I had just arrived home after the rescue of Minerva when my phone rang. The call was from Paul who asked if I could rescue his cat, Monkey, who had been stuck in a tree for five days. Paul lives with his wife, Melanie, in a remote area, and Monkey was stuck up very high in a very tall Red Oak tree just inside the woods behind his home. Monkey got his name because of how quickly he climbs up trees. He has done this before with other trees, but he always stops on the first branch and comes down from there. In this tree, however, the first branch was at least 40 feet high, and Monkey didn't know how to get down from that height.
I got the directions to their home and told them I would be there as soon as I could. After I hung up, however, I remembered that my wife and I had planned a date to the LSU Opera performance that evening, so this would have to be a quick rescue for me to make it back home in time. Fortunately, my wife is a very understanding woman and knows that a last-minute change of plans is always possible, but with luck, I was hoping I could do both the rescue and the opera.
Well, I didn't have luck, and I missed the opera. In fact, I was out so long that my wife almost returned home from the opera before I did.
I drove out to the house where I met Paul and Melanie. Paul thoughtfully and graciously offered to help me carry some gear to the site. He led me around the back to the wooded area and down a trail to the tree that held Monkey hostage. Recent rains left the ground wet and a little muddy. Believe it or not, there are actually areas in the state that are hilly, and this is one of them. The tree, a very large Red Oak, was located at the edge of a slope and surrounded by smaller trees. Getting an unobstructed view up into the tree required some moving around to find an opening in the foliage of the smaller trees. Paul pointed to Monkey on the first limb of the tree which was about 45 feet high. Monkey cried to us below pleading for help.
In spite of the vines that grew on the tree, I saw some good limbs to use for installing my rope. The challenge, however, was finding an unobstructed path to those limbs from the ground for shooting my line into the tree. I tried pruning some limbs from one of the trees but ultimately resorted, with Paul's permission, to just cutting the whole tree down. Now I could try launching my weighted bag up to my selected limb.
My first shot went exactly where I wanted it, but the line got tangled in the vines, and untangling it caused it to fall back out. The next three shots all missed due to hitting interfering foliage along the trajectory path. One more attempt got the result I wanted, but then I had trouble getting the line around all the smaller trees down below. Again, Paul helped out, and between the two of us, we managed to get the line in the path I needed.
I installed my rope and prepared to climb. Paul told me that Monkey was rather skittish with strangers, but I was hoping for a miracle. Maybe if I approached her carefully enough, she would let me get close. As I climbed up to her, she stayed in place and watched me carefully. I eased up a little more, and she continued to stay in place. This poor picture, the best I could get, shows her resting there on the limb surrounded by a small tangle of vines, and this would be as close as I got to her.
I spoke to her and tried to sweet-talk my way higher, but when I got too close for her comfort, she simply turned around and began walking out the limb. The limb is very, very long. She was so far out that getting anywhere near her would require that I reset my rope in a much higher location, walk out very far on a higher limb, route my rope over that limb, drop down to her limb and walk out the limb as far as I could. Even then, I had doubts that I would be able to reach her, and there was not enough daylight left for me to do all that.
I knew it was a long-shot, but I opened a can of food hoping she would perk up at the sound and come running for food. That has successfully worked for me before, but in this case, it would take a miracle. As expected, no miracle occurred. The only thing I knew to do at this point was to set a trap for her, leave and hope she goes into it.
I went back down to the ground, retrieved the trap from my truck and went back to the tree to climb back up again. I attached the trap to my rope, and, after climbing up to her limb, I pulled the trap up, secured it there on her limb, set it and went back down again. There was nothing to do now but leave and hope for the best. I left my rope installed in the tree so I would not have to install it again.
I packed up my gear, and Paul helped me carry it out. By this time it was getting dark, and I was tired. We checked the weather report to make sure no rain or severe cold was expected overnight, and I drove off headed for home. I would come back in the morning to retrieve the trap, hopefully, with Monkey in it.
I retraced my route toward home, and, after about 30 minutes, I reached the nearest town and stopped for gas. While I was there, Paul called to tell me that Monkey was in the trap. Hooray!
I was very relieved that we caught her, and I was now re-energized to go back to bring her down right now. I was still about 40 minutes from home, so getting her down now would save me a longer trip tomorrow. Plus, I wanted her down now. She had been up there for five days already, and contrary to the clear weather report, mist was beginning to fall. My rope was already installed, so this would not take long, and I had lights to light the way. I could not think of a good reason to wait till morning, so I turned around and went back out there.
Again, Paul helped me carry gear and flashlights to the site. I didn't need much gear this time, so it was a lighter load to carry, but the mist was turning to occasional light rain. I climbed up to Monkey and got close to her for the first time. She was not happy to see me, but she didn't panic. I carefully unsecured the trap and lowered it to the ground where Paul was waiting. I came down afterward and collected my gear, and then Paul and I carried everything, including Monkey, back toward the house. Paul took her inside while I threw my gear in the truck. After packing up, I stopped by the house one last time to get the trap and say goodbye.
Paul and Melanie were very relieved and very grateful to me for bringing Monkey back home to them. While I enjoyed meeting them and wish I had had more time to learn more about them and their interesting life so far away from it all, I hope that I don't have to return to rescue Monkey again.
All during the rescue, Paul took several pictures of the rescue with his phone, and if it were not for his pictures, I would have almost nothing to show here. Except for the picture of Monkey resting on the branch, all the pictures shown here are his, and he graciously allowed me to use them, including this one of Monkey settling in at last on a comfortable, soft bed to get some much-needed sleep after five miserable days in a tree.