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When Bud comes to say hi, it’s a sign from beyond

September 20, 2009
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

Sometimes things happen for no reason. Well, for a reason, but a reason that's hard to fathom.

Case in point: Kathy Messerly and a deer. Not a wild deer, but a deer from the wild, a deer brought back to life by her late husband, Jerry, a year ago last spring.

After receiving a call about an abandoned fawn, Jerry Messerly, animal control officer in Webster county, kept an eye on the baby until he was sure the mother wasn't coming back.

"He was a newborn," Kathy said. Jerry "got him to take a bottle and kept him in a large kennel for a couple days. After that, he had an open wire, free-standing cage."

The fawn had the run of the yard after a few weeks, but remained a bottle baby. Bud and the Messerly's dog, Andy, built a friendship, playing together in the yard. Kathy has pictures of the unlikely twosome.

Bud continued to grow, free to come and go as he pleased in the nearby woods. "He would come right up to the door to be fed and he would have come into the house if I had let him," Kathy said.

Jerry Messerly, a longtime animal control officer, died Aug. 21, 2008. Through her grief, Kathy continued to care for Bud, offering him a deer block and apples after weaning him off the bottle. By December, Bud quit coming to the house, but in February, on the Messerly's anniversary, he showed up again.

"I was so excited, I called my kids and they came out to see him," she said. "Then he went back into the woods."

All spring and summer Kathy and her dog, Andy, would go to the edge of the woods, where she called for Bud. He never appeared.

"I had seen a deer dead down on the highway and wondered if it was him," Kathy said. "But, the amazing part of this whole story is on Aug. 21, a year after Jerry's death, I was in the kit-chen getting ready for the dedication of Jerry's bench at Oleson Park, and I looked out and there he was. I opened the window and called him. He looked at me with recognition."

She grabbed her camera, called the dog and went into the yard.

"Andy and him touched noses and played in the yard. ... I reached out my hand, and he licked it. I know in my heart, it was Jerry telling me that he is OK and I will be, too."

Just seeing Bud again after about six months was enough to make her a believer, but that he showed up a year after Jerry's death and on the day of dedication of Jerry's bench touched the surreal.

"It is so unbelievable to think he came back on that day," Kathy said. "He has a rack now and is going to be a beautiful buck."

Through the years, Jerry Messerly had saved many young fawns, but once he turned them loose, only Bud ever came back to say hello. The last time, one year to the day after Jerry died.

For Kathy, it's proof that her husband continues to watch over her and wants her to know she'll be all right. That's a good thing to know.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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