Goodbye Elijah

Leave Nothing In The Tank

Brad Gill | June 6, 2024

Elijah with a final Georgia raccoon, a great moment as he celebrates an exciting new beginning.

Today I get to publish a blog I’ve never been allowed to write. Until now…

My wife and I were sitting in church one Sunday in 2018 and a man spoke on fostering children. God had been dealing with both of us individually on this subject for several years. It was on that Sunday that we put a plan into action. We spent the next few months taking classes and filling out a mountain of paperwork and were finally done and began taking kids into our home.

Fast forward to April 2021. A 1-year-old boy named Elijah came into our care. Raising and fostering only girls, this was brand new to me. Eventually I got my training wheels off and peddled through the next 2 1/2 years. 

When a kid enters a foster home, we’re not allowed to post pictures or mention names on the internet or in any sort of publication. That’s a good rule. However, today I can publish the fact that Elijah is no longer in the state’s care. As of June 3, 2024, Elijah was adopted by his forever family! The couple who adopted him are just as sweet as that little boy.

The next chapter for Elijah is a move nine hours north. We’ll miss our little buddy, but it’s a great move for Elijah because he will now grow up around a bunch of his new family. My wife and kids are so thankful for Elijah’s new parents. 

I know my opportunity at any sort of hands-on outdoor influence over him is likely gone. Still, I am hopeful that I made a difference in some sort of way.

Elijah was too antsy to sit in a deer stand and watch me hunt, but he was the right age to buckle up in a side-by-side and run trap lines. From the start, Elijah took up trapping wholeheartedly and would always celebrate when we had a critter waiting on us.

On May 17, 2024, my family had our last visit with Elijah before his big move north. In conjunction with his stay, I just happened to have a short trap line installed to remove a few more nest raiders from the turkey poult equation.

When I picked Elijah up from his new mama, we went straight to the woods and hopped on the side-by-side. Elijah hadn’t been on a trap line with me since October 2023, which was the month he went to check out the new parents for a while before the official adoption went through the courts.

When we started easing down the line, it was like all the memories flooded back into his little brain. The boy was in his wheelhouse hoping for a critter on the line while loving that ride through the hardwoods. Have you ever seen a kid randomly laugh out loud for no apparent reason at all? Imagine that…

Elijah would always celebrate with a caught critter. This possum was caught on Froot Loops in October 2023.

The last trap we checked required us to park, walk across a little creek and ease up a hill. We did all that and rounded a big white oak tree and saw the Bandit’s face about the same time. With a big smile and a raised voice, he announced, “A raccoon!”

As we took a little refresher course on raccoons and why we trap, I soaked up his enthusiasm one more time. Over the course of our weekend together, the below passage from Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9 played over and over in my mind.

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

While this verse certainly isn’t speaking of worldly activities—like trapping—it did bring me a paralleled comfort during our remaining hours together.

Do you know it’s impossible for you to grow a hunter or a trapper? Knowing this sort of takes the pressure off, don’t you think? You never know what’s going on in the little hearts of those who come under your influence. Some will take to it, others may pick up a golf club, ride a horse or bird watch. However, I’d make a pretty good argument that slinging some of those hunting and trapping seeds on a young person won’t hurt a thing. You can leave the outcome of those seeds to someone else…

Elijah loved being outside and checking trap lines with the author.

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  1. Jamey Nichols on June 6, 2024 at 9:13 pm

    What a blessing for you both! Keep up your great work Gill family!!

  2. pdupree on June 6, 2024 at 2:12 pm

    Great story! Thanks for sharing with us.

  3. jimmyjones on June 6, 2024 at 7:32 am

    You are a awesome man of GOD

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