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  • Writer's pictureJane Schnelker

Never a Dull Moment

If there is one thing you can always count on in this business, it is the total unpredictability of what will happen next! An otherwise routine day is often enlivened by being called out on rescue work.........

One very hot day last summer I got a call about a "little beaver" who was in the middle of a stream near Galion, Ohio desperately swimming to keep above water, caught and held in place by fishing line. The stream was supposedly 20 feet wide and 5 foot deep. I assumed this was an exaggeration; you know how people do. And, of course, it was probably a muskrat as there are no beavers in this immediate area.

I got my net, knife, gloves and carrier and drove 25 minutes, praying the thing would have the strength to keep above water and still be alive when I got there. I arrived to find a 10-15 pound woodchuck with its lip impaled by a fish hook whose line was wrapped around a barbed wire strand that spanned the stream by the bridge. I climbed down the bridge abutment and started out - quickly discovering that the stream WAS 20 feet wide and 5 feet deep! Thank God I am 5' 10", as I was up to my armpits in water. (Kind of refreshing on that hot day but made for a rather soggy drive home.)

Of course, when I reached the woodchuck he hadn't a clue that I was there to help and kept trying to bite me and scramble out of the net. I finally got him into the net & secured, cut the line loose, and while balancing the woodchuck and net above water with one arm I proceeded to cut all the lines and hooks off the stretch of barbed wire so nothing else would get in trouble. Just as I cut the last line I managed to drop my nice little lock-blade Case knife into the murk!

I waded out of the stream, went back up the bank and over the abutment and then into the field where I was able to get the hook out of the very angry woodchuck and release it. (Told it to cross by the bridge next time instead of swimming!) Drove away and said a little prayer of gratitude for keeping the woodchuck alive til I could get to him, but complaining "Why'd you have to let me drop my knife?" Do you suppose it would be ethical to buy myself a new knife with Wildlife Haven money?


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