Can't Make This Up 3

Duck Flies 6,700 Miles, Becomes Dinner A duck hunter on the Mississippi Delta noticed that a pintail his retriever brought him one day last January had a band attached to its leg, which is not an unusual occurrence on the waterfowl-rich flyway. Freddie Scott took the banded bird over to a well-lighted corner of the duck blind so he could read the information contained on the metal tag. The first word that caught his eye was different than anything he'd ever seen on a duck or goose band: JAPAN. "There was no phone number like you usually see on a band," Scott later told the Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger. "There was just a series of numbers and the words 'Kankyocho-Tokyo Japan,'" he said. "I said out loud 'this ain't right,' and I started thinking somebody was playing a trick." Two days later, returning to his home in LaGrange, Ga., Scott began doing some research on his well-traveled waterfowl. He contacted USDA biologist Jeffrey Lee from the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Pearl, Miss., who subsequently was referred to Yamashina Institute of Ornithology Bird Migration Research Center in Konoyama, Japan. Lee discovered the long-distance duck had been banded in Japan, by Ryuhei Honma, a member of the Japanese Bird Banding Association, on Hyoko Lake near the country's northwestern coast--more than 6,700 miles from Ruleville, Miss.--as the duck flies, that is. "Because the bird was said to have been at least a year old when banded, that means it had to be at least 8 years old," Lee said. "They also said that prior to this, Utah was the farthest a Japan band had been collected."
Mouse Makes Man Miserable It's not unusual for a homeowner to be challenged by wily and trap-savvy rodents, but the story of a Maine man's personal battle with a particularly mischievous mouse rates way up there on our "Can't Make This Up" list. Bill Exner said he captured a single, pesky mouse in his house on three different occasions, and each time--with in-your-face arrogance--the critter escaped. As its final act of defiance, the taunting rodent performed the ultimate insult, stealing Exner's lower dentures from the nightstand beside his bed while he slept. Exner, 68, of Waterville, Maine, said he and his wife Shirley scoured his bedroom after the dentures disappeared. "We moved the bed, moved the dressers and the nightstand and tore the closet apart," Exner told the local newspaper. "I said, 'I knew that little stinker stole my teeth.' I just knew it!" The Exners discovered a small opening in the wall where they figured the tooth thief was entering the room and enlisted their daughter's fiance to help with some demolition work. "He brought a crowbar and hammer and he sawed off a section of wood and pulled up the molding and everything," Exner said. "It was quite a job." Sure enough, they found Exner's chompers--but no mouse. Then, after retrieving his teeth, Exner's wife said his big-eared nemesis repeatedly came out of his hole and stared at her husband, kind of like the sarcastic mouse on the old Tom & Jerry cartoons. "He's taunting him. I swear he's taunting him," Shirley Exner said.
Bear KO'd by Camper Non-custodial dad Chris Everhart spent last Father's Day weekend camping with his three young sons at Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest. About 9:30 one night, as the foursome roasted marshmallows over the campfire, a large black bear entered their campsite and began tugging the ice chest containing food. As Everhart banged some pots and pans to frighten away the bruin, his 6-year-old, Logan, grabbed a shovel and charged the animal. "Once the bear saw Logan, he dropped the cooler and started coming at (him)," Everhart told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "(The bear) was growling." Instinctively knowing it was time for action, the ex-Marine grabbed the first thing he could get his hands on--a hefty piece of firewood. (He said his handgun and hunting knife were packed away inside his Jeep.) He hurled the chuck of wood with everything he had, hitting the bruin squarely in the head. The 300-pound camp invader fell in its tracks, lifeless. Everhart later attributed his deadeye log-tossing ability to his proficiency with a firearm. "I'm a pistol shooter," he said. "The hand-eye coordination is all the same thing." Asked about his heroism, the modest dad said he was merely protecting his boys from potential harm. "I was doing what any parent would do," he said. "Heroes are firefighters jumping out of burning buildings. I just got lucky."
Fox Has Balls--Lot's of 'Em For more than a month, Richburg, Miss. resident and golf duffer Arthur McGee tried in vain to solve a mystery that was occurring in his own backyard. In his spare time, McGee likes to venture out to the pasture behind his home and chip a few golf balls. He hits them back and forth across the property, and then leaves them where they last landed for his next practice session. At least, he did until his balls began to disappear. The Hattiesburg American reported that at first, McGee thought someone was playing a joke on him or some neighbor kids were swiping his golf balls. But after losing 55 balls in one month, the golfer was at wit's end. Finally, McGee installed a motion-activated hunter's trailcam, strategically placing several dimpled white balls within range of the camera. And he waited. Two night's later McGee's camera recorded a mature red fox, literally caught in the act after dark, golf ball in its mouth, eyes glowing from the flash. So somewhere in the woods around Richburg, Miss., there's a fox den with enough golf balls to supply a small driving range, and then some. All you have to do is find it.
Chesapeake Anglers Rope Buck Chad Campbell and pal Bo Warren weren't having much luck trolling for striped bass about a mile offshore on Chesapeake Bay. But, despite poor fishing, they were successful catching and boating a good-sized button buck. In an article appearing on The Bay Net Web site, Campbell wrote that when he and Warren investigated something in the water behind their boat, they were amazed to discover it was a paddling--and quite exhausted--whitetail deer. "He was desperate and barely staying afloat," Campbell wrote. "I've seen deer swim a river or bayou before. When you see that, the first thing you notice is that they are powerful swimmers. Their heads and shoulders are out of the water and they make surprisingly good headway." Such was not the case with this wayward buck. He was barely able to keep his nose out of the briny water. Since the fish weren't cooperating, the two decided to rope the floundering deer. "It turns out Bo grew up around cows and was really handy with a bowline. He lassoed the deer on the first try," Campbell wrote. "(Then) Bo grabbed his neck, I grabbed the flank, and we barreled over backwards into the boat. Before I knew it, Bo was on top of him and had him tied up just like a calf." The men hightailed it to shore, where they carefully unloaded the weary whitetail, untied its legs and placed it on the beach.
