And I thought us steelheaders were out there!
Mitt Monkey Special Correspondent Jason Tucker of Fontinalis Rising brings us a breaking story from Northern Michigan.
Gaylord- Anthropologists with Michigan's Department of Natural Resources are abuzz today with the discovery of a previously uncontacted tribe of Mousers in a remote section of the Pigeon River Country.
"We were up at night in our helicopter" says lead scientist Dr. Jared Ostro, "looking for anything really- elk poachers or a pot grow, anything, when suddenly in a clearing by a river we saw a fire and some headlamps. We set down as close as we safely could and tried to make contact." The exact location is not being disclosed to protect their discovery.
There have been rumors about "Mousers" in Michigan for years, but up until now, the DNR has denied their existence. They are called Mousers because they fashion lures that look like mice in order to trick their preferred prey Salmo trutta giganticus. Many believed mousers were the imaginary bogey men dreamed up by intoxicated tubers.
"Mousers are extremely secretive, nocturnal, and usually solitary." Says veteran Bigfoot tracker Bill Henderson. "It was years before I ever saw one, and most folks still don't believe me."
Well now they do. Dr. Ostro describes the meeting. "We set (the chopper) down close by and tried to make contact. When we entered the clearing where they were we tried to communicate with them via the pidgin English they are thought to speak. There were at least six of them, maybe more, dressed in their traditional garb" he says. "At first everything seemed to be ok, but quickly it became clear that we were not welcome in their territory. They became agitated, and so we backed off without provoking an incident. We are just so excited to discover a new tribe, right here in Northern Michigan."
But the discoveries don't end there. Dr. Dano Petrolakalis, a Doctor of Field Anthropology, who is in charge of logistics for the team added some thrilling details. "It was once thought that mousers were just rogue solitary males. We didn't even think they reproduced, or if they did, that they played no part in rearing their offspring. But this tribe was different- there were two females with them. We thought there were three, but one of them turned out to be a male. It means that they're a tribe. It changes everything."
We reached out to famed fly fishing documentarist and auteur Randy Tillotsen. He seemed a bit shaken when speaking about his experience trying to document Mousers.
"The lighting man, the lighting man, it was terrible, just terrible. And I had to bleep most of the audio." He took a drag on a cigarette held by trembling fingers. "They wouldn't let me name the river, wouldn't let me show their flies, wouldn't let me take shots of the RIVERBANK man!!" he said with eyes bugging out, his voice rising as he spoke, and then trailing off.
Gerald Finkbiener, a biologist with the DNR, spoke with us on the condition of anonymity, as he is unauthorized to speak with us on the matter. "We have a zero contact policy. As long as no laws are being broke and they're no threat to others, we have a hands-off policy toward mousers. Also, there's no cougars in Michigan."
Dr. Ostro says he and his team plans to return next summer to study the Mousers if they safely can. "We don't want to change their way of life" he says. "We just want to learn their secrets- for science of course. Learn how they exist, how they've adapted to a nocturnal lifestyle, learn how they make their mouse lures. We will of course respect their autonomy. We will have to gain their trust first. We don't want to destroy their world."
Dr. Petrolakalis outlined some questions the team hopes to answer. "We want to know what role herbalism plays in their art and worship. They have a cult of donkey and unicorn worship. I mean, what's that all about?"
Not everyone shares the team's enthusiasm. "Yes I'm aware of rumors about lost tribes of Mousers here and there" says head of the Yale Anthropology Department Dr. Moe Schlosser. "I've tried to watch the documentaries but they're all terrible if you ask me. Just awful footage and worse audio. We know that there are a few such individuals out there, but a tribe? I don't think so."
When pressed, Dr. Schlosser elaborated. "Just because a couple of women joined up with them and got Stockholm Syndrome doesn't make them a tribe. Show me some dwellings, show me some six year old children tying gurglers and then you'll have a tribe. Without further proof I'd say the jury is still out, at best."
The skeptics haven't dampened the team's enthusiasm one bit. "We intend to go back and find them again after the Hex hatch. That's when they seem to be most active" says Dr. Ostro. "This is exciting, because a new indigenous tribe hasn't been discovered in the Pigeon River Country since the 1970's, and they were Elk Poachers. They all died out in the 1990's and early 2000's once the State started maintaining the roads out there. To find a new tribe now is the discovery of a lifetime