While serving as prosecutor of the Toombs Judicial Circuit for more than 20 years, Dennis Sanders has encountered some strange things, but nothing like what he experienced in his home near Thomson on Nov. 17.
He discovered a large hawk flying around in his upstairs office.
"I had just returned from a workout at the YMCA and was opening up some mail while my wife, Kay, was preparing supper," recalled Mr. Sanders. "This big bird made me duck as he flew right over my head."
His wife, the principal of North Columbia Elementary School near Appling, had no idea what was going on until Mr. Sanders shouted down to her: "We've got a big bird in the house."
About that time, the hawk took another flyover and decided to land on a nearby rail.
"We've never experienced anything like it before," said Mr. Sanders.
One of the first things that crossed his mind was to close the French doors of his study room so the bird wouldn't have access to the rest of the home.
Mr. Sanders said he then tried to calm the hawk down by talking in a soft voice.
"I asked, 'How did you get in here?'"
There was a time, Mr. Sanders said that he got within three feet of the bird.
"I even tried to see if I could pet the bird."
He backed off after Mrs. Sanders told him the bird might hurt him.
The longtime prosecutor, who serves as the "Voice of the Thomson High Bulldogs" for football and girls' softball radio broadcasts, said the wild bird began flying some more.
"He flew around the room causing a pencil holder, a measuring tape and my glasses to crash to the floor," said Mr. Sanders. "The bird then landed on an Xbox, causing several games to hit the floor, too."
While flying around, the bird came close to some of Mr. Sanders' prized baseball and football memorabilia.
"He didn't do any damage to those things, and I'm very thankful that he didn't," added Mr. Sanders.
"Those are some very special items to me."
Mr. and Mrs. Sanders later went downstairs and enjoyed their meal.
After the couple ate, Mr. Sanders telephoned his son Reid, a lawyer.
"I called him to let him know what had happened," said Mr. Sanders with a big laugh. "I told Reid that I thought we had a member of their law firm in our home."
About an hour and a half later, Mr. Sanders walked back upstairs and discovered the hawk asleep.
"I'm not kidding," added Mr. Sanders.
"That bird had actually gone to sleep while perched on a mini-refrigerator that I have in my study."
Mr. Sanders opened the front door and the hawk later "glided out like a toy plane -- his wing span touching each side of the door opening -- before departing the Sanders' home about 10 p.m.
"That bird was in our home for about six hours," said Mr. Sanders. He said the hawk must have flown in after he came home to let a man inside to do some remodeling work.
"All I can figure out is I must have left the back door open when I went to work out," said Mr. Sanders.