MINNESOTA -- “It would be different if they had come forward, but they didn’t, so it had to be more intentional,” said Melissa Ketterhagen, speaking of her horse she recently found shot in the head in her pasture, apparently by hunters using the neighboring acreage illegally.
She recounted how she found her pony in the snow at their home just off County 110 between Preston and Greenleafton. “I came home Tuesday and she wasn’t with the group of other horses where they usually are,” she explained. “I asked my son, ‘Where’s Lily?’ We didn’t see her, so I put my boots on and went out to the pasture to the fence line where there’s 20 acres next door that belongs to the neighbor, and I found her in the snow on the fence line next to the neighbor’s 20 acres. I could tell that she’d been shot from the 20 acres next door, and at first, I wasn’t going to uncover her face to see, but I did, and there was a bullet hole in her head.”
Ketterhagen called the sheriff to have deputies come out to her property to examine what could have happened. “There is a police report. The deputies were kind of in awe…they don’t think what happened was appropriate, and they said to spread the word,” she said. “I had the sheriff looking at two deer hunting stands next to me, and they could not find that or the illegal deer blind that had been on my property. We knew they were there because they’d hung an orange flag so they could find it. The owners of the 20 acres were contacted, and they said that nobody had permission to hunt on their land.”
The deer blind and hunting stands spurred her to have an autopsy done on Lily, one that found the horse was indeed shot, but there was no bullet to recover because it had exploded inside her head due to the hardness of a horse’s skull. Though difficult, Ketterhagen attended the autopsy to see for herself.
“Had we recovered a bullet, we would’ve been looking for somebody… there were illegal hunters on that 20 acres,” she said. “And I heard the state is opening another hunting season. People should be aware of who’s hunting on their property, know your neighbors, know if they allow people to hunt on their land. They weren’t supposed to be shooting that way – there are too many houses.
"I know there’s a trophy buck that crosses our land, but this was a black and white paint horse…you don’t confuse a trophy buck with a black and white paint horse. And if the horse was in the way of their shot at the buck, they should know better.”
Ketterhagen pointed out again, “You should know the people around you, hunting-wise, and know who’s using your fields. Be alert, because you think it’s not going to happen to you, but it can.”
She noted that the outcome of that errant bullet could have had far greater consequences.
“My son, Wyatt, has an endurance track that runs that field, and I’m lucky my kids weren’t out there that day,” Ketterhagen added. “But Lily had become everybody’s horse on the farm. She was sweet, lovable, nice to everybody. She let us pet her, and I’d just started riding her two weeks before, so that makes it so much worse.”
“This whole things sucks,” she concluded.
(Bluff Country Reader - Dec 21, 2016)