HEDGEHOG HUNTING GOOD TRADE AND GOOD SPORT (Oct, 1923)

HEDGEHOG HUNTING GOOD TRADE AND GOOD SPORT

By SAM E. CONNER

TRAPPING hedgehogs does not sound like a very attractive pursuit, but a man in Maine has found it to be a profitable business, as well as one that has an element of danger, and therefore offers excitement in excess of that which comes to a rabbit or fox hunter. While it is not generally known, there is a steady demand for these ugly-looking creatures from all sections of America and Europe. They are desired for zoos and menageries, both private and public, and country-fair and street venders, who use them to aid in selling preparations, disposed of under the name of hedgehog oil, hedgehog liniment, and like titles, provide still another market.

All of these buyers are in constant need of the hedgehogs, for the animals do not live long in captivity. This man has been catching hedgehogs more than 20 years and has shipped thousands of them. In a single month, a few years ago, he shipped three tons; and one shipment to England, which, by the way, is one of the largest customers for hedgehogs, in the spring of 1922, required four horses to haul it to the railroad station.

The trapping is all done in the summer and at night. The best time for catching the animals is between 9:00 p. m. and 2:00 a. m., and there is no better hunting ground than an apple orchard. The hedgehogs come there to feast upon the apples, of which they are exceedingly fond. The outfit for catching them consists of an old washboiler, the cover fastened on one side by means of a wire hinge; a long pole, and a pair of heavy gauntlet gloves for protection against the quills, which the animal has a disagreeable habit of “throwing” when in danger. The pole is used to dislodge the hedgehog from the tree limb on which it may be found. Once the animal is on the ground, the trapper must step lively or his prize is gone. Clumsy as it looks, the hedgehog makes a quick getaway when frightened, and the darkness of night is a further help to it. It is a rush forward, a quick throw of the boiler over the escaping animal, a deft overturning of the boiler, and closing of the cover. It is all over in a jiffy, providing the trapper’s aim is good. A specially constructed box, lined with galvanized iron, is part of the outfit, and is used for taking the night’s catch back home.

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