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WbranchMarch 3rd, 2015, 9:32 am
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2701
My kitty, Jill, likes to jump into my bucktail drawer while I'm tying and sometimes take a snooze.

Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
OldredbarnMarch 3rd, 2015, 2:24 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
I may need to borrow her for a couple days...Found the nibblings of a field mouse in the garage...My fault. I had left a bag of bird seed on the floor, it had nibbled into it, and it was using an old pair of hiking boots as a nest. The shoe was full of sunflower seed casings...

They usually only head in when the weather's been bad like it has been here for a couple straight months. If it ever warms back up it will exit until next winter.

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
GutcutterMarch 3rd, 2015, 3:13 pm

Posts: 470
Found the nibblings of a field mouse in the garage

it had nibbled into it, and it was using an old pair of hiking boots as a nest.

If it ever warms back up it will exit until next winter.

Um, Spence, do you think it is a bachelor?
No friends?
All men who fish may in turn be divided into two parts: those who fish for trout and those who don't. Trout fishermen are a race apart: they are a dedicated crew- indolent, improvident, and quietly mad.

-Robert Traver, Trout Madness
CatskilljonMarch 3rd, 2015, 6:15 pm
Upstate NY

Posts: 160
When Jill finishes up at Spence's place, I could use her at the Catskill place too. Last winter out back in the shed what appeared to be a horde of them ate a hole in the lawnmower gas tank [plastic, I don't know why they are so attracted to gasoline!] and knocked stuff off the shelves. In the house they nested in a chest and partly filled the left leg of my waders with wild cherry seeds. Thank goodness my rods are in metal tubes. CJ

OldredbarnMarch 3rd, 2015, 6:31 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Tony. I think I'm just wistfully thinking...In the Fall I found one hiding down it the basement. Could have a small problem here. I stowed everything like I should of from the beginning and I'm crossing my fingers.
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
RMlytleMarch 3rd, 2015, 7:32 pm

Posts: 40
Cats and fly tying materials are a bad combo. Not to long ago I found a black deer hair piece that had been missing for about a year. The cats had shoved it under the washing machine.

However, cats and flies are an even worse combo. I was taking care of a friends cat this summer. I had just rigged up a rod with a woolly bugger to go carp fishing and propped it up against the wall. As I turned to pull out the rest of my gear from the closet I heard the rod fall and the drag scream. The stupid cat pulled the fly off the hook keeper and ran off with it in her mouth. For a few frantic minutes I was quite worried about the cat, but luckily the drag was low enough that the hook didn't set. What a relief that discovery was!
WbranchMarch 3rd, 2015, 7:54 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2701
However, cats and flies are an even worse combo

When my cat was just a little kitten she would get into everything because that is just what kitties do. Anyway one morning my wife and I were sitting in the kitchen having coffee and Jill comes waltzing in and jumps up onto the table and hanging out of the corner of her bottom lip is a #1 stainless steel hook with a lead eye attached! I like to tie eyes on a dozen hooks and set them aside and then go back to finish the fly.

Well my wife flipped and said "Well Matt I guess you better take Jill to the vet and get the hook removed". So I grabbed a good side cutter in case the vet didn't have one and jumped in the car with the kittie in a carrier. I'm glad I brought the side cutter because he didn't have one. I held the cat still and he clipped the hook just behind the barb and he backed it out. Gave her a little antiseptic and she never jumped on my fly tying desk again.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
PaulRobertsMarch 3rd, 2015, 8:46 pm

Posts: 1776
Found the nibblings of a field mouse in the garage

it had nibbled into it, and it was using an old pair of hiking boots as a nest.

If it ever warms back up it will exit until next winter.

Um, Spence, do you think it is a bachelor?
No friends?

When we first came to CO my wife and I moved into a small cabin in the mountains. I started trapping mice under the sink and caught 24 in the first week. Yeah, they do come in during the winter. And they do get around. Found a stash of peanuts and sunflower seeds in the left toe of a pair of neoprene waders that were hung well off the ground from a hook in my office.
TroutnutMarch 3rd, 2015, 10:42 pm
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2706
Cats and fly tying materials are a bad combo.

