It's been awhile since I've had the opportunity to write a blog entry for the site. The workload at my computer programming job has increased dramatically in the last year, and it has severely limited the amount of free time that I could use for writing. I am still hard at work on the next entry in the Hunting for the Heart of God series, another devotional entitiled Daily Bread for Deer Hunters. I am also still working on The Cabin, a novel about spiritual warfare. Also, my wife and I are expecting our second child in September, and getting ready for his arrival has kept me quite busy. I do have several things that I want to blog about, including the ups and downs of running a hunting club, so I hope to add more content to this blog as time allows. For today though, I wanted to talk about my recent chance to spend some time behind the scenes with Ted Nugent.
Few celebrities polarize people like Ted Nugent does. It's amazing to me that he causes such dissent in the hunting community, especially considering that no one else in the world speaks out on the benefits of hunting the way that Ted does. People often complain that he is "over the top", but by being over the top he gets the message out to the world about the benefits of hunting every single day, in a large number of venues. No other person in the hunting community comes even close to doing this. But my intention is not to defend Uncle Ted. He can do that himself. What I am here to do is tell you about my experience with him back in mid-May.
I've been a member of Ted's internet forum for over ten years now. It's one in which myself and a few dozen regulars interact with Ted on a daily basis, share hunting stories, talk politics, and have an all around good time. Over the years, I've met Ted a number of times. Sometimes the meetings have been brief, and others have been a little longer. The most time I ever spent around him was at the 2010 NRA convention in Charlotte, when I was able to spend most of the day hanging out in his booth with several other members of his forum. When I got the opportunity to go backstage at his 2012 concert in Charlotte, there was no way that I was going to miss it.
I left work early on a Thursday in May and drove up to Kings Mountain, NC to have lunch with a friend from a local men's ministry. We ate BBQ and discussed the possibility of getting some men together for a Wild at Heart style hunting adventure later in the fall. When that was done, I drove on up to the Verizon Ampitheatre in Concord where I would meet with Ted. The parking lot gates were closed when I got there, and I was told that it would be about an hour and a half before I'd be able to get in. I drove down the road and parked under a shade tree in a shopping center parking lot and made a few phone calls, napped a little, and spent a few minutes reading.
I was third in line when the parking lots opened, and I quickly parked my Jeep and headed over to the Will Call booth, where my entry credentials were waiting for me. I had a brief moment of uncertainty when the attendent could not find my pass, but after a few minutes of searching he found it. He verified my ID and handed over the badge that would get me backstage. The instructions that I had received in my mailbox stated that Ted's manager would meet me at the main gate at 5:45pm and take me back to where Ted would be waiting.
By 6:00, the manager had not shown up. By that time, three or four other people had gathered in the area who were also supposed to go backstage. With the help of one of the gate attendents, we were redirected to a nondescript white gate near the back of the Ampitheatre. We were told to go over to it and wait, and someone would meet us shortly.
After a few minutes spent waiting at the gate, it opened and Ted's son Toby walked out. He remembered meeting me at the NRA convention a couple of years ago, and together we walked to a little outdoor patio area where Toby said for us to wait for a few minutes. As the little group of us sat there, a rock-and-roll looking fellow came up to us and said hello and that he hoped we enjoyed the show. Not being a Styx fan, I was unaware that it was Tommy Shaw, but one of the people in my group recognized him and told us who he was.
Moments later, Toby returned and walked us into the backstage area. As we entered, I recognized Marilyn Brown, the female half of Ted's photography team. She was at the NRA convention as well and has been on Ted's forum, and we waved at each other as we passed. Seeing him through the open door of his dressing room, I was dismayed to see Ted leaning on a cane. I had known that his knees were bad, but did not realize how much they were affecting him. Once we were all in the room, Ted's eyes lit up as he saw me. "South Carolina Sportsman!" he said, calling me by my internet handle. "Good to see you again, how are you?"
