Last summer, while in Jackson Hole for work, Jill and I enjoyed the American Independence Day long weekend with a quick trip to Idaho’s Sawtooth Valley, guided by my colleague and our friend, Jon Mobeck.
After downing far too much pizza in Ketchum and making our way to the National Forest to set-up camp for the night, we were driving through the Sawtooth’s, enjoying the golden last light of the day.
Always vigilantly watching for wildlife, I noticed a small creature darting across the road.
I love badgers and we had come up empty handed in spotting one thus far on our trip.
With my camera at the ready, I rolled down my window and fired off a series of quick shots as Jill slowed the car and pulled off the highway.
They won’t win me any awards, but it was a great moment that I felt had the potential to become truly unique.
You see, the badger didn’t continue out into the field. It did a u-turn and went into the culvert under the road.
It had to come out one side or the other and I felt if we sat quietly, we might be rewarded with another, better sighting.
Now, I’m not naive to the fact badgers – like my fiancee’s dog, Peabody (also known as my nemesis for life) – can be extremely vicious.
I probably should have warned Jon.
As I set-up on one side of the culvert, I instructed Jon to keep an eye on the other side, in order to make sure it didn’t leave via the back door (typical badger move, if you ask me).
All was quiet.
I asked Jon if he could see anything.
As he leaned down to get a better look, I heard a high pitched scream and then watched as he ran, zig-zagging, across the open prairie.
Again, I should have told Jon that you can’t trust a badger. And should never get too close to one.
Completely freaked out, Jon returned to the car, pointing and swearing at the culvert.
As Jill laughed and I went to take a look for myself, I found the little guy growling from just inside the culvert.
Now these are taken from quite a distanced and cropped in. But as you can see, you wouldn’t want to run into a badger in a dark culvert.
They’re cranky, fast, devious and just plain awesome.
Jon might disagree with the awesome part, as his first up close badger encounter I think still gives him nightmares….
…like Jill’s dog haunts my dreams.
Now that’s a scary animal.