Mason’s title of HIDE & SEEK CHAMPION 2021 came to an end early this morning after three months on the run!
July 3rd Mason bolted when his owner fell and the retractable leash dropped banging behind him. I began working with the family a few days later and early the next morning had Mason on camera at a feeding station, then he completely disappeared, vanished… poof… gone.
It wasn’t until three weeks later that we started getting sightings of him in Hopatcong. No sooner did we get home from postering Hopatcong at 10:40 PM, we were contacted by the military police and fire department from Picatinny Arsenal that Mason was sighted several times that day but they couldn’t get him. Picatinny is 6400 acres, 4 miles long, densely wooded, high security military base. For a few days they allowed us access to set up traps and cameras…bobcats, coyotes, raccoons but no Mason. Trying to find him in Picatinny was like finding a needle in a haystack.
Sightings were few and far between taking us from Wharton, Picatinny, Hopatcong, Dover, Rockaway and Roxbury. Some were false leads and look alike loose dogs but we followed up on every single one. He was traveling the the railroad tracks and the Rockaway River.
Hunting season started and last week we started notifying the local hunters and getting the word out because I just knew that he was going to show on their trail cameras. Sure enough Monday morning we got a call from a hunter that Mason was on his trail camera and a poster just happened to be right at the spot where he had parked. This call was the call that that changed everything.
We immediately headed over to Roxbury and trekked deep into the woods to find the area where he was on camera. We found two locations heavily baited with corn. We matched up the trees in the photos and knew we had the right spot.
We set up in a location away from the hunters spot, off an old railroad bed and the Rockaway River. Not only did we have to be cautious for hunters but also bear that were in the area and constantly on camera. Traps were set Monday and Tues but once again Mason eluded us. Wednesday a feeding station was set with yummy food, much more enticing than the corn that he was surviving on. I woke up yesterday morning, checked my cameras and was thumbing through countless pics of the usual suspects, raccoon, fox, bear and finally MASON!!!! Mason found our feeding station and was there for over forty five minutes.
We hiked the trap deep in to the woods off the old abandoned railroad tracks and up a hill. We had until about a half hour before sunrise to get him before the hunters would start coming in. At 3am my heart fell out of my chest when Mason finally showed. A culmination of three months of blood, sweat and tears came down to this moment when he was standing before my trap. It took him a while to enter but when that trap door shut and I knew he was safe, I can’t even begin to describe the relief that came over me. I flew down to the tracks and ran the whole way in the pitch black hearing his cries get louder and louder. I called Mason’s mom, Christina and told her “I got him” . Screams and tears of joy… Mason was safe and finally going home.