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A few weeks ago, I wrote a little bit about hunting, and hunting for meat, and how much of a spiritual experience hunting has become for me. There were quite a few comments on that article about our readers’ desire for recipes for wild game, something I’m very excited about putting together. The really interesting thing I saw was a few comments in reference to a casual comment I made about eating what I kill save for the occasional raccoon. There were a couple jokes about, “Why not raccoons too?” Which got me thinking . . .

Raccoons are about the size of a large rabbit and live a somewhat similar existence hopping around the forest, though the raccoon diet is definitely omnivorous. Hunting raccoons is easily accomplished by going to the nearest watering hole at night and waiting for them to come by to snag frogs, minnows, and small fish. They can also be found in trees picking off grubs and various insects.

As such, their meat and composition (likely) has a different taste than your typical herbivore like deer, rabbits, and squirrels. Most folks are fine trying venison, rabbit, and squirrels, but mention a raccoon or opossum and you’ll likely get a firm, “NO!” Maybe it has to do with the fact that they eat other animals, though I’d guess your average naysayer doesn’t stop to consider it. If I had to guess, most city dwellers have had a raccoon knock over and root through their trashcans, and as such, they don’t want to eat “trash” animals.

But run a cursory google search for “cooking raccoon” and there’s plenty of content out there. And while everyone admits that it seems to be an acquired taste, the recipes that I found seem to be delicious. The first I found from the Kansas City Star in January 2009, entitled, “The Other Dark Meat: Raccoon is Making it to the Table.” The KC Star indicates that it’s a unique flavor for sure, but ultimately was pretty good. Like all meat, there will be constant debate about dry rub vs. sauced, steaming vs. smoking vs. oven. I found the following recipes for inspiration.

  • This one gives an overview of the unregulated sale of raccoon meat, mostly by fur trappers who end up with a lot of leftover carcasses. It indicates that the best results are seen by parboiling for 2 hours followed by a braise.
  • Serious Eats covers the “how to” of cooking a raccoon down south. It seems to indicate that a you should start with a vinegar soak, generous seasoning followed by a 30 minute pressure cooker soak, and then a few hours in the oven with more seasoning and sweet potatoes.
  • Cooks.com has a pretty comprehensive list of raccoon recipes which seem to all agree that low and slow is the best way to go. One of them, Raccoon in Sour Cream sounds like a real winner.
  • Lastly, Backwoods Bound has some seriously good looking recipes for the outdoor enthusiast.

Full disclosure, I’ve never cooked or eaten a ‘coon, but from my reading it appears that a pre-cook soak of some type will be necessary. One of the recipes suggested a vinegar soak though I think you’d be equally served by brining the ‘coon. Alton Brown has a good brine formula that I’ve modified a bit over the years. I normally just use brown sugar, kosher salt, and cracked pepper in mine. I’d recommend that as a good start for any wild game critters. After brining, it seems most recipes advocate a parboil of up to 2 hours followed by further cooking in the oven or on the grill.

I’m headed out to the ranch for opening weekend the first of November, and I’ll try my best to bag a raccoon to try out some of these recipes. And by that, I mean that Nick might be moving away from his nearly 100% Whataburger diet. I’m hoping he likes roasted raccoon with sweet potatoes.

70 Responses to Hunting: What To Do With a ‘Coon

  1. I have had coon and I can assure that until the grocery stores close for Zombie Apocalypse I will find other eats. Until I was recently introduced to the Chinese delicacy jellyfish I couldn’t imagine a worse tasting meal.

    • Jellyfish prepared right (generally a salad-type arrangement with thinnest strips, salted and liberally soaked in vinegar, sesame oil, garlic and chilis) can be quite tasty though it won’t be what I reach for first.

      • The only cooked ‘coons I ever saw were the ones on Rte. 220 between Daleville and Fincastle that had been roasting in the sun for a few days.

      • I love me some sea urchin sashimi!

        I might try raccoon… I can’t imagine anything tasting worse than duck.

        • My mama said she tried to roast a duck once, she not only threw it out after it was done, she threw the pan away too.

        • It is like the recipe for Coot. Big pot of boiling salted water, lots of good veggies, bring to a boil and let simmer several hours until all ingredients are done. Then throw it all out of the nearest window and eat the socks you were wearing when you shot them miserable birds.

        • Oh, yea, people screw up ducks and geese all the time! And the things I see people do to venison is enough to make you cry.

    • Yeah, raccoon would be a good survival meat in the Z-Apoc. High protein, high fat content.

      Just depends on how hungry you get …

  2. ‘Coon: it’s what’s for dinner.

    Doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? Do tell how it goes. Both y’all may be on whattaburger after this.

    • That sounds more like something that would have old Jesse Jackson appearing on your front lawn than a dinner slogan.

  3. . Hunting raccoons is easily accomplished by going to the nearest trash can at night and waiting for them to come by and letting them enter the can and putting a lid on it.

  4. I tell you, you have not lived until you have had bobcat backstrap grilled on the bbq! Most unique mild flavor ever.

  5. Raccoons are about the size of a large rabbit and live a somewhat similar existence hopping around the forest, Raccoons in Indiana are much larger than rabbits, are very intelligent, and can manipulate objects in their “hands” very well. Raccoons do not hop like rabbits and are much slower, but are excellent climbers.

    • the coons in fort wayne get to be the size of medium dogs and will fuck your shit up hahahaha. you’d need something centerfire to take one and drop it. i remember waiting for the bus in high school and one lumbered across our yard. my little brother freaked out thinking it was a bear.

    • ‘Size of rabbit” The Racoons here in Kommiefornia’s Sillykoin Valley are the size of a medium friggin’ dog. 15 – 20 pounds. Rule of thumb here is leave them alone because they will get nasty. Being Kommiefornia, any form of defense is frowned upon.

    • Raccoon story time.

      Warning, this is not a pretty story. In fact its kind of grizzly.

      My friend is a rancher. Every day he fills the back of a beat up pickup with molasses coated grain and heads out to the field to give the cattle a snack, this draws them in so he can get a head count, check for injuries or illness, etc… Naturally, when he returns for the evening there are leftover bits of grain in the pickup bed. He parks it in an open Quonset and calls it a day. The Quonset stays open because long ago a tornado ripped off the door. Since the Quonset still does what it needs to do in rural Kansas, it was never considered broke. I guess. Anyway…

      Whenever I visit to hunt deer or turkey I stay in the old stone house for the night, right next to the Quonset. Right around midnight, all the guys get their bows or 10/22’s ready and sneak out to the Quonset to help the owner get rid of the raccoons that are perpetually raiding his grain. The pickup draws them like flies. Occasionally it will even draw a skunk. But that’s a different story.

      One particular evening, my hunting buddy and I had three newbie hunters with us. All three had been practicing with their bows and had become proficient at hitting paper, but had never drawn on a live target before. Knowing we would likely see a raccoon or two or three, we kept the guys awake until midnight, at which point the hunt began. Five of us readied, we flipped on the big light outside the Quonset and exposed two very large raccoons. Looking annoyed, they begrudgingly climbed out of the pickup and made their way to the escape route, around the side of the Quonset. Hurried they were not.

      Now, before I go on, let me elaborate a little. Normally, we only see medium sized raccoons, and maybe even a baby or two. These guys were on the larger side, though, probably around 20 pounds each. This worried me a tad, because experience has shown me a raccoon is roughly as tough as a human that is 10X its weight. But then, what could go wrong? 5 adult males armed with compound bows and 100 grain broadheads should never feel threatened by a couple fuzzballs like these. Right?

      My hunting buddy and I encouraged the other three to maneuver for a good shot, and shwip! an arrow flew center mass into the leading raccoon… who stood up, arrow lodged in his chest, turned to look at his attacker and hissed a loud and menacing hiss. He then got back down on all fours and sauntered casually into the black, looking very annoyed that there was an arrow in his chest. This is not what I expected. The newbie who shot him looked at me and said something like, “Did I do it wrong? I thought bows were powerful enough to kill, you know, big things. Why isn’t it dead?’ To which I replied something like, “Oh you did everything right except I asked you to shoot the raccoon, not the demon thing that was with the raccoon. I hope you sleep well tonight. Prayer isn’t a bad idea. Also, you better start thinking about how you’re gonna get that arrow back.” Which is what I was thinking about… How the hell are we gonna get that arrow back without getting an arm chewed off?…

      But I didn’t have much time to dwell on that. The other raccoon, the one bringing up the rear in the two-raccoon/demon parade, saw all the commotion with the first raccoon and bolted up the nearest tree. We watched him disappear almost completely in that tree, but being the curious critter that he was, he just had to poke his head above a “Y” in the main trunk about 15 feet up, revealing a very clean opportunity for a head shot at roughly 10 yards… an easy shot.

      Since my hunting buddy was brave enough to follow the first demon possessed coon into the brush with the owner of the arrow, I gave my attention to the other two newbies. One of them was ready to give the treed coon a mouthful of steel and carbon fiber. There was plenty of light, and my newbie was ready for the shot, so I told him to fire. He released the arrow straight into the eye of the second raccoon, and out the back of the skull… Where it was lodged… To the genuine annoyance of the raccoon, who turned toward the shooter and hissed in a very menacing tone. The raccoon then went steadily to work attempting to remove the shaft from his head.

