Sunday, 20 October 2013

Badger Baiters: Welcome to Armageddon

Wednesday night duly came and, at seven ‘o’ clock on the dot, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to just what I expected: a wellington-clad Nimrod, laden with a bag of (hopefully) all the things I had asked him to bring me.
“Evening Nimrod! Come in, how’s it going?”
“Not too bad,” was the reply, “I can’t stay long.”
He then started to go through the bag, pulling out two ropes of crow scarers, followed by a further two ropes.
“The detonation times are exactly what you’ve asked for, Allan. The first bang will come thirty minutes from ignition, to be followed by successive bangs every minute, depending on how far you place them apart. You can even set it up to go off every few seconds,” he explained.
He then pulled out two magazines of .22 rifle ammunition, twelve rounds in each, followed by the unveiling of a large silencer. “Just a minute,” Nimrod said, “I’ll just go and get the gun.”
Whilst he went out to the Landrover, I examined the silencer, an impressive one at that. Nimrod soon returned with the gun. “Look after this, it’s my favourite .22,” he warned. I passed him the silencer which he screwed to the barrel of the gun. “They’ll never hear this, whatever happens,” he mused. His face then turned solemn “You know how Lord Foxton feels about this, Allan, it cannot be known by anyone else that he is aware of this operation, so from this moment on, you’re on your own.” I nodded in agreement as I was fully aware of the consequences for the estate if this were to get out, due to Foxton’s brother-in-law being a big noise in the Tory Party.
“I want you to do one more thing for me, Nimrod. Over the wall, where the sett is, I want you to put up a sign saying “Danger. Adders.””
“This is getting ridiculous, what d’you want a sign saying that there for?” Nimrod sounded quite irate.
“It’s important for the plan, so all that I ask is that you make sure that it’s done. And…” Nimrod raised an eyebrow as I prepared to ask him of one thing further, “15 yards from the fox hole, pour a line of creosote in a semi-circle, breaking all traces of scent.”
He paused and smiled. “Of course I will, Allan.”
As he was leaving, I asked of the connection between the Coopers and the Foxtons. He then filled me in with a part of history that I was unaware of. Lord Foxton’s brother was the Commander in charge, the night that poor Michael was sent up the communications tower on the Northern Southern Ireland border. The tie between the Foxtons and the Coopers was the death of Michael, all those years ago. Nimrod paused at the door and looked nervous and uneasy.
“The weather forecast for the 18th is appalling, Allan.”
“I know,” I replied, “if I were the badger baiters, I would definitely go on the 18th.” My experience of poaching all those years ago had taught me that, the filthier the weather on the night, the less likely you are to get caught. The people we were dealing with were the countryside bullies, who had no true idea of the mystique of poaching and I felt sure that they would not venture out on a filthy wet night with their cameras and the moon being obscured with cloud would not make their films as appealing to their sick audiences as it would be on a clear full moon.
“So it will be the 19th, Nimrod, when you keep that area completely clear of the Foxtons, the Coopers and yourself. The 19th.”
“But what if you’re wrong? If that badger sett is destroyed, it will create misery beyond belief.” “Trust me, Nimrod, it will be on the 19th. I will leave the gun, when I have finished with it, in the Fox hole and you do all the necessary cleaning up on the 20th.” Nimrod agreed to this and we bade each other farewell.

The night of the 18th. A torrential storm tore through the night. Whilst I was sure I was right, I couldn’t get rid of the tight knot of nerves in my stomach. All I could do was wait and hope for good news from Nimrod in the morning.

The morning of the 19th. The sound of the phone cut through the tension in the house like a knife. I hurriedly picked it up to the voice of Nimrod:  “You were right, it’s still intact, they didn’t show.” The relief I felt was palpable. My mind then turned to the evening’s events.

