Badgering prey makes little sense

My brother and I came upon a badger out in the pasture one summer afternoon. He looked at us. We looked at him. He glared at us and looked mean, so we thought we should return his angry stare.

His body was muscular, and his mottled brownish gray fur was highlighted by a white streak from the back of his neck to the end of his nose, and white streaks down each side of his face. His head looked like he’d been stepped on — flattened from top to bottom.

He wasn’t afraid of us. In fact, he acted downright belligerent. So we decided to rope him. That’s what teenage country kids out in the pasture on horseback do — look for something to rope.

Luckily for most of our “ropees,” we weren’t very good “ropers” yet, but we needed the practice. This fairly small animal (about the size of a coon) seemed just right. There was a problem, though. He made up for his small size in muscles. Also, his teeth looked quite sharp, and his feet had long, vicious-looking claws. It was obvious if he ever got hold of you he could definitely cause major pain.

My brother shook out a loop and tried it. By golly his loop settled down right over the badger’s head and behind his neck. But before he could jerk his slack that badger did a little twist and the rope came off.

We couldn’t figure out exactly what had happened, so I tried it. My brother said, “Jerk your slack in a hurry.” After I missed he added, “If you catch him that is.”

I said, “You try it again, smarty pants.” After a couple of misses when the loop didn’t quite land where he aimed he lucked out and again got one over the badger’s head. He managed to quickly yank his slack, but it didn’t matter. That badger kinda rolled over and then stood up again — rope dangling on the ground.

“What the heck?!” I asked.

“He must have really loose skin — or something” my brother said.

So we decided to try heading and heeling, but it would have to be just using two ropes because we couldn’t really rope at his heels. Actually, we couldn’t even see them. He was mad by then, and his teeth looked even sharper when he screamed at us.

I was beginning to think this wasn’t such a hot idea, but my brother wasn’t willing to give up so easily. We decided we’d better both throw a good loop, and both at the same time, so we’d have the second loop on him before he could get rid of the first.

For that we’d need to be really close. Our horses didn’t go for that idea at all. The closer we got to that screaming, carrying-on animal the more skittish our horses acted. We both threw a loop, but I admit I didn’t aim too carefully with mine.

The badger gave up, thank heavens, and disappeared under the shinnery bush he’d been standing beside. He saved us from ourselves.