Snake on a Cessna? Private pilot Monty Coles was by himself, flying his Piper Cherokee from West Virginia to Ohio when he spotted a snake sticking its head out of a hole in the plane's instrument panel. As snake and man stared at each other while 3,000 feet above the ground, the 62-year-old pilot reached for a handheld radio to give the reptile a quick whack to the head. "Batteries went flying everywhere, and the snake dropped down out of the instrument panel and landed at my feet under the rudder pedals," Coles told Charleston Gazette outdoor writer John McCoy. "I tried to open my door and kick it out, but it shot across the cabin floor and climbed up the door on the other side." Doing his best to pilot the plane with only one hand, Coles used his other hand to grab the 4 1/2-foot blacksnake behind its head. "Nothing in any of the manuals ever described anything like this," Coles said. "I think it was as scared as I was. After all, it had never flown before." Still wrestling his scaly stowaway, the pilot radioed the Gallipolis, Ohio airport to receive clearance for a one-armed landing. "Some of my friends were there and saw the landing," he said. "They told me I should fly with snakes more often, because that was the smoothest landing they'd ever seen me make!"
Soccer Mom Meets Sweet-Tooth Bear A Vernon, New Jersey mother of three returned home from a soccer game to discover a mystery intruder had visited her kitchen during her absence. The window above the mud-covered sink remained wide open, and water sprayed wildly from a broken hose attachment. In addition, a plate that had earlier contained cupcakes for her youngsters was nearly empty, as was a nearby jar containing candy. Then she spotted the bear. When the cupcake-thieving bruin showed itself in the window, only a few feet away from Christi Leggour, the soccer mom screamed bloody murder and ran back outside to the garage, where she instructed her children to stay inside the car. They waited there until neighbors successfully chased the bruin away from the Leggour's house. Evidently the first taste of candy and cupcakes wasn't enough for the sweet-toothed bruin, as it returned later that night, destroying a screen door on the front porch. "He was coming back for more," Leggour told the New Jersey Herald newspaper. "I guess he thought the cupcakes were yummy." While the entire ordeal proved quite exhilarating, Abriella Leggour, 9, was more concerned over the loss of the cupcakes. "I wish he would have ate the vegetables," said the youngster.
Dog Rescues Man from Cat-Caused Fire In a tale with an ironic twist that we couldn't possibly make up, a black Lab was credited with saving the life of man whose house burned to the ground--in a blaze apparently sparked by a nefarious cat, no less. The story leaves little doubt why dogs are man's best friends and cats are not. (As if there was ever any question, really.) If it hadn't been for the quick actions of Thumper, Richard Cote's black Labrador retriever, the Greenville, Maine resident believes he surely would have perished in a fast-moving fire that consumed his home last year. "She grabbed me by the arm and woke me from a sound sleep," Cote, 56, told the Bangor Daily News. Cote said Thumper rousted him at about 3:30 a.m. and he had only seconds to hurry downstairs, grab the telephone, and dial 911 before the house was totally aflame. The State Fire Marshal's Office subsequently concluded that the fire started when a kerosene lantern was apparently tipped over by the family cat, named Princess. The lantern, which was used as a nightlight, melted a rubber gas line to the refrigerator, fueling the quick-moving blaze. The remote Maine home was largely solar-powered, with a propane gas refrigerator and other appliances. Neither Cote nor his faithful Lab were burned or injured. And fate was more than benevolent to Princess the perpetrator, as she escaped with little more than singed tail fur.
Unlucky Night Taking liberty with song lyrics, if it wasn't for bad luck, a Colorado man wouldn't have no luck at all. Curtis Karlen of Fort Collins, Colo. traveled to northwestern Arkansas to pick up his newly refurbished Ranger 21-foot Reatta with a 225-horsepower Evinrude engine. According to the Baxter (Ark.) Bulletin, Karlen decided to try some fishing on Bull Shoals Lake that evening and used the opportunity to take his "new" boat for a test spin. The Marion County Sheriff's Department reports that Karlen evidently became disoriented on the lake after dark and ran his boat aground, seriously damaging its hull and engine. After a 911 call and a prolonged rescue, Karlen finally loaded his wrecked boat onto its trailer and headed down the road. A few miles from the boat ramp, the hapless angler collided with a deer, caving-in the door on his Chevy Suburban. Soon, Marion County's finest were right behind him, and dutifully filled out another accident report. Memo to Curtis: If you expected to go turkey or deer hunting in Arkansas later this year, may we politely suggest you make other plans.
Granny Gets Gator's Goat Constance Gittles, 74, was watering the plants with a garden hose in her Punta Gorda, Florida backyard when she felt something bite her ankle. When she looked down, she saw a six-foot alligator looking up at her. The spunky grandmother and longtime Florida resident didn't think twice. "I just whacked him right in the snout with the nozzle," she told the Ft. Myers News Press. "After that, he took off." Gittles was treated for three puncture wounds and minor abrasions. A gator that fit Gittles' description was later caught and removed from a nearby pond using a new luring method, the News-Press reported. The culprit was attracted to the shore by a licensed trapper using an amplified recording of "alligator hatchling and mating calls." Note to novices: While "You Can't Make This Up" hasn't the slightest idea what an alligator mating call sounds like, it's our guess that you'd want to know what you're doing before you play one on a boombox in South Florida this time of year!

J.R. Absher shares some more of his hand-picked favorite wild and wacky stories about hunting, fishing and wild critters with online readers.