November 13

On The Shoulders Of Giants With Andrew Curtis.

Andrew Curtis | September 16, 2023

The author (right) and his cousin Marshall, who was recovering from having his stomach removed. Unfortunately, the cancer had already been detected in his liver, too.

I had seen the buck trot across my shooting lane and disappear through the old, overgrown cow pasture. He had been grunting and was rutted-up, with his neck fully swollen. After a few short blows through my grunt tube, I saw the tops of a clump of scrub trees nearby whipping back and forth as the unmistakable sound of antlers on bark drifted my way. The buck was coming, and I knew it. My head was already down on the scope when I got my first good look at the rack. Something wasn’t right with the buck’s left antler side, but the wide spread on top of the mature skull was all I needed to see. I squeezed the trigger and put a bullet hole right through his chest. The deer never took another step.

The sun was setting on that unforgettable day, and I took some time to ponder the meaning of it all as I watched the orange sky slowly turn to red, then purple, then black. Though it was Friday the 13th, it was not unlucky for me. The day had been very special, in several ways.

A year and a half before, I received the dreadful news that my cousin Marshall had been diagnosed with aggressive stomach cancer. This reality was especially hard considering he was a year younger than I was in his early 30s. However, that brave boy mustered more courage than I could ever see in myself as he fought through having his stomach removed, going through painful radiation treatments and withstanding horribly nauseating chemotherapy protocols. He battled it all with the most positive attitude that anyone could imagine. The doctors informed him that he wouldn’t beat it, but he never stopped trying to live. He also knew that God would be taking care of him. His faith was strong, admittedly stronger than mine.

During that stretch of time, my thoughts were often on my tough cousin. Then one day, the finality of my own life popped into my head. That night, I grabbed a pen and notebook. I didn’t know where to start, but I started to write nonetheless. There was an amazing story about an older man who became a grandfather figure to me that I had been wanting to tell, to write down and preserve for my family ever since that influential man died. I kept putting off the process of writing, making excuses of being too busy, etc. I realized that if I died before the story was told, then it would forever be lost to my family. I wanted my kids to “know” this man who impacted me so greatly. And so I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote.

I got up early each morning to work on my manuscript, and I always thought about my cousin, especially when I was tired and wanted to sleep more. I drew off the incredible spiritual strength Marshall showed, but the longer I worked on my book, the weaker physically he became. We all knew he was dying, and I cannot describe the motivation I got from his shortened life expectancy. I was inspired to live.

During this time, something else amazing was happening to me. I was more focused on Jesus and building my relationship with Him. I began reading the Bible EVERY day, no longer finding excuses to explain why I didn’t have time. I grew in my faith.

November 13, 2020, my mom called me. Marshall had died peacefully at home, surrounded by his immediate family. I cried at first, but then I smiled at the thought. Marshall’s agonizing cancer fight was over, and I felt a sense of relief. But most importantly of all, I knew that Marshall was home where he belongs… where we all belong. He was with God. This day was, in fact, a day to rejoice rather than curse.

Andrew’s skull mount of a very special buck taken Nov. 13, 2020. His book “Famous Catfish Stew” was published the same day.

Shortly after my mom’s phone call, I got a notification from Amazon informing me that my first book, the one I had worked so diligently on throughout my cousin’s cancer fight, was officially published that day. It was ready for purchase, and the story of my powerful friendship with my “adopted grandfather” (Mr. Andrews) was available to influence potentially anyone in the world. My story with Mr. Andrews would live on, and I knew God was behind all of it.

Since there was much on my mind, I went to a place where I could think more clearly than most other places on this earth… I went to my deer stand. I thought of my cousin. I prayed. I gave thanks. And I enjoyed life through the perspective of a deer hunt.

So, as I sat in the woods soaking in the waning light of that November day, I realized how special the hunt had been. I believe God has a unique way of speaking to sportsmen. He gave me a beautiful, mature whitetail buck as my exclamation point to a most memorable day. (A buck, I might add, that we had no trail-camera pictures of and had never seen before.)

Now, when I look at the skull mount of that unique buck, I remember my cousin Marshall and his courageous faith. I see my old friend Mr. Andrews and think of the lives touched by my book about him. I see the blessings in my own life and how much I have matured in my Christian faith. I think about how fortunate I am to be an outdoorsman. But most importantly, I praise God.

By the way, if you want to know where I will be on November 13th, look in my deer stand… it’s my best place to pray….

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