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Full text of "The badger; a monograph"

THE BADGER 




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THE BADGER 



A MONOGRAPH 



ALFRED E. PEASE, M.P. 

AUTHOR OF 

HE CLEVELAND HOUNDS AS A TRENCHER-FED PACK,' 
"HORSE BREEDING FOR FARMERS," ETC. 




LONDON 

LAWRENCE AND BULLEN, LTD. 

1 6, HENRIETTA STREET, COVENT GARDEN, W.C. 



All rights reserved 



RICHARD CLAY & SONS, LIMITED, 
LONDON & BUNGAY. 



7.4 ST 



' Hunting it is the noblest exercise, 
Makes men laborious, active, wise ; 
Brings health and doth the spirits delight ; 
It helps the hearing and the sight : 
It teacheth arts that never slip 
The memory good horsemanship, 
Search, sharpness, courage, and defence, 
And chaseth all ill-habits thence." BEN JONSON. 



8GG482 



THE BADGER 



PART I 

I DO not know of the existence of any 
monograph on the Badger, ancient or modern, 
in English or any other language. Nor have 
I been able to find any adequate description 
in any work on natural history or British 
fauna of this the largest, and by no means the 
least interesting, of the real wild animals that 
still exist in England and Wales. So that, 
however unfitted I may be to write a 
scientific treatise on the last of the bear tribe 
that we have yet with us, I have ventured 
to think that my own observations and 
researches, with experiences of the chase of 
this troglodyte, may be of interest to lovers 



THE BADGER 

of the animal world, and to not a few 
sportsmen. 

From my boyhood all wild animals have 
had for me an intense fascination, and though 
in later years my hunting-grounds have been 
for the most part in other countries and 
continents, and among larger game, I doubt 
if any of the beasts whose acquaintance I 
have thus made has been a source of 
greater interest to me than the badger. 
The charm of an animal for man, where the 
sporting is the master instinct, appears to be 
measured by his capacity to elude observa- 
tion and defy pursuit ; and the badger, 
judged by this test, is a charming creature. 
I may be mistaken, but to me it appears that 
the chase in its widest sense is one of the 
best schools for studying nature. Such 
knowledge as I have gained of the badger 
has been due to the indulgence of this 
" brutal " instinct, as it is profanely called, 
and from quiet observation. If the reader 
will spare a little time, I will show him the 
manner in which my observations are made, 
but I warn him that there is nothing 



THE BADGER 

scientific about them. I have no microscope 
and no dissecting-room. 

It is June. A hot summer's day is dying, 
and the sun is sinking through soft clouds of 
glory behind the pine woods on the hill. A 
thousand birds in vale and woodland are 
singing with an ecstasy and sweetness that 
seem tenderly conscious that the hours of 
song are numbered that the days are 
coming when darkness or dawn will steal 
over the land in silence, unheralded as it 
is to-day by their wild sweet notes. We 
wander across the pasture by the cattle, and 
along the side of the ripening meadow 
towards the wooded bank under the edge 
of the moor, where the badger has his home. 
As we near the covert, a few rabbits that 
have ventured far out into the field frisk up 
the hill, alarming their less adventurous com- 
panions, and all make for the shelter of the 
wood, displaying a hundred little cotton tails. 

As the gate into the plantation opens a 

few wood-pigeons stop their cooing and fly 

swiftly up and out of the trees with a clean 

cutting slap-slap of their wings to some other 

3 



THE BADGER 

solitude safer from intrusion. Once in the 
shadow of the firs, softly treading we come 
up-wind to the badger " set." Here we 
choose a place among the larch stems which 
gives us a good view of the most-used 
entrances to the earth, some fifteen yards 
from the nearest hole. We turn up our 
coat-collars, draw our caps over our faces, 
and settle ourselves in such positions as will 
least try our patience and muscles during the 
hour in which we must remain immovable. 
In idea nothing could be more delightful 
than to sit in the deepening twilight of a 
summer's evening, with a soft breath of 
air stirring the feathery larch tops against 
the sky above, the ground carpeted with 
the vivid green of the opening bracken, 
surrounded by the music of cooing wood- 
pigeons, the full notes of blackbird and 
thrush, and listening to the pleasant sounds 
carried on the breeze from the distant farms. 
Delightful as is the enjoyment of the con- 
fidences of Nature in her most hidden soli- 
tudes, the pleasure has its price, and the 
angler on a summer's eve can sympathize 

4 



THE BADGER 

with the man who sits over a badger earth. 
But he at least can protect himself to some 
extent against the exasperating attacks of 
midges in myriads, and vent his feelings 
aloud, and flog the waters, whilst the latter 
must stoically endure the torture and the 
plague. The most he can do is occasionally 
to draw his hand from his pocket, and slowly 
move it to his face and massacre the settlers 
on his nose, his ears, his neck, and carefully 
move it again into its hiding-place. In spite 
of the torment, however, he may enjoy the 
sights and sounds, known to but few, that 
these witching hours alone can give. The 
rabbits emerge within a yard of him, first the 
little ones, unconscious of his eye, then the 
old ones sit up and, imitating his immov- 
ability, watch him critically with their black 
beady eyes set, and noses palpitating ; after 
a while old paterfamilias gives his signal of 
alarm or warning by a sharp pat, pat with 
his hind foot, telling all round that there is 
something in his vicinity he does not know 
how to account for. The cry of the startled 
blackbird warns that some other enemy is 
5 



THE BADGER 

on foot as he flies from the bur-tree to the 
thorn, and we see an old fox moving through 
the young bracken with lowered head and 
brush, starting off on his nightly raid. A 
belated squirrel throws himself from the tree 
above, runs close by us on the ground, up 
the stem of a larch, and is soon lost in the 
sea of green above. A numerous and dis- 
sipated family of little crested wrens, which 
should have settled for the night ere this, 
twitter with diminutive voices as they twist 
in and out and hang on the boughs of the 
spruce in front of us. 

Gradually, as the daylight fades, one after 
another of the singers becomes silent, the 
sounds of day are hushed, and a perfect 
silence reigns in the twilight amidst the 
trees. Without any warning we are con- 
scious of the clean black-and-white face of 
an old badger over the earthwork outside 
his hole, and presently he is all in view, 
sitting with bowed fore-legs and his head 
turning on his lithe outstretched neck, scent- 
ing the night air. There is nothing to excite 
his suspicion, so he shambles to the nearest 



THE RA0GER 

tree, puts up his fore-feet and rubs his neck, 
smells round the well-known trunk, and 
having satisfied himself that all is as usual, 
sits for awhile admiring the limited landscape 
before him. He then shuffles a few yards 
from the earth, scratches the soil here and 
there as if to keep his digging tools in order, 
and returns to the bottom of the tree. 
Another pied face appears, and more quickly 
than the first she trundles off to join her 
mate, and they bounce along one after another 
over the earths, round the trees, down one 
hole and out at another, and then rest awhile 
outside the earth they first emerged from. 
Three more come forth, and go through very 
much the same programme as the first, snort- 
ing and bumping along one after the other 
and one against the other. 

Presently one takes off into the thickest 
covert. You can hear him bumping along, 
sweeping through the bracken and crackling 
the dead wood. Presently the others come 
past you, tumbling along so close that you 
could hit them with your stick. Probably 
they take no notice, but if you wink, wince, 
7 



THE BADGER 

or move they will shamble back to the earth 
and watch you for ten minutes. It is then a 
trial for your nerves. If you move you have 
seen the last of them for the night, but if you 
succeed in being perfectly still they will recover 
sufficient confidence to sally forth again, but 
will take off quickly in different directions for 
their night's ramble. Then at last we may 
raise our stiff limbs and turn our steps 
through the dark woods, leaving the fox and 
badger to their devices, and once more 
frightening the rabbits which flash past us 
as we wade homewards through the grass 
heavy and wet with dew. We have made 
no startling discovery on this our first night 
together by the badger "set," but probably 
we have made a better acquaintance with 
badgers in this hour than we could have 
gained in any museum of natural history, 
with the assistance of the most erudite Fellow 
of the Zoological Society. 

To understand and appreciate all sides of 
the badger's character you must see him in 
war as well as at peace ; and such knowledge 
has to be purchased by great labour and 



THE BADGER 

bodily fatigue. In the name of sport, as in 
the name of liberty, great crimes are often 
committed. There are those who look upon 
hunting of all sorts as cruel and degrading, 
and cannot understand the pleasures of a 
chase involving the distress of pursuit or 
pain to any animal. I have a certain sym- 
pathy for such sentiments, and yet, para- 
doxical as it may appear, my very love of 
animals increases my passion for hunting 
them. Besides the longing to come to close 
quarters with them, the desire to possess or 
to handle them, there is the natural ambition 
to be even with them. There is an un- 
written code of honour in the field which, if 
followed, makes the struggle of wits and 
strength, of skill and endurance, a fair one, 
and one in which alone many a valuable 
lesson out of Nature's book can be taught. 
To relieve any tender consciences amongst 
my readers I may here declare, without wish- 
ing to reflect on brother sportsmen whose 
methods are more Cromwellian, that when 
victorious in the war with a badger, when, 
after many a hard-fought battle in his sub- 
9 



THE BADGER 

terranean fortress when mine and counter- 
mine, tunnel, shaft, and trench have driven 
him fighting to his last stand in his deepest 
and innermost citadel, and he has been 
forced to capitulate I have never abandoned 
him to a victorious soldiery howling for 
blood, but have always given him honourable 
terms. I have never willingly or wantonly 
killed a badger ; he has invariably become 
a pampered prisoner, or been transported to 
some new home, where some one whom I 
had interested in his species was prepared to 
give him protection, and a new start in life. 
Among those who have given my badgers 
protection I may name Mr. Edward North 
Buxton, who has done so much to maintain 
the natural beauty of Epping Forest, and to 
protect wild life within its borders. I know 
of several thriving colonies of badgers within 
the forest precincts descended from my 
prisoners of war. 

I have kept many badgers in confinement, 
but never to " try " my dogs, and all my 
terriers learnt their trade in legitimate 
fashion. Badger-baiting I unreservedly con- 



THE BADGER 

demn it is as much a profanation of sport 
as coursing bagged hares in enclosed 
grounds. There are degrees of wickedness, 
and when a badger is placed in a properly- 
constructed badger-box there are few terriers 
that would not be vanquished in the en- 
counter. The figure below illustrates the 
correct box. 




FIG. i. 

One of the atrocious methods by which 
the badger was baited in the last century is 
described and denounced in volume xii. of 
the Sporting Magazine, 1788. "They dig 
a place in the earth about a yard long, so 
that one end is four feet deep. At this end 
a strong stake is driven down. Then the 
badger's tail is split, a chain put through it, 
and fastened to the stake with such ability 
that the badger can come up to the other 



THE BADGER 

end of the place. The dogs are brought 
and set upon the poor animal, who some- 
times destroys several dogs before it is 
killed." 

Badger-baiting, it seems, was the price the 
race had to pay for its existence, and with 
the happy disuse of a brutal sport the harm- 
less badger has been doomed to extinction. 
The only method by which any British wild 
animal can be preserved from extinction in 
this age of what is termed progress, is to 
hunt it. Who can doubt, that if fox-hunting 
and otter-hunting were stopped to-day, both 
these creatures would be extinct within the 
next few years? It may be a hard bargain 
to make with them, but considering their 
own crimes of violence, and their incompati- 
bility with "civilization," it does not seem to 
be a too severe condition to impose on the 
fox and the otter, that if they are permitted 
to live they must at least submit to the risks 
and fortunes of the chase. Not being able 
to do more than speculate on the intellectual 
and nervous capacity of animals, we are apt 
to assign to them some measure of human 



THE BADGER 

powers of thought and feeling. Undoubtedly 
they are physically less sensitive, and we 
probably err when we ascribe to them more 
than a slight ability to anticipate, or credit 
them with such sentiments as anxiety, mental 
distress, and those thoughts and sensations 
that in the main make pain intolerable. 
Those species that have long been associated 
with man have, I think, a greater capacity 
for suffering. The individuality of each 
domestic race has been developed ; the 
difference of temperament and character of 
each individual becomes more marked, and 
more or less humanized, according to the 
influences by which it is surrounded. There 
is a more uniform character and greater simi- 
larity of temperament among wild animals, 
and the more refined the civilization and the 
more cultivated the senses, the more sensi- 
tive will the whole animal become. This 
may be seen in the most common of Nature's 
operations. The wild beast produces its 
young with ease and without pain. With 
woman, raised amidst the refinements of 
civilization, the same operation is with every 



THE BADGER 

precaution and assistance sometimes a danger- 
ous, always an agonizing ordeal. 

No, the terms are not hard. Take the 
case of a fox, the most hunted of animals. 
The ordinary lot of a fox compared with that 
of any other creature, wild or domestic, or 
even with man himself, is not an unenviable 
one. Unlike the domestic animals, he is not 
born into servitude or to die in early life by 
the butcher's knife or axe. Happier than 
man, he lives his life, whether longer or 
shorter, free from the worries, cares, and the 
thousand ills which flesh is heir to. The 
fox's life is free as air. Protected for the 
most part from the natural consequences 
of his marauding disposition, fair play is 
given to him to avoid the punishment he 
deserves by . the exercise of that strategy, 
activity, and endurance with which he is 
so abundantly endowed. Two or three 
days in the three hundred and sixty-five 
he may have to exert himself more or less 
to save his brush, or the end may come 
swiftly and suddenly after a long run ; but 
even so, are there not many of us who would 
14 



THE BADGER 

be glad to know that our death would come 
as swiftly and painlessly to us as to the fox, 
who, flying for forty minutes before the pack, 
confident, perhaps, to the last that he is a 
match for his pursuers, is rolled over in his 
stride ? The sportsman may pity the sink- 
ing fox, with every desire to see the victory 
of the straining pack, in the moment when, 
after gallantly standing up before hounds, a 
straight-necked veteran finds he has shot his 
last bolt, and turns with fire yet in his eye to 
meet death in its swiftest form. 

