When the cow broke out of its pen, it had been named “Momma.”
But over the course of its nearly five days on the lam, the state troopers following its trail through Ludington coined a new name for it: “Moodini.”
Early in the morning on Saturday, Sept. 11, its owner, Bob Hannah, was loading the cow and its 2-year-old calf into a trailer that would take them to Hawkins. There, the cow would be bred and the calf would be trained as a rodeo bull.
But while Bob was loading the calf into the trailer, the cow smashed through its pen near Jebavy Drive and Bryant Road and “kept on going,” he said.
“(She) went right through a 9-foot chain link fence with posts every 5 feet,” he said.
The cow, white with black spots and long horns, ran through some of Ludington’s northern subdivisions, through Memorial Tree Park and into a neighborhood on Lincoln Lake west of the park.
Searchers had trouble keeping up with the freewheeling cow. Bob said he bought it about two years ago off of a 100-acre pasture she had virtually free rein over.
“Hell, (her previous owner) wouldn’t see her for two weeks,” Bob said. “She was kind of wild.”
Pressure from a search party that included Bob’s family, two state troopers, a hired man with a tranquilizer gun and others pushed it all the way back across Jebavy Drive.
“We pushed her pretty hard,” Bob said. “We wanted to get her out of town.”
The cow hunkered down along the Lincoln River near a bend in Rasmussen Road, Bob said, and spent the night there.
Bob’s son and business partner, Dustin Hannah, “stayed up all night long,” parked on the side of the road with his lights flashing. Dustin caught a glimpse of her early the next morning on Sept. 12, Bob said, but she stayed out of sight for the rest of the day, from Sept. 13 and most of the day, Tuesday, Sept. 14.
Back home, it was “pretty emotional” with the cow’s whereabouts and wellbeing up in the air, Bob said. It was hitting Dustin’s wife particularly hard.
“(She) has been feeding it every morning, and had it to (be) where she would eat out of her hand,” Bob said.
Throughout the search, Bob’s phone lit up with text messages and calls from around the community. People were “very much involved” with getting the cow back home, and even if they hadn’t seen it, some called to express their hopes for its safe return.
“I thank everybody from the bottom of my heart,” Bob said. “They really shined on this one.”
But last Tuesday night brought the beginning of the end of the chase. A tipster called Bob and said they saw the cow along U.S. 10, near Watson Ludington and Muffler Man.
The Hannahs searched the area with spotlights until 5 a.m. to no avail, Bob said. But Dustin went back out Wednesday morning and found the cow’s tracks behind Muffler Man. He saw the tracks head toward the Mason County Airport — but didn’t see them leave.
When Bob heard that, he called in the cowboys.
He called the Hughston family of cattle ranchers, which owns the 6H Ranch in McBain. A team of four, including Star Hughston and his son, Trace, loaded up their quarter horses and Catahoula dogs, went to where Dustin had seen the tracks and turned the dogs loose Wednesday evening.
Star said the dogs headed west until one dog started following a track east, back to where they’d started. Further east, the dogs found the cow and started chasing it, but both the dogs and horses had trouble keeping up.
“We were zig-zagging through trees,” Star said. “We weren’t gaining any ground on it, I know that.”
Their luck changed when the cow reached a stretch of blacktop between the fairgrounds and the airport runway. They chased the cow “almost a mile” down the blacktop, and Star managed to loop a rope around it. They let it run into the grassy fairgrounds until the barking dogs brought it to a stop, and they tied three of its legs together.
In about 15 minutes, the cowboys had brought the story to a close.
Now the cow is with her calf at the farm in Hawkins, where she’s secure in a corral made of 2-inch pipe. Bob is confident her wild days are behind her.
“She’s in a bull man’s house. So she ain’t getting nowhere,” Bob said.