Southern vs. Northern Summer Coon Hunting

EDITOR'S NOTE: Do you want more places to hunt and hope to cement relationships with farmers to be able to predator hunt more? Do you enjoy hunting during the summer and early fall? Then consider calling and hunting raccoons with a Johnny Stewart electronic caller.

Coons destroy millions of dollars worth of crops nationwide each year. Many farmers get crop depredation permits to have hunters take the raccoons destroying their crops. To become the friend of farmers by taking the raccoons on their lands this summer and fall, you need to know all you can about the varmint you'll be hunting.

Here's the latest research on raccoons. For the last decade, Dr. Bruce Leopold, a wildlife ecologist at Mississippi State University, has intensively studied carnivores, animals that eat other animals. Leopold has particularly studied the habits of the raccoon. In this special report, Leopold gives us some of the latest information that scientists have learned about the bandit eyes and how this information can enable us all to take more coons.

QUESTION: What about having a northern summer coon-hunting season?
ANSWER: I can't speak to that subject because most of the studies that I'm familiar with have been done in the South. Tennessee has just completed an excellent study, and other studies have been done in the Carolinas. Because the coon hunters in Mississippi have been wanting a summer coon-hunting season, they've asked for a study to show the state's conservation officials whether or not hunting coons during the summer months will have a detrimental effect on coon populations. This is the reason for our study and our trials.

Our preliminary results have shown that hunting coons during the summer months has no detrimental impact on coon populations in Mississippi. Because of the large amount of foliage in the summer, even if a coon hunter is tempted to take a coon, more than likely he won't be able to see the coon in the tree because there's so many leaves. Since dog coon hunters hunt at night, seeing and taking the coons is even made more difficult.

QUESTION: If you ruled the world, would you have a summer coon-hunting season and when would it be?
ANSWER: In many areas, I believe that coons could be hunted but not taken from July 1st for about six weeks through mid- August. Then we could close the season down until traditional coon-hunting season arrived. Our preliminary results showed that this would be the best season.

QUESTION: If you ruled the world, would you say there should be a possibility for hunting coons in the North during the summer months?
ANSWER: Perhaps a summer season for northern coon hunters where the coons aren't taken may be appropriate. However, you need to consider other factors. Coon populations in the North may not be as dense as they are in the South because of the severely restrictive winters this region has. The animals may be under more stress because of the hard winters than southern coons are, and they may not have as many young.

The coons are much younger during the summer months in the North than they are in the South. Therefore, hunting the coons in the summer months in the North may have a greater impact on coon populations than we see in the South. Because the South has milder winters, a higher reproductive rate and an earlier breeding season for the coons, the young coons are much more mature and much more able to escape the dogs into the trees in the South during the summer than they may be in the North. In the North with the breeding season being in May and June, the young may still be with the female in July and August, which means a summer hunting season may not be as appropriate.