Saturday, November 22, 2008

Things that you dont want to see, Badgers!



Badgers!
Don’t let this sweet innocent “Who me?” face fool you. These are the scariest little balls of fuzz that inhabit the face of the earth. They will fight any kind of animal if there young are threatened. Badgers fighting bears have been witnessed many times. They weigh up to twenty-four pounds, with the male being bigger than the female. They can run up to twenty-four miles an hour in short bursts. Okay, you physics students, what is the impact of a badger weighing twenty-four pounds, running at twenty-four miles per hour? Don’t worry about it, you will die of fright before he hits you.

They are members of the mustelidae family, the same as weasels, fishers, and martens. The skunk used to be a member of the mustelidae family but they kicked it out and gave it it’s own family name of mephitidae. I guess they just didn’t want the skunk stinking up the family name. One other thing that I forgot to tell you about, Martens and fishers stink, and so does the badger. They smell kind of musky, like a dead skunk. Only not as strong of a skunk smell. Throw in a little rotten meat, then make it smell kinda’ sweet. That’s what they smell like. It’s not a pleasant odor. If you were out of your mind, and had one as a pet, the first thing that visitors would say is “What’s that stink” so you couldn’t fool the fish and game if you were hiding one.

When I was a young man, and had just set up my first household, I had a freezer that I kept all my wild food, and stuff from the garden in. One day a rancher friend of my boss stopped by and asked my boss if he had ever seen a badger. My boss said “no” he hadn’t, so the rancher showed him the badger that he had shot on the ranch. He put it in his Jeep just to show a few folks that he had killed one, because nobody would have believed him otherwise. A man has to maintain his credibility! Anyway, as he was leaving, I was thinking the same thing. I thought that nobody is going to believe that I saw a badger. So I asked him what he was going to do with it. He said he was going to throw it in the dump on the way home. I asked him if I could have it. He said “sure go ahead and take it”>. I put it in a plastic bag and stuck it in the freezer.

After that, when I had friends over, I would start a conversation about badgers, I would talk about how mean and vicious that they were. I’d mention that they would even back down a bear. Then I’d casually mention that “we have them right here in the Eel River drainage you know”. Of course that would bring up doubts about my credibility. I would say “Sure they live here, I even have one as a pet”. Then I would say “wait here, I’ll bring him in”, I would go out to the freezer, slip him out of his bag, wrap him up in a blanket, bring him into the house, hold him up to the persons face, then slip the cover of his face and growl viciously. I just loved doing that, the badger died with his teeth bared. So he was real scary.

Now you are probably wondering why the rancher shot him. Well, he found where the badger had dug up several ground squirrel dens. The rancher thought that it was probably a bear, so he started looking around and saw the badger. We all had guns in our trucks at all times back then, just for such an occasion. The rancher figured if it would eat a squirrel, it would eat a lamb. He was probably right. So he shot it. Better to be safe than sorry.

About ten years after that, I was on a refrigeration service call to Alderpoint, after that one, I had a call in New Harris, so I took the old road around the bottom of the hill. About half way across, I looked below the road and saw where a squirrel den had been dug up. I thought about the badger, but in my mind the ground was just too torn up to be a badger. So I jumped over the fence and walked down to look at the torn up dirt. Just as I looked into the hole, the most vicious growl that I’ve ever heard, combined with the most loud coughing and spitting that I’ve ever heard, came out of it. About then a highly pissed-off badger stuck his head out of the hole. Like Rosanna Rosannadanna said; “I could have died!” I turned around and ran back up the hill, grabbed the fence post, and was over the fence in one big lunge, fully expecting to get bit in the ass as I ran. I dove back in the truck and looked back down the hill. The badger had not followed me. I sat there, mentally putting my heart back in my chest, and thought about trying to get a better look, then I remembered my story about how fast and vicious that they are, and decided to be discrete, as you know discretion being the better part of valor, and I made a valorous retreat. Now, when I think about all of the people that I scared with my “pet badger”. I have to laugh at the come-upance that the badger in the squirrel den gave me.

The badger likes the edge of open grassy fields where they are likely to find squirrels, gophers and mice. The can readily dig squirrels out of the ground, and sometimes they dig themselves a burrow just to sleep in. When they are traveling, they might dig a new burrow every night. They store food for short periods in their dens. They are short and wide, and interestingly that is how you can tell a badger hole from any other. They build their hole wider than they are tall, just like they are.
Just the other day, I told the grandson of the rancher, that I saw a badger on his ranch, and he remembered the burrows and seeing a glimpse of it himself and was glad to have me verify HIS story. He saw it when he was very young, and nobody wanted to believe him.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I sure like your stories of the eel river valley, and of the natural rarities that surround us.