We shook hands, and then he introduced himself to the other backstage visitors. None of the others had met Ted before, and it was great to watch their reactions as he addressed each of them in turn. After the introductions were over, Toby suggested that we go ahead and get the picture taking out of the way, so we all got our turn getting individual pictures with Ted, and then one of the group as a whole. The photographer was James Brown, husband of Marilyn and long-time member of the Nuge Board forum.
When the pictures were done, we sat down and spent some time talking hunting, politics, and rock and roll. Ted had a lot to say, and hearing him hold forth in a personal setting was quite an experience. He had a lot to say about the current Presidential administraton, his henchman Eric Holder, and other high profile people. He had nothing but good things to say about the Secret Service agents who paid him a visit after the media misportrayed recent comments that he had made, and talked about the outrageousness of the recent ban on hunting privately owned Oryx in Texas. The conversation was only interrupted once when guitarist and vocalist Derek St. Holmes came in and introduced himself to each of us.
When it was time to go, I stood up and got ready to leave the room. As I did, Ted stuck out his cane to me, silently asking me to help him up. I did so, touched by his gesture. We shook hands again, and said that we each looked forward to our next opportunity to meet.
Toby escorted us out of the room, and James and Marilyn Brown left as well. I walked with them toward the stage, discussing the joys of brass rainbows with James along the way. Mr. Brown is a huge Class-3 enthusiast, and is known for his many full-auto weapons. I told him about the Slide-Fire stock that I had on one of my AR-15s, and although he had not used one, he said that he had heard many good things about them.
After saying goodbye to the Browns, I found my way to my seat, a good one, where I settled in for the show. Ted and his band, the Nigerian Rebels, put on quite a show. The only downside was that it was an abbreviated version of his concerts, since both REO Speedwagon and Styx would be playing later that evening. Not being a fan of either group, I left when Ted's time on the stage was over.
Like all of my experiences with Uncle Ted, I walked away feeling refereshed. He was enthusiastic, friendly, engaging, and present. When Ted talks to you he takes the time to look you in the eye, and to listen to what you have to say to him. I expected nothing less, and when I got home that evening I posted a note of thanks on his internet forum. He quickly responded to my post with on of his own, giving me a resounding "Yowza".
To that, I add my own, and look forward to my next chance at spending time with Mr. Nugent.
Buck Yum Trophy Feed and Supplement Mixture
On an afternoon in late September, I pulled my truck into a nondescript warehouse in Waxhaw, NC. Waiting for me inside was my childhood friend Robert Burns, co-owner of Buck Yum. I hadn't seen Robert in at least a half-dozen years. The last time I saw him was over in our old neighborhood in Charlotte, which he was using as a base of operations for selling tree stands. Robert and I spent an hour or so catching up on the events of the past few years, telling each other about our families and reminiscing about some of the old times we had spent together hunting while we were growing up. I left his warehouse with a couple of hundred pounds of Buck Yum in the back of my truck.
The first time I used this new feed, I scattered a fifty pound bag around a small food plot on my lease, taking note of the extremely strong scent of peanuts that was present in the feed. After pouring it out, I quickly got in a box blind for the evening hunt. Before long, an extremely strong storm system passed through the area, and my food plot was soon a mass of mud and muck, and no deer appeared. The feed washed away in the rain, and I was extremely disappointed as I headed home - not in the product itself, but in the fact that I'd wasted fifty pounds of it.
The following weekend, I went back down to my club and used two more bags to fill up a pair of feeders that I had in different spots on the property. I chose to wait a week before hunting those stands. When I returned the following week, I was amazed at how different the ground around my feeder looked. Before Buck Yum, there had been some obvious signs of animals feeding, but the difference now was quite distinct. The ground around the feeder had been swept clean of pine needles, as you can see in the picture below. A week after that, there were green shoots coming up where some of the smaller elements of the feed had taken root and had sprouted, adding yet another reason for deer to come to the feeder.
