Trapping Raccoon with Dog Proofs: The Basics
By: Tyson Andrews, Ohio Outdoor Journal Trapping Field Writer
Whether you love or hate the dog proof traps that have grew to extreme popularity in recent years, the fact that they will gain you access to more trapping ground still remains. Raccoon hot-spots that are close to city limits are often passed on due to the fear of capturing a non-target animal. Situations like this are where these traps really come in handy. DP’s don’t eliminate non-target catches all together, but I guarantee you will catch a lot less than you would with a traditional trap. When I say non-target, I’m referring to skunks and possums, not people’s pets.
I see multiple posts every single day on trapping websites where people are asking what the best bait is to use in your dog proofs, what brand of dog proof is the best, if the expensive traps are really worth the extra money, and what the best way to stake a dog proof trap is. I will give you my personal opinion on the brand later, but first I would like to talk about bait. I honestly believe that I could put anything with a mild scent in a dog proof trap and catch a good number of raccoon. Raccoon are actually very easy animals to catch, so keeping it simple and not overthinking can go a long way to increasing your harvest numbers. The one type of bait I would recommend to anyone would be a dry fish pellet or cat food based such as Adams Dry DP Bait. The reason why I prefer a dry-bait is because it does not freeze in the trap and render the trap itself useless when the temperature drops overnight. If the bait freezes inside of the trap, the trap probably is not going to fire.
When baiting the trap, I set it first then fill the tube with bait so that the inner-trigger is barely covered. When I look into the dog proof trap I want to see a very thin layer of bait over my trigger. I have found that this amount of bait works better than any other for me, but play around with it and see what works best for you.
Staking methods are very debatable when it comes to dog proof traps. I have personally used disposable stakes, rebar, and cable attached to a concrete cinder block in the bottom of a crick with nothing but positive results. There is really no need to go into great detail as far as staking is concerned, so just use what you’re comfortable with. The only note I would like to add is do not set a dog proof trap next to something the raccoon can get leverage on. A tree is a classic example of this. The animal will actually climb up the tree and pull out of the trap on occasion.
The good thing about dog proofs is that there are a good number to choose from. Z-Trap, Dukes, Grizz, Freedom Brand, and Daggers are among the top (I know I’m probably forgetting one or two). Most of these traps are priced pretty close to one another. Some traps come with a pull only trigger, which means the raccoon has to reach in and pull the trigger in order for the trap to fire. A push-pull trigger works both ways, just as the name states. I personally prefer the push pull trigger although I do catch a number of possums versus the pull only style. My favorite trap on the market is the Z-Trap. Although opinions do vary, and I would never claim that my preference is better, it is simply my preference.
Contrary to what many believe, the dog proof trap is not the single answer to catching huge numbers of raccoon. Are they easy? Yes. Are they expensive? Yes. Are they worth the extra money? Yes. As I stated above, they simply get me access to more areas, so I continue to use them. Without proper trap placement your chances of catching an animal go down. I like to set dog proof traps along crick banks where I can see sign (in or out of water), next to den trees, under culverts, and on heavily used trails. DO NOT be afraid to set multiple traps, as I have included a picture in this article with 9 raccoon all caught at once out of a dozen set traps. 3-4 Raccoon at a time has become a daily occurrence after I started setting more traps at each location, and doubles are almost a given.
I realize traditional methods of catching raccoon have been used successfully for many years, and still work just as good as they always have. Although, I also believe that with cities constantly growing into rural areas, dog proof raccoon traps may become increasingly popular for the next generation of trappers.
If anyone has any further questions please feel free to leave a comment below or email me at any time.