Puppies and fly tying materials are also a bad combo. I lost a fair bit of hackle before I learned that lesson. She tries to reimburse me twice a year, but a bale of shed husky fur still won't float a fly as nicely as a Whiting Bronze cape.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
WbranchMarch 3rd, 2015, 11:03 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2701

Wow your wife must be a great partner after willing to put up with a huge mouse infestation. Within a few months of getting my cabin back in 1996 we found that a few mice would get inside. My wife wasn't happy about that so I put Terminix under contract. The guy is still spraying for whatever insects might somehow get in and laying glue traps for the occasional mouse. Those damn rodents can get in the smallest entry holes. I've tried for years to make the cabin mouse proof. I even put in a new ceiling in one of the bedrooms for $500 to close off where I thought they might be coming in. Yet I still get them! Very annoying.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Jmd123March 4th, 2015, 7:23 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2508
As far as cats are concerned, none of mine has ever really messed much with my fly-tying stuff, other than the occasional curious sniff...this includes my current feline, Leo the Russian Blue, a.k.a. Leonid Catski, I'll have to post a pic or two of him on here sometime.

Funny, none of the three ever messed with my Christmas tree decorations either...guess I just got lucky! I can also happily say I've never had any rodents and damned few spiders or other critters in my dwellings.

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
PaulRobertsMarch 4th, 2015, 9:25 pm

Posts: 1776
Wow your wife must be a great partner after willing to put up with a huge mouse infestation....

Mice are just part of things where we live (in CO). As are foxes, coyotes, raccoons, weasels, hawks, owls, eagles, bobcats, bears, and mountain lions, all of which have visited our chicken coop setup (that looks like Stalag 13) over the last decade or so. We keep mice and deer out of the garden beds with hardware cloth and netting. That old cabin of ours was just too old and permeable to keep the mice out. Bears stayed out though, (unless you were stupid), although lions have a habit of peering into windows -especially if you have pets.

This was "Ponderosa", a favorite hen we raised from the egg -about the time we stopped naming them:

In general, our take on wildlife is that we really appreciate them, and work around them rather than exterminate them. We keep our bee hives on the upper deck because the bears don’t really seem to notice electric fences. They can climb onto the lower deck and I’ve had to run a couple off in the night. The mice, I snap-trap. With the first dropping found in the silverware drawer, out come the traps and a jar of peanut butter clearly labeled, “BAIT!”. I keep my fly-tying materials, and other valuable stuff, in snap-top buckets and bins.

We have 7 species of cavity nesting birds that nest IN the walls of our house: mountain bluebirds, house wrens, violet-green swallows, 2 nuthatch species, flickers, and kestrels. I put houses out for the western bluebirds, which won’t nest too close to the house. Our house is perched in a mountain meadow and at the trailing end of a small but old aspen grove. Aspens attract cavity nesters, so our house is simply included. One of these years we are going to have to re-side it, but in the meantime, they are welcome. It would be a shame to lose that kind of diversity by evicting them. No “silent spring” for us. I like waking up and listening to the different bird's chicks in the walls. We can keep track of their growth and watch each fledge every year –often at the breakfast table (most fledge early in the a.m.)– which can be pretty comical. I have a very fond memory of waking up on the back deck with my wife and son (we sometimes pull a king-sized mattress out onto the deck to sleep under the stars and awake with the meadow) and seeing a fledgling nuthatch take his first daring leap. I gave dialogue to the little bird that appeared to be trying to get his courage up, and had my son rolling with bubbling belly laughs. I do have to go up and re-stuff the insulation the flickers pull out though. But I wouldn’t sacrifice those birds for the temporary loss in property value.

Yes, my wife is pretty "down to earth" as they say, or "coming down" bit by bit as the years go by. :) The last few years she's even helped me field process and pack out deer and an elk. She, and my son, were real troopers on that elk. She is a bit nervous though in the dark, huddled over a bloody carcass in the claustrophobic beam of a flashlight. On that elk, my son took a short walk while I was working on a hindquarter the following morning, and he walked up on a bear in the creek bed. The next morning the gut-pile was GONE! The intestines must have been slurped up like spaghetti, which was enough to roll my stomach just a little bit.