There is something strange in the mixture 
of pain with pleasure. My little son comes 
out cub-hunting with me in the early morn- 
ing of a September day. He is the picture 
of delight, sitting on his pony among the 
hounds, the effigy of enjoyment as he follows 
them with his and his pony's head just above 
the high bracken, the incarnation of satis- 
faction as he receives his first brush and is 
blooded. He is none the less a little sports- 
man for sobbing himself to sleep at night 
with his brush hugged under the bedclothes, 
because of the thought that the bright little 
'5 



THE BADGER 

cubs he saw killed will never again run in 
and out of the wood on the hillside as of 
yore. I look into his room the following day, 
and find him in his night-shirt busy extract- 
ing the tail -bone from his trophy, and he 
stops in his work only to ask when the 
hounds will be out again. 

The power of enjoying hunting of any sort 
is no evidence of want of tenderer feelings. 
It may be that the days of sport are 
numbered by the exigencies of what is 
termed the progress of civilization ; but 
whether men's hearts will be braver, their 
bodies and minds healthier, or their natures 
kindlier and happier for the change, only 
time may show. All this is something in the 
nature of apology ; but, excuse or none, thou- 
sands are conscious that the nearest approach 
to pure unmixed pleasure that they have 
known has been derived from the chase, 
where cares are forgotten, pulses quickened, 
eyes brightened, and the mind refreshed. 
About conscious or unconscious vicarious 
sacrifice with regard to the badger I will 
not say more than this, that the baiting of 
16 



THE BADGER 

an animal in confinement, even though he be 
but the scapegoat for a thousand of his kind, 
is so repugnant to humanity, and so likely to 
breed cruelty, that though I lament his im- 
minent extinction I would say, "perish Meles 
taxus " rather than let him pay this price for 
the continuance of his race, and, whatever 
view he might have himself, I would refuse 
him the option. 

The badger has made a wonderful struggle 
for existence, and may linger on for many 
years yet in the more secluded corners of 
England and Wales (in Scotland he is almost 
extinct), but he owes all to his own mys- 
terious silent ways, and nothing to man's 
mercy in the matter. The intelligent and 
unprejudiced wearers of velveteen, who, with 
the tacit consent of their masters, have by 
means of the steel trap, flag-trap, and gun, 
exterminated and banished for ever the most 
interesting of our animals and the most 
beautiful of our birds, have hitherto failed in 
their ruthless attempt to ricl earth and heaven 
of everything but furred and feathered game, 
so far as the badger is concerned. In many 
17 c 



THE BADGER 

English counties, however, the badger has 
given in before ceaseless digging, snaring, 
and shooting, and the silent covert where he 
had his earth, where he dug and delved and 
made his wonderful subterranean stronghold, 
knows him no more. He has gone with the 
polecat, the pine marten, the wild cat, the 
harriers, the buzzards, and a host of the 
brightest and loveliest of our birds. Guilt- 
less of the crimes of his fellow-victims against 
game, he was and is still ignorantly classed 
under that all-embracing word of the keeper, 
" vermin." There are few who lament his 
disappearance save perhaps the makers of 
shaving-brushes, and the old people whose 
faith in the efficacy of " badger-grease " can 
no longer find the opportunity of exercising 
the same. This faith is an old one. I read 
in the Sporting Magazine, 1 800, volume xvii. 
" The flesh, blood, and grease of the 
badger are very useful for oils, ointments, 
salves, and powders, for shortness of breath, 
the cough of the lungs, for the stone, 
sprained sinews, coll-achs, etc. The skin, 

being well dressed, is very warm and com- 
18 



THE BADGER 

fortable for ancient people who are troubled 
with paralytic disorders." Evidently a few 
badgers in the good old days supplied the 
place of the country doctor. About the 
fancied or really mischievous habits of the 
badger I shall have something to say later 
on. 



PART II 

THE badger (Meles taxns, or Ursus 
meles] is known under various aliases, viz. 
the Brock (Danish Broc, Erse Broc, Welsh 
Brock), the Pate, and the Grey. Of these 
the Brock is perhaps the commonest, and is 
the name most used in the north of England. 
There is an expression common in the north 
that would lead the ignorant to believe that 
a badger perspires, or sweats, viz. " sweating 
like a brock." In Yorkshire I often hear a 
man say, " Ah sweats like a brock," and the 
user of this elegant metaphor innocently 
imagines he is perspiring like a badger. But 
" brock " is the old north-country word for the 
insect known as " cuckoo-spit " (Aphrophora 
spumaria), which covers itself in the larval 
state with froth and foam (cf. Welsh brock, 



THE BADGER 

foam) vide Atkinson's Dictionary of the 
Cleveland Dialect. In parts of Cornwall 
and Wales the word " Grey " may be in 
use, but I myself have only come across it in 
books, more especially old ones. Though 
able to boast these several titles, there is but 
one species known in Europe, and in general 
appearance he is the same animal, though 
varying locally in size and shade of colour. 
He has been classed as belonging to the 
bear tribe, but the badger is really a single 
species and a sub-genus in itself. The den- 
tition of a badger is half tuberculous and half 
carnivorous, and in this respect approaches 
the martens. 

About few animals has there been more 
nonsense written in regard to habits and 
anatomy, and for many of the popular notions 
concerning the badger there is no foundation 
whatever. In the ancient books descriptive 
of sport and wild animals we read that there 
were in England two kinds of badger the 
one as we know it, and the other a " pig- 
badger," with cloven hoofs and other attri- 
butes of the porker. It is astonishing how 



THE BADGER 

these old authors drew upon their imagination, 
and where they found suggestions for their 
errors. In this case it may be they were 
misled by the custom, which still continues, 
of distinguishing between the dog and bitch, 
or male and female badger, by using the terms 
boar and sow ; or it may be the idea dawned 
whilst they ate their rasher from a badger 
ham ! 

There are altogether not more than five (or 
perhaps six) kinds of badger known through- 
out the world, so far as I know. 1 

i. The European badger, known over 
almost the whole of Europe and Asia. 2. A 
larger species, confined to the high steppes 
of Eastern Siberia. 3. The North American 
mistonusk, or chocaratouch (Meles labradorica 
or hudsonius}. 4. The Mexican badger, 
found south of latitude 35 degrees. 5. The 
Japanese badger. 6. The Indian badger 

1 Lydekker, whose authority I accept, enumerates four 
kinds of badger 

1. The American (Taxidea americana). 

2. The Common (Meles taxus). 

3. Malayan (Mydaus meliceps). 

4. The Sand-badger (Arctonyx collaris). 



THE BADGER 

(Meles indica) might be added perhaps, 
though it has a pig's snout, long legs, and 
long tail. Its native name is bhalloo-soor, 
i. e. the bear pig. 

Nos. 3 and 4, the chocaratouch and 
Mexican, differ so distinctly from the others 
in dentition, though in appearance similar to 
the European species, that a new genus, 
Taxidea, has been established for their 
reception. 1 

Popular error, and old writers, describe 
the badger as 'having his legs shorter on one 
side than the other, and the latter, with 
philosophical ingenuity, have discovered 
therein a wonderful provision of nature ; 
for, says Nicholas Cox, "He hath very 
sharp Teeth, and therefore is accounted a 
deep-biting beast ; his back is broad, and his 
legs are longer on the right side than the 
left, and therefore he runneth best when he 
gets on the side of an Hill or a Cart roadway." 
The same author also states " Her manner 

1 In Lower California there is a variety of badger 
which differs from described forms by its dark colouration 
and broad nuchal stripe. 

2 3 



THE BADGER 

is to fight on her back, using thereby both 
her Teeth and her Nails, and by blowing up 
her Skin after a strange and wonderful 
manner she defendeth herself against any 
blow and teeth of Dogs. Only a small stroke 
on her Nose will dispatch her presently. You 
may thrash your heart weary on her back, 
which she values as a matter of nothing." If 
such a provision in the matter of legs did 
exist, one can realize the comfort of the 
uneven legs on a hill-side, but what gravels 
us is the discomfort of the return journey! 
The rolling, shambling gait that characterizes 
the badger is doubtless the origin of this 
absurd theory, which might be equally 
applied to any other member of the bear 
family. The European badger, as we find 
him in England, Wales, Scotland, and 
Ireland, stands about ten to twelve inches 
from the ground, has a long, stout body, with 
the belly near the earth. He has a coat so 
long and dense, and legs so short, that he 
appears to travel very nearly ventre a terre. 
The male is somewhat larger than the female, 
and weighs more. The weight of a male is 
24 



THE BADGER 

about 25 Ibs., that of a female about 22 Ibs. 
When they are fat, or in grease in September, 
they will scale more. Badgers have been 
known to weigh up to about 40 Ibs. ; the 
largest I ever dug out and weighed was 
an old lean dog badger that scaled over 
35 Ibs. 

The head of the badger is wedge-shaped 
in general conformation, the back of the head 
large, the cheek-bones well sprung, and the 
muzzle fine and long. The nose or snout 
is black in colour, long and full ; the eyes 
small, black, or black-blue ; and the ears 
small, round, close-set, and neat. The 
strength of a badger's legs is most remarkable, 
and for his size (the animal only weighs 
from 19 Ibs. to 35 Ibs.) he possesses a most 
wonderful combination of bone and muscle. 
The legs are very short and the joints large ; 
the feet, like the legs, are nearly black, and 
are large and long. The badger is a planti- 
grade, that is, when travelling he puts down 
the whole of his foot, including the heel, flat 
on the ground. His fore-feet are larger, 
longer, and better equipped for digging than 
25 



THE BADGER 

his hind, but all are armed with long, sharp 
claws, and it is prodigious what he can effect 
with them. There is no mistaking his tracks 
no animal's footprint is in the least like his. 
His heel is large and wide ; this, and his four 
round, plump toes, leave an impression in 
sand, mud, or snow that cannot be con- 
founded with any other. If the mud is deep, 
or there is snow on the ground, he also 
leaves the mark of his claws, but as a rule 
these are not observable, as he puts his 
weight on the sole of his foot his tracks are 
usually almost in a line. The badger is cut 
out for a miner. His wedge-shaped head is 
capable of forcing a passage through sand 
and soft strata, whilst his armour-tipped 
diggers are worked by machinery that rivals 
in power the steam navvy ; and whilst his 
fore-feet are going like an engine, throwing 
stones, bits of rock, sand, clay, and all that 
he comes in contact with between his fore- 
legs (which are set wide apart, leaving plenty 
of room under the chest), his powerful hams 
are working his hind-legs and feet like little 

demons, throwing back all that the fore-feet 
26 



THE BADGER 

throw under his belly. And this is not all. 
His powerful jaw and teeth will cut, break, 
and tear all roots that obstruct his passage 
onwards, and it is most entertaining to see 
him going through earth, shale, and stone 
with the rapidity and sustained energy of a 
machine. No one who has not seen it would 
credit what one of these animals can do. I 
have often been defeated by their being able 
to penetrate more quickly than even a gang of 
men with pick-axe, spade, shovels, and crow- 
bar could follow. And it is safe to say that 
as long as a terrier is not up to the badger, 
the badger is not only advancing quicker 
than the men (if his earth is on a hill-side), 
but has also, in nine cases out of ten, barri- 
caded his retreat and scored a victory. I 
have known a badger, left for awhile by the 
terrier, bore his way straight up out to day- 
light and escape. The badger is covered 
with a thick, long-haired coat, which with a 
loose skin of extraordinary density and tough- 
ness forms a complete and effective armour. 
The hair on his head is short and smooth, 
and the sharp, clean black-and-white markings 
27 



THE BADGER 

of his head give a very pretty and effective 
appearance to it. The general appearance 
in colour of a badger is a sort of silvery-grey, 
turning to black on the throat, breast, belly, 
and legs. Inverting the usual colouring of 
other animals, which is generally dark on the 
back, with lighter colouring on the belly and 
under the arms and thighs, the badger is 
lighter on the back and black underneath. 



FIG. 2. 

Not only is this colouring peculiar to the 
badger, but his hair is unlike that of any 
other creature known to me, being light at 
the root and darker above. 

The colour of a badger alters with age. 
The little cubs, till they are seven or eight 
months old, are a clean, bright, light silvery- 
grey ; they then become yellower in their 
coats, a colour which they keep sometimes 

permanently, but which they generally change 

28 



THE BADGER 

after two years for a suit of darker, purer 
grey. The badger's tail is about five inches 
long, covered with long, coarse, lighter- 
coloured hair than that on his body, and is 
of a yellowish-brown colour. 

The badger has another peculiar distinction 
that is somewhat mysterious, viz. a pouch, 
the vent of which is close under the root of 
the tail, and contains an oily foetid matter 
which he has the power of emitting. Differ- 
ent uses have been ascribed to this provision, 
such as that which ferrets and polecats have. 
I have, never noticed a badger use it as 
has been suggested, as a mode of defence 
or annoyance, and am sure that this is not 
its purpose. But there is no doubt the 
badger sucks and licks this substance, whether 
by way of taking a tonic, a cooling draught, 
a stimulant, or other physic I cannot say. I 
am, however, inclined to believe that from 
this source he is able to maintain his health 
and support life during those periods of 
seclusion and total retirement in his " earth " 
which have led naturalists to describe him as 
a hibernating animal. 

