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Raccoons: The New Super-Predator?

November 19, 2010 Comments off

Source:  Sasser, Ray. “Super ‘Coons.” Texas Sporting Journal September/October 2010: 72-76.

I read an interesting article (cited above) recently regarding the notion that there may be more raccoons in Texas today than ever before.  Now as the old adage goes, everything is bigger in Texas!!  But egads…. does that have to include raccoons too?!

There are several factors that the author noted for this population growth:

  1. Hunting pressure (lack of) — no longer are raccoons hunted down for their fur; and ‘coons hunters today prefer the “tree-and-release” method of hunting.
  2. Predator de-eradication — as we progress steadily from our agrarian ways of life to the modern technologically driven life, farmers are no longer roaming their fields and hunting down the predators (which includes raccoons).
  3. Flushing — “the process of increasing the nutritional plane of livestock just prior to breeding season (it also increases the reproduction rate)”.  More and more feeders are being placed for livestock and also to draw in wild game.

The author points out that the fact that raccoons are eating the high-protein foods that are being used in the flushing process is producing new generations of raccoons that are healthier due to their higher reproductive and survival rates.  One financial fact that was highlighted was that raccoons eat up roughly 10% of the high-protein foods that are meant for other animals on the farm.  So a ranch that goes through $100,000 worth of high-protein foods incurs a loss of some $10,000 of that food to the raccoons!!!  Even I don’t eat that good!!!

As with hog population control, it’s all in time and effort.   We need more hunters making/taking more time and putting forth more effort!  A key point the author states is so simple and all hunters should follow:

Make sure the landowner and the local game warden know what you’re doing.

Sound advice indeed!  I wonder what the current Texas state record for heaviest raccoon is??!!

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Public Land vs. High-fence Hunting

November 19, 2010 Comments off

There are a few topics that can really get a person’s blood to boiling… politics, religion, RC Cola vs Rondo Citrus Soda.  But one topic I’ve engaged in conversation about that has really opened my eyes is hunting on public land and hunting on high-fence properties.

At first I was on the side of hunting on public land… thinking that high-fence hunting was much akin to catching a squirrel, tying a string to its leg, letting it go and then once the string gets tight…. shoot it.  But then a few hunters pointed out some facts that have shed light on a lot of misconceptions that I’ve held onto for quite some time.

Better Country

The better the land is maintained, the better it ‘feeds’.  Think about it… why do animals migrate?  They move about for three basic reasons… food, water and shelter.

Public lands are truly in the wild.  If it grows, it grows…. if it don’t, it don’t.  For high-fence properties, it’s really all up how the landowner manages their land.  Game found on well-managed high-fence properties are a much better quality than what you’d likely find out on public lands.

Better Quality

As I just mentioned, better managed lands yield better quality game.  Having the high-fenced property, the landowner can determine how much hunting pressure they will allow and when they will allow it.  This allows them the opportunity of letting the game grow to maturity.

Less Hunting Pressure

This is just a numbers game here.  On public land you’re out there hunting with a lot of other hunters.  On a high-fence property, you may find that you’re the only one out there!  This means the odds go up in your favor!

Those were just a few of the points that those who hunt high-fence properties have pointed out to me.  Looking at it from these perspectives has helped pushed me more towards taking the opportunity to hunt on a high-fence property.  But for me I’m the joe-schmoe hunter, no sponsorships, no fancy gigs…. so money is going to be a big factor in deciding whether I go out hunting on public lands or on a high-fence property.

If I were to really narrow it down, the true deciding factor in choosing a high-fence property over public land would be the desire to harvest and mount a quality animal.  If my choice is to put something up on the wall, then it’s time for me to start saving up and taking the best hunt that my money can afford me!  But you better believe that I’m going to be checking out that high-fence property thoroughly before going out to hunt on it…. ’cause remember, it’s only as good as it’s managed!