The badger is not native to this area, so how did one end up in Daniel Sinack's trap?

Daniel Sinack of Phelps got quite a surprise recently. The day after Thanksgiving he was checking his trapline and he discovered a really strange animal in one of his traps. He caught a badger. 

The trouble with that catch is that New York does not have any (known) badgers roaming anywhere in the state. 

Daniel was completely perplexed about what to do, so he did the obvious. Since there was no mention of these critters in the trapping section of the hunting guide or the DEC’s website, he called the DEC to obtain its guidance on this situation. But that resulted in another problem. The DEC officer he contacted didn’t know what to do either.

I will interrupt this tale to ask some questions. First, where did this badger come from? There are several possibilities. The most obvious is that someone obtained it as a pet, probably as a “pup”, and then released it when its adult “nasty” nature began to display itself. It then spent some time (possibly several years) living on its own in the wilds around Phelps before its run-in with Daniel. 

How could it live without its natural food source, which is prairie dogs? Well, what is the difference between prairie dogs and woodchucks other than a slight difference (five to eight pounds difference, that is) in size? Believe me when I say that a badger would not have any trouble killing a chuck, such is its vicious adult nature. It is a natural killer of any (relatively) small animals.

Another possibility, although remote at best, is that it walked from the Dakotas to New York. Since badgers are not known as travelers in their wild habitat, I would personally rule that possibility out.

And there is also the even more remote possibility that it could have hitched a ride on the underside of a truck or car. But that is so remote that I’d rate it well below walking to NY. And the bottom line of this mystery is, ‘who knows?’

Anyway, back to this tale. After several hours of waiting for the DEC to make a decision, Daniel was told to dispatch the animal and a biologist would pick it up and take it to Avon for some research. It was returned later to the trapper in good condition. 

There is a happy ending to this situation for just about everyone concerned (everyone but the badger, that is). Biologists determined (to the best of their limited ability) that it was a wild critter. Daniel was allowed to keep the pelt. The DEC got the carcass for some additional testing. 

* * *

This past week I received an e-mail from Larry Werges of Canandaigua, one of my semi-regular readers. He knows how much I enjoy writing about kids in the outdoors. His note was about his son Stephen and deer hunting. And, since I found him to be so articulate with words, here is his story.

“I always enjoy reading your column and know that you enjoy hearing about successful youth hunters. My son, Stephen Werges, bagged (a) nice 11-point yesterday morning in the southern part of the Town of Canandaigua (8N). This is his first year hunting and he has been very successful. He also took a nice doe on opening day. 

“I have hunted with two other guys from my neck of the woods for the past 15 years or so. We have gotten our share of deer over the years but have put in many hours of field time. When we were processing the weekend’s harvest in the barn Sunday evening we all had a good chuckle about Stephen’s success rate. 

“This is Stephen’s first year as a hunter. He took his Hunter’s safety course in September from Kevin Cotter in Cheshire. We shot a few different guns and decided to purchase a 308 Savage Arms Trophy Hunter XP bolt action rifle. We practiced with it a number of times and got it sighted in for the Youth Hunt over Columbus Day weekend. We went out for a couple of hunts and did observe a few deer that were out of range. After this, he practiced a few more times with the new rifle and was anticipating opening day of the regular season. 

“On opening day in the afternoon, Stephen observed two nice 8-point bucks early in the hunt but was unable to get a good shot off. Later in the hunt, a nice doe presented herself at about 40 yards to the east and Stephen was able to take it. We had to track her quick because it was raining and we were losing our daylight, but we were able to find her dead around 50 yards in heavy brush. Stephen was pretty happy to bag his first deer!

“The weather looked great for hunting this past weekend so we decided to do a morning hunt yesterday out of a blind close to our home in Canandaigua. We woke up early and were in the blind by 6:15 a.m. waiting for sunrise. There was barely any wind and it was a beautiful morning to be out. Stephen was in the shooter’s chair in the blind and I was in there on the lookout as well. 

“The large buck presented himself around 8 a.m. to the west. He was coming straight down the lane at us. Stephen was patient and waited for a nice safe broadside shot at about 50 yards. He had him lined up with the scope and took the shot. 

“The buck took off to the southwest through a small clearing and then into heavy thicket and brush. We could hear him moving through some heavy stuff but could not get a visual on him. We didn’t hear much after this so we decided to get out of the blind and start to track. 

“There was no sign of blood or hair where he was shot or where he ran off. We did have a good idea where he entered the thick stuff so we continued our search there. We entered the thick stuff, still not seeing any sign of blood. Soon after though, Stephen was able to locate him in the distance and he did find a small blood trail. 

“We watched the buck for a while from a distance and he showed no movement. We decided to approach and he was dead. It was great to see Stephen’s excitement during the whole process. After field dressing the buck, we worked hard to drag him out of the thicket into the clearing. It was a very exciting day for the both of us.

“(By the way), Stephen is a freshman at Canandaigua Academy.”

That, Larry, is an incredible hunting tale, and well written to boot. I am proud of Stephen, and I have never met him. Great job, guys.

Len Lisenbee is the Daily Messenger’s Outdoor Columnist. Contact him at lisenbee@frontiernet. net.