29 



THE BADGER 

In this theory I am strengthened by a 
French author, Edmond Le Masson, who 
writes " The badger does not always give 
evidence of his presence in his woody retreat. 
. . . There, should one go to see him, he 
may, from pure idleness, remain shut up, it 
being easy for him to support himself during 
the longest period of retirement by licking 
the secretion which oozes from the pouch 
under his tail." The author goes on to give 
an account which was sent to the French 
papers by M. Recope, Garde General at 
Marly-le-Roi, of a badger that was shut in a 
culvert without any food whatever for forty- 
five days, walled in on every side, and where 
no tree root could penetrate. A gamekeeper, 
a noted trapper, had blocked the exit, and 
tried in every way he could devise to trap 
him, from February 18, 1853, to April 4, 
and when at last he succumbed to a ruse of 
the keeper's he was quite lively, and weighed 
nearly 19 Ibs. It appears that however care- 
fully his traps were set in the mouth of the 
exit, the badger came every night and rolled 
on them and struck them, as they will do 
3 



THE BADGER 

when they suspect any human infernal 
machine. That he will remain for a week 
or two at a time without issuing from his 
" earth " is certain, but the most casual 
observer will see badger tracks in the snow 
in the severest weather, and I have never 
been able to find that there were no tracks in 
the snow issuing from the " earths " in winter 
for more than a week or two at a time. 
The badger is less active, eats less, goes 
fewer and shorter journeys in winter, and 
has a hibernating tendency ; but the idea 
that the British species shuts himself up 
and takes to his bed through the winter 
months, and never comes forth till spring, is 
a fallacy. 

Having attempted a slight description of 
the badger as far as his exterior is concerned, 
I shall leave to " Dryasdust " the description 
and nomenclature of the badger's interior 
economy, as well as the enumeration, weights, 
and measurements of his bones and muscles. 
He possesses, however, one or two structural 
peculiarities that deserve a little attention. 
There is much similarity in the general 
3 1 



THE BADGER 

conformation of the badger's and bear's skull, 
but the protecting ridge on the head is absent 
in the bear. What gives to the badger's jaw 
its proverbial and terrific force ? To witness 
its work is to know that its power of biting, 
crushing, and holding must be the result of 
some peculiarly strong mechanical as well as 
muscular construction. The examination of 
the skull helps in the solution of the mystery. 




FIG. 3. Lower Jaw of Badger. 

The conformation of the jaw is strong, and 
the muscles attached to it powerful ; but 
besides this he has two distinguishing 
structural additions that give his jaws, fur- 
nished with his formidable teeth, the strength 
and retentive power of an iron vice. The 
first is that his lower jaws are locked into 
sockets in the skull, and are thereby made 
unlike those of all other animals I know of 
32 



THE BADGER 

impossible of dislocation. 1 His head or skull, 
when stripped of flesh and bare, still retains 
the lower jaws in such a way that they 
cannot be displaced without fracturing the 
massive bones of the head or jaw. The 
teeth of a badger require respectful attention. 
There are eighteen teeth in the lower and 
sixteen in the upper jaw, in all thirty-four. 
The four big molars, two above and two 




FIG. 4. Dovetailed Jaws. 

below, are large and strong, the upper being 
much the larger and wider ones, the lower 
being longer and fitting within the upper, as 
do all the lower teeth. The four canines are 
large, thick, round, long and formidable, and 
are his chief weapons. The lower canines 
dovetail when the jaws close with the upper, 

1 The curved ridges of bone on the skull by which the 
lower jaw is held in its place by gripping the condyle are 
more or less well developed in most of the weasel family. 
33 D 



THE BADGER 

but all the four points or ends turn outward 
and backward. 

The second peculiarity arises from a high 
ridge of bone, standing straight up and run- 
ning from the base of the skull to between 
the ears, giving a firm hold to the ligaments 




FIG. 5. Skull of Badger front view. 

and tendons, and an additional leverage and 
length, which are again rendered more 
effective by passing over the high cheek- 
bones as over a pulley before reaching the 
jaws. There is a saying that "a badger 
never leaves go till he makes his teeth 
meet," and there is a foundation of truth in 
34 



THE BADGER 

it. The length of time he will hold on to 
the limb of an enemy is certainly fearful, and 
the way in which his thick strong canines 
go through the bone. On one occasion, in 
Wales, a keeper residing near the place I was 
staying at thought he saw the badger's tail 
at the end of a badger-digging, and laid 




FIG. 6. Skull side view. 

hold of it to draw him. He had made a 
terrible mistake, and had got hold of a hind- 
foot. The badger held him by the wrist 
for ten minutes with his arm stretched up 
the hole ; when he let go his hold the hand 
was hanging by a few shreds, and had, of 
course, to be amputated. I have always 
35 



THE BADGER 

drawn a badger when possible by the tail, as 
the use of the tongs is sometimes difficult, 
especially in certain holes and at great depths, 
and there is a liability for the tongs to give 
way, and then the badger charges in your 
face or through your legs. I have seen a 
badger's teeth break and fly off in chips from 
iron tongs, a sight and sound that is not 
pleasant. To one who knows how to do it, 
drawing by the tail is a simple, quiet, and 
effective way of " taking the brock." 

A badger has the proverbial nine lives 
that John Chinaman attributes to women 
and we to cats. You cannot kill a badger 
by a blow on the head, the structure is so 
dense. His brain is so well protected by the 
ridges of bone along his skull and over his 
eye-sockets, and by the strength and pro- 
jection of his cheek-bones, as to make him 
all but invulnerable in that quarter. His 
skin is so thick and tough, and his coat so 
heavy and coarse, that shot will scarcely 
penetrate it ; but he has one place as tender 
as a nigger's shins, and that is his nose, 
where, if he is struck once, he is instantly 
36 



THE BADGER 

dispatched. I was witness of a scene in the 
hunting field with the Cleveland hounds 
during the mastership of the late Mr. Henry 
Turner Newcomen, which, however dis- 
gusting, illustrated the vitality of the badger. 
We thought we had run a fox to ground in 
a drain. The terriers were sent for, one was 
put in to bolt him, but after a quarter of an 
hour's attempt he came out, having given it 
up, with severe marks of punishment. One 
that could be depended on was then dis- 
patched to ground, and digging operations 
commenced. As time went on we thought 
from the sound that it could not be a fox, 
and presently there was a charge down the 
drain, and a badger came bouncing and 
floundering out among the crowd of by- 
standers, the terrier holding on to him. The 
other terriers, barking furiously to join in the 
fray, excited the hounds in an adjoining field ; 
they broke out past the whips, and nineteen 
couple were soon at the badger, who was 
entirely lost to view in the struggling and 
worrying mass. But he was plying his jaws 
all the time, as was evidenced by the howls 
37 



THE BADGER 

of pain from the wounded hounds as they 
withdrew from this unaccustomed entertain- 
ment. The whips and others did their best 
to flog the hounds off, but this was not 
accomplished for at least ten minutes. After 
much bloodshed, and when the last hound 
had been choked off, the badger showed 
neither scratch nor wound, and looked as 
fresh as possible. Mr. Newcomen ordered a 
whip to despatch him and end the tragedy. 
The whip clubbed a weighted hunting-stock, 
striking him several smashing blows on the 
head, and left him apparently dead. A 
farmer having asked if he might have him 
to stuff, put him in a sack and carried him 
off. A few days later I met the farmer, Mr. 
R. Brunton, of Marton, and he told me that 
when he got home the badger was as lively 
as ever, so he put him on a collar and chain 
and fastened him to a kennel. The day 
following he thought, from the appearance 
of the badger, that he was hurt about the 
head, and with some difficulty examined him, 
and found that the lower jaw was injured. 
He thereupon got a revolver and fired a 
38 



THE BADGER 

shot into his ear, and then he assured me 
the badger only shook his head. He was 
so taken aback that for a moment or two he 
thought of giving up the attempt to kill him, 
but firing a second ball into him behind the 
shoulder he put an end at once to the poor 
brute's sufferings. 

The badger, as I have said, is becoming 
very scarce in England, and is decreasing in 
numbers in France and other countries as 
well. There are, however, several English 
and Welsh counties where in woodlands he 
still is to be found in considerable numbers, 
and some districts where they are common 
enough. The badger is fairly plentiful in 
many parts of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, 
Somerset, Hants, and Gloucestershire, along 
the Welsh border, and in Mid and South 
Wales. It is to be found also in Sussex, 
Wilts, occasionally in Surrey and Kent, and 
here and there through the Midland and 
home counties. It is becoming rare in the 
north of England, but still lingers in the 
North Riding of Yorkshire, chiefly in the 
districts of the hills and moors between 
39 



THE BADGER 

Scarborough and York. In Lincolnshire it 
is to be found in places; it is extinct in 
Durham, and practically so in Northumber- 
land, where within fifty years it was common 
enough. 

A Northumberland gamekeeper of my 
father's has told me he knew it in the Kyloe 
Craggs and the Ho wick Woods, and remem- 
bered his father taking him to see their dog 
tried at a badger near Belford. In none of 
these places are they to be found now. In my 
own district of Cleveland they were in 1874 all 
but extinct. I remember as a boy two were 
caught in our neighbourhood, one in Kildale 
and one at Ayton ; but in 1874 I had three 
young badgers sent me from Cornwall, dug 
out by one of my uncles, and these I turned 
out in my father's coverts, and secured for 
them the keeper's protection. Since then 
they have, with a few later introductions, 
held their own, and a few years ago I knew 
of nine badger " sets " in the vicinity, and 
some five on our own ground ; but I regret 
that the hands of neighbours are against 

them. 

40 



THE BADGER 

In Scotland the badger is now rare. In 
the north-eastern counties, where till recently 
he was to be met with in every wild 
woodland and forest district, he has entirely 
vanished. In Ross-shire and in the west 
he is occasionally found in places where the 
wild cat and marten are making their last 
stand against the keeper and his extermin- 
ating engine, the steel trap. In Ireland 
the badger is still found in the Wild West. 
I have come upon him in Connemara, near 
the Killery harbour, and have heard of him 
in Kerry and other counties. 

As to the distribution of the badger in 
Ireland I quote the following interesting 
letters from the Field : 

" ' Lepus Hibernicus' may be glad to 
know that the badger is still fairly common in 
the neighbourhood of Clonmel. The country 
people, who know them better under the 
name of 'earth-dogs,' in distinction to 'water- 
dogs,' or otters, not unfrequently catch them 
in one way or another, and offer them for 
sale. Fortunately for the badger the demand 
is extremely limited." Badger (Clonmel). 
41 



THE BADGER 

" Permit me to coincide with ' Lepus Hiber- 
nicus ' respecting the plentifulness of the 
badger in Ireland. Some years since I was 
on a large estate in Co. Clare, and badgers 
were abundant on the domain and the adjoin- 
ing property ; I also found them numerous 
in the wilds of Galway. I have found and 
killed them in many parts of England and 
Wales, but have seen and trapped far more 
in the west of Ireland." J. J. M. ''Your 
correspondent, ' Lepus Hibernicus,' in the 
Field of November 5, mentions that badgers 
are by no means uncommon in Ireland. I 
am in the west of Cornwall, and there are 
any amount here, a great deal too plentiful 
to please me, as I am sure they do a lot 
of harm to rabbits and game. I found the 
parts of a fowl in a field, evidently killed by 
a badger, as there was a trail not a foot 
away, and also a hole scratched, which could 
be the work of none other than a badger. I 
had two very big ones brought to me alive 
last week. They were caught by setting a 
noose of thin rope in their run. I should 
like to know a good way to exterminate 
42 



THE BADGER 

them, as, though I shoot over a great deal 
of ground, I have never seen one out in 
daytime, but their trail is every where. "- 
H. J. W. " The badger is by no means 
rare in the west of Clare, where I have 
trapped several." A. H. G. " I beg to in- 
form ' Lepus Hibernicus' that badgers are 
by no means scarce in this place." A. R. 
Warren, Warren's Court, Lisarda, Cork. 
" The badger in this part of the. Co. Cork is 
certainly not rare Owen, Sheehy, Coosane, 
and Goulacullen mountains, with the adjoin- 
ing ranges, afford shelter to a goodly number. 
Farm hands occasionally capture unwary 
ones, and offer them for sale as pets, or to 
test the mettle of the national terrier, or to 
be converted into bacon. A badger's ham 
is often seen suspended from the rafter of a 
farmer's kitchen." J. Wagner (Dunmanway, 
Co. Cork). 

The counties in which I have had most 
acquaintance with the badger have been 
Radnorshire, Yorkshire, Herefordshire, Glou- 
cestershire, and Cornwall, but perhaps most 
of my experience has been gained in the 
43 



THE BADGER 

last-named county, as far as digging for him 
is concerned ; whilst it is at home in Cleve- 
land that I have watched him for nearly 
twenty years, and gained some knowledge 
of his mode of life and habits. I am not 
sure whether there are not a few still left 
in the Cheviots and the districts of the 
Upper Tyne and Tweed. Up till about 
1850 they were to be found on the Cleveland 
hills, or rather on their wooded sides and in 
the "gills." The last place where I heard 
of them being hunted was in the ravine and 
woods of Kilton. 

A badger's earth or warren is properly and 
generally called a "set" or "cete." They 
vary in respect of size, number of entrances, 
depth of galleries, and choice of site almost 
as much as rabbit-holes. Sometimes badgers 
will find sufficient room in rocks to make a 
home, and it is extraordinary the excavations 
they occasionally make in apparently solid 
rock. Usually, however, they select some 
softer material in which to make their under- 
ground passages and chambers. They will 
choose a quiet hillside away from man's 
44 



THE BADGER 

habitation, amongst the whin bushes, or in 
the woods near a stream or small runner of 
water. Such a "set," if long established, 
will penetrate through earth, clay, and sub- 
soil, to some stratum of shale, or sand, or 
loose rock. Some of the galleries and 
chambers will be at a great distance from 
the surface, and some at an enormous depth. 
When a new earth is made I have always 
found the badger appropriate the holes of 
rabbits, and proceed to excavate, enlarge, 
and open them out. This operation of open- 
ing a new earth takes place constantly in 
the spring-time, great masses of material be- 
ing thrown out ; but as often as not the new 
house is abandoned before completed, and the 
subsequent labours of the family are devoted 
to repairing, enlarging, and making new 
front or back doors to the old place. In 
Cornwall I once tried my hand with my 
brother, some strong Cornishmen, and a 
team of terriers, at a very innocent-looking 
badger " set " situated in a level field. There 
were but three holes, and these not very far 
apart. The farmer told us that there had 
45 



THE BADGER 

been badgers there all his life, and no one 
had ever been able to dig one out. This 
rather stimulated us than otherwise, and we 
had in the course of a few hours dug a 
trench some six feet deep, and were nearing 
the sounds of the subterranean conflict, which 
had been sustained by the terriers, when 
suddenly we found that we were above the 
sound, and we sank a shaft down three feet 
from the bottom of our trench, to find gal- 
leries and chambers in all directions. The 
battle had by this time moved, and we were 
in despair at the prospect of following on 
the level with a depth of nine feet of surface 
soil to be lifted in every direction we turned. 
I was listening at the bottom of the trench, 
having penetrated to the third storey of this 
underground barrack, when I distinctly heard 
the " bump-bump " of the badger below me. 
My companions came down and listened too, 
and there was not the slightest doubt that 
there was a fourth storey and labyrinth of 
passages some three or four feet below us, 
and for anything we knew another beyond. 

