There is plenty of peace and quiet in those woods, but there also are plenty of wild and wacky moments to make us shake our heads

Over the past month, I have received a number of strange or even weird outdoor news items that defy all logic and, in many cases, even common sense. 

But it is a known fact that some people do not employ reason when they do dumb things. Like the teen in Australia who jumped into a river on a dare. The river is known for its healthy population of salt water crocodiles. And yes, one of those critters attacked the kid before he could get out of the water. He survived.

Can you believe that citizens in Dresden, Germany, can get a “neck massage” from Monty the Python? Yeah, a real, live python that massages necks of patrons. And that snake has been a “masseur” for 13 years. 

Er ...  thanks but no thanks. And that 16 foot critter didn’t even make this list of strange stuff.

Picture this. You are hunting coyotes in California, using a mouth call of a distressed rabbit to lure them in. You are lying on your stomach in sparse brush and grass. Suddenly you see rapid movement out of the corner of your eye and realize that a mountain lion in mid leap is about to wreck your peaceful day. You only have time to cover your face with your hands and realize that this is going to hurt. It is going to hurt really, really bad.

That was the situation that occurred last month to an unidentified hunter on the north shore of Mono Lake. Fortunately for him the big cat’s jump was too long, and as it spun around to get breakfast the hunter was able to grab his gun and fire two shots. Both shots were unaimed, and both hit the cat, causing its near instant demise.

The hunter did receive a minor injury to his head from the initial attack. And because cougars are fully protected in that state, he contacted wildlife officials about what happened and they conducted an investigation. Those officers determined that the cat’s death was justified because of “the suddenness of the attack” and the “hunter was in fear for his life.”

This person will not be charged with any crimes against nature for his actions.

Talk about one lucky dude.

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Another report that caught my interest concerned a small-time farmer named Steve Hipps of Simpsonville, S.C., and his unique way of protecting his livestock. He doesn’t use electric fencing or an attack dog. His secret weapon is a donkey named “Buck.”

It seems that a neighbor (his cousin) called Hipps to tell him that a coyote was observed running toward his yard/pasture. Coyotes are quite common in that area, but it is unusual for them to be seen during the daytime, hence the neighbor’s warning.

By the time Hipps got off the phone with his cousin and went outside to assess the situation, Buck had already taken care of it. By the time the farmer got to the pasture fence, Buck was in the process of stomping on that coyote. Then that donkey grabbed that coyote (a female  probably looking for a den site) by the neck and began swinging it around “like a rag doll.” End of a potential problem.

I was more than a bit surprised to discover that this sort of action is actually quite typical for donkeys. Many farmers and stockmen keep them in their grazing areas as an important form of protection. Their stomping on or fighting with various predators is actually the rule rather than the exception. 

And they will also almost always bray out a loud warning about threats to the herd.

Based on my research, I’m surprised that more stock growers in our area do not utilize a resident guard donkey or two. After all, they work cheap, eat grass or hay, and look cute. Just be careful not to wear a coyote-skin coat when you go into the pasture. You may not know if the resident donkey is having a bad day.

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And now for some interesting new research, the subject of which I have been preaching for many, many years. It seems that a recent European study has clearly determined that people living close to trees and/or green spaces are less likely to be obese, inactive, or dependent on anti-depressant drugs. 

Here are some specifics from that research paper. “Middle-aged Scottish men with homes in deprived but verdant areas were found to have a death rate 16% lower than their more urban counterparts. Pregnant women also received a health boost from a greener environment, recording lower blood pressures and giving birth to larger babies.”

This study is far-reaching in its conclusions. “A study team of 11 researchers at the Institute for European Environmental Policy spent a year reviewing more than 200 academic studies for the report, which is the most wide-ranging probe yet into the dynamics of health, nature and well-being.”

So here is the bottom line. “Overall, nature is an under-recognised healer.” It offers multiple health benefits from allergy reductions to increases in self-esteem and mental well-being. 

“The evidence is strong and growing that people and communities can only thrive when they have access to nature.”

Our outdoor world is, in my humble opinion, the single most important factor relating to both our mental and physical well-being. And yet many individuals freely choose to ignore or even reject that truth and instead rely on their i-phones, i-pads, game players and all sorts of other electronic devices. 

Maybe it is time to turn off those devices and begin learning more about the wonderful outdoor world that surrounds all of us. What do you think?

Len Lisenbee is the Daily Messenger’s Outdoor Writer. Contact him at lisenbee@frontiernet.net