John's Journal...

Guide to Overlooked February Hunting

Day 4: Hunting Raccoons and Opossums and Recipes for Roasted Raccoon and Possum and Sweet Potatoes

Editor’s Note: No, hunting season isn’t over in many states, and real hunting may have just begun. Although deer is the glamour species of the fall and the winter, there are many-more game animals and birds that may deserve your attention this month. More states are having small-game seasons during the month of February, because small-game animals have taken a backseat to deer, turkey and waterfowl. However, before this country saw the rebuilding of deer herds, turkey flocks and elk herds, small-game hunting was the most popular of all hunting sports, with rabbits and squirrels not only drawing the most attention, but also taking-up the most space on the dinner plate. So, let’s take a look at the overlooked hunting in February.


Click for Larger ViewThese February hunters are the invisible sportsmen of the woods. Because they hunt after the sun goes down, we fail to realize how many of the night stalkers exist. But their numbers continue to swell each year. If an accurate count can be taken, hunting the Procyon lotor probably will be one of the top-three hunting sports. A cold, clear night with a sky full of stars and little or no moon is what most hunters dream about this time of year. Most of the streams, the lakes and the rivers should have quality populations of ringtails. Some highly-productive regions to hunt for an outdoorsman looking for new hunting areas or for the hound-dog man without a place to hunt are state wildlife management areas, national forests and paper company lands. Each has individual rules, so be sure to check the regulations when you purchase a permit.

Hunting “Bandit-eyes” generally doesn’t interfere with work or any other daytime activities if:
* the dogs don’t tree across three sloughs, which takes all night to reach them;
* they don’t get on a long-winded, smart old coon that knows every trick in the book and keeps the dogs confused into the wee hours of the morning until they tree, and;
Click for Larger View* the dogs don’t run across five plowed fields just after a big rain, so that just getting across the land in the hours before daylight is a job in itself, much less rising a few hours later fresh and ready for a day’s work.

But a man or a boy who has been out on these cold, February nights and heard those old ball and chop-mouth hounds sing the river-bottom music to the hoot owls on the hill knows that no matter how hard the hunting, ‘cooning in February is a great, late-season, hunting adventure.

Roasted Raccoon:
1 raccoon
Dressing ingredients:
3 cups dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 large sour apple, thin-sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4-teaspoon pepper


Wash raccoon thoroughly in lukewarm water inside and out several times. Parboil about 30 minutes with 1 teaspoon baking soda added to water. Drain; season inside and out with salt and pepper. Mix dressing ingredients, add enough water to moisten, and stuff the raccoon. Place in roaster, and roast at 375 degrees. Baste often, and drain-off fat continually, and add water. Roast for approximately 1-1/2-hours or until tender and nicely browned. Before serving, rub roasted raccoon with cloth soaked in vinegar.


Click for larger ViewAlthough there’s much fun poked at the ‘possum, as it’s commonly called, the Didelphis marsupialus provides more hunting than many folks believe during February. When squirrel season ends, many squirrel dogs will be converted to ‘possum hounds for late-season hunting. Some of the redeeming qualities of the sport of ‘possum hunting are that you usually can find a ‘possum to hunt, the ‘possums don’t run far and the animals usually don’t climb high. Also, ‘possums are easy to catch, and some folks swear they’re delicious to eat. There’s no bag limit. There’s plenty of late-season hunting left for the sportsman who braves the elements and is willing to try something a little different from the usual game of deer, squirrels and ducks.

Opossum and Sweet Potatoes
1 opossum (about 2-1/2-pounds)
2-1/2-teaspoons salt
Black pepper to taste
1/2-cup water
4 medium sweet potatoes or yams
1/4-teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar


Click for Larger ViewTrim excess fat from opossum and discard. Wipe with damp cloth, pick-off any clinging hair, then wash quickly inside and out with warm water. Drain thoroughly. Rub salt mixed with pepper well into the opossum inside and out. Sprinkle inside and out with flour. Lay the opossum on its back in a roasting pan with a tight-fitting cover. Add water, cover and bake at 350 degrees until about half done (about 45-60 minutes, depending on the age of the animal.) Split peeled potatoes in half, lengthwise, and place in pan around opossum. Add more water if needed, and cook about 20-minutes longer. Remove cover, and sprinkle the potatoes with 1/4-teaspoon salt and the sugar. Continue cooking uncovered until both potatoes and the opossum are a luscious brown and tender.

Tomorrow: Wild Hog Hunting and a Recipe for Wild Pig Parmesan

Check back each day this week for more about "Guide to Overlooked February Hunting "

Day 1: February Snipe Hunting and Recipe for Snipes Country Style
Day 2: Chasing Rabbits and a Recipe for Honeyed Rabbit
Day 3: February’s Woodcock and Quail Hunting and Recipes for Both
Day 4: Hunting Raccoons and Opossums and Recipes for Roasted Raccoon and Possum and Sweet Potatoes
Day 5: Wild Hog Hunting and a Recipe for Wild Pig Parmesan


Entry 599, Day 4