The day was far spent, the task was im- 
4 6 



THE BADGER 

possible, and the rest, of our time was de- 
voted to getting the terriers out, and making 
as good a retreat as we could before the 
victorious enemy. 

I should think this " set " was hundreds 
of years old, and some of the passages, the 
farmer told us, were a hundred yards long! 
As a rule a badger's hole descends rapidly 
at first, and then may branch into any num- 
ber of by-ways and subterranean galleries. 
Whichever route you follow, however, you 
invariably come to a chamber or " oven," 
which is generally a sort of vaulted hall, 
where four ways meet, and which is, or has 
been, the living-room of the family at some 
previous time. Where there is an old-estab- 
lished " set " it is difficult to drive the badgers 
permanently away from it. They may leave 
it for a while from fancy, or because of dis- 
turbance, but they will certainly return. 

The badger and his wife have a regular 
spring cleaning after the winter is over, and 
about March and April a cart-load of winter 
bedding, rubbish, earth, and sweepings will 
be thrown in a few nights outside the front 
47 



THE BADGER 

door. There is generally the old bedding 
left in one or two of the big chambers for 
the lady who is to be brought to bed in 
February, March, or April ; and there is 
another turn-out after this interesting event 
has been accomplished. About the middle 
of June, in July and August, and as late 
as October and November, an extraordinary 
amount of fresh bedding will be taken in. 
On summer evenings I have watched the 
badgers at work, but regret that I cannot 
substantiate the following description : 
" Badgers when they Earth, after by digging 
they have entred a good depth, for the 
clearing of the Earth out, one of them falleth 
on the back, and the other layeth Earth on 
the belly, and so taking his hinder feet in the 
mouth draweth the Belly-laden Badger out 
of the Hole or Cave ; and having disburdened 
herself, re-enters and doth the like till all be 
finished." 

No, this is not how it is done, though it 
is a curious sight to see the real thing. The 
badger will come out, take a look round, and 

sit awhile close to the mouth of the hole. 
48 



THE BADGER 

He will then shuffle about and get further 
from the hole. You will watch him descend 
into some bracken-covered hollow, and will 
see nothing more of him for awhile. Then 
you will hear him gently pushing and shoving 
and grunting, and know that he is very busy 
over something. He will reappear bumping 
along backwards, a heap of bracken and of 
grass or old straw, left from a pheasant feed, 
under his belly, and encircled by his arms 
and fore-feet. He will continue this most 
undignified and curious mode of retrogression 
to the earth, and will disappear tail first 
down his hole, still hugging and tugging at 
his burden. 

"It is very pleasant to behold them when 
they gather materials for their Couch, as 
straw, leaves, moss, and such-like ; for with 
their Feet and their Head they will wrap 
as much together as a man will carry under 
his arm, and will make shift to get into 
their Cells and Couches" (The Gentleman s 
Recreation}. 

I have not seen a badger make more than 
two such excursions by daylight, but have 
49 E 



THE BADGER 

no doubt that after dark a considerable 
number of such journeys may be accom- 
plished. For weeks together, on any morn- 
ing, you may see the litter of bracken and 
grass strewing the way to his home and 
down the various entrances. 

And now let me again, with all possible 
respect, put some of our scientific friends 
right. It is not often that an amateur can ; 
but a man who is not able to tell you every- 
thing, as these learned men do, about every 
living creature, may from a country life and 
experience be able to correct some errors 
in respect of one animal at least. M. 
Buffon, the immortal and wonderful natural 
historian, tells us that the badger is a solitary 
animal. This is the reverse of truth ; he is 
less solitary than the fox. He is fond of 
company ; he is monogamous, and clings 
closely and faithfully to his own wife. With 
badgers, as with the human race, the sexes 
are not precisely equal in numbers, and often, 
from the force of circumstances, a badger 
has to remain a celibate, but he is not a 
bachelor by choice. He may become a 
5 



THE BADGER 

widower, but in either case he will travel 
far to seek a partner to share his shelter 
and his lot. It is not altogether rare to find 
an old solitary dog badger, who has loved 
and lost, or taken in late age to a hermit's 
cell ; but he, as often as not, when he has 
failed to secure the companionship of the 
gentler sex, has found some other male to 
share his home, when they can live comfort- 
ably en garfon. 

Nor do the married pair shun the society 
of their kind. I have often seen large badger 
" sets " almost as full of badgers as a warren 
is of rabbits. One evening, near my house, 
I waited an hour of midge-plagued time to 
watch the badgers come out from a small 
"set," and was rewarded by seeing a pro- 
cession of seven full-grown badgers emerge 
from a single hole, and I had them all in 
full view for something like twenty minutes. 
As this was in July they could hardly be one 
family. They were every one more than a 
year old, and a badger's family is usually 
two in number, sometimes three, and never 
more than four ; and this last is exceedingly 



THE BADGER 

rare in my experience. In no sense, there- 
fore, is the badger solitary. Indeed I have 
actually known myself several instances of 
a badger and fox living in apparent amity 
in the same earth, whilst I hardly ever saw a 
badger ''earth" that was not either itself or 
the immediate vicinity tenanted by rabbits. 
As to the consistency of any friendship that 
exists between badgers and foxes and rabbits, 
I shall have more to say later on. I have, 
however, taken a badger and rabbit out of 
the same hole lying side by side. The 
badger is said to be the protector of the 
rabbit. He does not altogether deserve 
this title, and the rabbit enjoys the immunity 
in a badger's earth chiefly from the fact that 
the badger cannot follow it in the smaller 
holes without digging, an effort which in 
his estimation is, as a rule, not worth the 
candle. 

Buffon dwells on the cleanliness of the 
badger. He certainly is not the stinking 
animal he is accused of being. His house 
and himself are as a rule bright and cleanly 
looking, and it is only when in confinement, 
5 2 



THE BADGER 

and deprived of the sanitary arrangements 
to which he is accustomed, that he becomes 
offensive. Writers are not correct in saying 
that he never deposits his dung in his earth, 
but as a rule he does not, and his habit is 
to go some little distance from his home, dig 
a hole, and there leave his excrement. He 
will use the same hole for a few days, and 
then cover it up with earth and make a new 
one. There is a smell about a badger 
"earth," but it is not disagreeable, and no- 
thing like so rank and strong as that of a 
fox's. He is, however, often troubled with 
lice and ticks, so that it is desirable when 
your dogs have been to ground carefully to 
wash them. But in this respect a badger is 
not worse than sheep and goats, and with 
such a coat as he has it is no wonder that 
it is sometimes tenanted. The same dis- 
tinguished authority states that the badger 
produces its young in summer, but I have 
never known this happen. March is the 
usual month, and the rule is not earlier than 
February nor later than April. A naturalist 
at Cambridge told me that he knew of a 
53 



THE BADGER 

badger bitch that was many months in con- 
finement (I think he said eighteen months), 
and gave birth to cubs but I was not con- 
vinced of the accuracy of his statement that 
she had never had access to one of her kind. 
It is only fair to mention that Vyner, in his 
Notitia Venatica, states that "It is a fact 
perhaps not generally known, nevertheless 
curious, that badgers go twelve months with 
young. This fact I learned from a neigh- 
bour of mine in Warwickshire, who some 
years ago dug out in the spring a sow badger. 
She was confined in an outhouse for twelve 
months, at about which period she produced 
one young one. During her confinement it 
was impossible for her to have been visited 
by a male." 

That an animal of this size should go with 
young for such a period is so extraordinary, 
and so great an exception to the ordinary 
provisions of nature, that the theory requires 
much greater support than mere hearsay 
evidence. If it were a fact, or if it were 
the rule, the evidence to support the theory 
of twelve months' gestation should be over- 
54 



THE BADGER 

whelming, considering the number of badgers 
that are in confinement. I have had many 
in confinement for long periods, and have 
never known them to give any evidence in 
support of this theory. I have kept a pair 
for a long period, but, like many other wild 
animals in confinement, they never bred. 
All sorts of theories exist as to the period 
of gestation in badgers, but I think I shall 
be very near the mark when I say that they 
go with young about nine weeks, and I con- 
ceive that the mistake made by those who 
have thought that they go over a year is 
due to the fact, which I have noticed, that 
a pair of badgers do not breed every year. 
I cannot decide whether there is any precise 
rule, but am inclined to think that they breed 
once every two years. There are so many 
accounts of single badgers kept in confinement 
bringing forth young after a much longer 
period of gestation that it appears possible 
that the female has the power known to be 
possessed by the Roe-deer doe of postponing 
the operation of parturition for a considerable 
time. 

55 



THE BADGER 

The badger is not by nature a ferocious 
animal, though the female will repel with 
the greatest savagery any approach when 
she has young, but so will a hen with 
chickens. The temperament of the badger 
is a gentle, shrinking one. No animal pre- 
fers a more quiet life, loving a warm bed 
in a dry dark corner of earth or rocks. He 
loves to sleep and meditate in peace for the 
greater part of the twenty-four hours. He 
lies not far within his entrance hall during 
the spring and summer, and on a hot day 
he will sometimes come to the mouth of his 
hole. In the evening, in June or July, he 
will come outside, sit looking into the wood 
or shuffle round the bushes, stretch himself 
against the tree-stems, or have a clumsy 
romp with his wife and little ones ; and when 
the daylight dies he will hurry off, rushing 
through the covert for his nightly ramble. 
In the summer months he will travel as far 
as six miles from home, but he is in bed 
again an hour before sunrise. 

It is only at this time of the year that he 
can be hunted above ground. This can be 
56 



THE BADGER 

done with a few beagles or harriers on a moon- 
light night, when, finding him in the open, 
they will give a merry chase and fine cry, 
and a run of several miles without a check. 
If his earths are stopped, and he finds no 
other refuge, he will be brought to bay. In 
some districts I have known sacks put into 
the mouths of the most used holes of a set, 
the open end of each sack having a running 
noose pegged into the ground, thus providing 
an astonishing reception on his return as he 
charges in, disturbed or pursued in his mid- 
night ramble. By this means he is taken 
alive and unhurt, being bagged and secured 
in his attempt to enter. At other times of 
the year, when the days are short and the 
nights longer, he comes out later in the 
evening, waits for a moment at the mouth 
of his earth, takes a preliminary sniff round, 
and then rushes off at the top speed into the 
covert. 

The badger is easily domesticated if 
brought up by hand, and proves an inter- 
esting and charming companion. I had at 
one time two that I could do anything with, 
57 



THE BADGER 

and which followed me so closely that they 
would bump against my boots each step I 
took, and come and snuggle in under my 
coat when I sat down. I was very much 
attached to them, but having to leave for 
the London season, I came home after a 
prolonged absence to find that they had re- 
verted to their natural disposition, and had 
forgotten him who had been a foster-parent 
to them. As I could not fondle them with- 
out a pair of hedging-gloves on, and they 
no longer walked at my heel, I made them 
a home in the woods, where the thought of 
their happiness has helped me to bear my 
loss. 

Many interesting stones are told of tame 
badgers. Here is one taken from the Field: 
" A few months ago, a farmer in the Cots- 
wolds unearthed a badger and one youngster 
about two months old, which were sent to 
Mr. Barry Burge, Northleach, who only kept 
the former a few weeks, when she died. 
The orphan was petted very much by its 
owner. In a short time it would follow Mr. 
Burge through the fields and streets, and 
58 



THE BADGER 

answer to the call like a clog. It is an 
amusing- sight to see the badger along with 
its master riding a bicycle. A short time 
ago Mr. Burge had a fox cub, which he 
has succeeded in taming. This fox has 
taken a great fancy to an Irish terrier, with 
which she plays continually. The badger, 
which is now about seven months old, is 
loose about the house at times, but generally 
spends most of its time in company with 
the fox, to which it is greatly attached, all 
sleeping snugly together." G. W. Duckett, 
Northleach, R.S.O., Gloucestershire. 

M. le Masson gives a pretty account of 
his tame badger, which, though it loses much 
in translation, I give in English. " I brought 
up and kept for more than two years a 
female badger, which died at last from obe- 
sity. She had been taken from her mother 
when only eight days old and suckled by 
a Normandy bitch, which had already reared 
me some wolf whelps. ' Grisette,' as she 
was named, was, like all her kind, omnivorous; 
meat, beetles, fruits, certain kinds of vege- 
tables, in fact, all and everything was welcome 
59 



THE BADGER 

to her healthy appetite. When out walking 
in the country, where she always readily 
followed me, she would unearth rats, moles, 
and young rabbits, which she could scent at 
the bottom of their holes. In spite of her 
thorough domesticity, I never succeeded in 
overcoming her antipathy to dogs, and more 
especially to cats, which she chased most 
viciously did they dare to enter the kitchen 
where she reigned as queen ; and where, 
such was her sensitiveness to cold, she had 
made her bed against the wall in the chimney 
corner. Here in winter, buried in her furs, 
she slept curled up for whole days together. 
But which of us is without a fault ? A little 
greedy without being actually voracious, 
sweet Grisette sometimes ventured on to the 
stone-work of the cooking-stove, and from 
there was able to discover from which of 
the saucepans was exhaled the most savoury 
odour, and never did she make a mistake on 
that score ! " 

Du Fouilloux states in his Venerie : "Je 
ay veu aux blereaux prendre deuant moy 
les petis cochons de laict, lesquelz ilz tray- 
do 



THE BADGER 

noient tout vifz en leur terrier. C'est vne 
chose certaine qu'ilz en sont plus friandz 
que de toutes autres chairs : car si on passe 
vn carnage de porceau par dessus leurs 
terriers, ilz ne faudront iamais de sorter 
pour y aller." 

