“Praise the Lord from the earth,
you creatures of the ocean depths,
fire and hail, snow and clouds,
wind and weather that obey him,
mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all livestock,
small scurrying animals and birds,
kings of the earth and all people,
rulers and judges of the earth,
young men and young women,
old men and children.”
Psalm 148:7-12 (NLT)
Three different alarm clocks went off simultaneously: 5:00 AM. This was no accident because yesterday we enjoyed the first day of Deer Season in 2017! This is an event we did not want to sleep through. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and got dressed warmly. It was 26 degrees before sunrise yesterday morning and frost was on the windshield.
We live close to a sizable state forest and headed there before daylight. A half-hour or so later, we arrived miles into the forest and parked our vehicle. We got our gear ready and hiked quickly, but quietly into the woods. We checked our phones to make sure they’re silent and that it’s legally time to start hunting. It was. Our phones bounced between no signal and 1 bar, which is the perfect situation. Just enough signal for an emergency text, but not enough to make a call.
About 2 hours into the morning, we started hearing quite a scuffle about 10 yards away from us. This was too close to be a deer out of nowhere, but we wanted to know what was going on. We slowly looked over to see 3 squirrels chasing each other up a tree, bounding to another tree and running down it to the ground. These 3 squirrels played like this for an hour up and down trees all over the place. I got frustrated and told Steph “I’m going to shoot that squirrel” and she simply told me “He’s just living his life.” That right there hit home. I was in his home, and I was getting upset for him doing what squirrels do (they sound just like deer walking through leaves).
We’ve had woodpeckers boring holes into trees directly above us. The chips of wood they knock off the tree fell and landed just beside us. You could hear every shaving hit the leaves. We’ve witnessed a Black Bear having a good long drink out of a small creek. We’ve witnessed button-bucks walking through woods in the first winter of their lives. On a cold day, it’s easy to be tempted to tag him and head home to the warm. However, this little guy hasn’t even lived yet… we let him walk by without any idea we were there.
To us, people get excited about getting a deer, but for us, it’s about being in the woods. More and more we realize that we need to get away from life’s distractions. It’s so easy to get caught up chasing trophies in life that you miss the memories and experiences. We realize where our focus is in life when we’re able to have some quiet time away from everything but God’s creation. We spent time yesterday scouting a new section of the forest that we had no idea was there.
Do we enjoy the hunt? Yes.
Do we want to get a deer? Yes, that’s why it’s called hunting.
Could we use the meat? Sure, the chest freezer has some room.
Will we be upset or angry if we come home empty-handed? No.
In years past, we’ve returned home frustrated because we didn’t see a deer or wasn’t able to tag it. This year, in particular, our perspective has changed a bit. We have a newfound respect for what God has created. It’s not about the trophy… it’s not about the Facebook picture… it’s not even about hunting honestly. It’s about time alone in the wilderness to reconnect with God.
Hunting season falls between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s so easy to see people (ourselves included) get caught up in the hustle and bustle. We forget to take the time to be thankful. We’ve heard from so many people “I tried hunting once, and it was boring because I just sat there and nothing happened.” If the only reason to be away from it all were to get a deer, we would have quit long ago.
There’s nothing quite like the experience of exploring an area of the woods that you’ve never been before. You hike in and make your way through the underbrush, thorns, and briars and even cross creeks. Eventually, you make it to the top of the ridge you saw earlier and you can then see the woods open up before you. As the sunlight hits you from the shadows you were just bathed in you’re reminded of the beauty and serenity just living here quietly.
This post isn’t a sales pitch for hunting or a call for everyone to become a hunter. We wanted to share the experience we get to enjoy every year out in the woods just after Thanksgiving. To us, the woods is a sanctuary away from the craziness of life. Perhaps for you, it’s a river, or a lake or the ocean. It can be a mountaintop, a desert or even a park in your town. The point is, we encourage you to find that place away from it all and reconnect with God in the quietness.