With the small business history, Bucky’s: Stories and Recollections from 50 Years in Business soon to be published, I share today one of the knock-out stories that will appear in the book. This memory is shared by my dad, who reluctantly joined the family business full time after graduating college in 1975, seeing no other choice. The business, Bucky’s Repair, operated a hide and fur business on the side as a way of diversifying business and adding income. Here, a glimpse into my grandfather’s crazy notions as a self-taught wildlife expert and businessman, and just how far one family would go to earn a buck.
“Coyote prices had gone way up, and Dad had perfected what he thought was the all-time best coyote scent. It took him a year to get it just right: a potion of rotten fish, ground up beaver glands and other juices. He buried this stuff for one year to let it age, and age it did. When we dug up the scent and opened it, we could not stand to be within a block of the stuff.
Dad used eye droppers to divide the potion into small vials, dispensing one drop at a time. In the fall, he set out a large coyote trap line. He was very excited to go for the first follow-up run to see how the potion worked.
Well, it worked extremely well: His traps were full of badgers. It seemed his potion was exactly what badgers craved. Dad had a dilemma. How could he catch coyotes if badgers kept getting into his traps?
Being ever so creative Dad thought he would trap badgers that fall, to get them out of circulation. But it would be silly to just trap them and kill them, since badger fur could net him some money. The problem was that badgers don’t get prime until March. He had to figure out a way to keep them until March, when their fur would be prime and worth a sale. His solution was to trap beaver and use the beaver carcasses for badger food. Doing this, he figured he could keep the badgers alive until they grew prime.
That fall, thanks to his signature coyote scent, we ended up with 29 badgers in three pens out behind the shop. Dad made the pens himself, with wire and hog rings and two-by-four legs and frames. The badgers fought like crazy, day and night. They were very snarly, with deep-throated growls, very vicious sounding. We had never given a thought to the possibility of their fighting, until we put them in the cages together. With all of the fighting going on, we knew we had to call the local vet; now we were dealing with a bunch of badger wounds. Once a week, the local veterinarian, Glenn Millard, came to the shop to doctor the wounded animals. Dr. Millard would apply antibiotics from a distance with a swab on a stick.
Once, the chief of police, Win Farnsworth, came by to inspect the place. He was a former FBI agent from Texas who had come to Sublette County and hired us to take him on a bear hunt. He had fallen in love with the country, gave up his FBI job and moved to Pinedale. Now as Chief of Police, he had received reports that cock fights were taking place behind Bucky’s. When we showed him what we had, he was relieved we weren’t having cock fights. He said he would be happy to report there were no cock fight going on at Bucky’s. That was that.
By mid-January, the beaver meat ran out. We had no choice but to shoot the badgers, skin them, and work the fur up to be sold. They brought an average price of $10.00 each, which was very low. A good, prime pelt in March would have brought us $30-$35. But the price of beaver had gone way up, so Dad made out good, anyway. He didn’t use the potion any more. He didn’t need it. We were all beyond glad, as none of us could stand to ride in Dad’s truck that fall.
For more about the project, or to pre-order a book, visit www.buckysstory.com.