A mouse can make a pretty good living in the camps scattered along the shores of Fish in a Barrel pond. Toaster crumbs alone will support a surprising number of rodents but when you add open bags of chips and peanuts, puddles of grease on the stove and spilled cereal on top of the refrigerator, entire colonies can spring up, seemingly overnight.
Some members of the Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society will adopt a mouse in their camp, as a mascot of sorts, leaving treats on the mantle and laughing with delight when their furry little friend descends the stone face of the chimney, grabs a Cheetos™ and scurries back up through a hole in the ceiling. Those folks marvel at how quickly the mouse returns for another load, forgetting that mice pretty much all look the same and that what they are seeing is really a multi-generational assault, with mouse after mouse lined up above the ceiling like paratroopers in a plane.
Other groups take a different approach to the near-infestations we see from time to time, placing traps in strategic spots to cut down the numbers or at least provide a pleasant evening’s diversion. Some even make a game of it, putting their initials on mouse traps and seeing whose trap is sprung first. With a dollar per trap in the pot the winnings add up fast, especially when there is the chance for more than a dozen rounds of this little game before bed time. Of course, the action slows down as the numbers drop after a couple of nights, but mice are prolific and their population bounces back in no time at all. Being more a game of skill, rather than of chance, it’s not really gambling and it helps me out so I am always happy to provide as many traps as they can set (when all else fails, my friend Eugene has a way to deal with a bumper crop of mice).
Some folks have a harder time than others accepting the mice as a fact of life at old fishing camps like this. I do what I can to help them out, knowing how delicate their urban sensibilities can be. For example, when someone says to me, “Quill, I didn’t sleep a wink last night because a mouse was making so much noise,” I gather as much information as I can and offer up an appropriate amount of sympathy for their plight.
“What was the mouse doing?” I will ask.
“Rattling around in my bag of chips,” they will reply. “Made a heck of a racket.”
“And where was your bag of chips?” I will ask, feigning genuine concern.
“Right on the kitchen counter!” is invariably the answer, followed by, “You’d better do something!”
I will tell them I will come over and do something that very evening, and what I will do when I get there is put their darn food in the fridge, coolers and containers I provide for just such occasions, where the mice can’t get it. Keeping a clean camp goes a long way to limit problems with mice, and some people are beginning to understand, making things a little nicer for everyone, but indoor cleanliness and mice are just a start.
If someone is going to get apoplectic over a mouse in their Doritos™ I can hardly imagine how they will react when other denizens of the woods stop by, looking for a little snack. Like this guy who has been hanging around the last few days:
Looks like it might be time to move on from cookies and chips on the counter and have a little chat about tossing canteloupe rinds out the door and pouring bacon grease next to the steps.