5 ‘o’ clock on the 19th. I packed my sleeping bag and Jackie packed my provisions, which went into the Landrover along with the gun and the crow scarers. Soon we were bobbling along the country roads, to arrive at the drop-off point on the Foxton estate. Jackie wished me good luck and I kissed her farewell, asking her to meet me at the same point at 5 ‘o’clock the next morning. I then had a 20 minute walk to the fox hole. I used the few hours I had between then and darkness to survey the situation and try to work out every kind of eventuality. I put the gun and sleeping bag into the fox hole, with the strong smell of creosote in my nostrils, and walked down to the wall; I looked over, and there was the sett. The sign “Danger. Adders” had been erected, just in front of it. And, on top of the sett, there was a small flag: the Union Jack. I knew the Coopers had been there; this was their code, telling me that the badgers expect. I then walked down the wall to find the odd low-lying branch to which I would attach the crow scarers at 20 metre intervals, right across the front of the sett. I returned to the fox hole and climbed on top of the ridge, and walked back towards the area of the track that had been ploughed a couple of weeks earlier. I then had to work out where they would park up as this would determine the detonation times of the crow scarers. I then espied a small clump of hawthorn trees backed towards the road from the ploughed area, which gave shelter from the road and was not too boggy either. Bingo. I timed the distance it took me to walk from the hawthorn trees, over the wet ploughed ground, to the badger sett. 15 minutes. The calculations were going round and round in my mind – the timing was everything. The other question of how many dogs I would be faced with kept creeping to the forefront of my mind, disturbing my other thoughts. I shook my head and looked to the darkening sky: I had to focus.

The time soon got round to 19:38. The October Hunter’s Moon was full. It seemed light enough to have a game of football: the area was almost floodlit. As I waited, I walked down to the sett and looked over the wall: two of the badgers were out, wrestling and getting up to mischief already. I shook myself again as the haunting image of the bloodbath and carnage that I had witnessed too many a time before flashed across my mind. I grimaced. ‘This is going to be a rough night, my old friends,’ I thought. And then: a beam of light from the road.
I ran back to the fox hole: the time was 21:30. The lights pooled off the road, onto the track, travelling very slowly, followed by another set of lights. I climbed up onto the ridge and ran back to the stone wall and lit the crow scarers. More thoughts crowded my mind: have I set them too early? Now they were lit there was nothing I could do. I ran back to the fox hole, picked up the gun, climbed up over the ridge and walked back towards the ploughed up area. By this time, the two vans had parked up. Three men hopped out of the first van with five dogs, all straining at their leashes already. The second van: another three men, one with a large camcorder, the other with two shovels and another struggling with two chains: two dogs on each. They already seemed to be out of control, trained to kill, baying for blood, like animals possessed.

9 dogs.

I didn’t envisage this number. ‘I’m going to have to stop some of these before they get near the sett.’ I thought, ‘there are just too many.” The cameraman took over the two shovels, allowing the other to have two of the dogs. I surveyed all 6 men, the camouflage jacket brigade, who looked oddly out of place in their surroundings. One man in a green cap looked to be particularly struggling with the demons on the end of his leashes; another – with just the one dog – was strutting around in a black balaclava. I shook my head. I’d seen this sort of person far too many times in my life and my blood started to boil as I remember my previous encounters with their handiwork. They then started to make their way clumsily towards the badger sett.

I went back towards the fox hole and stopped on the ridge, opposite the ploughed up bog area. I lay in the dead grass and waited. As they got into the wet ground, clambering over the small tree stumps, cursing and moaning, I could see no clear shots. Their uncoordinated approach soon left one man rather behind as he appeared to be getting deeper and deeper into the bog. His two dogs, in their desperation to get ahead, jumped up onto one of the trunks, at lead’s length from the man. For a split second, one of the dogs was in the sights of the gun. That was all I needed. A squeeze of the trigger, I watched one roll off the log. A second squeeze on the trigger, the second dog followed it. Finally unstuck, the man looked up to see them on the floor and began to shout to his comrades: “The dogs! What the hell’s wrong with the dogs?” The main group turned around, all gesticulating wildly for him to be quiet and not give them away. He stumbled around pulling on the leads, utterly bemused, before shrugging and leaving the bodies behind. ‘There are your true colours,’ I thought, ‘no regard for life whatsoever.’ The tune in my head from when I first saw the vans was Boney M’s “Daddy Cool” as I thought back to the great daddy cool that was ripped apart by the same type of people 30 years ago. For me, I felt no compassion for the two dogs I had just shot, nor did I feel guilty. I had most probably just saved them from a slow, painful and far more gruesome death which so many of these killers are met with as they carry out their job for the baiters.

