Raccoon Pockets

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Published on: Oct. 2, 2002

Last revision: Nov. 12, 2010

pets, poultry and small livestock and have the potential to spread diseases, such as canine distemper and rabies.

Raccoon Pockets

How do you entice an animal that has a home range of up to 10 square miles to place its foot in the area of 4 or 5 square inches? One answer is to create a a simple, yet effective "pocket" set. To make a pocket set, all you have to do is excavate a hole 15 to 18 inches deep in a steep bank at the water's edge. The hole simulates a muskrat burrow or an animal's food cache. Make the hole 6 to 8 inches wide (about the width of the trap) and about 8 to 12 inches tall. Try to cut the hole so that a couple of inches of water pools in the bottom. Place bait (more about this later) at the back of the hole, then place a set trap at the hole entrance. In soft prairie soils, you can construct a pocket set in just a few minutes with a steel rod or a small spade or trowel.

Employed properly, the pocket set effectively catches furbearers that frequent the water. While the primary purpose of my pocket sets is to catch raccoons, the set might also yield muskrat, beaver, mink or river otter.

Set Locations

Unlike muskrats and beavers, which spend most of their lives in the water, raccoons are not truly "aquatic." They are land animals that often visit water. Largely nocturnal, they leave distinctive tracks in the mud at the water's edge and well-beaten trails along the banks. They are omnivorous and leave distinctively shaped scat composed of undigested berries, grains, hair, fish parts or other foods.

You will often find raccoon sign in timbered areas along creeks adjacent crop fields and other food sources. Small draws and feeder creeks dissecting agricultural fields provide ideal travel lanes. Look along the banks for well beaten trails that occasionally dip down to the water. A good place to put a pocket set is at the upstream or downstream end of a sandbar where the contour of the bank forces the trail to the water. Logs, rootwads, bridge abutments and other obstacles can also force the trail into the water, creating good places to construct a pocket set.


Standard equipment for a raccoon trap line includes traps, pliable wire, pliers, a hatchet, waders, shoulder-length

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