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The Badger A Monograph   By:

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THE BADGER

[Illustration: BADGER. [ Frontispiece. ]

THE BADGER

A MONOGRAPH

BY ALFRED E. PEASE, M.P.

AUTHOR OF "THE CLEVELAND HOUNDS AS A TRENCHER FED PACK," "HORSE BREEDING FOR FARMERS," ETC.

[Illustration]

LONDON LAWRENCE AND BULLEN, LTD. 16, HENRIETTA STREET, COVENT GARDEN, W.C. 1898

All rights reserved

RICHARD CLAY & SONS, LIMITED, LONDON & BUNGAY.

"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.

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 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 observation 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 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 companions, 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 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... Continue reading book >>




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