Hunting By Faith

Several years ago I took a buddy of mine hunting at one of my favorite spots one Saturday morning. We got a late start and the sun was already up on this beautiful November day in the Northern Zone of NY State. The dry leaves were crunching under foot as we crossed several valleys and an ice cold stream. When I finally placed him on his watch I really doubted if we would see anything that day. We were on the back side of West Canada Lake and the wind was blowing in off the water and up the valley was definitely not in our favor.

As quietly as I could I crunched my way down the windward side of a valley to his right and made it to what had once been a trout pond. The area was now filled in by moss but a nice stream still flowed from it and tumbled down a series of small falls to the lake that was about 2 miles below me. I knew deer passed by here on a regular basis to drink from the stream and browse on the tender vegetation that grew there. I also knew by the tracks that the deer usually used two ways to exit the area. One was up a ravine right by my friend and the other was around the end of the pond which would bring them to where I intended to sit.

I quickly settled down under a thick balsam tree and began to just enjoy the day and said a short prayer, asking God to send a deer my way. The sky was a deep, cloudless blue and the sun had warmed things up to a nice 40 degrees. There was a magnificent carpet of fallen leaves on the ground and the smell of them filled the air with rich earthy tones that no perfumer could ever match. There were chickadees and wrens, blue jays, chipmunks and red squirrels moving among the tree branches all around me. It was clear they were enjoying the sunshine and fattening up on the last of the fall bounty.

I had not been seated more than fifteen minutes when I heard the clear sound of another hunter in the distance making his way straight towards my location. He was slowly moving around the back side of the pond and I could hear the leaves sounding his location with each footstep. I knew each time he stopped to survey the hillside and each movement made to avoid a fallen tree or glacial boulder that littered the area. To my frustration it was clear he was headed right towards my hiding spot and I sat there ready to give this interloper a “wave off” and my best hunters “glare”.

Finally the intruder moved into view and to my great surprise it was not a hunter at all but a beautiful spike-horn buck. The young deer was solid, well fed, had a beautiful reddish coat and clearly was in “rut” searching of a doe that had passed by earlier in the day. In his distraction I realized he had failed to noticed me, and thanks to the shifting wind he had not scented me either. I slowly slid back under my tree and watch as this beautiful animal angled across the valley right in front of me, unaware that I was only 30 yards away with my gun scope placed squarely in his left front shoulder.

I squeezed off one shot and to my shock the bullet totally missed the animal. In my excitement I had failed to notice a small maple growing in the line of fire. The .243 I was using did not stay on course after grazing the side of the small tree. The deer bolted, not knowing where the shot came from, and began to run straight up the hill to where my friend was seated. At that very moment my friend yelled my name. He had lost track of where I was and called out to see if I was the one who had fired the shot.

To my amazement that yell made the deer stop dead in its tracks. It was now broadside to me about 45 yards away, staring straight up the hill in the direction of the noise. It’s tail was flicking back and forth and it’s ears were turned up the hill side trying to catch any additional sound that might be uttered. In that moment of hesitation I chambered another shell, pulled up and again squeezed off a single round. This time the bullet went straight to it’s mark and the animal did a complete flip in the air. The deer made three huge bounds back in my direction and literally made it’s final drop to the ground 10 yards from where I was standing. Our hut was over! From start to finish we had been gone a total of 3 hours and were soon headed home with fresh venison for the freezer.

What I learned from that day in the woods is that prayer does indeed work! We should never stop praying even if it seems as if the prayer is not going to be answered. In my mind we were on a nice walk in the woods but there would certainly be no venison brought home. The time was wrong, the conditions were wrong, the wind was wrong and the noise level was off the scale. I still prayed for God to bless our day but in my heart I really didn’t believe He would. The things contrary to it were all around me and they simply got most of my attention. In spite of my lack of faith, God still honored that simple prayer.

Don’t forget that God is never limited or lacking in any area. When we begin to think in limited terms it really is an insult to Him and His nature. The Bible says He is the eternal, all-sufficient One and nothing is impossible for Him. It goes on to say that He really wants to bless those who call upon His name. This day’s hunt was living proof of those simple Bible truths. If you have a limited view of prayer then you also have a limited view to the God who is over your life and answers prayer. This might be a good time to get rid of that lack of faith. God does not think in natural terms like we do. We need to ask for Him to impart a supernatural way of thinking and praying so that we can step over into all He has in store for us.

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