Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It's The Beginning Of Mousing Season!

Fall has arrived! The leaves have all changed to orange and yellow and most of them have fallen to the ground. The overnight temperatures are hovering around the freezing point and it's now completely dark when I get up in the morning. This is also the time when the mice start to come indoors.

Some people hunt for deer or moose. Others go for duck, quail or geese. Me? I'm a mouser. Every fall when the weather gets cool, I get the itch for a good old fashioned mouse hunt. I haven't been skunked in 4 years.

My weapon of choice is the old style, spring-loaded, classic Victor trap. The neck breaker. It's a tradition that has been passed down in my family. I remember the old man setting up neck breakers out by the wood pile when I was a young buck, and by gum if they were good enough for my old man then they're good enough for me.

He'd set up the trap and then we'd run in and watch from the kitchen window with binoculars. We wouldn't have to wait very long before we saw that twitchy little nose poke around the corner. Then it would inch a little closer and take a sniff. Then a little bit closer. And a little bit closer. Oh the anticipation! Finally the lure of the peanut butter would overpower the mouses suspicions and it would dive in. SNAP! "Yes!" From that instant I was hooked on the hunt.

Many years passed before I had a chance to engage in this feral pastime.

When I lived in BC, I didn't come across any mice. I did however encounter some bigger game. Rats! It was basically the same hunt on a larger scale. Bigger critter. Bigger neck breakers. Although I had a lot of success in rat hunting, the rats were a little too big and disgusting for me to get really excited about it. I was more of a chore than a sport.

Then we moved back to Manitoba.

The second fall we were here, we noticed that our perimeter had been breeched by a whole family of meeses! The babies were the tiniest mice I had ever seen. I was caught completely unprepared. I didn't have a single trap in the house. That didn't stop me though! I managed to capture one of the babies in a baseball hat. I practice the catch and release method when it comes to baby mice and so this mouse was simply banished to the outdoors.

The next day I picked up a 2-pack of neck breakers at the grocery store. I loaded the traps with a dab of peanut butter (just like my old man) and set them up in high traffic areas just before going to bed. I had just settled into bed when I heard, "SNAP".

This same story played out again and again over the next few nights. I believe I bagged myself 3 adult mice that fall.

As time went by I discovered that the mice were originating in the basement. Last fall was the first year that the hunt was moved from the main level of the house to the basement. I set up my neck breakers near the furnace and immediately caught myself a mouse.

Then something strange happened. Either my traps were becoming less sensitive or the mice were getting smarter. Every day when I checked my traps they would still be set but the peanut butter was missing. This went on for a good week. Then I tried different baits. Cheese, Jujubes. Anything that would stick a little stronger to the trap. None of these worked. Finally I decided to add a new weapon to my arsenal. The sticky pad. These are a little less humane and not very sporting, but I had to do something to get rid of these super genius mice.

A week passed with no results. Finally, one day I checked and I had a mouse in the neck breaker. Old faithful pulls through again! That was the last mouse for the year. Fresh peanut butter showed not signs of nibbling after a couple of weeks. Regardless the traps remained set just in case there were any stragglers.

One day, last summer, Jules was in the basement and noticed the remains of a mouse stuck to the sticky pad that had been left out all year. That was the first summer mouse that we'd every seen. I don't know how long it had been stuck but it didn't look so good. The whole trap was thrown out.

Last week I set the neck breakers up with some peanut butter in preparation of the coming mouse season. To my surprise, I immediately noticed that the peanut butter was missing. Apparently the mouse hunting season had started and I wasn't notified!

Since the neck breakers were already proving unsuccessful, I moved the second sticky pad over to the area of the neck breakers as a backup. When I picked it up the sticky pad I noticed that there were a few rather large spiders stuck to the goo and as I was looking at them the largest one started moving. Ewww! As horrified as I was I managed not to throw the trap and run up the stairs screaming. Who knows? Maybe a mouse would like to eat a spider.

Now it's just a waiting game.

Mark my words, by next week we'll be feasting on delicious roast mouse.

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