Large mammals of the Kentucky countryside
Deer season started last weekend in Kentucky -- that is, deer season with modern guns. (We also have bow-and-arrow season, crossbow season, muzzle-loading season, etc.)
As I drove to work before daylight on Saturday, I saw several pickup trucks parked along the roadside. The drivers, I assumed, were in their stands out in the woods, awaiting the dawn with high hopes that a deer might cross their gun sights.
When I got home that night, Dennis mentioned that he'd seen a Mennonite man in a red hunting vest, bicycling down the highway with his gun in a sling over his shoulder.
I had a similar story to relate. I had also met a Mennonite man in hunting garb, bicycling down the highway. He had a little wagon hitched to his bicycle and in the wagon, he had a dead doe. He appeared to be headed for the tagging station at Fairview.
I have no interest in hunting and I don't like venison, but I am thankful that some people do. We have so many deer here that they are a menace on the highways. Dennis and I have had three collisions with deer within Christian County and another deer accident in southern Illinois.
The Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance Company has been running radio ads, urging motorists to be especially watchful for deer this month. It's mating season, so the deer are unusually active, and hormones have overpowered their brains.
I kept that warning in mind this week as I passed through areas where I frequently see deer. Last night, I drove through one of those areas about 11:00 p.m. Just after I crossed the river and passed the Mennonite cabinet shop, I caught a glimpse of movement in the ditch. "Deer!" I thought, as I stepped on the brake.
Then I saw white legs and wild eyes in my headlights. Several Holsteins bounded out of the ditch and onto the road in front of me. I came to a stop and wondered what I should do. The cattle probably belonged to the Mennonite cabinet maker, but all the lights were out at his house.
In my headlights, I saw at least a dozen Holsteins. When one fell onto the pavement as she lunged out of the ditch, I decided that I could not drive away. For the sake of the animals and the safety of other motorists, I had to try to waken the farmer.
I backed my car several hundred yards to the farmhouse and left it running with the lights on as I pounded on the door. In a couple of minutes, a light came on and a slightly-frazzled Mennonite man opened the door. He had pulled on his shirt and trousers to answer my knock.
I apologized for disturbing him, but he assured me that he was grateful for the warning. He said he'd telephone his brother because the cattle might be his brother's yearling heifers.
When I got back in my car and drove toward home again, there was not a Holstein in sight. Maybe they ran back to the pasture they came from, frightened by their experience in the greater world. Maybe the brother came out of his house and found his heifers waiting for him in his front yard.
Whatever the case, I went home with a clear conscience. I hope the farmers found their strays, and then got some rest during the remaining hours of the night.