If it’s not the rain, it’s the mice


Talking recently to an area trapper and avid collector of mouse traps, yes mouse traps, I came to think about famous mice I’ve been associated with.

The first is not one mouse but a herd of the little fellows that might have been related, at least that’s my guess since they seemed bent on following each other like miniature elephants on a nightly journey to wherever. My dad, my brother-in-law and I had nearly drowned in our sleeping bags due to a two day downpour we experienced during the drive to Ontario and a couple nights in a tent which was not doing much of a job in terms of providing a dry shelter.

Better place

Our bags were soaked, our food was soaked, and a campfire was not to be. In fact, our enthusiasm for camping was so severely dampened that we needed a change in venue and quickly. We stuffed our dripping gear in the truck and set out to find a cabin, one that I had visited as a youngster.

Eight hours later we did in fact find Grace Lake and to our surprise, our old cabin was available. It looked the same, stacked logs and white washed chink, an ancient wood stove and hand pump for appliances, and plenty of decade’s old dust.

But we were dry and that itself was a much appreciated pleasure. But then came bed time and the parade of mice began. First one then another and then still more, the little creatures marching in single file over my head, parading across a small log that held one outside wall to the other and a single, bare light bulb which was expired.

Teasing mice

I swear each mouse, big or little, paused to look down on me with a grin and a wink. Come morning I rolled out of the wire coiled and deeply swayed bed, fully prepared to torch the wood stove and fry some eggs. But my brother-in-law was nowhere to be found.

It seemed that he was not entertained by the mice. He had spent the night in sitting in the truck and he refused to re-enter the infested cabin. Then there was single critter that lived in an old van, a vehicle with mushy tires and at least three inches of mud throughout. The van had been barged to a landing near Petersburg, Alaska.

The owner was gracious and we were invited to use it on the forest service roads there so that a friend and I could travel to the higher clear cuts to hunt black bears. That old clunker saved us miles of hiking. Using the van meant changing at least one tire every time, jumping an aging battery, and getting to know our third passenger.

We found the mouse, or perhaps it found us when one of us dropped an Oreo(R) on the front floor. Not that we would have retrieved the thing but in seconds a mouse shot out from under the seat to enjoy the layered dessert.

He showed no fear, just an insatiable appetite for sweet treats. We borrowed the van several times during the week of hunting and each time we carried extra goodies for our tiny friend who became tamer with each gift of food.

In fact, he was looking a bit on the chubby side by the end of our hunt. I guessed that it was the only mouse, or at least one of the very few mice in all of Alaska to have its own Chevy van.


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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.



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