Thursday, May 1, 2014

Is there a doctor in the house?

In the house of pancakes? That's a question Dean Warham once asked. I bet no one has ever asked, "Is there a mink farmer's son in the house?" People with mongoose problems don't know enough to ask.

The grandkids hung downstairs after Grandpa's funeral when my brother asked, "Do you guys want to go see a bear den?" We had found it while rabbit hunting. The cousins were up for it, so Kyle and I took them to look at a sleeping black bear. Several of us touched it, just cuz when do you get a chance to poke a wild bear, right? Right.

The second wild animal I touched was a mink. We were about to put inner tubes in the Pestigo River for a float when I saw a mink scurrying away from us. I gave chase. It was a magical moment of perfect coordination, running across wet rocks with a sweet bend and grab. I got it by the tail and as I picked it up, it occurred to me that if I didn't let it go I'd get bitten. My friends sufficiently awed, I released the beast. More interesting living through chemicals.

A late afternoon freight haul meant I had to overnight at a different camp. I dig the change of scene, personnel, and menu. My first flight yesterday wasn't until later in the morning so I was on aggressive standby. That particular camp serves employee breakfast right after the morning meeting so that's where I was chilling with coffee. The camp manager efficiently checked in with every department and when finished said, "Okay, what about the mongoose?"

Mongoose? What about them? You know those rings that stay on the milk jug after you twist open the jug? Well, a mongoose somehow managed to get one around its neck. A truly banded banded mongoose. The crew had been trying to catch the creature for some days to remove the band before it began to starve the animal White Fang style.

Tossed towels did as well as the box propped up with a stick on a string. They caught the animal a time or two but had no plan for holding the animal to cut the band off. Hell yeah, nightstops rock.

That day's plan held promise. They put a folding table on its side and draped two corners of a mosquito net over the table. The other corners they attached to fishing line and rods. Eggs thrown in the middle of the mossy net served as bait. I watched with interest, not announcing my skill set, not yet.

It worked too well. When they sprung the trap they had more than a dozen devils writhing around. The air was filled with ohmygods and holyshits. "Do you have any leather gloves?" I asked the manager after they lowered the fishing rods and let the mongoose(geese?) escape.

They didn't but they did manage to find some thick vinyl dish washing gloves. I donned the gloves and waited. What are they biting on? Eggs, mongoose love 'em so much that less than ten minutes after being netted, two snuck and sniffed toward the re-baited trap. One of the two was our target. "Now!(and I rarely use !'s, but this one is warranted)"yelled the manager. Hooks set, two mongoose in the net.

The manager had to show bravery in front of his staff, he stepped in and closed the top of the blue net. I grabbed a mongoose tail with each of my paws. It took a while to ascertain which mongoose was our huckleberry because the band was the same color as the net and the mongooses weren't interested in holding still.

I saw that the one in my right hand was our man. The manager made a silt in the net near the mongoose in my left hand. Half a second later its head was through the hole, I yelled, "Clear," the onlookers parted like the Red Sea and I let go. It shot away grabbing for traction long before it hit the ground. I turned my attention toward securing the head so we could get at its bling.

The mongoose let out a frightful howl, much bigger than one would think a creature of that size capable of bellowing. It's a last ditch defensive mechanism to make a predator pause in shock to facilitate escape. No dice, I wasn't letting go. The manager removed said item with a scissors, I let go, and boy, did it go. The most interesting Thursday I've had in a while.

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