On my last deer, a large bobcat tried to stake a claim on it. It did so by doing what it would do to a fox or coyote, simply stand its ground. It was a bluff mostly, and I could tell it was intimidated because it wouldn’t look at me –make eye contact –instead showing “displacement behavior” by looking away as if distracted. But not leaving either. I loved the close encounter but finally moved him off by walking right on up telling him what a ‘sweet boy’ he was, and promising I’d leave him plenty of treats. He turned and sauntered off in an entirely cat-like fashion. Interesting how close domestic cats are to wild ones. I saw leopard cats in Thailand just a couple months ago, and had the same impression.

Here’s my ‘sweet boy’ just before I moved him off and got to business:

Bringing this back around –sorta– in a western mountains “down to earth” kind of way: Pets allowed to free range rarely last very long up here. “Don’t let the cat out!” is a common echo down canyons nowadays. LOTSA stories I could share along these lines. To sum up the issue and illustrate my wife’s “coming down to Earth” I’ll share this one: A while back, and before we were married, my wife ended up naming her last two cats "O.B." and "L.B." -for "Owl Bait" and "Lion Bait". "Earth" comes to you here, you don't have to go find it. Lots of people think they want to live in the mountains until they try it for a year or two. Those that stay tend to end up pretty "down to Earth".
Jmd123March 4th, 2015, 9:55 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2508
Remarkably, all three of mine have been outdoor kitties (until it comes to dinner time or sleeping, or playing too). Hard to believe none of them have ever gotten into trouble in that regard either. Cali-Cat (I posted pics of her on here some years ago) was all attitude, barely weighing 6 lbs. the last time I took her to the vet yet she could shriek like a banshee straight out of Hell, making me wonder if she was being disemboweled or something! A quick inquiry led to a return stare from her of "WHAT?" with nary a hair mussed...she was also extremely fast and in her youth could do ten foot horizontal leaps with ease.

However, she wasn't dumb...I will never forget seeing her on my back porch a year ago in the fall, watching a big fat momma raccoon teach her babies how to eat acorns by using their jaws as nutcrackers! Quite literally, unga unga unga CRACK...Cali sat there watching and decided she was outnumbered, and turned and walked away. Maybe that's why she never got into trouble, she knew her limitations. I saw her way outrun several dogs in Texas and even had the guts to attack, yes quite literally ATTACK, a drug-sniffing dog who got a little too close - I kid you not, charged the dog, raised a paw full of fishhooks and HISSED! For her, attitude was everything. She made a great hiking buddy too, would walk with me in TX for two hours and did some of these trails around here with me too. I buried her in the woods after she passed away in August, down where she liked to hike with me and listen to the frogs in springtime.

Rest in Peace you little Calico friend of mine. ;oD


P.S. The cop who was walking the (his) dog completely freaked out - "JESUS!!! Wadda you got, an attack cat?!?!" And the poor dog was just as freaked out as the cop was...

