June 21 2023
Hillbillie Willie and I regularly see wildlife on our rides in the Owyhee desert: deer, the periodic pronghorn, the occasional coyote (two were sunbathing on the peak of the ridge this morning).
But - whoa! - what was this creature!
Trotting at a brisk pace along a two-track, we came around a bend and two never-before-seen-by-Willie furry creatures were stepping onto the road ahead of us, then suddenly bombing away from us down the road. Willie slammed on his brakes as the two badger butts, a bigger one and a smaller one, ran away as fast as they could. But sensing big danger to her baby, Mama Badger stopped to face off with the super tall creature with an even taller creature on top. She’d probably never seen a horse and a human before, and despite the fact that combined we were more than 20 times her size, she challenged us, holding her ground, stepping behind a sagebrush for protection, then stepping back out to hiss.
Willie and I had a quick conversation:
SCREECH TO HALT
Me: “Ooof” - as I adjusted to the sudden change in pace.
Mama Badger: “Hisssssssssssss! I’ll kill you!”
Willie: “!!!!! Should I be scared?”
Me: “Ooooh! It’s a Mama Badger and that’s her baby running away! Badgers are fierce!”
Willie: “I might be scared! Dudley told me about these things!” (Dudley was scared of badgers.)
Mama Badger turned to run after her baby. Overcome with curiosity, Willie started to walk after them. Mama whirled back at us and stopped in the middle of the road, hissing. We stopped. Mama even charged at us, posturing, snarling, “Come on, I’ll take you on!”
Willie planted it: “Um…. not me. Uh uh. Not messing with her.”
Me: “No, we don’t want to tangle with a badger!” Baby Badger was still running down the trail. “We’ll go around so the Baby can stop running and Mama can get him back.”
So we detoured far around the trail (Mama Badger stood her ground still hunched up in a big fight posture), far enough to get ahead of the Baby Badger.
You never know what you’ll ride upon the Wild West. What a treat that was, and Willie can mark Badgers off his bucket list!