Fancy footwork keeps posse hopping


Rambunctious reindeer rebuffs rough-and-ready rescuers during rip-roaring romp

After so many years of working together, voice tones and inflectionsare sometimes more meaningful than words.

Jo (technician) came around the corner and I didn't understand what shesaid, but I knew it was making her lips move faster than the words couldcome out. Anytime Jo does this, there is an emergency.

I trotted out the backdoor to see the critter standing in the grass justnorth of the barn. No problem. We will just hem it up in the corner of thefence and the barn and this emergency will be past tense. Wrong!

A reindeer has more moves than Barry Sanders and this one was glad tobe free.

Call to action

Dr. Zach Smith saw the developing situation and headed to saddle a horse.

Berenda (secretary) saw the situation and headed in to call for help.

Kyle (secretary's husband) saw the situation and headed for his pickup.

I saw the situation and visualized $5,000 worth of 100-pound reindeerdart off toward the south at about 40 mph.

I took off on foot behind the rascal just hoping to keep him in sight.The reindeer made a fast cut west and was headed straight for a set of corralsjust south of the clinic. Manda (technician) had anticipated well and wascoming in from the flank to shut any gates and bring this chase to a quickend. Just our luck, there was no place with a gate, only another corner.

We slowed down this time and began creeping in. Just about the time wewere closing in, the cavalry (Zach) mounted the hill. This was the firsttime Zach's horse had seen a reindeer and obviously the first time thatreindeer had seen a horse with a man on it. The horse's nostrils flaredand the reindeer turned into Barry Sanders again.

Reinforcements requested

It was at this point the chase really began. Berenda was busy callingpeople to help. She had cowboys and police saddling horses and devisingstrategies. Kerri (my wife) drove up just as Zach was headed down the roadhot on Rudolph's trail. As I opened the gate to let Zach into the pasture,I felt a bit of hope that he could rope that rascal and his chase wouldbe over. Zach is good with a rope and now we had a wide open space.

The deer stopped for a second thinking that it would blend in with thecattle. Zach was hot on the trail. He picked that critter out and zoomedin like ugly on an ape. My anticipation mounted as I watched Zach (aliasRoy Cooper) start swinging his rope. He was in perfect position for thecatch when I saw the deer casually look over its shoulder. It was at thispoint that I realized that reindeer have a gear that horses don't have.

By this time, Kyle and Manda were at the other end of the pasture ina pickup. I gave up and headed back to the clinic at a trot.

More reinforcements

Brad Horton (passerby) and Wes Snodgrass (another passerby) came slidingaround the corner just as I got back to the highway. I told them which wayRudolph was last seen running, and off they went. Kerri got in the Durangoand headed off to help.

Here is the situation.

We have three pickups, a Durango, one horse and rider, the animal controlofficer on his way, the chief of police notified and a posse of cowboysgathering. Rudolph, look out.

Hard time

The deer headed east toward Los Ybanez (local beer store.) It had managedto lose everyone but Kerri in the Durango. When I caught up to them in mypickup, the deer was headed toward the prison. By now, the others had arrived.I'm wondering what those prison guards are going to think when a reindeerfollowed by four vehicles and a horse come racing toward the gate.

At first, I thought, "Great. That rascal won't be able to get outof that place," but then it dawned on me. I'm not sure if they aregoing to believe that a reindeer was running through a cotton field in WestTexas. They may just shoot first and ask questions later.

Thank goodness we will never know because the speedy rascal turned northand headed for the airport. By now, the horse was out of the picture. Hewas rundown and so was Zach. I handed the doctor my mobile phone and headedoff to prevent a plane crash.

At the south end of the runway, Rudolph headed back to town. I couldn'tdecide if this was good or bad. Maybe good because we could find a placeto trap it; maybe bad because there was traffic. Traffic! Now I'm thinkingnot only a $5,000 reindeer but a $30,000 car! This was turning into an expensivedaydream.

Into town we sped. Kerri got lost somewhere in the chase, so this leftthree pickups and five people to somehow keep the marathon-running deerfrom harm's way.

Marathon deer

By now, this deer had run for about 45 minutes and had covered 15 orso miles. I wondered what a reindeer that had been in Alaska two monthsago must have been thinking about this 95 degree day in Lamesa, Texas. Hewas starting to tire a little, but he looked like he was nowhere near spent.

We came in on the east side of town. It was something else to observethe looks on people's faces as we raced from yard to yard trying to cornera reindeer. Some would cheer, some would cuss and some would just standthere with a wide open mouth.

We would get him in a tight spot and then all jump out with ropes andnets. He would put a move on us and then we would all run back to the trucksand tear out after him. This happened time and time again.

Berenda called and said help was on the way. Richard Garcia (police chief),Tom Anderson (local cowboy), Gary Don Sharp (local cowboy) and Hector Flores(local animal control officer) were headed our way with fresh legs and betterattitudes.

This time, the deer darted between a house and a storage shed. I jumpedout of the pickup and was first on the scene. There was a moment as I approachedhim in this backyard that time stopped and we gazed into one another's eyes.By now my adrenaline was at nearly toxic levels. Rudolph was looking a bittired. But one thing was apparent; this was where the chase ended for oneof us. He was getting out of this yard over my dead body.

No way, buddy

He tried one of those halfback moves. Not this time, buddy. I got hisleft back leg as he bounced by. He was dragging me on my back across theyard, but I was not going to let go. That critter could have dragged meto Tahoka, but I was not lettin' go! About that time, Kyle rounded the cornerand finished the capture.

Just think. An hour-and-a-half ago I was back at the clinic thinkingthis would be no big deal. Berenda managed to call off the posse. We gotRudolph back to the clinic in one piece. He was panting a bit but seemednone the worse for wear. No wonder Santa chose these beasts to pull a sleighall over the world in one night!

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