Remembering North Dakota’s Favorite Pet Deer Jonnie/Ruth
The North Dakota Gun Deer Opener takes place at noon today.
Once again, the North Dakota countryside will look like a sea of blaze orange. I have a co-worker who just doesn't understand hunting. How could you hunt an animal and still care about them? Unless you're a hunter it's hard to explain, other than the obvious reasons.
Hunters are the greatest conservationists in the world. Their donations and license money pay for habitat and improved habitat. Hunters keep the populations in check and prevent overpopulation which can lead to a whole list of bad scenarios like disease outbreaks. Which in turn can decimate animal populations.
I have never been much of a deer hunter. I've never even shot a deer before.
However, I enjoy eating venison, and I certainly see the need for deer hunting. Bird hunting is my thing. Something I live for with my son and Yellow Lab, Callie. As much as I enjoy bird hunting, I also used to raise ducks. Ducks who used to eat out of my hand. Jump on my lap, fly up, and land on my shoulder. Again, something that is hard to explain to a non-hunter. Again, how can you hunt an animal that you care for?
My family and I became close with a tame deer east of Bismarck that made news around the country.
In case you are not familiar, her name was Jonnie to some and Ruth to others. She was a fixture for numerous farms south of Sterling and over to Braddock for about 5 years.
Connie Salter Heaton was the last person to see Jonnie on Saturday, January 22nd of 2022.
Connie managed to get this photograph of Jonnie. She looked healthy at the time of this picture.
Jonnie would spend most of her nights on the porch of the Fallgatter's farm south of Sterling, North Dakota.
Safe from the elements and any danger that might be lurking. The Fallgatters raised Jonnie as a very young fawn as her mother and sibling were hit and killed by a car. Jonnie was also injured in that accident and suffered a broken leg. Here she is at a very young age with a cast on her leg.
Steve Fallgatter made a heartfelt Facebook post on June 8th of 2022, "Jonnie would’ve turned 6 today, but unfortunately, she never came home like she always did. Assuming she is no longer with us…a good 5 years of memories with her!"
Over those 5 years, Jonnie would raise a couple of young fawns of her own on the Fallgatter farm.
My family was fortunate enough to meet Jonnie a few springs back and we were amazed by her gentle demeanor. Jonnie, who was known as "Ruth" by some, was truly one of nature's treasures. It's never easy to lose a pet. My heart still goes out to the Fallgatters and everybody who was lucky enough to know "Jonnie/Ruth."
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Gallery Credit: Sandi Hemmerlein