I have been researching members of the weasel family such as the marten, wolverine, mink, weasel, fisher, and otter. I have also been reading about hares, so on February 7th I went to John and Victoria’s house to learn more about animals, animal tracks, and snaring. They live in a log cabin like us. It is 5 miles as the raven flies or an hour and a half drive with snowmobiling at the end. They heat their house with wood in a European style brick stove and cook on an old-fashioned wood cook stove. They have a sauna, a composting outhouse, and a home-made bridge over the Mulligan River that you have to cross to get to their house. Also, we have been reading a book called Danny and the Boys by Robert Traver. In the early 1900s Danny and the boys lived in Hungry Hollow right where John now has his shop.
The first morning John and I braved -22 degrees to go out looking for animal tracks on our snowshoes. Most of the tracks we saw were from members of the weasel family and snow shoe hares. Hares can jump over 6 feet high and over 25 feet long. The Snowshoe hares seem to live in groups John calls them Snowshoe hare cities. The cities move around a lot so we spent quite a bit of time looking for where they had moved to. After a while they exhaust their food supply and the predators find them. When the hares are eating they are on high alert watching out for any predators that want to eat them so they go out and eat as much as their stomachs can hold and then run away as fast as they can to somewhere safe and poop green poop. They eat this green poop and the next time they poop it will be brown. The hares know not to eat brown poop. Once we found their new cites we spent a considerable amount of time learning to set snares in different conditions.
The weasel family is amazing. For instance, wolverines have a keen sense of smell. They can smell an elk that got buried in an avalanche. The wolverine is the fiercest animal in the woods. Even a bear or a cougar would leave its kill to a wolverine. Wolverines will jump out of trees and land on the backs of its prey. All the members of the weasel family are fearless. The tiny weasel itself will attack anything from a mouse to a man. The marten can run circles around a fast squirrel. And the fishers can run circles around a marten. Martens are rare throughout most of the country but they are abundant in this part of the Upper Peninsula.
By the way, John and Victoria are the parents of my drum teacher, Bryn.