I’m sure countless devotionals and numerous essays have been written by Christian
hunters – drawing parallels between hunting and the Christian life, or sharing deep
insights learned while sitting in the stillness of the deer stand. I’m not going for
originality here – but I figure – since I just shot the first deer of my life, perhaps a
little reflection is in order. I’ll share two things.
First, I can’t control everything, not least of which are wild animals and God’s good
creation. I mean, seriously, I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to know I was
doing a lot of things right: Arriving at the stand well before sunrise. Choosing a
location with good deer traffic and lots of activity on the trail cams. Sitting silently
and listening intently for the sound of a stick popping in the woods. I can do all that,
and yet, I can’t make a deer walk out of the woods. I can’t make it choose the trail in
front of me instead of the one just outside of my line of sight. I can’t make that buck
just curious enough to wander beyond the willows and award me a clean shot.
I just can’t control everything. And it’s good. God made wild animals wild and he
granted a certain amount of freedom and unpredictability to his creation, so that we
humans wouldn’t get any illusions about being gods. That’s a good reminder.
But what can I control? Hunting these last three years, and only just now getting my
first deer in the final week of the season, I’ve learned to take ownership of two
things: My effort and my attitude.
I can’t control the deer, but I can control my own effort. Rather than giving up and
tossing the guns in the locker for another year, I can keep trying – whether wading
into the cold before daybreak or sitting silently through the sunset, I can at least find
assurance in the fact that I was making the proper effort. I was doing what I could
And the second thing I can control is my attitude. Despite countless walks back to
the truck empty handed, repeated conversations with the refrain, “Nothing yet,” and
several sad stares from my kids who wanted so desperately to see a deer, I could
still choose joy. It was always a good hunt. The snowshoe hair playing beneath the
tree stand was an awesome gift. The vibrant and varied colors on the horizon at the
day’s bookends were always a blessing, and the Super Moon staring at me from
behind the barren aspens was an enormous reward. It was always a good hunt.
And when I did finally get my deer, it was a great hunt. Thank you, Lord.