MISSOULA, Mont. - ‘Hoot,' a little Montana owl, was left rattled after a Sunday morning run-in with the law.
Lake County Sheriff's Deputy Clay Shoemaker was sitting passenger in his patrol car and his partner was driving when they heard a large thump on the side of their vehicle. They turned around to see what happened.
"As we pulled up I could see something in the road and I got out and walked up and I could see that it was an owl kind of sprawled out on the ground," said Shoemaker.
Shoemaker told NBC Montana the owl was still breathing and its eyes were wide open.
"I picked it up and kind of put its wings back together and kind of made it look like a bird again," said Shoemaker. "He just kind of looked up at me and he looked pretty sad so I brought him over to the truck and he was actually standing up at that point."
A short time later Hoot, as they named him, caught his breath and Shoemaker and his partner saw a unique photo opportunity.
"We took a few pictures because it's not every day you get to hold an owl," he said.
After four years as a deputy Shoemaker says he's seen some strange situations, but never anything quite like this.
"It was pretty awesome," said Shoemaker. "It's actually kind of touching a little bit because you don't get to see that kind of stuff every day."
Officers decided to give the owl a break; no citations for reckless flying. As for Shoemaker, Hoot left a memory and a story to tell for years to come.
"My sergeant told me those are the memories that make this job great," said a smiling Shoemaker.
NBC Montana sends a big thank you to Shoemaker's wife Amanda for tipping us to this story.