The badger is credited with a special love 
for pork. I have seen a statement in an old 
volume of the Gentleman s Recreation, in 
which the writer refers to the taste of the 
badger for pork. " They love Hog's-flesh 
above any other ; for take but a piece of 
Pork and train it over a badger's Burrow, if 
he be within, you shall quickly see him 
appear without." 

Badgers are omnivorous. In their wild 
state their food is principally roots and insects 
they are especially fond of beetles and such 
creatures as are to be found just below the 
surface of the ground, or under the decaying 
dung of cattle. The natural history books 
say they eat frogs. This may be true, but I 
have not observed it. I have tried badgers 
in confinement with all sorts of insects and 
grubs, but I never could get them to touch 
61 



THE BADGER 

slugs or worms. They are carnivorous, and 
eat mice, rats, voles, and moles. They will 
take a rabbit out of a trap, turn it inside out, 
and eat all the meat, leaving the skin behind, 
turned neatly with the fur inside. They are 
also fond of very young rabbits, and will dig 
a shaft through several feet of solid earth 
direct on to the nest. But when this has 
been stated, nearly all has been said with 
regard to their propensity to damage in game 
coverts. I am supported by other observers 
in this opinion ; for instance, a recent writer 
in the Field who says : "In reply to E. T. 
D'Egmont's inquiry about catching badgers, 
I have never found them do much harm to 
the nests of winged game ; but they are 
death on rabbits, and much resemble a fox in 
finding a young one appetizing. Their skins 
would make good waistcoats, but, apart from 
that, I would not destroy them upon any 
property of my own, because they do so 
much more good than harm in divers ways. 
We have a small property in my family, 
where foxes and badgers lie up together in 
close proximity to a rabbit warren, upon the 
62 



THE BADGER 

inhabitants of which they feed. It is a spot 
practically unknown to the outward gaze of 
man, as it is difficult of access ; and I should 
fancy that any one attempting to attack their 
stronghold would meet with a stubborn 
resistance. Badgers mostly go seeking for 
food during the night-time. Where they 
abound, one occasionally meets them walk- 
ing quietly along a path, with their snout 
low down, and occasionally giving a kind 
of grunt like a mongoose. They are very 
fond of honey. A bag pegged back over 
the entrance to their holes is a good way of 
catching them." 

They do not hunt for rabbits or game like 
a fox or cat, and though there are undoubt- 
edly instances of their taking partridge and 
pheasant eggs, in my experience I have 
never known it done by those around me, nor 
from other places where they have ample 
opportunity of doing so. I have known a 
pheasant rear a young brood on an earth 
tenanted by badgers ; but, curiously enough, 
I have known a similar case on a fox's earth, 
containing a vixen and cubs, and I cannot 
63 



THE BADGER 

defend the general character of a fox in 
regard to game. Still it may be taken that 
a badger, though occasionally eating rabbits 
and rarely eggs, does not hunt for game, 
ground or feathered, or do a hundredth part 
of the damage done by a fox or a cat. There 
have always been more rabbits, hares, and 
pheasants in a hollow near my house, where 
there is a large colony of badgers, than in 
any other part of the coverts. The badger 
has a special weakness for wild honey, and 
the grubs of wasps and humble bees. The 
wildest and most unconciliatory badgers I 
have ever had in confinement would come 
out and eat a wasp's nest, and they will hunt 
every bank and hedgerow in July and August, 
routing out every wasp's and hornet's nest in 
the country-side. A keeper told me that 
upon one occasion, when he was walking 
along the covert edges in summer-time about 
nine o'clock in the evening, his attention was 
arrested by a curious chapping, champing 
noise, and looking over the fence he saw an 
old badger with his head in a huge wasp's 
nest hanging in a bramble bush, and he was 
6 4 



THE BADGER 

crunching up and eating with the greatest 
gusto the wasps and grubs, quite undeterred 
by the thousand angry insects that covered 
his head and body. In truth, I must admit 
that while he is thus useful, he has been 
known to enter a garden and upset the hives 
and purloin the honey, being as fond of it as 
his larger cousins, the bears. 

I must also bring another charge against 
him. Let me introduce this painful subject 
by giving the following correspondence from 
the Field newspaper : 

" Wilfred writes ' I shall be obliged if 
you will allow me to ask your readers whether 
they have known old badgers to kill fox 
cubs. Last year our M.F. H. gave a neigh- 
bouring keeper a litter of cubs. He put them 
into a natural empty fox-earth, and kept them 
shut in until they had got fairly on their 
feed, and were quite at home. When he 
opened the earth, and allowed them to 
come out, they played about, and all went 
well for two or three days, when he found 
one at a little distance from the mouth of 
the earth dead, with its skull smashed in, 

65 F 



THE BADGER 

and very much bitten about the head and 
neck. He lost the lot in the same way in 
a few days. He thought an old badger 
or fox killed his cubs. About this time I 
got five cubs, and put them into an empty 
artificial fox-earth. All went well with 
them for some time after they played out, 
when the keeper reported finding one about 
twenty yards from the earth dead, and 
killed after the same fashion as my neigh- 
bour's cubs, and I too lost mine. In the 
same artificial earth I had a natural litter this 
season, and the cubs played out well ; but on 
the keeper telling me he did not think they 
were there now, I went to examine the earth, 
found the foxes gone, and the earth occupied 
by an old badger. I had a litter of fox cubs 
in the deer park here, where I live, and all 
went well with them until ten days ago, when 
one was picked up dead, killed in the same 
manner as those last year, and another was 
found dead yesterday. I feel quite certain 
myself that they were killed by an old badger 
or an old fox, for I am sure if killed by dogs 

they would not smash the skull and neck. I 
66 



THE BADGER 

shall be glad if any one can enlighten me on 
this subject.' " 

In reply to " Wilfred " there were several 
letters, among which were the following : 

" Sir, Undoubtedly; every one that they 
can get near, and more especially hand- 
reared cubs that have not got the old foxes 
to protect them. I was first told this by 
old Jem Hills, the well-known huntsman of 
the Heythrop, in his latter years ; and sub- 
sequently I had positive proof of what he 
said. On one occasion a man brought a fine 
half-grown cub to my house which he had 
picked up dead in the road he came along. 
It was bitten most severely through and 
behind the shoulder, and I at once remarked 
to a friend that was with me, ' That is the 
work of a badger.' On going down to an 
earth where I knew there was a natural litter, 
we found tracks of a badger all about the 
place, as if he had been hunting the cubs. 
Having at the time eight cubs that I was 
hand-rearing in an artificial drain, I thought 
it was high time to look after them, for 
67 



THE BADGER 

though regularly fed, I did not always watch 
to see whether they all came to feed. How- 
ever, I did so that evening, and only two 
came, and these looked very wild and scared. 
I then searched the plantation, and picked up 
four of my cubs killed quite recently, and 
bitten in the same savage way. A few weeks 
after we killed a big boar badger in the 
drain. Several years later, I was again rear- 
ing some hand-bred cubs, and everything 
went well until they were a good size, 
when one morning I found one of them 
killed, evidently by a badger ; and I even- 
tually took four more of them, and the others 
were all driven away. This badger beat 
me for some little time, but I got him at 
last. Though old badgers and foxes are often 
found in the same earth, more frequently 
when one of the latter has been run to 
ground by hounds, yet, as a rule, they 
give each other wide berths. If your cor- 
respondent ' Wilfred ' wishes to save his 
cubs, let him kill every badger as soon as 
possible." 



68 



THE BADGER 

" Sir, Replying to ' Wilfred's ' question, 
' Do badgers kill fox cubs ? ' I cannot say 
they do, because there are no badgers in this 
district ; but having at different times had 
young foxes killed in the way he describes, 
namely, bitten in the head, I can assure 
him that it is done by an old dog fox. 
Should he wish for further information, I 
refer him to Mr. John Douglas, Royal Hotel, 
Pudding Chare, Newcastle-on-Tyne, who will 
tell him of the experience he gained when at 
Clumber, under the Duke of Newcastle." 

" Sir, I may tell ' Wilfred ' that I have 
never known old badgers kill fox cubs, though 
I have studied the habits of both for nearly 
forty years. No doubt an old vixen, with no 
cubs of her own, killed his ; the dog fox will 
not do this. Indeed, he will cater for all the 
cubs of his own get, but a strange vixen is 
very apt to kill any cubs which have no 
mother of their own. I have known a terrier 
bitch kill a litter of foxhound puppies, and one 
of my Irish terriers will kill puppies if she 

has the chance. As to the ' natural ' litter 
69 



THE BADGER 

which 'Wilfred' found gone, they had merely 
been shifted by the vixen ; as soon as the 
cubs get able to travel they are always shifted. 
Last year I had two tame wild ducks sitting in 
a hedge. A badger passed regularly within 
a yard of them every night, but they were 
undisturbed. This year a fox took one of 
them just before it hatched. I was sorry to 
read the other day in the Field an account of 
two old and four cub badgers having been 
dug out in Gloucestershire. There is surely 
no sport in this, and the badgers are destitute 
of grease now, whereas at Michaelmas they 
are fat enough to provide grease for all the 
rheumatic people in the parish. I like to 
catch one with my terriers when the harvest 
moon shines. Sometimes I get up in a con- 
venient tree near the earth and watch the 
badgers feeding on the crazy roots. How 
fond they are of the wild bees' honey, and 
also of wasps' nests. Let me advise 
' Wilfred ' to read the exhaustive and inter- 
esting account given in a letter to the Times 
(October 24, 1877), and quoted in Cassell's 

Natural History, vol. ii. It thus concludes 

70 



THE BADGER 

' The badgers and the foxes are not unfriendly, 
and last spring a litter of cubs was brought 
forth very near the badgers ; but their mother 
removed them after they had grown familiar, 
as she probably thought they were showing 
themselves more than was prudent.' Mr. 
Ellis of Loughborough was the author of 
the letter, and he had rare opportunities of 
studying the habits of badgers." 

I am loth to do it, but wishing to be an 
impartial historian, am compelled to state 
that the badger is capable of vulpicide. As 
a rule he can put up with an occasional 
lodger of the fox family, and live happily 
with him, and from his superior qualities as 
an architect of subterranean dwellings, he is 
on the whole an encourager of foxes. He 
often gives up his spacious apartments to a 
vixen in the spring, and submits to eviction. 
A fox will often take possession of a badger's 
earth, new or old ; and in order to persuade 
foxes to take to a particular covert, no surer 
method can be pursued than to get badgers 
to make earths when they are required. But 
71 



THE BADGER 

even a badger's patience can be exhausted, 
as the following history of my own experi- 
ence will show. I would premise, however, 
that I do not credit the oft-repeated story 
that the fox gets rid of the badger by leaving 
his evacuations in the badger's earth. Being 
the less and weaker animal, all a fox does is 
allowed on sufferance. My suspicions of a 
badger's capability to wage war on foxes 
were first aroused some years ago. The 
badgers had made a fine double set of earths 
on the north side, of a hill in a neighbouring 
larch wood, where no effort on my part to 
get foxes to breed and stay had succeeded. 
No sooner, however, was a colony of badgers 
established than foxes haunted the holes and 
covert. In a succession of years there was 
as certain to be a litter of fox cubs in the 
badger earth as a sunrise on the morrow. 

What happened each spring was that the 
foxes and badgers frequented both sets 
indiscriminately till about March. When the 
vixen lay in the badgers abandoned the set 
of holes where she was, and restricted them- 
selves to the other set some twenty yards 
72 



THE BADGER 

distant. Year after year the fox cubs pros- 
pered and grew up, till one summer the keeper 
found a fox cub in a field with his head bitten 
in two and terribly worried. I did not know 
how to account for it. I watched the vixen 
and the other cubs one evening to see that 
they were all right, and saw them, but found 
they had left the earth and were in the 
covert. For two years all went well and the 
foxes were unmolested, and then occurred 
something that gave me a clue to the death 
of the cub three years before Two vixens lay 
in at the badgers' earth, and brought up their 
families of seven and four respectively, till 
they were about one-third grown. There 
were then to my knowledge at least four 
badgers and twelve foxes in these two earths. 
On one or two occasions the stillness of the 
night was broken by the veriest pandemonium 
at the earth, but still I did not think much 
of it. At the end of the hunting season, at 
the end of April, when the cubs were seven 
or eight weeks old, and a fortnight after the 
hounds had been through the coverts, I found 
the largest and finest of the vixens dead, and 
73 



THE BADGER 

thought that, in spite of the earths being open, 
she must have been chopped by the hounds. 
A post-mortem examination, as well as the 
improbability of a vixen with cubs being out 
in the early part of the day, convinced me 
that she had not been killed by hounds. 
She seemed to have been badly bitten through 
the legs and thighs but not on the body. 
From this time the other vixen and all the 
cubs left the badgers' earths and remained in 
the covert. It was on this occasion that an 
attempt to find out how many badgers there 
were in these earths was rewarded by seeing 
seven full-grown badgers emerge from a 
single hole. It was rough, no doubt, that 
the badgers should be invaded by two large 
families of smelling foxes, and no doubt their 
patience had become exhausted. Still I 
could not tolerate this kind of behaviour, and 
so I had a dig at them, took two old ones out, 
and transported them to Scotland. The 
following year there was peace and fox cubs 
again. The year after, however, the vixen 
and her cubs took off into the covert very 
early after another bit of Bank Holiday 
74 



THE BADGER 

business, at a time of night when all respect- 
able people were quietly in bed. And yet all 
through the year foxes are in the earth, and 
this spring, as heretofore, a litter of cubs 
has been raised, but removed to another 
earth at a safe distance from the badgers. I 
have never heard of badgers taking the offen - 
sive against foxes ; they will never molest a 
fox or vixen unless their earth is invaded, and 
in my case if I had had no badgers in this 
covert I should have had no foxes ; and whilst 
it is annoying that the fox cubs and vixen 
should be driven out, and perhaps occasionally 
killed, the drawback is slight when it is 
considered that as long as there are bad- 
gers there will be a litter of cubs, which nine 
times out of ten will get safely off. 

