Mink are one of my favorite animals. It has been a while since I blogged about them. Reminds me of a story. . . .
A few years back my cousin, son and I were winding up a day of ice-fishing on a snow-covered sandhills lake. It was the day after a fresh snowfall, one of those rare days when the wind did not blow. Everything was fresh, clean, white, brisk, and quiet; in short, a glorious day. We fished in solitude, which made it even better, except for the abundant wildlife we had seen. Yes, some of those wildlife had been below the surface of the ice. We dried off and released a bunch of largemouth bass that day, and some beautiful, big, golden yellow perch.
As the sun dipped below those beautiful Nebraska sandhills we were fishing hard. You know, it was “prime time” and we all wanted to catch just one more big perch before we had to quit. We were starting to gather up gear and put them on the sleds. I looked east across the snow-covered lake and in the distance could barely see something dark loping through the snow crossing the lake. I called my partners’ attention to the creature, suspecting it was a mink because I did not know what else it could be.
As I said the wind had not blown all day. It was completely still, so silent you could hear the air molecules hitting your ear-drums. Although the creature was hundreds of yards away, I thought I would try to get its attention. I started lip-squeaking. If you are a predator hunter, you know what I mean by lip-squeaking. I was using my lips to make a kissing sound, a squeak, maybe imitating a mouse.
Unbelievably, the dark figure in the snow in the middle of the lake stopped. It stood up on its hind legs, then made a 90 degree turn and started loping through the snow straight towards us. Apparently, I am a world-class lip squeaker.
That mink was far enough away that it took several minutes for it to lope through the snow heading towards us. But, on it came, on a string. If it paused, I started lip-squeaking again.
As it got closer it just kept coming. When it heard the lip-squeaking it corrected its path. It was vectoring right to me! I began to wonder how close it would come? Would it climb up my leg? Would I die, happily, on the ice of a sandhills lake, with a mink-bite to the throat?
You might think that photo was the last thing I saw.
It was not.
I do not believe mink have particularly good eye-sight. It seemed to pay no attention to three of us standing right there in the open. However, in my observations of mink, I have concluded that their sense of smell is very good. When it got to us, it veered off and started checking our ice holes. It would lope through the snow directly from one to another. I believe it could smell the fish that we had pulled through those holes.
We enjoyed a few minutes with the mink. My cousin began to chase it a bit, and then it loped off back to its original mission–patrolling muskrat houses, looking for one to drill into and catch a ‘rat!
We might have left a fish or two by a muskrat house in return for its entertainment.