How to Coon Hunt – The Anatomy of a Hunt

Here is a start to finish outline of how to coon hunt, covering the anatomy of a hunt and all of the steps involved. If it's all new to you, start here!

The air is cold, and the sun is dropping.  What should you do?

Go ‘Run One’!

One raccoon, that is.  Coon hunting is a fun sport that involves a person, a hound or two, and the wild outdoors.  Here are the basics of how to coon hunt!

When to Hunt

Most hunts will take place in the evening and overnight hours.  While many states leave raccoon season open all year, some limit it to specific dates.  Check season dates and permit restrictions with your state’s conservation department before heading out.

What You’ll Need

While there are many available supplies for raccoon hunters, you’ll want to start with the basics.  You can begin with as little as a bright flashlight or headlamp, a trained hound with a form of leash, a .22 caliber rifle, and any license or permit required by the state you intend to hunt in.  You will also want a pack to carry your furs or whole coons in.

It is likely you will need cold weather clothing, as most hunts take place in cold climates and after dusk.  Dressing in layers will help you combat dropping temperatures.  Waterproof boots and coveralls are also recommended, as you will be walking through damp conditions.

Raccoon hunters use trained hounds to locate raccoons.  You can choose to hunt with one or two dogs.  Each dog will need a strong leash and collar.  If you are hunting with two dogs, a coupler will help you handle both with one hand.  This will leave your other hand free to carry your rifle or flashlight.

Most coon hunters transport their dogs in a special box that fits in the back of a pickup.

Where to Hunt

First and foremost, you must seek the permission of the landowner if you intend to hunt on property that you do not own.

The most desirable spot to hunt has an abundance of hardwood, such as Maple, Oak, and Sycamore trees.  Prime property will also have a water source, such as a creek, pond, or river.  Avoid property near a town, highway, or other well traveled road.

Beginning the Hunt

Gather all of your equipment and load it into the truck.  Check the dog collars for wear, fraying, and loosen or tighten as necessary.  Load the dogs into the box.

When you arrive at your location, you should make sure that you are fully prepared.  Exit the vehicle and put on any remaining gear or clothing.  Test your lights and load your weapon.  You are now ready to get the dogs.

Open the dog box and grab the dogs very quickly, as they will be rearing to go.  Leash them up and start walking to the edge of the timber.  Point the dogs in the direction you intend to walk and unleash them while holding the collar.  Release your grip on the collar and let the dogs loose into the woods.  They should run into the woods with purpose.

After they are released, sit still and wait for them to bark.  When they start barking, they’ve located a coon. Determine which direction the dogs are barking and start walking towards the sound.  They will bark every time they smell the coon.  There will be gaps between the barks as the dogs trail the scent.  This will continue until the raccoon runs up a tree, or in the rare instance that they run into a hole.

The dog is now ‘treed’.  The bark will sound different when the dog has a coon trapped in a tree than it did while running.  The barking will become constant and come from the same location, because the dog will not leave the tree.

When you find the dog, you should leash it so that it doesn’t chase another coon and is close to the spot the coon should hit the ground.  Shine your light into the tree to find the coon.  You probably won’t see the coon itself, but cannot mistake its glowing yellow eyes.  If the moon is bright, it may be staring towards it.  Some hunters carry a call that emits a squall that attracts the coon’s attention.

Once you’ve spotted the eye, aim your rifle at it.  Shooting in the eye ensures a quick, clean kill.  Be quick to let the hound go, as it will be eager to get to the fallen raccoon.  If the coon is still alive when it hits the ground, the dog will finish it off.

Once the coon is dead, leash your dog to a nearby tree.  You may choose to skin the coon or place it in your pack.  You have now successfully killed your first coon.  You can choose to either go back to your truck or walk another hundred feet into the woods, release the hounds, and start another hunt.


And that is a summary of How to Coon Hunt.  In order to get hands on learning, find a Coon Hunting Club located near you, where people are happy to share their knowledge and years of experience.