      Yes, the first raccoon was possessed by Satan. The second raccoon was possessed by the brother of Satan.

      Suddenly wanting this to come to a very swift end, I loaded up and arrow and sent it into the treed raccoon, center mass.

      Pause for a moment… perhaps you have an older brother or a friend that, sometime during your childhood, shot you with a bb gun? Do you remember how it hurt like blazes, and suddenly all you wanted in the whole world was to punish your brother some way, somehow? That is kinda how this raccoon reacted to my arrow that was lodged in his lungs… No, it did not pass through either. Aparently his body was made of oak. And he was pissed. Two arrows stuck in him, he looked at ME with one good eye and pitched a hiss fit that made me break out in a cold sweat.

      The newbs were getting uncomfortable at this point, and rightly so. They were under the impression that a 60 pound bow throwing a carbon fiber arrow at 315 feet per second with a broadhead that left a wound with a 1″ diameter trailing through all the tissue in its path was enough to bring down a 200 pound deer… So why not a 20 pound pest? Of course, I was uncomfortable for the same reason. These raccoons must have crawled out of the basement of that house in Amityville… they were not right. Right?

      We had to end it. Another arrow… and another arrow. Four arrows and the coon finally fell from his perch, still trying to take the first arrow out of his eye. By this time my hunting buddy had gone in the house to retrieve his 45, had dispatched the first one, and was only waiting for the second one to fall from the tree so he could safely end the ordeal while the animal was on the ground. We retrieved the arrows, but not the broadheads; they were ruined by the toughness of the animals. The pelts were ruined, too, by all the holes we made trying to bring these beasts down.

      I wrote this story (it is true to my memory) to illustrate the hardiness of these little animals, and to highlight the respect a person needs to have when encountering one. They are willing to walk away from a confrontation, and that is probably for the best, so let the little demons disappear into the night. Hopefully you will never need to put an arrow in one. It can be a rather grizzly ordeal.

      ALSO… I can’t eat these things. I refuse to eat demon meat.

      • So you got off easy is what you are saying cause hand to hand combat with an injured coon thats PO’d is a whole lot more INVIGORATING!

        Once my buddy and I were rabbit hunting down one of the ever present farm ditch creeks in Indiana. My buddy, all 6’5″ 260lbs at 17 yrs old was walking down one side and I the other!

        All of a sudden I hear quite the racket from where my buddy was and I see his shotgun flying in the air, him beating a retreat up the side of the ditch, and one of the largest racoons I have ever seen beating feet down the side of the ditch!

        Now you have to understand, see my buddy was an all state lineman who in practice took it to 2 big farm boys that ended up starters as sophmores on offensive lines in the Big Ten, so wasnt much he was scared of in this world!

        i cross the creek and here is my big buddy, eyes big as dinner plates and when I ask whatsamatter and why didnt you shoot that sob, he points to his pants leg!

        My buddy was wearing garhart insulated coveralls, and the one lower leg, where he had stepped on that massive, sleeping racoon, was shredded almost through to the inner insulation!

        My buddy had stepped on that coon, which promptly rolled over and went all edward scissorhands on my buddy’s pant leg and did so in the less than 15 seconds we figured he had that racoon pinned down!

        I never let him live that down, LOL!

  6. Yee ha…I haven’t seen any raccoons lately.(south of Chicago).Had a ‘possum wander into my garage. Squirrel aplenty. And a gazillion bunnies. I don’t think I’d want raccoon unless I was starving 🙂

    • I was chasing a golf ball in the rough at Lost Marsh in August when I disturbed one that was napping. It was big and unhappy with me. I had forgotten I could move that quickly.

  7. On the farm we treated raccoons the same as possums. We shot any we found near the chickens. We didn’t eat them. That’s what the chickens were for.

    Most of the old timers I knew that actively hunted coons did it for the hides. I went on a couple of night hunts with hounds. Part of my education as a hillbilly.

    • Shot em or trapped em in Indiana growing up, got several near the 30lb mark that were monster citified coons that were expert dumpster divers behind the restraunts in town!

      Them we used a crossbow with a lead thumper head on the bolt, hit em in the ribs and then a ball bat to the head. A few lakes in the northern part of the state with lots of summer cabins were uh DEFROCKED of their coons during christmas break as no self respecting coon could pass up a can of tuna when the campers werent there, LOL! Since coons went from $15 to $35 ea at the time we didnt hesitate!

