About This Site

Russell Family

Herbert Family

Campbell Family

Steward Family

About Cardington



Written in 1961.

A true story of an old raccoon hunters experiences.  I have had dogs.  I have learned how the raccoons habits have changed since I was young.  How to breed and raise raccoons, age of raccoons, how to produce different colors in breeding.  I caught my first two raccoons in steel traps when I was 10 years old.  There never was a prouder boy than I was dragging them home.  I started hunting raccoons at about 12 years old with a black and white German Shepard dog.  I had a Civil War Army rifle bored out to shoot shot and a lantern.  I am 79 years old and still have that old gun and of course, several modern guns.  Old Shep did not bark on trail and you would only hear him when he treed.  I usually went hunting about 2 a. m. in the morning and if I treed a coon and I thought he was on the outside, I would wait until day light and shoot him out.  The old musket had quite a kick, but was usually able to bring the coon down.  The year old Shep was 16 years old, I caught 16 raccoons.  Shep died this next year.  Since then, I have had many dogs, most often trailing hounds.

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01


Written on back of picture:  7 years old.  1915. 
Hazel E. Russell with her daddy's prized hounds.  I didn't think much of them when this was taken.  They had just pulled me down.  (Note left knee!)

When I was a boy, we had big elm and oak trees.  Coon lived in the big trees.  In later years, timber was cut off and coons changed their habits.  Now they live in barns, tile ditches, and old houses.  I have my office on Main Street of town.  My nephew has a filling station, that adjoins my office.  For the last three years, there has been a litter of young coons raised over his garage.  A year ago, one little coon fell down in his garage.  His daughter raised it on a bottle.  It was never penned up.  Would go up street to the filling stations.  Everyone knew him.  He would get candy and peanuts and came back home when ready.  After feeling the bright auto hub caps, dogs would not bother him.  I remember seeing him going down an alley to a garbage can.  There was a big dog there first.  The dog left and did not bother the coon.  Finally he got bumped by an auto.  He seemed to think he had the right-of-way.  Finally he took a stroll up the railroad tracks and was hit by a train.

Raccoons have increased very much in the last 20 years.  This was caused by the Coon Hunters Association and the state raising them.  When I was young, 20 raccoons was a good season catch.  Now we hear of a good many over 100 in a season.  I and a neighbor boy used to hunt together.  I had an alarm clock set at 2 a.m.  He did not like to wake his folks, so he tied a string to his big toe and threw it out the window.  I would pull the string and we would start out.  He had a black German Shepard which was very good.  Later years, I bought a walker female hound, two years old, for $2.00.  I trained and hunted her.  She would run nothing but coon.  She had more brains than any dog I ever owned.  If some other dog in the bunch would run a cat or rabbit she would come in and would not hunt until they quit.  Several times I have shot out a coon and she would go back and bark treed on the same tree and I would get another coon.  She might tree three or four trees in the same woods.  Usually, she would bark treed until you found the tree and then go to the next, until you had them all located.  I usually took her along when trying a new dog as you could tell what the dog was doing if he treed flying squirrels as a lot of them did.  She would come back to me and sit down, take no interest.  I finally priced her to a man for $250.  I had no idea he would buy her as that was a very high price at that time.  He had two dogs that he thought were extry good.  He often told me she treed lots of coon.  His dogs did not know of a coon being around.  He had her two years and lived about 50 miles next of my place.  On a windy night, he went hunting.  Struck a track and she went out of hearing.  He went back the next morning and did not find her.  On the second morning she was laying on my porch.  It was very much like having an old friend come home.  I think she would liked to stay, but I called her owner and he came and took her back.  I have had a good many freak coon hunts in my time.  Once, I bought a black and tan hound from Indiana.  He came in January.  We had a lot of snow.  Sometime in February, we had thought most of the snow gone.  I was anxious to try this dog out.  I wanted to see if he would run fox.  If he did, I did not want him, so I took him to a woods that I knew had fox.  He started a track very soon.  I felt sure it would be a fox but I soon found the track.  He took it about half a mile and treed up a large beech tree.  It was a night when frost was coming out of the ground and you could not see fifteen feet up the tree.  Finally, I told the man with me I was going to shoot up the tree and maybe he would look.  I had a 22 rifle.  I pulled up and shot up in the tree and out fell a big coon, shot between the eyes.  I would not have been more surprised if the tree had fallen down.  This dog was a varmint dog and would run most anything.  As I only wanted coon dogs, I let a friend of mine have him.  In later years, I was hunting in this same woods.  I had two straight coon dogs.  They treed on a big ash den.  I had a doctor with me that night.  I did not expect to see a coon on this tree as I knew it to be a good den but I had high powered flashlight operated by three telephone batteries.  I put the light up and way out on a limb.  I could see a coon.  In fact, it turned out to be two.  Doctor wanted to shoot.  I had a 97 Winchester.  When he shot, out fell a big male and the other coons eyes weren't out and he never moved.  The dogs picked up another track from this den and ran it to the next woods and treed.  We got it.  The boys went back the next day with a 22 rifle and shot the limb in back of this coon that did not fall off.  They were both old males.  I think one of them was a stranger and was run out on the limb where we found them.

