The tree is a miserable, Tallow tree with two stems of roughly equal size, and the stem Daisy is on is the one that leans slightly to one side. The two stems are weakly attached together for only one foot at the bottom, so the leaning stem especially is at risk of failure. There were no other larger trees that were close enough to climb instead, so I was quickly running out of options to rescue this little girl.
Daisy was far out on a limb that was 16 feet above the ground where I was standing, but it was another eight feet to the bottom of the ravine. The ravine was lined with large chunks of broken concrete and other debris which could cause injury if she fell. There were several vines over the entire area, but this tree was particularly covered with a large muscadine vine. I could just barely make out Daisy's profile in the mass of foliage around her. I did not want to climb this tree, and because of the vines, I wasn't even sure I could get a line into it anyway. Unfortunately, Daisy is a cat that does not like strangers, so I knew I would not be able to coax her to come to me, and in that mass of vines, I knew I would not be able to grab her with a rescue pole or net. Even if I climbed the tree, I suspect the only option would be to cut the limb and force her to fall. If that is the case, then it appeared that I would be able to reach that limb with a pole saw and cut it from the ground without even climbing the tree. I pulled out my pole saw and extensions and was just barely able to reach it.
After verifying that I could reach the limb with the pole saw, I called Retta, Daisy's owner. Retta could not be there for the rescue due to another obligation, but would be coming a little later. I explained the situation to her and the risks involved, and she agreed with me to cut the limb and hope that Daisy does not have a hard fall. I looked for a way to tie a tarp beneath Daisy to catch her when she fell, but there was nothing on my side of the ravine to anchor it, and I could not figure out any useful way to rig it.
I pulled out all the gear I could potentially need once I cut the limb: my long-handle net, the short-handle net, the rescue pole, a carrier and the cat bag. I laid it all out where it was accessible and then began to cut the limb. Poor Daisy was already scared, but now she was even more so as she felt the limb shake and slowly begin to droop. Eventually, the limb sank as the weight was more than the remaining fibers of wood could hold, but the limb fell only a few feet before it was stopped by the vines. I finished cutting the limb all the way through, and the entire limb floated there in the air supported only by the vines. I hooked the limb on my pole saw and tried to pull it down in various directions, but the vines were much stronger than I, and after several minutes of fighting with it, I was out of breath and admitted defeat.
Daisy was still on the limb and even found a way to climb the vines up higher to the next highest limb above her. This limb was also the highest limb of the tree, and it, too, was covered with dense muscadine vines. After all that effort and worry, we were all now back where we started, except now Daisy is slightly higher, and her limb is out of reach of my pole saw.
After seeing how strong and far-reaching the vines are, I decided to climb the tree since, even if it failed, it could not possibly fall very far. I began clearing a path to the tree and then started to install my rope. I dreaded shooting my line into this tree, because I knew the risk was very high that my line would get stuck. To make matters worse, I have a very tiny window through the vines to shoot my weighted bag over the top limb of the tree. As expected, I missed that tiny window on my first shot, but I still felt lucky because the line did not get stuck. I shot it a second time and hit it and finished installing my rope.
As I climbed up the tree, my weight caused the top to sway quite a bit, but, fortunately, the bottom felt pretty well anchored. I fought my way through the vines and reached the top where I could barely see Daisy in the foliage about 12 feet away. She was out as far as she could go on that limb, but she was inside a mass of vines and surrounded by foliage. I knew it was highly unlikely that I could get Daisy in my rescue pole or net in those vines, but I had to try at least to prove it. By this time, Retta had arrived, and she watched as I pulled up my rescue pole, extended it to its maximum of 12 feet, and reached out to Daisy. First, I wanted to try to put it behind her to see if I could get her to come toward me. I bumped it on her rear end several times, but she did not budge any closer to me. I tried to get the noose around her, but it was hopeless trying to get a limp noose through the vines and into proper position. Still, I tried for several minutes before giving up and lowering the pole back down to the ground.
The only remaining option now was to cut the limb. I did not know if this would work or not. This limb, too, may also fall only so far, or Daisy might find a way to go to another tree. I cut through the limb slowly until it began to droop, and Daisy stayed on the limb. Once it fell as far as it could, I finished cutting all the way through the limb to free it. It fell very slowly downward, cushioned by the vines and the other cut limb already below it. Soon, Daisy was within reach of Retta on the ground, and then Daisy jumped to the ground and ran under my truck. It all worked out about as well and softly as it possibly could.
Daisy was fine and would soon run home and inside through the cat door. After thanking me, Retta went home to take care of her and celebrate having her back home again. I came down and packed up happy that this rescue worked out as well as it did. Retta sent this picture to me the next morning after Daisy recovered, and I am grateful because this is the only picture I got of her. I thought I had turned on my camera, but apparently did not, because, once I got home, I was surprised to see that I had no video at all. It's just as well, since there was never a time when I had a clear view of Daisy anyway.