My trail cameras showed a variety of deer coming to both feeders, and I knew that Buck Yum was a hit. Last week, I went to a stand that has not had a bit of Buck Yum near it all year, and I poured ten pounds out on the ground seventy yards from the feeder. Literally twenty minutes after I poured it out and got in my stand, a doe appeared and went directly to the feed. She started eating it, and within another five minutes she was dead on the ground, victim of my 7mm magnum. My experience with Buck Yum has been extremely positive, and I'll be replenishing my supply at the first opportunity. Congratulations to Robert Burns and Brad Hoover on an excellent product.
Garmin Montana 650 GPS
Over the last decade, I've owned a steady stream of Garmin GPS units. My first experience with Garmin's products was an iQueue 3600 Palm Pilot GPS unit, which did an extremely good job providing directions on the road, but it did not have any off-road maps available and was thus useless in the deer woods. I replaced it with a Garmin Colorado, which I liked quite well. The screen was extremely readable in broad daylight, and it was very accurate when it came to marking waypoints.
The unit's software was somewhat lacking, and when the Oregon product line came out, Garmin did not provide any firmware updates for the Colorado for quite some time. I liked my Colorado, but wanted some of the features of the Oregon, so I sold the Colorado on eBay and upgraded to an Oregon 400T. This was another great unit, and was well supported by the Garmin team. The main issue with it was that the screen was much harder to read in daylight.
When Garmin announced the Montana lineup, I sold my Oregon and ordered a Montana from the REI store up in Charlotte. It took a couple of months to arrive, but when it did, I had found the GPS that I was looking for. The unit has an extremely solid feel, and the large touch screen is easily visible in the daylight.
This GPS is not, however, for everybody. It's quite bulky when compared to some of the other units on the market. I like the bulkiness of it myself; it's very rugged and fits well in my hand. It's got a built-in camera, but I would only use that when I don't have my normal camera with me. The pictures that it takes are fine, but I'm more interested in the GPS itself rather than the camera. Another downside is that there have been at least six firmware updates in the last three months. That's quite a lot, and it indicates that there are several bugs in the software. However, it also shows that Garmin is serious about supporting the unit, and is actively developing fixes. Most of the issues that have been fixed involve Geocaching, which I don't do, and I personally have not experienced any problems with the unit.
Having said all of that, I'm extremely happy with this GPS, and hope to get many years of service out of it. I carry it in my backpack every time I go hunting, and have used it to mark all of my stands and all of the roads on my lease. I'm using Energizer Lithium batteries, and I am on my second set after 4 months of average usage. The unit also functions well for on-road navigation provided that you purchase the appropriate City Navigator maps. If you buy the auto-mount base, you'll also get voice directions with the unit.
When it comes to flashlights, I'm something of an enthusiast. For the last ten years, I've carried a Surefire 9P light in my Jeep, and whenever I've gone hunting I've stuck it in my backpack for easy access. A week or two ago, I went to get my oil changed. As always, I took the Surefire from the little slot that it fit perfectly in on my Jeep's shifter area and stuck it in the center console. When I went to get it out later that night, it was gone, likely stolen by an employee of the oil change place. After calling the York County sherriff's office to ask them how to proceed, they said to go back over and talk to the oil change place along with a police officer. I did this, and we failed to recover my light. Fortunately, the owner of the place was more than willing to pay me for it, so I left with a check to cover the cost of the 9P along with the LED replacement head that I had installed.
When I went to order a new one, I found that the 9P was no longer in production. I decided to shop around. I've got a Fenix headband light which is incredibly powerful and flexible, so I decided to give them a try on their handheld lights. I ended up ordering three lights... an E-20 for my wife, an E-21 for my Jeep, and a TA-20 for my backpack.
I 've been using the lights ever since, and thought I'd share my findings. The E-21 has a max output of 150 lumens. While not as bright as my old 9P, it uses standard AA batteries and fits pretty well in the same slot that my Surefire did. It's a good enough replacement, and does the job that I need it to do. Turning the head of the light slighty will select beween the bright and dim settings. I've got a stanard set of Duracells in the light right now, but the instructions do suggest using a high quality set of rechargable batteries. I'll be giving that a try in the near future.
