By Jennie Zeitler
Five young deer have hit the jackpot in the Little Sauk area between Sauk Centre and Long Prairie — they have been fed regularly during an extremely cold and snowy winter.
The day after first spotting the five youngsters, in late December, Ray Hendershot found one stuck in a fence and freed it.
“They’ve been back every day since then,” he said. “The most we’ve seen at one time is 13.”
Hendershot speculates that the mothers had been killed.
“If we hadn’t been feeding them, they probably wouldn’t have survived,” said Hendershot.
He and his partner, Ann Dalton, often sit and watch the deer from a back window.
“We sat for half an hour the other day while they were eating,” said Dalton.
“They were running and jumping around,” Hendershot said. “That tells me they’re full. They’re here in the daylight too; we see them laying down.”
Hendershot hasn’t always fed deer.
“It’s the first time for that because of the tough winter,” he said. “I’ve fed birds year ‘round, wild rabbits and pheasants. I don’t like to see anything hungry, including myself.”
Hendershot built a special feeder behind his house that stands about 20 inches off the ground.
“There’s no waste that way,” he said. “The deer don’t have to dig for the food either.”
He has purchased several hundred dollars’ worth of corn on the cob and other food. He found a special mineral block for deer that smells like apples. He got a 1,000-pound bale of hay that is nearly gone.
“I’ve spent more than $1,200,” he said. “I got a wagon to haul the corn in. They are eating two bags every other day.”
Hendershot notices that the neighbors drive a lot slower, watching for deer that cross their gravel road. The deer come from other woods to the north and west.
“I’ve always liked the wildlife,” said Hendershot. “I don’t hunt. The only thing that gets killed around here are rodents.”
There are three pileated woodpeckers that visit regularly. Hendershot keeps suet out all the time.
He raised horses for many years and showed them. He was part of the Todd County Sheriff’s Posse from 1999 to 2007.
Hendershot also restores Ford tractors.
“I have six of them,” he said. “One is a 1953 Jubilee from Ford’s 50th anniversary.”
Hendershot and his son, Myron, are Class A master electricians, partners in All Service Electric. Hendershot started the business in 1962.
They’ve worked all over, including a job in rural North Dakota, near Alexander, building a truck garage for a friend of Hendershot’s son.
“I won’t go back,” said Hendershot. “The traffic, the food prices and living conditions are bad. We took our camper out and stayed in that. We could have had other jobs if we wanted to go back.”
Life has brought varied experiences to Hendershot’s door. Cancer couldn’t keep him down; he’s a 13-year survivor of vocal fold cancer.
“I’m glad to be alive,” he said.
Life continues to hold plenty of interest and excitement for Hendershot and Dalton. They are members of the Country Cruisers classic auto club.
“I plan on working a while longer,” he said. “And I will keep feeding the deer next winter; we’ve got them now.”