The other day I found a mole flea on my dog after we went chantrelle hunting. It sure suprised me as it is the biggest flea I have ever seen. It was about 4 millimeters total and tall. About the size of a young sow bug. It is a subterranean flea that lives on burrowing animals. I had no idea they even exist and your story of the badgers digging up dens made me think of it.

My friends childhood name from his Yurok grandfather was "badger" because he was 'scrappy enough to tackle a bear'. Good stuff.

Anonymous said...

jason

Anonymous said...

i saw a darn badger diggins in an indian cemetary just west of paskenta one time,this is just off the road to ko-vel-o

Anonymous said...

"Badgers? We don't need no stinkin' badgers!"

Indie said...

Same as mountain lions: I hope I never meet one in person.

Anonymous said...

what about the Wolverines?

Kym said...

In all my years here, I've only seen a badger once and that was a glimpse while I was in a car.

Indie said...

Are there wolverines in this part of the world? Another tough little critter.

spyrock said...

i have a hobby of tending ponds. i made one out of a 300 gallon rubbermaid tank that fits in the side of a hill for my girlfriend and i'm working on building another pond up the hill in an old logging flume. i was up there yesterday and this gopher was sticking his head out right near where i would be laying down the liner. and near where the other pond is, the gophers are digging all around it. so there seems to be plenty of badger food up here but no badgers.
i think the rubbermaid tank is pretty safe but i'm not sure about a liner. anyone got an idea of how to get rid of gophers without renting a badger. otherwise, the acorns are falling all over the place up here and there was a buck right outside our bedroom window this morning chomping away. the deer are finally drinking out of my girlfriends pond which is just outside her front door. but that liner pond is more secluded and would attract a lot more animals.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Spyrock, I probably don't have to tell you, because you already suspect. Avoid the heartbreak of building a pond with a liner. I've never seen one that lasted all that long.

The 6' dia. 2' high plastic stock tank is the way to go. I put one in seven years ago, and it is still like new. I’ll send you some picture on one of my blog posts someday.

Anonymous said...

badgers! i think they are "diggers" also!!!

ben said...

Deer hooves punch holes is pond liners. The pond has to be fenced and that doesn't look very good, I've never seen a badger but friends saw one down by the mouth of Sprowel Crick.

Anonymous said...

krick or crick?

spyrock said...

just after i wrote that stuff about the pond a big buck and his family came up the hill to get a drink but i was sitting out there reading a book. so the lead deer was just staring at me wondering if i was real because i can be real still and the rest of them bounded off to the right. the buck had a huge rack on him. a different one than i'd seen this morning. my book slipped so the lead dear finally took off in the same direction. thanks for the advice. i'll have to work with lance my tow truck driver to put some kind of container in there when it manifests and fill in around it. i'm looking for a torn down quanset hut too to make a moon bridge out of a metal frame section of a quanset hut roof.

spyrock said...

krick or crick?
in england its called a crook.
and a little town or ham (hamlet) by a crook is called a crookham.
and sometimes it has a double meaning when there is a town where the crook makes a sharp turn or bend in a crook or river. there is a crookham between oxford and stonehenge which is home of the 7th oldest golf course in england. there is another up near the scottish border at the bend of a river and there is another in the south where they have the canals.
so it would be krickham or crickham if there was a little town on sprowel crick.

Robin Shelley said...

I was told by a government hunter one time that there are wolverines in the Covelo area.

Ernie Branscomb said...

"Krick or Crick"

According to Old-Timer legend, it’s “Crick“. A crick is wur th’ water trickles. A "Krick" is a pain in th’ neck. Ifen ya fell in th' crick and hurt yur neck, thet thars called a “Krick”.

So, don’t go confabulatin wurds!

Anonymous said...

what about a krook in the neck,near a brook???

Anonymous said...

Is it crookneck squash or krookneck or crickneck?

Anonymous said...

Holy-moly ernie,you could be a teacher,you know.So very informative narratives..I am delighted to hear another historian making sense out of things..Thanx for all the tree lore.Everything you mentioned was new to me.... please don't ever stop.you are now 1 of my regular stops on my internet "train-ride".namaste...red rock

Anonymous said...

Holy-moly ernie,you could be a teacher,you know.So very informative narratives..I am delighted to hear another historian making sense out of things..Thanx for all the tree lore.Everything you mentioned was new to me.... please don't ever stop.you are now 1 of my regular stops on my internet "train-ride".namaste...red rock