I used to buy and sell a good many dogs.  One time, I had my black raccoon at Detroit State Fair.  A man came in to see the raccoon.  He told me the season was closed in Michigan and that he had two good dogs that he could not use.  One was a white and black walker, seven years old.  I asked him what he wanted for him.  He said I will take $100.00.  I told him to send him down and if he suited me I would buy him.  I came home and in about a week the dog arrived at the Express Office.  I tried him out.  He was strictly a coon dog.  I sent him a check.  This dog was the best water dog I ever saw.  I saw him cross a stream three times and each time he had the track on the other side.  I also saw him tree a coon in one woods.  He would bark treed until I would look and then go to another tree.  This was a little before season and we did not kill any of the coons.  He was a real dog.  This was in 1927.  I don't know this man's name but if he should see this article, he will remember.  I also bought his younger dog which was ok.  I also bought a black and tan hound from Proffitstown, Illinois.  I don't remember the man's name.  She would weigh about 70 pounds.  One of the meanest looking dogs I ever
owned - a straight cooner.  I paid him $100 after trial.  I had a man from Vermont that was traveling through.  He wanted a good coon dog.  She suited him.  He paid me $255.00 and took her back to Vermont.  In a few weeks, I received a letter from him saying she treed a bear for him.  A little later, I had a letter saying she got bit by a rattlesnake and died.  I do not know this man's name, but if he reads this article, he will remember.  You only get a few real good coon dogs in a lifetime.  I have had my share of both.  One time, I and two men went coon hunting.  One said he would take his 22 rifle as I had a powerful electric light that would show up a coon in any tree.  We started out and in the first woods treed on a big oak tree.  I put the light up and saw the coon at once.  I told my pardner to shoot him.  He had forgot to bring along any ammunition.  There he was, as plain as day and no shells.  I noticed when I put the light in his face, he would back down.  I kept the light in his face until he was on the main body of the tree.  I backed him clear down to the ground and the dogs killed him.  It was a very old raccoon without a tooth in his head.

One thing a coon hunter should do when hunting is to hunt with the wind.  I have often noticed a mother raccoon with young on my raccoon farm turn up her nose and sent the young into their box.  Soon I would see a stranger or a strange dog on the place.  Several times while hunting, I have had the dogs come in and in a few minutes be barking treed a long way off.  They must have winded the raccoon.

Last spring, my son-in-law (Grandpa Herbert), who has handled a lot of little raccoons and knew what they sound like, was in woods hunting mushrooms.  He heard little raccoons making a fuss.  He walked under the tree.  The old mother raccoon had chased another raccoon out on a limb.  He fell to the ground and went on his own business.

Raccoons are good mothers and will fight to save the young.  You often hear people say old as a coon.  One of my first dark raccoons I raised in 6 x 8 run in my back yard.  I had a pair that were quite dark.  I told the boys I was going to try and raise black raccoons.  I had a litter of four and when they were born they were about the color of possum.  I got a lot of kidding, but as they got older, they turned quite dark.  This was about 1913.

In 1915, I started a raccoon farm at edge of town which was about mile out.


Grandma Hazel wrote on back of picture.  Early 1920's.  A section of pens on the L. S. Russell Black Raccoon Farm.  An apple orchard to the right, then the lake, then more orchard on east side.  This was taken from a high tower built for that purpose.

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

Above is a clipping that was in with all then raccoon papers and pictures.  Hazel was my mother.

I took this male out to the farm and in a few weeks he got out of his pen.  The next morning, I found him on my back porch on top of an old refrigerator.  I had him until he was 22 years old.  Sold him to a man that I know had him 2 or 3 years.  That is as near as I can come to a raccoon age.  I bought grey raccoons from a lot of people and sold them to different states for stocking.  People used to think raccoon could not be raised in captivity.  After my first litter, I began to experiment in pens, feed, and breeding.  I found if I had one color I could make any color I wished.  I had a few whites and red raccoons like a fox.  The trick was to say you had a white male, bred him to a grey female, then back to one of his daughters.  The third generation you would have all white.  You can do this with any color.  I had the finest black raccoon in the world.  I did this from breeding.  I showed them at a good many state fairs and the Toronto Winter Fair.

UMAX Data System Inc.


Picture taken in Toronto, Canada, November 1927. 
L. S. Russell on left, Lloyd Smith on right.

