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“Fear the deer”

Wilson Place Museum, Menomonie, Wisconsin, USA.
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve spent many sleepy, hot summer weeks and crisp, snowy Christmases as a child at my grandparents’ house in Wisconsin. They lived for most of my life in Menomonie, Wisconsin, which is a smallish college town in the northwestern part of the state. It’s not unlike my hometown of Marquette, if you substituted farmland for forests and cows for iron ore. OK, so not that much like it, really. But the small-town Midwestern approach to life is the same: People trust their neighbors, enjoy their surroundings, and don’t get too worked up over much. Of course, that’s because nothing much exciting ever happens.

So I was amused and slightly surprised to learn that Menomonie was, in fact, the center of some very thrilling and unusual  events this week. Events that inspired a breathless headline including the word “amok” over this story from the Associated Press in Milwaukee.

I’ll wait while you check out that amazing story.



OK, so. Rogue, “buck-wild” deer. Two of them. Breaking and entering at a local pub-slash-restaurant. Awesome! Except maybe from the point of view of the place’s owner, but I don’t know, the manager seemed pretty relaxed about it all.

My favorite part of that story has to be where the patrons and workers wrestled both deer to the ground to get control of the situation. Can you imagine this happening in a city? Of course, deer are a lot less likely to commit destruction and mayhem in a city; an urban take on this would probably involve an armed criminal instead of a freaked-out buck. But in Wisconsin, the response is to jump on the deer and hold it down. It makes me proud to be a Midwesterner, for sure.

And while we’re on the subject, sort of, this reminds me of the funniest car accident story I ever covered as a reporter. It’s really an only-in-the-U.P. kind of thing. It’s terrible to say it’s funny, because people ended up in the hospital, but I can only defend myself by saying that working as a police & courts reporter, you have to learn to laugh where you can.

Here is the only online account I can find of the crash, which involved first, a car hitting a horse. The horse was upset enough (understandably) that it ran back into the road and was hit by a second car. (As I recall, this was the end of the poor horse.) One of the drivers was put in an ambulance to be taken to a local hospital, but on the way, the ambulance hit a moose. Which is bigger than a horse, if you’re wondering, but an ambulance isn’t small either. It carried on and delivered the patient eventually. I don’t know what happened to the moose, ambulance or patient, but I do remember holding back chuckles as the state troopers detailed the events to me over the phone. Terrible, I know… But how would you react at the point where the trooper says: “While traveling on U.S. 41, the ambulance proceeded to collide with a moose.”

Thankfully no-one died, except for the horse, and all in all it wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened — and it does make for a good story. And credit definitely goes to those EMTs for handling a scary situation well and getting their patient to the hospital regardless.

That’s just life in the Midwest for you. It makes me glad that these are the scary things we have to worry about, as opposed to drug epidemics, gang violence and other urban plagues. In contrast, I’m happy to keep an eye out for large hooved animals on the road and, well, rogue deer breaking in to the local pub. Things could be worse, eh?

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  1. Megan
    May 4, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Kim! This made me laugh out loud. But how could you not mention the “Moose on the Loose at Magers?” Best NW headline ever!

    • Kim
      May 5, 2010 at 8:48 am

      Holy crap Megan, I actually forgot about that moose. That was definitely an awesome story. Funny that there have been that many moose incidents that it’s not the weirdest one anymore.

  2. May 5, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Oh I don’t know about your assesment of city deer. I can tell you those suburban deer are pretty tough hombres.

  3. Kim
    May 5, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Sank, you’re probably right. I can only imagine what city deer would get up to considering their track record elsewhere.

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