The TA-20 light has a really solid feel to it, and at 220 lumens is 10% brighter than my old Surefire, even when I had the high-output head attached. It's got 4 times the life at full power than the Surefire did. The light uses CR-123 batteries and has an easy-to-use selector ring to adjust the output from four lumens up to the full 220 lumen mode. The low level mode is great for use in the dark in a deer blind. It gives you just enough light to see without being bright enough to alert the deer of your presence. This light is definitely going to be a keeper.
In the woods behind me, I heard the unmistakable sound of a deer approaching. The leaves on the forest floor crunched with every step that he took, and I wondered how close he would get before sensing my presence. It didn't take long. The deer snorted twice and bounded away with the sound of his hooves pounding out a rhythm as he ran. I threw another log in my backyard firepit and grinned in the darkness, surprised that the deer had gotten as close to me as he had. He would have had to have smelled the smoke from my fire, and I hadn't been particularly quiet whenever I poked at the logs in the pit. I took a sip of wine and turned my attention inwards. I was in a reflective mood tonight and wanted to take the time to "recover from the past and store up for the future," as Robert Ruark's Old Man once put it.
A month and a half into deer season, and I've only gotten one doe so far. That's a little unusual, but the season has been a busy one for me and I haven't gotten in the woods as often as I normally do. My job, more than anything else, has kept me busy with more work and longer hours than I've had to do in years. I've had to do a good bit of traveling, which is fairly unusual in my computer programming job. I've also been seeing less deer than usual this year. I had some good bucks on camera back in September, but they vanished when rifle season opened on October 1. A couple of days ago I saw a two and a half year old eight pointer, but he was a good bit smaller than what we've been looking for.
I'm also trying to write two books at one time, which is probably a mistake. I had hoped to finish "Daily Bread for Deer Hunters" in time for Christmas, but it looks like I'm not going to make that self-imposed deadline. In that new devotional, I'm reading through each book of the Bible and am relating it to the outdoors. That's pretty difficult, and I've only gotten twenty-some chapters done so far. There are at least forty more to go. The second book, a novel called "The Cabin", is the more important one as it deals with spiritual warfare and will reach a wider audience than the devotional. Hunting plays a background role in "The Cabin", but is still an important part of the story.
My son Paul is approaching his first birthday, and it's a great joy to watch him grow. We bought him some camouflage clothes a few weeks ago at Bass Pro Shops and has his picture taken in them. He says three words right now... "Mama", "Dada", and "Deer". Whenever I hold him up to one of the whitetails on my wall, he says "deer!" When we take him to someone's house who is not a hunter, he'll give the walls a puzzled look and ask "deer?", wondering where the heads are at.
Although he can't say anything else at this point, if I ask him "where is the turkey?", he'll turn his head and look at the gobbler that we have mounted in one of our upstairs rooms. He also knows who "Mr. Kudu" is, but has not yet attempted to pronounce that exotic word. It's difficult to want to take him hunting so badly, and yet know that there are several more years in front of us before he'll be ready to go. I certainly don't want to rush through his babyhood, but I am really excited about his first hunt, whenever that will be.
We're in the process of moving him from his smaller bedroom to a larger one, which is also taking up a good bit of time. We'll be painting it in the next few days and having some furniture delivered. We just finished up with all of the repair work from the spring hailstorms, so at least we've got that behind us.
In our club, around a dozen deer have been killed so far. While most of these have been does, one of the guys got a nice eight-pointer this past Saturday. He said that there was a smallish ten point with the bigger buck, and that they were trailing after some does. That's exciting to hear, and I look forward to see some action in the coming weeks.
I found some big buck tracks in my side yard the other day, and I've got my backyard feeder full of corn, hoping to get a look at what comes in. We don't shoot them in the yard, but they sure are fun to watch. I'll have to stick a trail camera back there sometime this week to see how many deer are coming in each night.
There are so many things to think about during this, the best time of the year, that it's often worthwhile to walk out to the firepit in the cool of the evening after work and just take some time to relax. And look forward to the next opportunity to get into the deer woods, of course.