There are every now and then albino bad- 
gers reported, but I have never seen one 
alive. I think, however, they are more 
subject to albinism than most animals. I 
clo not know of a case of melanism. 

" White Badger at Overton, Hants. 
While digging for badgers on April 30, we 
came across two dog badgers in the same 
75 



THE BADGER 

earth, one of which was quite white, the 
colour of a white ferret, with pink eyes. 
Unfortunately, the terriers punished him so 
much he had to be destroyed. I have helped 
to dig out a great many of these animals, but 
never saw nor heard of a white one before." 
T. P. 



PART III 

THERE are several methods by which the 
badger can be taken alive, or killed, with 
ease. I am familiar with several successful 
ways of trapping him. The reader, if he is 
not aware of these, must not expect me to 
enlighten him, as my object in writing is to 
arouse an interest in his preservation, not to 
facilitate his destruction. It may be as well to 
state, however, that the inhuman engine, the 
steel trap (by which so many of the birds and 
beasts that frequented the wild woods of 
England and Scotland have been extermin- 
ated) is an instrument that arouses the 
suspicion of a badger at once, and he is as 
clever in avoiding it as an old-fashioned rat. 
The badger if caught in a steel trap will 
frequently bite his leg or foot clean off. In 
77 



THE BADGER 

my opinion there are two legitimate methods 
of hunting the badger. First, that of a 
straight-forward attack on his fortress; and 
should it be an old-established earth, it may 
be the end of the longest day will not see 
the battle ended. There are, of course, 
the fortunes of war a lucky engagement, 
a wrong turn on the part of the defender, 
a successful trench quickly cutting off his 
retreat which may deliver him unexpectedly 
into your hands ; or the enemy may outwit 
you altogether, conducting a masterful re- 
treat, with gallant sorties on the dogs, and 
by continually changing his front drive you 
to abandon works, trenches, and operations 
that have cost great labour and time ; thus 
you may be left with a tired and wounded 
pack of terriers, exhausted sappers, and the 
badger, having blocked and barricaded his 
retreat with soil, stones, and sand, is lost. 
The war thus made is an equal one : you 
attack him on his own ground in his fortress 
where he is acquainted with every passage, 
gallery, and casement ; he is armed to the 
teeth and armour-plated, and can drive a road 
78 



THE BADGER 

forward, downward, or upward with extra- 
ordinary rapidity. It is true you may have 
many terriers, but he has an advantage over 
your forces. Only one of your dogs can 
engage at a time, and the badger has the 
advantage of weight, size, knowledge of the 
ground, and familiarity with the dark in fact, 
in every respect except those of courage and 
endurance, which in some terriers may equal 
his own. The other method, less sure, 
depends on taking the badger off his guard, 
and is more in the character of an ambuscade 
under cover of night. When the badgers 
are away from home you block up their 
earths, placing sacks with running nooses in 
the mouth, in the most frequented holes. 
Station one of your party near the "set," and 
you may either take a small pack of hounds 
and draw the country for a few miles round, 
and hunt him like a fox, getting a run across 
country and a fine cry ; or you may beat the 
neighbouring coverts with men and dogs 
of any description that are trained to hunt 
the badger. 

In the following, taken from an article 
79 



THE BADGER 

which appeared in a newspaper, there is a 
good account of night hunting. 

" Owing to his shy and retiring habits, 
rather than to the scarcity of the animal, 
probably less is known about the badger than 
about any wild animal left in England at the 
present time. There is a prevalent notion 
that the badger is exceedingly rare, and also 
that he is harmless ; neither of these ideas is 
quite correct. In the west especially the 
badger is fairly common, but escapes notice 
owing to his retiring disposition. Whether 
he does harm to feathered game or not is a 
moot point, but his tracks have been distinctly 
noticed round plundered nests ; it is certain, 
however, that he does great damage to 
ground game by digging out ' stops ' of 
young rabbits in the spring and summer. 

"When hunted after the fashion generally 
adopted in the west, he affords excellent 
sport to those who are prepared to face a 
long tramp and the loss of some of their 
night's rest. The prosaic way of digging 
them out of the earth involves much labour, 
and has in it no element of sport ; while 
80 



THE BADGER 

attempting to catch badgers in traps is about 
as feasible as trying to catch birds by putting 
salt on their tails. Driving them into sacks 
fixed in the earth is unsatisfactory, as a good 
game dog is necessary to press the badger 
hard, or he will turn from the earth and seek 
shelter elsewhere ; while, if you have a good 
dog, the sacks are unnecessary except for the 
reception of the badger when caught by the 
dog. 

" The paraphernalia of the chase are 
simple, namely, a good dog, a pair of badger- 
tongs, and a sack. A really good dog is 
very difficult to obtain ; the favourite kind is 
a cross-bred bull-terrier, about forty pounds 
in weight; pure-bred bull-terriers, for some 
reason or other, do not seem to give satis- 
faction. The ( tongs ' have wooden handles, 
and iron heads with blunt teeth for grasping 
the badger when held by the dog. For a 
successful hunt it is necessary to observe 
which way the badger travels from the 
earth. A favourite spot is the slope of a hill, 
or high-lying fields, where they may be easily 
tracked by the ' roots,' i. e. small holes 

81 G 



THE BADGER 

which they scratch in the ground in search 
of beetles and roots of various kinds. They 
rarely descend into low-lying meadows, ex- 
cept to drink. Choose a starlight night with 
a slight breeze blowing, and approach the 
earth up the wind. Do not hurry your dog ; 
if he knows his work, he will range freely, 
but he often takes a long time to puzzle out 
the track. If you miss him, go on slowly in 
the direction in which you last saw him, often 
stopping to listen. 

" ' What was that ? ' The dry sticks crack 
in a hedge far below you. ' Hark ! two 
sharp eager barks ; what does it mean ? ' 
Why, that Grip is wheeling out in a half- 
circle to gain slightly on the badger, and 
then to dash in and get him by the head. 
Run now as you never ran before. Head 
over heels into a ditch ; never mind, up 
and on again the best dog can't hold a 
badger for ever. There they are out in the 
open, Grip with a tight hold of the badger by 
the side of the head, with his legs tucked 
back out of harm's way. Grasp him with the 
tongs as near the neck as possible. Take off 
82 



THE BADGER 

the dog, some one. Hold the bag. Hoist 
our grey-coated friend into the air, and lower 
him into the sack ; he weighs at least thirty 
pounds. The dog is hardly marked, and you 
haven't torn more than three rents in your 
nether garments getting through that last 
thorn hedge. Altogether, every one agrees 
that it was a satisfactory little run. 

" The old English sheep-dog I have known 
do well for the other method. The badger 
when pursued makes straight for home, 
blunders headlong into the hole, only to find 
that his efforts to get in are closing the mouth 
of the sack, that retreat or fighting are alike 
in vain, and that he is an imprisoned bagman, 
without having struck a blow in self-defence. 
It is not uncommon fora badger thus pursued 
to stand at bay, when a good dog may keep 
him in play, or hold on, till you come up and 
secure him. No doubt there is amusement 
and excitement in this moonlight chase, and 
to some it is preferable to the arduous labour 
with pick, spade, axe, and terrier." 

To my mind, however, there is something 
more interesting and exciting in the long- 
83 



THE BADGER 

sustained conflict and labour of the latter, for 
which you require perseverance, wit, patience, 
and courage on the part of man and terrier. 
The courage and endurance that a good terrier 
will display when need requires before such a 
foe, will fill his owner's heart with joy and 
pride. A good terrier is a veritable treasure ; 
the price of a sure, game, and determined 
one is far above rubies. Picture what it 
means for a small terrier to enter into the 
bowels of the earth to find, to cope with, and 
for long hours in dust and darkness in the 
tortuous maze to keep up an unequal fight 
with an enormously superior foe, whose 
grunts and clattering teeth add terror to his 
charges down the echoing ways. Yet I have 
had not a few that, hour after hour, on their 
backs or their sides, would lie up to a badger, 
keeping him cornered, and continuously give 
tongue with no voice to direct them. Should 
the badger charge, such a terrier would 
rather die than let him leave the corner to 
which he has been driven, and will return 
fighting and facing his huge opponent, driv- 
ing him inch by inch into the cul de sac, 
84 



THE BADGER 

caring neither for bite nor wounds, and 
making noise enough to let you know where 
the battle rages. It is no part of his duty to 
tackle the badger. A good terrier knows 
this, and will only resort to his teeth should 
the badger attempt to force a passage. If it 
comes to close quarters, such a terrier will 
draw back his fore-legs under his body, take 
the attack full in the face, and trust to seizing 
the badger by the neck. A badger when 
attacked generally bites upwards, i. e. he 
lowers his head and turns the back of his 
head downwards. Nothing makes the heart 
beat faster than, with head to the earth, to 
hear the din of this subterranean warfare 
carried along the dark galleries to the day. 
You have sent in one of your best terriers ; 
he has tried by cajolery and caresses, by 
cries, by straining at his chain to be allowed 
the honourable distinction of first blood. 
You have dispatched him with your blessing, 
and he has quickly and silently started on his 
journey into the unknown. You listen to 
him forcing his passage, drawing himself round 
corners, scratching away some accumulation 
85 



THE BADGER 

or fall from the roof, and hear his eager 
panting as he winds his foe. Presently you 
hear a low sharp bark, then another, then 
two or three more, next a bumping, thump- 
ing noise ; it is the badger, who has waited 
to see who the intruder is, and, rousing 
himself, is retreating. The terrier barks no 
more, but you can hear the thump-thump of 
the badger, followed by the efforts of the dog 
to keep up with him. They are now a long 
way in, and you can plainly hear the bark 
again. Soon the fight draws nearer, and the 
terrier's cry comes to your ear with regularity 
and clearness ; but the badger is only dis- 
puting the way, he has not yet been driven 
with his back against the wall. The terrier 
redoubles his activity, you can hear him 
feinting at the badger, sharp give-and-take, 
but no foolish attempt to lay hold. After 
ten minutes the badger again retreats, prob- 
ably up the hill, and you have to listen on 
the surface or at the higher holes of the set 
till you can hear them again. At last you 
catch a faint sound, they are still moving, 
now stationary, now further on ; then they 
86 



THE BADGER 

seem to stay in one place. There is the 
steady yap-yap-yap of the dog just distin- 
guishable to the ear. 

Quick, every hand to work. A trench six 
feet deep, or deeper if necessary, must be cut 
across the set to cut off the badger from the 
passages. With pick, spade, and shovel the 
work goes on, while some one listens to 
know whether the scene of battle moves. 
I f it does, the badger may have found a side 
gallery, and gone far enough, or he may 
have charged the dog. He may have passed 
by a different road beneath your feet in the 
trench ; but if the terrier has succeeded in 
keeping him face to face and engaged, yet 
not driving him so hard as to make him 
charge, you may be successful in an hour or 
two, and find that your cutting intersects the 
passage in which the badger and the terrier 
are engaged. If the badger suspects you 
are cutting off his only means of escape he 
will charge and fight, and the terrier will 
sometimes be unable to back fast enough ; 
then there will be a meeting of teeth and 
jaws, the badger holding the dog through 
87 



THE BADGER 

the head, jaw, or nose. The dog's smothered 
cries of anger and pain make you strain every 
nerve to get to his relief. 

When the badger at last leaves go, the 
terrier's turn comes, and now with blood 
up he drives back the badger to his end 
of the hole with every determination to 
keep him there. After two or three turns 
like this, if the dog has been in an hour 
or two, he will probably come out for a 
breath of air for a moment. He should be 
immediately taken, fastened up, watered, and 
kept in reserve for future contingencies, and 
the best terrier for sticking up be sent in 
with the utmost haste. If a minute has been 
spent in doing this, every moment will have 
been used by the badger in barricading the 
passage against the dog and burying himself. 
This once accomplished, you may as well 
whistle for your badger as continue digging, 
for he may have got down into some other 
gallery, or have buried himself so that neither 
dog nor man can find him. Of one thing 
you may be sure, that whilst you are speculat- 
ing what has become of him, he is digging 



THE BADGER 

at a prodigious rate, or has already made his 
escape by some secret stair. 

