Monday, November 23, 2009

My brother in Christ, my friend and my hunting buddy... Steve!

Those who do not want to read about this hunt, should feel free to leave now. I understand not everyone agrees with hunting.

A couple of writings ago, I talked of returning to hunting. I did.

This whitetail buck is the sort of trophy men and women hunt their entire lives to find. Few actually ever see them. I was tremendously blessed! I have no doubt that this hunt was provision from the hand of the Lord! He gave me a view of what this day would look like, and it came to pass.

I had to be patient, and saw Him do as He laid in my heart He would.

This past summer, a man named Steve went to Panama with me for 10 days. I knew him as the father of my leadership partner, Katie. This was Steve's first mission trip. God did an incredible work in his life. He returned with a passion and enthusiasm for the Lord that had not been previously, demonstrated... at least not in missions. He is now raising up others to go to serve with his church!

His daughter Katie (who also works with me), read my aforementioned blog, and contacted her dad, an avid hunter.

He invited me to go deer hunting with him on the opening day of gun season. What Steve did for me at no cost, would cost multiple thousands of dollars, had it been done by a professional guide.

I arrived on Friday night at his home. We had great fellowship! We set a plan for the following morning. He made sure I had all the equipment I needed, and allowed me to borrow what I was short.

We viewed photos from his trail cameras that captured a huge buck. We joked about taking it, but recognized the chances were slim, as this size deer rarely shows itself during daylight.

We awoke around 4:30 am. I headed to the kitchen to find him making a bountiful breakfast of what I'd call a western egg scramble (I forgot to ask him what he called it!). We ate to our fill, then headed out.

After a fifteen or twenty minute drive, we arrived at a 150 acre property he has groomed along the Cimarron River. He has worked hard preparing the land for wildlife habitation. It is complete with crops they enjoy, that will also increase their health.

We parked the truck and hiked in at about 5:40am. The only light shone from our headlamps. In sheer darkness, I ascended my assigned tree stand. It sat just aloft a growth of evergreens in the crotch of a large hardwood tree.

Steve headed to another tree stand around a half mile away.

I sat down on a small wooden bench on my 3x5 platform, twenty feet above ground and waited for daylight.

I heard many creatures below me scurrying in leaf debris. I could make out none of them.

Birds ushered in the break of dawn.

I waited patiently for life to begin.

As pale light began to splash over my surroundings, I caught my first glimpse of the environment I would spend the next 12 plus hours in.

Steve had equipped me with incredible snack food. Around nine, after better than three hours of waiting and watching, I decided to eat something. I knelt in my small platform to open my backpack.

As I did, I saw on the horizon, the first deer of the day. I grabbed my binoculars and drew into view a small spike buck, 150 yards out. He warily crossed a clearing, stopping occassionally to graze.

This would not be my choice. I had an idea of what this day was to look like, and I knew I needed to be patient. I would not shoot just to kill. I would wait for what I knew was to be God's provision. I watched him disappear into the thicket.

Three hours later, I was growing a bit anxious for something to happen.

I began to hear a squirrel scolding... something. I realized this would only occur as he felt threatened. I knew I was not in his view, so was curious what could be disturbing him.

I slowly rose from my position. In a break of trees, I detected movement. I grabbed my field glasses once again, and focused in on a nine point buck. I was not here to just shoot... or just for meat. I would be satisfied just to be back out, to have seen the deer and to go home empty handed, if the right buck did not appear.

I watched him for the couple of minutes he grazed 50 yards from me. He disappeared into the woods.

The next 5 hours, I would watch birds from my perch atop the evergreens. I saw many I could identify and many I could not. I love viewing His Creation, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The overcast skies suddenly gave way to sun, nearing 5:00pm. Shadows were cast, receded and recast as the setting sun flirted with the ebbing front in the western horizion.

A noise and movement captured my attention.

Not 40 yards from me appeared a third small buck... another spike buck, probably a yearling at best. His attention was drawn down the meadow. I followed his gaze to an appearing doe.

Next, he moved toward me. As I watched another spike buck appeared and walked towards the first. They muzzled each other, then instinctively began deer games of sparring with their tiny tines. Then they returned to muzzling. Adorable!

Suddenly, movement down the treeline captured both of their attention!

I pulled my binoculars back to my eyes and searched for their fear.

Exiting the brambles was a large antlered mass. My vision was blocked by the last of the fall leaves still clinging to their branches.

The little doe down the meadow watched intently. He began toward her, then turned abruptly towards the button buck duo. That meant he was heading for me.

I released the binoculars, and pulled up the rifle, finding him in the scope.

He was facing me, giving me the least amount of target. I heard the echo of Steve's last words to me, if he gives you a shot, take it, because you aren't likely to get a second.

This was a high risk, low odds shot. I chose not to take it.

He turned and headed back to the treeline.

I was a bit frustrated, but knew that at that range I could easily miss.

Suddenly, as though he just realized what he'd been up to, he came back out into the clearing and headed away from me... towards the doe.

She stood waiting.

He was even farther away, my chance, I feared was evaporating.

Another doe appeared acrossed the field.

I made a loud grunt trying to get him to stop. He did, he made a quarter turn presenting me a slightly better view. I had to take it.

I did.

I missed!

All of the deer present, bolted... but him, he froze. I quickly took aim once again, he quartered away, the other direction.

I fired.

He fell.

Steve had heard the gunfire and quickly texted me... "was that you?"

"Yes!" I replied. "I hit a huge buck!"

He texted back, "Is it him?" (meaning the huge buck from the photos)

"I don't know," I responded, "the vegetation is too high!"

As I neared him, it became clear he had not expired.

I was startled. I was mid text to Steve, when I dropped my phone and ended it (I should have waited longer to approach him).

I cautiously walked up to him, lifted his mostly hidden antlers for a clear view.
My knees turned to jelly.

It was him!

I furiously texted Steve... "It's him!"

The next morning, we headed to church. Steve shared with his Sunday School class about God's providence. He told them who I was, and why I was with him.

Then he told them, "My daughter called me and let me know that Brent wanted to deer hunt. When she said those words, the Lord let me know that this huge buck was for him. I believed he was going to take it and I am glad he did!"

This man who had poured so much of himself into this field, into growing healthy deer, was completely unselfish.

The buck you see, is a once in a lifetime find. Few see them. Fewer take them. He could have been as many are... focused on what he had done to grow this buck and want him for himself.

This avid hunter, who has many trophies in his home, yielded willingly to the Lord's prompt. He is thrilled for me. He continued to help by pointing me to a taxidermist and processor.

I am blessed by his witness. I am thankful for this buck. All hunters would be. However, God showed me this hunt was about His provision and perfecting the hearts of His own.

Thank you, Steve!

Thank you, Lord!

This Thanksgiving, I find myself incredibly humbled at His Provision and Grace!



At 9:24 PM, Anonymous chloe said...

thats an AWESOME BUCK! GOD is so great :)


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