Then Gideon said to God, ?If You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken, behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken.? And it was so. When he arose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece, he drained the dew from the fleece, a bowl full of water. -- Judges 6:36-38
On a hot September afternoon in 2010, I sat high in a tree in an aluminum climbing stand. Cicadas buzzed loudly in the woods behind me, and the constant whine of mosquitoes was quickly pushing me to the end of my patience. A drop of sweat rolled down the side of my face and splashed onto the limb of the bow that lay in my lap.
In front of me, a stick snapped in the woods and the little flock of doves that was milling around in the tiny clearing scattered, their wings whistling as they beat the air trying to gain altitude. Soon another stick cracked, and then I heard the unmistakable crunch of leaves as a deer approached the clearing.
Slowly and cautiously I stood up in the stand, feeling the pull of the safety harness as it tightened around me. I raised my bow into an upright position, being careful not to let the nocked arrow bang against the rails of the stand or the riser of the bow. The cicadas ceased their buzzing, and a hot wind swirled around me.
Through an opening in the thick brush that surrounded the little clearing, I saw a hint of brown; the body of the deer. Just a few more steps, I thought. Come on deer, come get some acorns.
With a loud snort that almost made me fall out of the stand, the deer turned and vanished back the way it had come. The sound of its footfalls thudded against the hard earth, and I knew that it was gone for good. And I knew that any other deer in the area had probably heard it leave.
Cursing silently, I settled back down into the stand and rested the back of my head against the tree. Immediately, I was regretful for my response. God, I prayed. The early part of this season has been such a struggle. It?s hotter than heck out here, and the mosquitoes are terrible, and in five trips afield I haven?t seen a single deer. Last year was such a great year, and now this. Have I angered you in some way?
Around me, the birds slowly started moving again, and the cicadas resumed their loud buzzing. A squirrel darted into the clearing, grabbed an acorn from the base of a white oak tree, and then ran back into the woods. There was no answer from heaven, only the shriek of a fighter plane as it crossed the sky above me as it headed back to Shaw Air Force base from wherever mission it had been on.
I tried again. God, if you truly love me will you send me a deer right now? It doesn?t have to be a monster. Just a shootable buck; one that fits in with our club rules. Wasn?t there some verse in the Bible about some old Israelite who had tested God by asking Him to wet a sheepskin, but not the ground around it, if he was going to succeed in battle? If that was the case, would God not give me a similar sign?
As the day moved on, the sun began to set in the western sky, and still no deer appeared. I heard no further movement in the woods, and when the last light faded I climbed down from my tree and hiked back to my truck, tired and dejected. I made the long drive down the logging road back to our sign-in board where the other hunters had gathered to talk about what they had seen.
Many of them had seen groups of does, and one fellow got a good look at what he said was a really nice buck from a distance. Why them, I wondered, and not me? And this time I heard that still small voice in the depths of my mind. Your time will come, the voice said, and that was all. I believed those words, but still felt short-changed on the way the hunting season was going. The previous three or four seasons had gone so well that I just knew that this was going to be another good year.
As I drove home that night, I asked myself how many other times in the past have I sat for hours in a deer stand and asked God to send me a deer. How many prayers have I lifted up to Him saying, ?Could I have that one big buck today; the one that I?ll remember for the rest of my life?? And how many times have I asked Him to give me a sign that this would be the year that I got my biggest deer ever?
What causes us to seek for reassurance from God about the things in our life? We are told over and over that we should trust Him, and yet these signs that we ask for show a lack of trust in Him. Do we not believe that His heart for us is truly good? Or do we think that He is holding back on us in some way? Upon careful thought, I really think that this is what we believe, and why we don?t trust Him the way we should. Thought Questions In what ways have you tried to test God? Have you tried to determine His will by testing Him in one way or another? Why do you think we don?t always fully trust God? Is it because we are surrounded by fallible men, and we lump God in with them? Why don?t we always elevate Him to the place where He belongs? Now think about Gideon from the quote at the beginning of this chapter. Why do you think he tested God not once, but twice before he went into battle?
