use it. After digging the pocket, simply uncap the canister and push it into the mud near the entrance to the hole. It's OK if the raccoon can see it. They're curious enough to investigate something new or different along their normal route.
Before placing the trap, excavate a level "bed" about the same size as the trap at the entrance of the hole. Dig it deep enough so that the trap pan sits about an inch under the surface of the water.
Insert the short stake to the side of the hole at the water's edge. Place the long stake in at least 24 inches of water. Make sure the stakes are solidly in the ground. Place the trap firmly onto the bed at the hole entrance. Make sure it doesn't wobble. A wobbly trap will be dug out or flipped over by a curious or clever animal.
The last step is to place a stick about 8 to 12 inches long and about the diameter of your thumb into the mud next to the loose jaw on the set trap. This will both guide the animal's foot to the trap pan and protect the loose jaw from being prematurely lifted. When the raccoon steps on the trap, it will slide down the wire with the trap and drown within a couple of minutes.
It's a good idea to skin raccoons the same day you catch them. Raccoons should be "case" skinned, meaning that you leave the pelt whole, except for an incision running the inside length of the hind legs. The pelt can either be "finished" (fleshed and stretched on a wire frame or stretching board) at this point, or frozen "green" until ready for sale. The advantage of fleshing and stretching is that the pelts can be stored and shipped long distances without requiring refrigeration.
Marketing green pelts is much less labor intensive, and they can be sold locally to fur buyers or at fur auctions close to home. Some trappers have developed their own niche markets for tanned pelts as souvenirs, home decorations or materials for do-it-yourself garment manufacturers. Several "how-to" books on fur handling detail skinning and finishing methods for raw fur.
Except for a few hardy souls, the days are probably gone when one could make a living trapping. However, armed with a dozen traps, a little elbow grease, an adventurous spirit, and knowledge of the "pocket set," even a novice trapper can pay for his or her equipment, and even make a little profit.
Like hunting and fishing, trapping has seasons, rules and regulations that are specified in Missouri's Wildlife Code. Trappers are required to have a trapping license and to follow all rules governing the sport, including checking their traps daily.
Trapping often comes under fire from those who don't understand the important role it plays in the management of the state's wild animals. Trappers can improve their public image by employing selective, humane methods that reduce the chances of catching domestic and other non- target animals. When handling and transporting game, trappers should keep in mind that those who are not involved in the sport may feel uncomfortable at the sight of dead animals.