A lot of people don't know every state has a different raccoon but I have been to the big fur markets in New York and Chicago.  Saw thousands of raccoon pelts.  A good fur man can tell you by looking at a pelt what state it came from.  Ohio and Vermont have the best furred pelts, while not as large as the North Dakota pelt.  In breeding raccoon, I had all kinds of pens.  Some inclosed and a lot in the open.  I had some that were forty foot square.  I used mostly 1 inch mesh, No. 15 poultry netting six foot high.  This gives you room to walk in the pen and pens would be covered over the top.  We usually put the ______? In the ground 6 to 8 inches.  Raccoon do little digging.  I think a 6 x 8 pen did very well.  You should have a good roomy box up off the ground for nest.  We adjoined most of our pens and had a slide door in the side to move them from one pen to the other.  Raccoon are very clean animals and usually use only one corner for droppings.  We used a flat stone in corner.  This made it easy to clean.

UMAX Data System Inc.


We usually tried to have our raccoons in good shape at abut 15 of December and then cut down of feed in January.  Raccoon are supposed to hibernate in the wild and I have known them to stay up in the wild for two months but on a ranch they will move some everyday.  The male should be with the females in January.  The earliest I ever had one breed was 15 January.  The gestation period is 63 days.  April was the big month for young.  A few would come later.  Part of March a good male will breed ten or a dozen females.  The male should be removed before young come.  Raccoon are good mothers and will raise the young if properly fed.  It is best not to bother the nest when young come.  Some of the mothers would let you do most anything you wanted with the young.  Others would get excited and start carrying them around the yard so we found it best to let the mother take care of them.  We had a black cat that always had a litter of kittens about the time we had little raccoons.  If we had a mother that did not take care of her young right, we would take two or three kittens from the cat and give her the little raccoons.  She would raise them, carry them from place to place until they became too big for her to handle.  If a raccoon should happen to lose her first litter, she will breed and have a second litter.  That is why you sometimes in raccoon hunting get very small raccoons.  It takes the next season for them to make good sized raccoons.  Raccoons will breed the first year if well matured.  Feed is the most important.  Raccoons will eat most anything, but a balanced diet is much better.  I have saw them raised for a long time on corn alone.  Corn is all right but not all the time.  We feed quite a lot of corn in early winter.  That puts on fat.  You have heard it said raccoons wash all the food.  That is not so, but if you have water close to the feed, yes they will put in the water.  But in the wild where a raccoon goes to a corn field, he does not have water for food.  We used mostly ground wheat, ground corn, ground oats and good meat scraps.  We had a big cooker and cooked the feed and mixed milk with it.  Sometimes we mixed ground horse meat with the feed.  They should have at least 20% protein.  Feed in the wild - they eat lots of frogs, crabs, bugs and worms.  All high in protein.  We found that they did much better on cooked feed that is grain mixture.

Raccoons are not bothered much with disease.  Round worms were our biggest bother.  Especially in the young.  I made a wire funnel about 18 inches long, about 6 inches at the big end and about 2 " at the small.  Run the raccoon in it and his head would come out the small end but he could not get through.  Loop a strong string over his upper and lower teeth, hold his mouth open and shove down a pill.

UMAX Data System Inc.


Lennie (standing) and twin brother Lonnie (seated) Russell - probably 1920's

I've seen raccoons that would not weigh over four pounds expel a handful of round worms.  I had a kind of wire basket with a handle on it that I used to move raccoons.  It worked very good.  Raccoons are the smartest animal living.  I have seen it demonstrated a hundred times.  I had several dogs on my place.  Some good coon dogs.  Often times a raccoon would get out, walk out around the dogs and they would pay no attention to them.  They usually would be back at feeding time.  One time I bought a big male raccoon.  I wanted to put a collar on him to train dogs.  He was so cross you could not get near him.  I put him in a tight box and put in a ball of cotton with chloroform on it.  When he was asleep, I took him out and put a collar and chain on him.  If he would get his collar off, all I had to do was put my hand on him and put the collar back and he would not move.  Another time, I bought a grey female of a couple boys.  One could handle her any way he wished.  The other boy could not get near her.  She would be just as nice as could be one minute and the next a real wild cat.  I gave her the chloroform treatment and filed off the points of her tusks.  After that, she was a real pet.  Raccoons are like people.  Some as kind and nice as can be and others are cross and crabby and seem to hate everything.  I quit the raccoon business in the early 1930's.  Do not have any for sale, but have a lot of very pleasant memories.

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01


Written on picture:  L. S. Russell, owner of Black Raccoon at Cardington, Ohio, with

shipment of breeding stock to Meersburg, Bodensee Germany.

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01


LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01


LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01


LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01



Pearl Rubrecht June 1930

Pearl Rubrecht June 1930

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

The little rocker I am sitting in was Grandma Nellie James Russell's when she was a little girl.  The raccoon was Midnight Tom, a pet.

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01


He was registered.

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01


I just had to include this picture.  These were two tame owls at the coon farm.