P.P.S. "The next morning the gut-pile was GONE!" Yep, same story in my woods, Paul. They only last one night. Enjoy your tales of mountain life in CO, thanks much for them Sir.
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
MartinlfMarch 5th, 2015, 12:51 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3125
Paul, thanks for the stories. I envy the diversity of your feathered friends. Our previous home was more out in the country, sitting on the edge of a field that was typically planted in corn or soybeans. We had two birdhouses in the yard, and several out at the other side of the field on fenceposts. Some of my favorite memories are of watching little Eastern bluebirds fledge, then hop among our strawberry plants, picking up bugs. The other box in the yard often had tree swallows, and my kids and I would gather feathers from a friend's henhouse and bring them home for the swallows, who lined their nests with them. On a breezy day we could hold a feather up as they circled the house, then let it go into an updraft. The swallows would pick them out of the air, sometimes at very close proximity --they preferred white feathers. It's a joy to have nesting birds at your home. The only down side was the continual onslaught by house sparrows, a non-native predatory bird that kills bluebirds and breaks their eggs to take over the nest. Soon after our first bluebirds arrived, I called the NABS to get tips on not disturbing them (the birdhouse was right next to our garden). A little old lady who answered asked if we had house sparrows in the yard, and when I replied in the affirmative, she told me, not mincing words, that I'd need to shoot them. When I explained I'd quit hunting years ago and was not inclined to kill things anymore, she said something to the effect of, "you've lured those bluebirds into your yard, and you're going to find a nest full of dead ones if you don't get rid of the sparrows." I went out and bought a pellet gun the next day. Then, a year or so (and many dead sparrows) later bought an even more accurate and powerful German-made RWS with a scope. My wife once joked that my morning routine was "get up, shoot a sparrow, eat breakfast, and go to work." Despite my efforts we did lose a few eggs, but never babies or a parent. The swallows pretty much took care of themselves. I once saw a swallow take a sparrow out of the air, like a hawk, rough it up on the ground, then chase it out of the vicinity. Some folks actually set two houses close together with the aim of attracting tree swallows to help protect the bluebirds. We now live in a subdivision, unsuitable for either bluebirds or pellet guns, somewhat to my relief, as the pressure's off now. But I miss those birds, too. They were pets of a kind.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
PaulRobertsMarch 5th, 2015, 7:27 pm

Posts: 1776
"get up, shoot a sparrow, eat breakfast, and go to work."

Louis, my experiences with wild bird husbandry is pretty much the same as yours. I shoot a number of starlings each spring, and can be seen marching out to my chores with a rifle slung over my shoulder or sneaking out of the house to get the crosshairs on one of those ultra-wary intruders.

Starlings, and house sparrows, are an easy decision. But there are others. Post-fire, our local landscape has changed, been opened up. This might be thought of as “natural” if it hadn’t been for the decades of fire suppression that allowed the build up of, what’s now known as, “fuel”, awaiting the conditions for the ‘perfect storm’. The last fire left a moonscape in its wake, which has ‘recovered’ as large expanses of meadow where 100 year-old overly dense scrub forest had stood. We lost some forest species but gained open country ones, including cowbirds –parasitic nesters that learn the locations and visitation schedule for every bird nest in the area. I can see the females visiting my nest boxes. Debates rage over cowbirds and, following, just what exactly is “natural” anymore. In the end, I decided to let them be, along with the bumper crop of magpies that mercilessly harassed our beloved fledgling kestrels and pirated the adults when they came in with food. “Nature” has to take its course at some level.

We then discovered the downright viciousness of house wrens! Those cute little feathered ping-pong balls with the merry bubbling song will attack a nest-box full of bluebird chicks by pitching them out onto the ground one by one. I overruled this perniciousness only to be trumped by the wren’s next tactic –to stuff the nest-box full with twigs, piled over the top of the bluebird nestlings. The nestlings expired before I discovered it. Parent bluebirds apparently aren’t equipped to deal with the aggressive territorial tactics of wrens. I won’t be placing a nest box too close to an aspen grove again.

Those that somehow think that nature is in any way serene and benevolent don’t spend much time in it. And that admonishment goes for me too.
MartinlfMarch 5th, 2015, 9:40 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3125
Yeah, I have a number of starling skins plus wings. Great for soft hackles, as I'm sure you know. Our kitchen window slid open from the side, and made an excellent gun rest for stealthy shots, sniper style. I picked off a cowbird or two before deciding to let these native parasites go as well. They prey on song sparrows around here, and I hate to see a song sparrow feeding a huge cowbird fledgling, but studies show the song sparrows are doing fine despite the parasitism. We didn't have too much trouble with wrens, but I placed the boxes far from our hedgerows (the typical wren highway around here). Wrens did fill some of the fence post boxes with twigs. It seems that in addition to an active nest box, they will fill several boxes with twigs making "dummy" nests, the purpose for which is debated. I cleaned these out time and again. To paraphrase the bard a bit, wrens are nothing if not persistent.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell

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