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Did you know that the term “Bloodhound” comes from the dog's popularity with nobility and its pure breeding? In other words, they were named for their bloodlines and association with people who kept track of such things. The term Bloodhound for a hunting dog conjures up visions of an aggressive hunting dog going after prey. In fact, Bloodhounds are amazing hunting dogs because of their ability to scent and track prey, but they are not known for being particularly aggressive, and killing prey is usually up to the hunter.
When you use a Bloodhound to hunt raccoons you may need to be responsible for humanely killing the raccoon when your trusty Bloodhound locates it. Raccoons can be a real problem in populated areas where they have become pests, living off of human garbage and raiding pet food. Because raccoons can be aggressive towards people and pets and carry diseases that can pass to other animals, hunting them in rural areas where they have become a problem is often required. A Bloodhound that can locate and track raccoons by scent is a great tool to prevent overpopulation of animals that can result in injuries to humans or other animals, starvation from overpopulation, and spread of disease.
Young Bloodhounds can be trained to scent and track raccoons and get used to following raccoon trails in rural and wilderness areas over various terrains. Remember that raccoons can be aggressive, especially when cornered, so take precautions to ensure your Bloodhound does not become injured when hunting. A young, inexperienced dog is especially apt to move in too close and be bitten or clawed. The experience can be frightening for a young Bloodhound and turn him off hunting raccoons in the future. Because raccoons can climb trees and hide in small spaces, you will need to accustom your Bloodhound to searching out tree trunks and small spaces to locate these wily critters. You will want to make sure your Bloodhound listens to you when tracking raccoons--Bloodhounds can become very distracted by other scents when following trails. Obedience training and establishing firm directional commands for hunting is necessary for a successful hunt and to keep your dog safe.
It is advisable to work with, or get advice from others who hunt raccoons, and especially those that use Bloodhounds. Knowledge of local terrain and access to other dogs and handlers that can help with training is very valuable. Make sure your Bloodhound has good obedience and off-leash recall before working off-leash in open areas, so your dog does not become lost. Use of a GPS tracking collar, or working with your Bloodhound on a long leash may be advisable to prevent becoming separated from your dog. Make sure your dog is accustomed to the sound of a rifle before initiating hunting so he is not frightened and bolts or develops a negative association with the raccoon hunting experience.
The Scent Trails Method
Create a trail
Create a scent trail with a drag, treated with raccoon scent. Work backwards from a tree. Hang the drag item in the tree.
Let your dog find the trail
Take your Bloodhound to an area near the end of the trail, away from the drag item. Let your dog investigate the area and pick up the scent trail.
Encourage on trail
When your Bloodhound locates the trail, encourage him to follow, and accompany him along the trail.
When your Bloodhound finds the tree at the end of the trail, encourage him to look up the tree and see the drag item. Reward him with praise and a treat.
Gradually make the trails you create longer and more complex. Eventually you can start looking for actual trails in the wilderness.
The Live Raccoon Method
Put raccoon in rolling cage
Put a trapped raccoon in a rolling live trap or place the trap on a wagon.
Introduce your Bloodhound to the caged raccoon. Get your dog excited about the raccoon. Let him carefully investigate and smell through the cage.
Roll the cage
Roll the cage and have your Bloodhound trail and chase the raccoon in the cage.
Release the raccoon in an open area where the raccoon can eventually escape to a tree. Try to find a location that will allow a short chase before the raccoon trees up.
Allow dog to hunt the raccoon
Allow your Bloodhound to chase and tree the raccoon. Praise and encourage your dog. If legal to do so, shoot the raccoon, or if out of season, allow the raccoon to escape for another day. Once your Bloodhound is excited about the scent and sight of a raccoon, he will start looking and smelling for them in the future.
The Model Hunting Method
Introduce to a pack
Introduce your young Bloodhound to a pack of experienced raccoon hunting dogs. Allow them to socialize prior to the hunt.
Locate a trail
Take the raccoon hunting pack out into an area with raccoons and allow experienced dogs to locate a scent trail.
Hunt with pack
Allow your Bloodhound dog to scent and chase raccoons with the experienced dogs.
Recall and give your Bloodhound and the experienced dogs direction as necessary. Your dog will follow the pack and learn to associate commands and behaviors and be part of the pack.
Repeat until your Bloodhound becomes confident hunting. Take your dog out on solo trips as he becomes more experienced to reinforce and practice direction and commands when hunting.
By Laurie Haggart
Published: 02/09/2018, edited: 01/08/2021