with the raccoon itself, but is very important. Sodium Benzoate is added as a preservative. It prevents the degradation of the product as it sits on shelves, during shipping and while being stored. Many trappers buy their baits well in advance of trapping season and will want a good product when it comes time to use it. With all the ingredients added, the bait is ready for use.
The bait has a visual appeal due to the scales and hair. It has a good fishy smell that raccoons love. The bait has a sweetness to it from the Anise, that will draw in a scavenging raccoon. Aside from the Anise and Sodium Benzoate, every ingredient can be found in the raccoon’s natural enviroment. Visual appeal, strong odors, and naturally occuring ingredients make this raccoon bait a success year after year.