"I caught hundreds of raccoons in my time," writes Mr. Hammond, now retired and living in Albany. "My trapping grounds were along rivers, creeks, canals and close to lakes in Ohio, near Deshler, and later in Missouri, south of Jefferson City. I was always upon the alert, and while fishing one spring day and sitting among bushes on the river bank, I noticed a coon on the opposite side coming up the river, and suddenly stretched his neck in direction of square oyster can (used in those days) that was about three feet from the shore in four or five inches of water. He stayed around for about fifteen minutes, at various times reaching out after the can and even moving it from one place to another, and scrutinizing it very closely. As my cork went down, I pulled in a fish, and, naturally, the coon went skipping into the woods.
"The following winter I bought a dozen coon traps, took them to the machine shop and had two small holes drilled in each pan. Then I took from an old alarm clock the nickel case and made small round disks in size resembling that of the pan. I then riveted these nickel plates thereon and polished same with wood ashes, and set the traps along the river banks, two to five inches under water. I also riveted gold plated disks upon the pans with equal results. On one occasion I placed a small pocket mirror fastened on a piece of wood slanting and shining towards the shore; and set a common steel trap just between the shore and the looking glass, but out of the water. I covered other parts of the trap with grass, leaves, etc., so when the coon tried to examine the looking glass, he stepped upon the protruding covered trap and was caught.
"I cut the skin open on the belly and stretched same in square shape. Keep grease from the fur and always pull the tail-bone out. Nicely handled and seasonable skins bring twenty-five per cent more, and that's where the profit lies for the experienced trapper.
"Before closing my letter let me relate how I captured bob cats, coons, rabbits and other animals with snares. In tramping through the woods, I often came across tracks that I did not know by what animal they were made. I set these snares, made from gut strings, wire, also cotton or linen lines, at various places, such as in front of hollow logs, passages, under brush or fence rails, and other favorable places. Arrange to lift the animal off its feet and away from harm of other animals by pulling down limbs or small trees, and if these were not conveniently situated, I often threw a long rope across a distant limb, attached a ten to twenty pound stone on end and raised it high up; the other end I fastened to the snare in such a way that if pulled by the animal the fastener would break or pull out and the weight descend and hang the victim before he knew what was up. The animal would sometimes get away if caught by front foot, but never if caught around the neck or hind foot."
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