February 15, 2002 - Deer Stand

It's part hobby and part petting zoo. A West Baton Rouge Parish businessman maintains a unique attraction for travelers along Highway 190. "It's for kids to see," says Johnny Ewing. "I have four kids, and they enjoy stuff like this. It gives them a break when they're traveling the highway."

They're on U.S. Highway 190 in Erwinville, right behind the LA Express Truck Stop, 13 head of white tail deer. Johnny Ewing, owner of LA Express, is the guy who put them here. He explains, "We put them here, and when we get over-populated like right now, we're getting ready to move a few out to another licensed breeder, and we'll just give these to that breeder to thin these out. If we in turn need some help with medication, if we have a sick deer or something, they come to our aid to. We kind of share with each other. We don't try to make money off them although we have the legal right to do so, and there are plenty of breeders who do."

Maintaining the herd for weary travelers and curious kids is very much a community effort among the businessmen along Highway 190. "We have quite a few neighbors," says Johnny. "Mr. Dick Duval took care of them for ten years, and we never paid him a dime. Mr. Leo Daigle has taken care of them for the last three or four years and never requested a nickel in pay. It's kind of like their family, and they come out here and feed them like their pets."

A woman carrying a small child walks by and exclaims, "See the deer!" The child smiles broadly. That's enough reward for anybody. Johnny says kids aren't the only visitors who enjoy the deer. A lot of hunters stop by, some on their way to the deer stand to get a look at how the animals are behaving, and some on the way home, to get a glimpse at what they missed.