Secret strategies for successfully hunting down the wily coyotes, foxes and badgers of Western Canada’s grasslands
I’ve shot many badgers over the years, and one of the best ways to home in on them is to watch for flying dirt. I remember once driving down a country road and seeing the terra firma spewing three feet into the air along a barbed-wire fence. At first I was perplexed, but it only took a few seconds to link the activity to a badger at work under the ground. I drove ahead a little, then parked and carefully stalked back to get closer without alerting him to my presence. The next time he poked his dirt-covered ears out of the hole to have a look around, it was lights out.
Ever since that encounter, I always watch for flying dirt when hunting badgers. I also look for signs of digging, especially after a fresh snowfall, when the black mounds of soil in the sea of white are obvious. Then all you have to do is wait—it will only be a matter of time before the badger appears from the hole. You can also use a gopher whistle to try to get him to rear his head.
Sometimes, the unexpected can also lead to opportunity when it comes to hunting for these prairie predators. One memorable encounter happened when my wife, Stef, and I were touring the prairie countryside on the hunt for birds, as well as badgers. I had just remarked that it was strange we hadn’t seen a badger yet when we turned onto a new trail and I spotted the biggest specimen I’d ever seen in my life.
Busy digging into the hard prairie landscape, the badger seemed oblivious to our presence. In fact, it soon become apparent that he didn’t care about us being there. We had a quick look through the binoculars and could see fat rolls in the brow of his face—he was definitely the boss badger for the area.
I grabbed my shotgun, racked in some predator loads and began to stalk toward him. I closed the distance to about 50 metres before he stared at me with a look of discontent. I knew I’d gone as far as he would let me, so I levelled the bead of my smoothbore on his forehead and squeezed the trigger. At the report of the gun, the badger slumped over without a twitch.
Alberta contributor Brad Fenson enjoys hunting for all manner of game.