As the group stood, F’ing and cursing, waiting for the straggler to catch up, I crept back over the ridge and was soon back in the fox hole. I looked at my watch: it had already been 15 minutes. The crow scarers would be going off in another 15; the men needed to hurry up for my plan to work. The brigade were now in sight once more. The dogs had caught the scent of the badgers and were straining at their leashes to such an extent that the men were almost horizontal in their effort not to get pulled off their feet.

They were down to 100yds. Too far.

The dogs were still pulling and were starting to make tongue: they could smell blood. Two of the dogs reached my mental 60yd mark. Their handler, Green Cap, stopped for a second to see how far the others were behind him. That was all I needed. One dog was in the sight of the gun. A squeeze of the trigger, the third dog fell. Green Cap, evidently as dense as he looked, was unaware of the sudden loss of tension in his left hand leash and was still shouting back at his colleagues to hurry up. Another squeeze on the trigger and the forth dog keeled over. He finally turned back round to his dogs and started to pull them and shout at them to get up, in some kind of bizarre notion that they had decided to take a nap. He shook the leashes frantically and was visibly shaking with rage. By this time, the cameraman had caught up and gawped at the scene, before joining Green Cap in a cursing frenzy. Meanwhile, the man who had been at the back of the group was having such trouble controlling his dogs that he was totally oblivious to the situation. His dogs were already up by the wall, clambering up, trying to get over. ‘Once over the wall, I’ve lost them,’ I thought; so I quickly turned the gun. Another squeeze and the fifth fell backwards, leaving the other dog straining on top of the wall. Perfect. A squeeze again and the sixth rolled over the wall, woodside. More cursing ensued.

 I looked at my watch: 5 minutes. If the remaining three dogs had not been so close to the sett, I might have mused at the scene of chaos unfolding as the men kicked the bodies, pointed fingers at each other and argued about whether or not to go home. But there were still three live dogs: the fight was not over yet. The remaining three dogs were pulling like animals possessed towards the sett. “No! We stay! I haven’t come all the way out here to return with nothing!” I heard one shout. I espied Black Balaclava stood slightly away from the rest of the brigade. The scent seemed too much for one of his dogs who also began to jump up the wall. A squeeze on the trigger, the seventh lay still. The group of men at this time were at total disarray. The cameraman took over as ringleader and strode over to the wall, quickly followed by Black Balaclava who didn’t give a second thought to his lost hound. I then heard the cry I had been waiting for: “Snakes!” The two jumped back and looked at each other. “That’s what’s done the dogs!” shouted another. I shook my head again: yet another display of how little these men know about wildlife. Again, my experience of Camouflage Jacket Brigades before had proved useful; I knew they would fall for the sign. The two dogs remaining seemed undaunted and looked to the wall, but I had to get a clear distance between them and the men before I could squeeze again.

Then, an almighty crack.

A crow scarer had kicked in. Everyone was startled for a split second. A clear shot. One followed by another. Eight and nine lay on the ground, amid the ensuing explosions. The men ran in all directions.

‘Welcome to Armageddon,’ I thought.

The Full Hunter's Moon - 21:30 19th October 2013


  1. Is this a true story?

  2. I am a police officer and was very interested to read this. Will be forwarding your details to the relevant authorities tomorrow when I get into work. I would be very careful about what you post on here in future.

  3. This is utterly despicable, you ought to be ashamed of yourself you wicked wicked man. What if you had accidentally shot one of those men?