"He said: 'I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.'" -- Genesis 3:10
Many years ago when I first started hunting, there were really only two camouflage patterns available: woodland green or woodland brown. Most of the guys that I knew wore the green variety, but occasionally I would run into an old-timer who favored the brown. Either way, there wasn't much choice when it came to picking out your hunting clothes for the new season. You might get lucky and find the occasional Trebark shirt in the Gander Mountain catalog, but we were still a few years away from seeing the first Realtree pattern.
Things have changed in the modern world, and there are now more patterns available than I could begin to list. And although I have my own favorites and I wear them regularly, I often wonder just how necessary this stuff really is. It's obviously important to break up your outline in the woods, but I've killed deer while sitting behind a brush pile wearing jeans and a Carhartt shirt.
My buddies and I have often talked about how camouflage is really just for the hunters themselves. It gives us commonality; a way to recognize each other when we cross paths in the little stores and grills that mark the countryside where we do our hunting. It is the uniform of our sport, and I proudly wear my own camouflage whenever I'm afield.
But thinking about camouflage also makes me think about how we as men often hide our true selves. Adam hid from God because he had become aware of his nakedness, and men as a whole have felt naked ever since. We fear being exposed as posers or phonies; as something less than real men, so we put on these personas that are images of masculinity, but are not who we authentically are. We wear our camouflage not just in the woods, but in our homes, our offices, and particularly in our church lives.
Several years ago, when my wife first mentioned the idea that we should start going to church, I resisted her. The idea of being around church people revolted me. I wanted to be in the presence of people who lived authentic lives, who talked about real things that were going on in their lives, and who would say more than "God is just blessing my socks off." I didn't want to go into a building where I would have to smile and make small talk with people who would do nothing more than talk about the weather or about how good God is.
In the end, I gave in and agreed to go with her to church. It was a life changing decision, and though she took the lead in the initial effort I quickly took the reins from her - sometimes gently, sometimes not - and assumed my place as the spiritual leader of our home.
We were fortunate in that we found a church home where we could share our lives with the people around us, and where the small talk is kept to a minimum. I've also formed a group of men -- a "band of brothers" -- among whom I can be who I really am and not hide behind the camouflage of "churchiness". I do not need to wear my fig leaf when I am with them, and though getting to this point has been a struggle, it has been one that was worth undertaking.
There are a couple of books that have helped me along my way. I highly recommend John Eldredge's Wild at Heart and Fathered by God. Erwin McManus also wrote a keeper in The Barbarian Way. These books have helped me to understand what freedom in Christ is all about, and they have helped me to remove my camouflage and move toward a more authentic life.
Action Point: What kind of camouflage do you wear as a man? As a Christian? Ask God to help you take off that camouflage and lead you into an authentic life where you truly experience freedom in Christ and have no need to hide behind a false self.
For those of us who love to read, there are a few good books that help shape our lives. When I come across a book that I truly love, I am not one to read it once and set it aside. I like the familiarity of a book that I've come back to time and time again over the years. It doesn't matter to me that I know how the book ends, because it's not the destination that matters... it's the journey itself that gives me joy.
There is no book that I've read from cover to cover more than Robert Ruark's classic The Old Man and the Boy. If you're a sportsman and a reader and have not read this book, then you really need to drop everything and go get a copy. The choices that Ruark made in his life were often tragic, and he died far too early, but the glimpses of his early life that he gives us in this book (and, to a lesser degree, in The Old Man's Boy Grows Older) are nothing short of magic. No outdoor writer before or since has come close to giving us the gift that Ruark gave us when he wrote this book. I make sure to read the original book once a year, and I read Grows Older once every two or three years.
I also hold his book Horn of the Hunter in high esteem, since it deals with African safari, which is another passion of mine. In this book, Ruark gives us the details of his first safari in brutal honesty, from the highs to the lows. Though not nearly as good as his Old Man books, Horn gives us a glimpse of the man that Ruark became, and his love for Africa shows through in every page.