If, however, you are quick, terrier number 
two has interrupted master badger as he 
is at work and lets you know. "It's all 
right," " Come on," " He's here," " I've 
got him," "He's got me," "You beast," 
" Get back," " I'll hold him," and spade 
and shovel and pick are hard at work 
again. Backs and arms are aching with lift- 
ing at high pressure out of the deep trench. 
You dig on, blocking the hole as the roof 
falls in, but every now and then the shovels 
clear it for a moment to give the dog air. 
And now the game has shown itself. A 
terrible charge down the hole sends out the 
terrier ; and the badger, seeing the men at 
work, backs again, followed by the dog. 
Now all is excitement. Every snap, haunch, 
grunt, groan, and yell in the fight is heard. 
A favourite's life in the balance ! The prize 
in view ! The other terriers are tugging 
at their chains, frantic to join the fray, yelling 
fit to split their throats. It is maddening 

for them to see the dust and commotion 

89 



THE BADGER 

in the trench, to hear the sound of battle 
so near, to wind the enemy, to hear the 
cry of their fighting and perhaps wounded 
companion, and not to be allowed to share in 
the glory of the final action. Now is the 
time if you have a terrier to enter to see 
what he is made of, but there is no time to 
waste on education. You are close up to the 
badger, he cannot be an arm's-length off. 
Draw your dog, the badger will then turn 
his tail to you to dig, or he will charge out. 
Be ready with the tongs, and a good dog in 
case he charges. But if he turns tail get hold 
of it with a good grip. A long pull and a 
steady pull will draw him out, bouncing, 
lunging, and snapping. Now, boys, ready 
with the sack ! Dogs off. All want steady 
nerves now ; three hands on the sack mouth 
to keep it open, and take care of your fingers! 
A twirl round and a quick plunge, and the 
badger is in the bag. Don't let go his tail 
till you have slipped the cord on his hind-leg, 
and made the other end of the cord fast to 
the bag mouth and to a tree. I have seen 
a badger go through a sack like a bullet 
90 



THE BADGER 

through paper, and it is well to make all 
as safe as possible. 

M. Edmond le Masson, in his book on 
hunting fox and badger, severely deprecates 
tailing a badger. He denounces the danger 
and folly of it, and gives an amusing account 
of his falling into a trench at the critical 
moment as follows : 

" One fine day, or rather one cursed day, 
when I was sweating blood and water to 
get a monster badger out of his earth, a 
venerable patriarch, white with years, who 
resisted my aching tired arms and weary 
back with all his strength, the earth gave way 
and I fell back, rolling over with the animal, 
and there I was at the bottom of the abyss 
in a veritable pandemonium. Bruised and 
breathless, I was conscious enough to know 
that I was in very bad company, with four 
more badgers, a furious mother and three 
young ones, and not so young either but that 
one of them was able to tear from me a large 
piece of the most indispensable part of my 
attire, which placed me in a position of cruel 
embarrassment, and obliged me to wait till the 
9 1 



THE BADGER 

shades of night enabled me to get home with 
decency. The most humiliating part of the 
adventure was that all these cursed brutes, 
father, mother, and children, made the most 
insolent retreat over my stomach to escape 
from their earth, and then took off straight 
across country and escaped. From this 
moment I have felt a ferocious malice against 
all badgers, whether big, middling, or little, 
and I never go down into the trench now 
without having a Lefaucheux revolver and a 
Devisme revolver, a long dagger knife, and a 
sharp Toledo colichemarde ! " 

But let not ingenuous youth think that to 
enjoy the sport all he has to do is to take a 
spade and any reputable terrier. He might 
as well try, like Dame Partington, to stop 
the rising tide with a mop ! Before so serious 
an enterprise as a badger digging be under- 
taken, the wise man will see to it that all the 
materials are ready, and let him be sure that 
he has the first necessity the stout heart to 
go through with a tough job when once 
started. I have, with my brother, Mr. J. A. 

Pease, started at 7.30 a.m. from home, worked 
92 



THE BADGER 

a summer's clay with a slight refreshment at 
one, handled pick and shovel and spade, 
fought the terriers, and gone on through the 
afternoon, evening, and a black wet night, 
without even a drop of water to slake our 
parched throats, deserted by all but one 
faithful workman, and on till the grey dawn 
of another day, which found us as weary, wet, 
and wounded, and as disreputable a looking 
company of three men and four terriers as 
ever survived a bloody action. At five 
o'clock we secured a splendid pair of badgers, 
which we bore home on aching backs, fol- 
lowed by our gallant little team of draggled 
and dirty terriers. On another occasion, it 
took my brother and myself, some ten labour- 
ers and keepers, and nine terriers, from 10 
till 5.30 to take an old 3O-lb. dog bad- 
ger, in an earth which had only one hole, 
and where it was a case of following straight 
into the hill. It is wonderful what can be 
done by twelve men with pick, spade, and 
shovel in seven hours. On this occasion 
we dug a trench ten feet long into the hill, 
and then the depth of bearing necessitated 
93 



THE BADGER 

our making a drift, or tunnel, which we drove 
in thirty feet. The heat and want of air 
inside made the work difficult. Candles 
would not burn after we had gone about 
twenty feet, and the tunnel was so low that 
we had to work on our knees and then on 
our stomachs. There was a considerable 
danger from the roof falling in, but the fight 
waged so fiercely that we thought of little 
but what was ahead of us. When at last we 
got within distance of the badger, he was in 
rocky ground, we could mine no further, and 
being on a shelf round a corner no terrier 
could draw him. As I was the smallest of 
the party, it fell to me to try and reach him, 
and I crawled up as far as I could, holding a 
little bull-terrier on whom I could rely for 
protection for my face, and a pair of short 
badger tongs. I had indeed a bad quarter of 
an hour ! 

It was stifling, cramped, and pitch dark. I 
kept the terrier in front of my head and 
gallantly he behaved, though every now and 
then the badger's charge, or a fierce encounter, 
nearly smothered me with dust and soil, 
94 



THE BAD;GEIR 

against which I could not protect myself, as 
I was powerless to retreat, there being only 
room to lie flat on the ground. The man 
behind me was in the same position, tight 
hold of my ankles, and the man again behind 
him, and the rest of the force made a human 
chain, which on a signal from me was to be 
drawn out to daylight. Many attempts I 
made when the badger charged to get him 
with the tongs, but I had so little room to 
work my hands in that I missed him, and 
heard and felt the click and snack of his 
teeth on the iron. At last I felt I had hold 
of something, and I slipped the guard on the 
tongs, making the hold sure. I cried " Haul 
away," holding the terrier with one hand 
between me and the badger, and the tongs 
in the other. I found that he came with 
wonderful ease. It was not till we got to the 
light that I saw I had the huge bouncing 
brute by one claw, " Nip " diverting his 
attention from my head and hands. The 
labourers set up a shout, "He's got him by the 
clee," and a minute later we had the satisfac- 
tion of bagging him. But we were out only 
95 



THE BADGER 

just in time. I had gone back with the 
terriers to see if there was nothing more in, 
and hardly had got outside again, when there 
was a fall from the roof that would, if it had 
taken place earlier, have buried some of us 
alive. As it was I looked round to see if we 
were all there. The men were, but one little 
terrier, " Pepper," a real treasure belonging 
to a neighbour of mine in Cleveland, Mr. J. 
P. Petch, was missing. We went in and 
found him buried, but got him out alive and 
little the worse. This was the biggest badger 
my brother and I ever got. 

But these operations are quite surpassed 
by those M. le Masson related in the 
following authentic story. 

"An extraordinary chasse that lasted without 
interruption three days and three nights, took 
place lately in the neighbourhood of St. 
Omer, on some land in the picturesque com- 
mune of Wisques, in a wood attached to 
the chateau of Madame la douairiere Cauvet 
de Blanchonval. 

"One morning two young sportsmen of 

St. Omer, MM. Theobald Cauvet and 
96 



THE BADGER 

Charles d'Hallewyn, were told by the garde 
forestier that on his beat he knew of several 
badgers near the place they call 1'Ermitage. 

" The little dogs being put on the scent 
soon found the earths, where they entered, 
and advanced with so much courage that 
they never stopped till they had reached the 
bottom of the earth, where they cornered 
the badgers, which held their ground in an 
attitude of the most threatening defence. 

" The assailants, thus powerless, made 
themselves heard by barking and baying 
incessantly, and with heroic pluck, the little 
fellows refused to retreat in spite of the 
repeated calls of their masters. 

"Their perseverance being carried to this 
length, our young gentlemen formed a resolu- 
tion worthy of their taste for great under- 
takings and adventures. Labourers were 
called from the field and commissioned at 
once to set to work to reach the badgers. 

"The attempt was more than bold. The 

mouths of the set, three in number, were at 

the foot of a hill, and embraced between them 

a sort of triangular piece of land at the apex 

97 H 



THE BADGER 

of which the passages all united and formed 
a single underground gallery. The dogs 
having each entered by a separate hole made 
this clear. 

" A shaft was sunk in order to start a 
tunnel at the opening of the lowest hole, but 
a depth of 7 to 8 metres (23 to 26 feet) had 
to be sunk before the passage was reached ; 
thence they followed the direction taken by 
the dogs, and enlarged the tunnel to reach 
them, making an underground roadway 5 feet 
high (i^ metres) and nearly 6 feet wide 
(if metres). 

" Whilst the workmen were mining, the 
badgers on their part were also working 
ceaselessly, and kept blocking the road with 
the earth they threw back in front of the 
men who were pursuing them, whilst the 
latter worked in shifts (relieving parties). 
For three days and three nights these in- 
domitable animals worked on, retreating all 
the time, during which they bored their way 
49 feet whilst buried in this extension of 
their principal earth without air or food. 

"Atone time during this war a entrance 
98 



THE BADGER 

it was thought they had escaped by some 
means or other, but the game terriers, which 
had hardly left them since the beginning of 
the struggle, soon reassured the workers by 
their redoubled cries. The undertaking was 
pushed on with greater determination than 
ever, and when the tunnel had reached a 
length of more than 30 metres (100 feet) 
they came on three badgers, which were 
quickly popped into a sack by the keeper. 
One of them, however, in his struggles 
succeeded in escaping from the sack, and 
even tore the clothes of the man who was 
carrying him. MM. Cauvet and d'Hallewyn 
showed a persistent perseverance during the 
whole of this struggle. By day and by 
night each in turn directed the operations of 
a siege at which more than one other lover 
of the pleasures of the chase assisted." 

I have given one or two out of many 
examples I could relate of the arduous nature, 
of badger-hunting. Discipline among the 
workmen is as necessary as determination in 
every attempt to dig out badgers. Nothing 
imperils success so much as divided or 
99 



THE BADGER 

disputed authority, and whilst every attention 
should be given to the opinions expressed in 
the councils of war during the progress of the 
siege, there must be no hesitation in carrying 
out the plan of campaign when once decided 
on, or the day may be wasted in earthworks, 
in making trenches, and attempts to cut off 
subterranean ways which have been begun 
only to be abandoned. The terriers are the 
most important requisite ; they must be good, 
the right size, hardy, enduring, and reliable. 
No matter how game a dog is, if he cannot 
follow the badger he is useless. He must 
above all be full-mouthed, sharp-tongued, and 
ready to keep his voice going for hours 
together. He must be absolutely true, or he 
may make a fool of you, and lie fast in the 
earth baying an imaginary foe, or barking 
and scratching to get up a small rabbit-hole. 
Beware of a terrier that will think of such 
vermin when employed to fly at much higher 
game. They are worse indeed than useless, 
and often have I been driven nearly wild by 
being persuaded to allow some man proud of 
his terrier to let him go. 



THE BADGER 

Nothing can be more exasperating than 
when, after several hours of heavy labour and 
straining effort, whilst the proud owner stands 
smiling by and boasting the merits of his 
nailing dog, you at length reach the scene of 
all the disturbance to see a dirty little brute 
scratching his feet to tatters, frothing at the 
mouth, and wow-wowing to get up a three- 
inch rabbit-hole. 

An authority in the Gentleman s Magazine 
recommends collars of bells being attached to 
the terriers to make the badger bolt, and states 
that broad collars of badger-skin save their 
necks. The former I do not believe to be 
efficacious, as fire, smoke, and crackers will 
not make a badger bolt while any one is 
about, and if it were efficacious it would be 
very easy to lose a bolting badger. A collar 
on a terrier is more likely to hang a dog on 
a root end than to save him from a bite. A 
terrier ninety-nine times out of a hundred is 
bitten through the muzzle, under the jaws, and 
about the skull and ears, and when inexperi- 
enced, about the fore-legs and shoulders. I 
never saw a terrier badly bitten in the neck, 

101 



THE BADGER 

though I have seen a terrier's side torn, 
and one that turned tail punished severely 
in the rear. Whilst the terrier for badger 
should be game to the death, it is all- 
important that he should mingle discretion 
with his valour, and not drive his superior 
foe to desperation, but content himself with 
keeping him at bay, only using his teeth at 
a pinch and in extreme cases. Tell me, 
reader, how many terriers you know who 
can or will go to ground, stay there, tell 
the truth always, pass through every place 
a badger can, keep his head under the 
most exasperating circumstances, and come 
up smiling and eager after every round, no 
matter how much punished ? 

What thousands of little curs there are 
called terriers, and fox-terriers that will no 
more go down a fox-earth than go up a 
chimney ! How many thousands of the best 
of these, however finely shaped for the show- 
bench, that have no more idea of their pro- 
fession and the duties for which nature made 
them, and from which they derive their name, 
than the man in the moon, and whose masters 

102 



THE BADGER 

are satisfied if they can kill a few rats, and 
think them wonderfully game if they will 
tackle a cat ! 

