It is the fall, and the leaves are leaving the trees. I know this first hand because I have been spending a lot of time here of late suspended between heaven and earth. You see my friend ,I am a deer hunter. I have not been taken up into the heavens. I have been up in my deer stand.
I worry what I plan to share will be misunderstood. I feel closer to God in nature than any building I have ever been in. I feel close to Him there and do some of my best and most focused praying as well as soul searching. When you are out in nature you see the things that He has made . When you look upon a great piece of art or read a wonderful book, you think wow I would like to meet it's creator. That is as best as I can describe it why it touches me and repairs my wounded and rushed soul.
Since no large bucks had bothered to show up, I have had a lot of time to think .I have seen thousands of leaves swirl and twirl and leave the place they were born and watch them laid as they are laid to rest. I feel blessed and think that there are 7 billion people on the planet and that private air show was for just me.
I have many discussions with fellow hunters and it is a joy to discuss God in the office. I feel sorry for those who can only find Him in a structure and only for a hour or so. Yes we should all go to church ! No argument here at all. But on the flip side , when two or more are gathered talking about Him , that is called church too and he is there as well whether it is in the factory , school, or a doctors office. Amen?
this happened on a clear cold morning about 7 years ago. There was no wind and it was an excellent day to hunt. I was in a stand on the north side of our property. After after an hour or so the sun began to rise and the woods Was turning magical as the trees were temporally adorned with frost. I was up high and it felt good when the warm sun finally hit my back . I thought back upon dads teaching from my youth that this made me easier to be seen as well.
I love to take pictures. I have taken thousands of them over the years. I do not have a picture of the story I am about to share. I do not carry it next to my heart but in my heart and that makes it even more special to me.
Far below me and still in the darkness something was moving. My heart starting beating and my lips became instantly dry. Even more so when I first saw antlers .... large ones! Something was strange about this big bodied buck as he moved through the brush. I could not at first tell what it was. It seemed he was two toned with his front part of his body silver and his back half brown.
He crossed a branch and came up the hill 18 yards off to my left . I did not bother to lift the gun from my lap. He turned his head and looked away from me to the west. It was the perfect shot. He then got a wiff of me and knew something was amiss. As smart large bucks do he put his nose in the air and tuned his heard left and right trying to figure out what was up .
This was a really nice deer. It would have been a shooter in my book and youth years ago. Please do not get me wrong, I am not Jerimiah Johnson. I have moved on myself a bit as perhaps a golfer chooses to play only from the blue tees. My mistakes have been many. My trophy room of ones that have outwitted me would be far more impressive than the ones hanging in my office .
As I watched him, I was shaking with excitement .I always tell fellow hunters my nice and expensive shotgun has something wrong with it because it shakes when a big buck comes by. Some say they do not ever do this. I do not believe them because you don't get up and out of a nice warm and soft bed at 4:00 AM and go sit in the woods if this is not the case.
I could now understand why he looked so odd . He had spent the night most likely with his rear end under a thick pine or cedar tree. That is why it was brown, no frost. His front was covered with this thick frost on his head and and on his thick antlers.
I replay this story over and over as I hunt always of course on frosty mornings. I have called him Frosty since that day. I owe him thanks for reminding me of that wonderful song written in 1913 called the OLD RUGGED CROSS written by a preacher named Rev. George Bennard .
He had moved on and up into the sunlight, as he turned his head , it shined like a bejeweled crown and was one of the most magnificent things my green eyes have ever seen. I spoke volumes to my heart as I watched this visual sermon . I thanked my God now for allowing me to see this and now for allowing me to share with you.
So I'll cherish that old rugged cross till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling till the old rugged cross and exchange it someday for a crown.
A human life is a story told by God. Hans Christian Andersen
That is why God did it. Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing as heaven whispers ,"Do you like it ? I did that just for you."