When it comes to more modern books, Joe Hutto's Illumination in the Flatwoods provides an absolutely facinating look at the wild turkey. In this book, Hutto comes into possession of a clutch of turkey eggs, which he incubates and hatches, and then joins their "family", walking with them in the woods and even roosting with them on occasion. A must-read for turkey hunters.
For Christian men, I have to recommend the books of John Eldredge; particularly Wild at Heart. Eldredge and his books have literally changed my life, showing me how to live with an understanding of what Christianity really means and what it is to live in what he calls the "larger story." In 2008 I attended Eldredge's "Wild at Heart Boot Camp" in the mountains of Colorado, and although I was sick for most of the weekend, I went away from the conference with a different outlook on my spirituality.
The Preseason - A Chapter from Deer Hunter's Devotional
?The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.? Psalm 121:7-8
As August arrives, the heart of the Sportsman begins to stir. He knows that fall will not be far behind, and with it comes the opening of the hunting seasons. There is much work to be done before the fields and forests are ready for opening day. Food plots will have been planted and tended throughout the summer, but there are still many other things left to do.
The grass along the sides of logging roads will need to be bush-hogged, and the summer rains may have eroded the roads themselves, cutting deep channels into the soft red clay. Growing trees may have pushed some of the permanent ladder stands out of position, causing them to tilt in uncomfortable directions. Some of the trails will have been blocked by fallen trees, and there is always brush that needs to be trimmed.
With so much physical labor to be accomplished, it's easy to forget that we should do some work in the spiritual world as well. The Lord has given us this incredible wilderness to enjoy, and it's important that we remember to thank Him for it and to offer prayers for a safe and successful year in the deer woods. Mixing prayer and deer hunting ? or even pre-deer hunting activities ? is a wonderful thing, and this year I intend to do more of that than ever before.
I can remember one season a few years back when I went down to my lease in late August. I drove to every stand on the property and prayed over them all, asking that the men who hunted from each one would remain safe, that they would enjoy their time in the woods, and that they would see the hand of God as they spent time in His creation.
Stopping at every single stand that I could find, I asked that the men's thoughts would turn to God as they sat silently in the woods waiting for deer. I asked that each stand be productive and that the men who hunted from them would use wisdom as they saw deer and decided whether or not to make the shot. Though I am telling you about this now, I did the whole thing in secret, praying ?in my closet? as Scripture instructs us to do. I did this not only because it seemed like a good idea, but because I saw it as a way of getting closer to God.
We have thirty or forty permanent stands on our lease, so you can imagine that praying over each one was an all day job. And so it was, but it also gave me the opportunity to get rid of any wasp nests that had been built into the corners of our box blinds, and to mark each stand on my GPS. This year I'm going to pray over my stands again, and as I do that I will take time to notice the direction that each stand is facing and will make a chart that will help me choose which stand to hunt according to which way the wind is blowing on a given day. I see no issue with being productive both spiritually and physically at the same time.
Some of our deer stands are starting to get old, and many of the wooden ladders are weakening. As I visit each stand during the preseason, I'll inspect the ladders for loose nails, hammering them back into place or adding new nails if necessary. Prayers for safety are particularly important at the older stands, and I will be diligent in asking God that no one get hurt in one of them. We haven't had an accident on the lease yet, and I don't want this year to be any different in that respect.
As I finish my day of prayer on the lease, I will stop at the main gate and ask for God's blessing upon the land as a whole. I'll ask that we continue to have access to this beautiful piece of property, and that we would use it in such a way as to glorify Him. I'll ask that He guard our coming and going on the property this year, and that He protect us from harm. There are dangers like rattlesnakes, coyotes and bears on this property, not to mention the occasional trespasser. I'll ask that God protect us in our encounters with any of them.
I'll close by asking that He bless even the animals themselves, growing majestic racks on the bucks and good size and health on the does. I'll ask that the turkeys have a successful breeding season, and that the birds and squirrels are plentiful. I'll even pray for the eagles that have nested in the pines across the road from the lake.