From my boyhood I have had terriers, but 
I never thought one worth keeping that could 
not, or would not, go to ground and show 
himself or herself worthy of their honourable 
name. Appearance is nothing if the other 
qualities are not present. I have had a little 
wire-haired terrier bitch (with neat, golden- 
tanned 'marked head), pretty and gentle, and 
winning in all her ways, a companion that 
slept on my bed each night, and looked the 
picture of innocence lying by the hearth or 
even on a lady's lap ; but within that bosom 
beat a courageous little heart, in her head 
throbbed a brain full of sagacious intelligence, 
and in that soft brown eye lurked hidden fire. 
She could give deep music long sustained, 
and she never winced before the enemy. I 
called her " Worry," a name that seemed most 
mal a propos to her casual acquaintance. For 
twelve long years she was at my side in all 
the ups and downs of life, leading the drag 
when I was at Cambridge, following fox- 
103 



THE BADGER 

hounds and bolting foxes when I was hunt- 
ing, and my constant and daily companion, 
accompanying me into every county when I 
made an expedition against the badger. I 
was once amused by the remarks made about 
Worry by an old shoemaker who sometimes 
accompanied us with a good terrier when we 
were ratting. " Si' the (see thee), lads, 
Worry's t' yan (the one) fer (for) pickin' t' wick 
(the life) out on 'em," as she threw five 
or six big rats over her shoulder in half 
as many seconds. She died a terrible death, 
but game and uncomplaining to the last. 
She had a knack of squeezing herself through 
almost any kennel bars, and I had had to put 
her into a kennel for a time, and had the bars 
made narrower and covered with mesh wire 
netting. An hour after I had put her in I 
went to see her, and I was horror-struck to 
find that she was half through the bars 
nipped as in a vice, the wire torn with her 
teeth, and herself covered with blood and 
wounds, with one eye hanging out, blood 
flowing from her mouth, still fighting her 
way on without a sound except her panting 
104 



THE BADGER 

breath. She was delighted to see me, and 
with some trouble I liberated her, cut off her 
eye, staunched her wounds, and did all I 
could for her. She never even winced as I 
cut away the eye, and as she lay in her bed 
looked at me affectionately with her one eye 
and wagged her tail. - The following day, 
though she did not even whine, I saw she was 
in terrible pain ; and as she was at this time 
badly ruptured, and very lame owing to 
a carriage accident some years before which 
resulted in a broken thigh and a double 
fracture above the hock, I had her shot, and 
buried in a quiet corner of the orchard, with 
the inscription on her headstone " Sit tibi 
terra levis" 

The terriers I have found the best and 
surest are amongst the Yorkshire breed of 
hard, wire-haired fox-terriers, short in the leg 
and strong headed. All my own have been 
descended from a white, wire-haired terrier 
called Fuss, the best bitch I ever had, and a 
prize-winner. I bought her in 1870 or 1871 
from a dealer called Wooton. She was bred 
by a man called Jack Ridd. Worry was out of 



THE BADGER 

her. My brother got a dog, Roger, a dead 
game one, at the same time from the same 
man, and nearly all the terriers I have had 
since are descended from these two, with 
out-crosses from local strains, including the 
Rev. Jack Russell's blood. I have seen 
smooth-coated terriers do equally well, but 
not often. The former is a harder and more 
enduring breed, though more difficult to keep 
clean in the coat, and taking time to get 
dry after wet in cold weather. The endur- 
ance of the wire-haired is remarkable. I 
have now a terrier, bred through many lines 
of my old favourites, which is twelve years 
old. His jolly face is scored with the marks 
of a thousand fights with fox and badger, 
and though lame in his shoulders, his eyes 
dim with age, and crippled with rheumatism, 
showing toothless gums when he smiles his 
welcome, he has twice this summer found 
alone the badger earths, and returned at 
evening, each time with his score of marks 
increased, and on the last occasion he left 
one of his ears behind him ! l A terrier that 

1 Dead since this was written. 
1 06 



THE BADGER 

will go off to a badger earth on his own 
account, especially if a young one, will pro- 
bably end his days and find his grave there. 
I have known several do so. Poor old 
Twig! Always happy, he seldom now 
wanders further than the stable-yard, and 
spends his declining days playing with the 
foxhound pup or sleeping in the sun, when 
in his dreams he fights his battles over again, 
and thrice he slays the slain. When we were 
young together he followed me every hunt- 
ing morning to the meet, where he at once 
incorporated himself with the pack, greeting 
his friends in turn with a grin, a twist of his 
body, and a wag of his stump ; and when the 
daylight faded, and the horn sounded for 
home, I had always to carry him off on my 
saddle, so reluctant was he, after the longest 
day, to leave his comrades of the chase. 
This became so troublesome that at last I 
yielded to the pressure of the huntsman, Will 
Nicholl, who then hunted the Cleveland 
hounds, to permit him to join the kennel 
establishment. For three seasons he scarcely 
missed a day, and when a fox was run to 
107 



THE BADGER 

ground, no matter after how long or fast a run, 
the question, " Where is Twig ? " was never 
asked twice. Always there when wanted, 
always dependable and perfect at his work, 
he shifted many a sulky fox that went to 
ground. Then Will Nicholl went to the 
Hurworth under Sir Reginald Graham, and 
took Twig with him. He did two seasons in 
the Hurworth country, from thence going to 
the Burton with Nicholl again. After a 
season there I had a letter saying that 
Nicholl feared that the old dog would not 
follow hounds another season, and he sent 
him back with me. I summered him well ; 
he did the next season with the Cleveland, 
and came out the following season when 
hounds were handy or when occasion re- 
quired, making eight seasons with foxhounds, 
besides being hunted at badger in the summer 
months. He had learnt not to be hard on a 
fox, but I thought I detected him in an act 
of violence something more than a year ago. 
We had run to ground in a drain, and Twig, 
who had heard hounds, had come across 

country as fast as his old legs would carry 
108 



THE BADGER 

him, and was in before I could say " Knife." 
No sooner was he in than the fox was out, 
with Twig at his brush. This was not at 
all what we wanted, as the whole pack was 
within fifteen yards. Twig collared the fox 
as he bolted, and as the hounds were making 
a dash at him. I was angry with Twig, lifted 
the fox and Twig, who I thought was hold- 
ing the fox, above my head to save reynard 
from the hounds. Here I had to hold him 
for five minutes, but when I tried to choke 
the old dog off, I discovered that the fox was 
holding Twig through the upper jaw, and 
the dog was hanging with his whole weight 
suspended on the fox's teeth. Having made 
the fox leave go Twig fell to the ground, and 
when all was clear I put the fox down, when 
we had a sharp ten minutes to ground again. 
I was there only just in time to prevent 
Twig from going in to take his revenge 
the fox this time being left in peace. It is 
as well to have with you one bull-terrier, or a 
fox-terrier with a bit of bull about him. In 
cases of emergency, and when close up, such 

a dog comes in useful, but they are tiresome 
109 



THE BADGER 

brutes as a rule to do with ; they get so 
excited that they do not care what they go 
at, it may be the dogs or yourself, or I have 
seen them set to worry a big stone. They 
often go to ground well, but have several 
faults. They will tackle the badger, get 
punished severely, and create all sorts of 
difficulties, and are generally nearly mute 
except when fighting. 

I had a rare life of it on one expedition 
with a little bull-terrier called Nip that I 
bought from a Cornishman, after a long dig 
in which Nip had distinguished himself. He 
was a dirty white, ugly, undershot, crop-eared 
little brute, with a tail like a shaving-brush. 
Shy and nervous, he had a fiendish amount 
of pugnacity and pluck. When not other- 
wise employed, he wore his teeth to the gums 
in vain endeavours to get into the interior of 
large stones. In a railway-carriage, so de- 
lighted was he at all times to get to ground, 
that he would get under the seat, and refuse 
to be removed if he had not on a collar and 
chain, except with the badger-tongs. He had 
to be muzzled and chained when with other 



THE BADGER 

dogs, and even then would make an utter fool 
of himself in his attempts to fight on every 
occasion. He would, when he had lost a 
badger, sulk and refuse to come out, and as 
it was impossible to put in any other dog 
while he was there, he had to be dug to and 
drawn like a brock. Whilst at the end of a 
day, when every other animal had had more 
than enough, and was glad to get food and 
rest, he was ready to hold me by the leg, 
and it would take the tongs and a couple of 
men to get his collar on. 

I have always had a great admiration for 
the short-coated, hard, Scotch terrier, and 
believe that they are admirably adapted for 
this chase, but I have had no experience 
of them. They seem cut out for it, being 
hardy, the right size, sharp-tongued, and 
amongst the most intelligent of the canine 
race. I knew of one who went to Craig 
Cluny in the edge of the Ballochbuie forest, 
and spent some hours in a vain attempt 
to dislodge a badger. He returned three 
miles to the inn at Braemar and found 
another terrier like himself; they trotted 



THE BADGER 

back together, and by their united efforts 
drew and killed an old badger ! There is a 
spot near this place in the forest called 
Stra-na-brach or the badger's crag but the 
badger knows the place no more. The 
keeper has done his work with the trap 
throughout Aberdeenshire. 

Dandie Dinmont no doubt bred his dogs 
from these terriers, but I have no belief that 
the present race is fitted for badger-hunting. 
Those one sees on a show bench are too 
large to get to ground quickly and easily, and 
I doubt if there is one of the race, as at 
present known, that has ever exchanged 
civilities with the badger in his natural earth. 
Dandie Dinmont bred his terriers for badgers, 
but I am sure his never were the size they 
are now ; and although Sir Walter Scott has 
surrounded Dandie with a halo of interest, 
and made him immortal by his eulogies, his 
fiendish cruelties have always made me hate 
his name, and prejudiced me against a breed 
that was developed under a hideous system. 
It makes my blood boil to read of his terriers 
trained to face the badger by taking alive 



THE BADGER 

young and old badgers, and sawing off the 
under jaws, and employing other indescribably 
cruel methods. 

The dachshund and the small basset, 
when properly selected, are splendidly 
adapted for badger-hunting. In Germany 
the former, and in France the latter, are 
generally bred for this purpose. Full- voiced 
and throwing a tongue like a hound, deep- 
chested, short-legged, and strong-bodied, they 
are perhaps the best one can have, but I do 
not think that they possess the endurance 
and quickness of an English terrier. 

There was a breed of wire-haired black- 
and-tan English terriers, but I imagine them 
to be nearly, if not altogether, extinct, that 
from all accounts must have been really good 
terriers in the true meaning of the term. 

In working dogs, be careful only to put in 
one at a time : you thus economize your 
forces, and avoid the risk of their fighting in 
the earth. More than this, if you let two 
dogs or a dog and a bitch in together, you 
subject them to danger and the probability 

of severe punishment. The dog in front is 
113 i 



THE BADGER 

charged by the badger, the. dog behind cares 
for nothing but that he may get to close 
quarters, and it is a case of those behind cry 
forward and those in front cry back. In 
such a position your terrier may have his 
legs and head broken, and be killed outright. 
Again, a good terrier works better and more 
steadily than with a companion, as the com- 
petition leads to jealousy. Put in your dog 
at the lowest or bottom hole of the set, 
driving the badger up-hill (or "to hill," as it 
is technically called) if you can. It is a much 
easier task to get a badger out in this 
manner, as the further up-hill the fewer are 
the passages, and generally speaking the 
nearer they lie to the surface. Furthermore, 
take care that you have a collar and chain 
for each dog, and that every terrier not on 
duty is securely fastened at a distance from 
the earth, and out of reach of any other 
dog. 

The following are the requisite implements 
for badger digging; they should be good and 
handy tools : 

i and 2. Spades. These should be handy, 
114 



THE BADGER 

and worn to that condition when the edge is 
sharp, and the tool works easily, without 
having lost its strength. They should vary 
but little from the ordinary garden or rabbit- 




Z. 



FIG. 7. 



ing spade, except that where there is a depth 
of clay, and when in a deep trench, it may 
be easier or a relief to use a drainer's long 
narrow one. 

"5 



THE BADGER 

3. A crowbar. 

4. A scraper, or coal-rake. 

5 and 6. Shovels, for clearing out the loose 
earth, including a short-handled one, or 




scoop, for opening the holes to let in air to 
the dogs. 

7. An earth-piercer, in order to locate the 
fight. 

116 





117 



THE BADGER 

8. Tongs. The handles should be of 
wood, as steel and iron "give" under the 
pressure of a man's strength at one end and 
the badger at the other. With wooden 
handles and steel fittings there will still be 
spring enough to work the guard, which is 
put on to secure the hold on the animal. 

9. Adze, or hatchet, for cutting roots of 
trees. 

10 and ii. Picks, single or double. 

Do not forget when starting on a badger- 
hunt to take plenty of refreshment with you, 
and remember that it is a dry job digging 
ceaselessly on a summer's day. Draught cider, 
light beer, and cold tea are the best liquors 
to work on for a long stretch. Do not leave 
the sacks behind you, nor cord to secure 
them with. And finally, reader, if you are a 
true sportsman, whilst sparing neither neces- 
sary pain to yourself nor dog during the 
progress of the siege, do not subject your 
terriers to unnecessary exposure and punish- 
ment; and when the day's work is done, 
however weary and however hungry you 
may be, do not attend to your own wants till 
118 



THE BADGER 

you have seen each member of your gallant 
little pack well brushed and oiled (eyes and 
ears and wounds, if any, cleaned), fed, and put 
into a kennel with plenty of clean bedding. 
And do not forget to make a brave foe as 
comfortable as you can. If you keep a badger 
in confinement as a pet, he should have 
access to plenty of fresh cold water, and be 
fed on young rabbits and bread till accus- 
tomed to confinement, after which he will 
take gradually to and remain healthy on 
almost any scraps, meat, and vegetables from 
the house that you give him. He requires 
a dry dark kennel and yard, which should be 
kept scrupulously clean, when he will never 
be offensive. Some badgers take kindly at 
once to these new circumstances, others sulk 
and occasionally waste and die unless great 
care is taken. If the badger's evacuations 
show a tendency to purging, feed on bread 
chiefly and rabbit, or if fastidious in his 
appetite, give raw eggs and bread. 

If by this little book I have done anything 
towards interesting those who care about the 
perpetuation of a wild and interesting animal 
119 



THE BADGER 

that" is fast disappearing from our hillsides 
and valleys, and shown that healthy exercise 
and pleasure can be obtained in protecting 
him from extinction and by fairly entering 
the lists against him, I shall have done some- 
thing towards delaying that sad day when 
the last badgers, with the lessons of courage 
and endurance that they can teach, have 
vanished for ever. 



THE END 



Richard Clay <5r> Sons, Limited, London <Sr> Bungay. 



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