      Of course trapping em was easy as they cant pass up a cut apple either, #2 leg hold tied to a cinder block on the edge of drop off in the creek, where a limb hung out over the water, tie the apple just out of their reach and put a circle of traps around the apple getting 3 or 4 a day wasnt unusual as soon as they got caught, they always went and dragged into deeper water and drowned, would get muskrat that way once in awhile also, but those were runway or floating rest sets! 4 years trapping and calling in fox netted me over $10,000 as a kid which was big money then!

  8. “They can also be found in trees picking off grubs and various insects”

    Or breaking into your deer stand and shitting on everything.

    • Some of them chewed through the roof of my parents’ house about 10 years ago while my folks were gone for the winter. Then they chewed through the ceiling. Made a hell of a mess in the house, not counting the water that got in. Plus they crapped all over the place.

  9. The all time classic recipe:

    One freshly skinned out coon
    1 jar of your favorite salsa
    18 oz of white corn tortilla chips
    6 pack of your favorite beer

    Throw out the coon, crack a beer and enjoy the chips and salsa

    • We hunted them in the woods well away from the garbage cans when I was a kid. HUGE fun. they are good if they are not to old .

      remove all the fat from the coon and cook with sweet potatoes and a few marshmallows . serve with a little butter . If over cooked it becomes inedible tough , so don’t bake for too long.

      young wood chucks are better though. just cook like rabbit . tastes like rabbit.
      you can keep your possums .

  10. L.A. urban raccoons are NOT the size of a rabbit. They range 20 to 30 pounds.
    And they are destructive f@ckers.
    Kill ’em all!
    And then kill some for me. They devastated my vineyard. I can’t kill, trap and relocate.

    • Well, if you don’t mind a little Felony, a 300BlK with a lovingly crafted suppresser….and a nice deep hole.

  11. You can come over and hunt the coon’s in my yard. Since it has started to getting cold at night, they visit my garbage can every night. I keep plugging them in the butt every night with a BB gun.

  12. There’s a reason why Granny avoinded cooking it on the Beverly hillbillies…

    And until I see it on Barbeque University I aint touching it..

  13. There’s a reason why Granny avoided cooking it on the Beverly hillbillies…

    And until I see it on Barbeque University I aint touching it..

  14. The only coon recipe order that gets filled round here is the whole body flat pizza kind you occasionally see out on Highway 41. They seem to be smart enough to stay off the Interstate, though.

  15. There used to be a gang of raccoons that ran riot in the alley behind my old house. Looked like schoolchildren crossing the street when they ran across the alley. Wish I could’ve plugged em, they made an unholy racket every damn night. Wouldn’t have eaten em though, I lean more towards v v ind’s suggestion.

  16. I dunno Tyler. After looking at several recipes, I think I’d go crock pot. Maybe with something along the lines of a spice packet for pulled pork? Trim off all the fat. The fat may spoil the taste. I’ve got some killer home made bar-b-que sauce that would liven things up a bit.

  17. When I lived on a farm near Kankakee Illinois we had an albino raccoon. I was the weirdest looking thing. They tore up the garbage too. And lots of nasty skunks. Anybody eat THAT?

  18. My father’s boss and spouse lived through the depression and admitted that times were so tough that they even ate skunk a few times. Raccoon meat was no big deal for them. I was just a kid but more than once I did eat dark meat fried “chicken” at their home. It tasted a little better than bear, but not as good as squirrel or rabbit.

  19. If I shot me one, I’d be makin’ me a coonskin cap outa it. Always wanted one o’ those.

    – a big Daniel Boone fan.

  20. Most signs I’ve ever seen of KY coons are near water. They’re fishing for minnows or crawdads. Frogs too, I guess. I would eat fish and frogs AND crawdads. Coon is not a big stretch. Never had a chance to try.

  21. I usually leave the dead racoons for the bears to eat. Couple of years ago we had a major problem with a bunch coming in through our cat doors at night, actually shot one in my kitchen. We locked the cat door and then 2 of them literally ripped through the osb wall around it, that is when I shot the one in the kitchen. Spent several nights baiting and shooting, got 4 more. Have not had a problem since.

    I have eaten racoon, done over a fire with some bbq sauce. Was not impressed, although if seriously hungry we would be eating the h*ll out of them.

  22. Went on a moose hunt a few years back and one of the camp workers ran a trap line in the Carolinas. Said he froze them and took them to a local meat market where he just left them in the freezer. They had a coffee can with his name on it and when they sold one, they put $5-10 bucks in his can. Claimed he couldn’t catch them fast enough to keep up with the demand. Not my cu p of tea, but different strokes…

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