All of this is a way of connecting with both the Lord and the environment. Remembering God in our hunting endeavors draws us closer to Him. Paul instructs us to pray without ceasing, and praying over your stands and your deer woods are a good way to implement this. Walk with God not only in your daily life, but in all of your activities. You?ll be glad that you did.
ACTION POINT: Pray over the stands on your deer lease this year. Pray specifically for safety during your hunts and for a bountiful year. Pray for men to come to Christ as they see His hand at work in the incredible world of the outdoors that surrounds them.
Hey folks, my name is Sean Jeffries, and I'm glad to be a part of WeHuntSC.com! I want to thank Clint for giving me a chance to write for the site, and I'm looking forward to sharing my outdoor experiences with you. In this first entry I'm going to tell you a little bit about myself and what you can expect in my writings.
I'm 44 years old and live in Clover,SC. My wife and I have been married since 1998, and last year we had our first child on the day after Thanksgiving. We named our son Paul after the Apostle, whose writings I have always loved. I'm a computer programmer for a living, and have been with the same company since 1992, although our company name has changed a couple of times over the years due to various mergers and acquisitions.
I've been hunting deer since 1985, but got my start with birds and small game a few years before that first deer hunt. I grew up in a small neighborhood outside of Charlotte in what was then pretty far out in the country. My street bordered the Rea farm, and a few of us neighborhood boys used to sneak out into their fields and woods to shoot at birds with our BB guns. It was obvious from an early age that I was into guns and hunting, so my dad gave me a little H&R 20 gauge shotgun for my 13th birthday.
That gun sat in the closet for close to a year. It was mine, but we only went out and shot it a handful of times. Then, one September afternoon, the phone rang. On the other end was a friend whose back yard sat perpendicular to my own. He was my age, and of all of the kids in the neighborhood, the two of us were the ones that liked hunting more than just about anything else, and we had previously spent a lot of time together in the woods with our BB guns. This young fellow shared a name with a famed Scottish poet: Robert Burns.
When I answered the phone that day, Robert asked me if I wanted to go hunting. "Sure," I answered, "but I don't have any BBs." "No," said Robert. "With shotguns." I paused for a second, excited. "Let me ask my mom," I said.
Mom and I had a conversation which ended with her calling my dad to get his permission for me to go hunting with Robert. Dad gave it, and thus started my first real hunt. Robert and I hunted squirrles that day on a little seven acre tract of land that his father owned. I don't remember whether or not we got anything, but man, I was hooked.
My first deer hunt took place during my Christmas break from college in 1985. Robert and I went to a tract of land in Weddington, NC that he had permission to hunt on. We didn't see any deer that day, but I saw plenty of tracks, and I knew that this was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I went back to college when the break ended, and Robert went on to start his own business selling tree stands. He's still in that business today, and in addition to my day job as a computer programmer, my passion is writing books about hunting.
In the mid-90s, I started a website called "Sean's Outdoor Almanac". There weren't many websites around in those days, and mine was one of the first personal hunting sites on the net. Over the years it morphed into a site called "Wingshooters.net", and on that site I have documented every one of my hunts going back to the year 2000.
I'm also a Christian, and you'll be hearing a lot about that in this blog. For many years now I've felt like my calling has been to minister to Sportsmen in one way or another. That calling has led me to begin writing a series of books that fall under the title of "Hunting for the Heart of God". The first book, Deer Hunter's Devotional, was published late last year just before my son was born. My two other books are secular in nature, but both deal with hunting.
In 2007, I went on my first safari to Africa. That safari was documented from start to finish in a book called Eight Days in Africa. My other book is a collection of stoies and essays on hunting, and is called Always Take Your Rifle. All three of my books are available in print and on all major eBook platforms. You can also order signed copies directly from my website at the Wingshooters Store.
In addition to the three books that I've already published, I'm currently working on the next two entries in the "Hunting for the Heart of God" series. The first is a novel called The Cabin, which is set in the world of the outdoors and deals with spiritual warfare. The second is another devotional entitled Daily Bread for Deer Hunters. From time to time I'll be posting excerpts from my books here in this blog.