Work Sabbatical Does A Hunter Good
My sabbatical away from a GON desk and the 9-5 Monday-Friday grind has come to a close.
When I came to work for GON in 1998, I was a single man and hunted or fished pretty much every weekend of the year. But then came the wife in 2002, the first kid in 2004, the second in 2009, cheerleading competitions, middle school basketball games, a call to the ministry… I think you get the picture.
My deer hunting has drastically decreased in the last 10 years. Despite this, I wouldn’t trade my current life for enough Boone & Crocketts to fill the walls of my home. But still, there comes a time when I just need to spend some time doing the very thing that was a springboard for the awesome life I lead today.
From Dec. 21-31, I was able to spend a lot of time in a tree as I looked to shoot pretty much whatever presented enough meat to warrant a trip to the local deer processor.
A lot happened during my 11-day hunt-a-thon, but when I climbed down in the rain at 10 a.m. on Dec. 31, and the Lord announced that my tree time was up and that I needed to spend the remaining days off with my family, I had seen three big does make the tailgate.
While I will thoroughly enjoy those backstraps and sausage, deer hunting for me has become increasingly more about the quality of time I’m allowed when I’m in a tree and away from the things of the world. The older I get, the more I realize my need for those times of worldly separation, and hunting is my No. 1 avenue to be able to do that.
In fact, if you assess your life in this fast-paced world, you may discover that an extended period of hunting may just do your body good.
In addition to three does on the gate, I enjoyed watching a red-shouldered hawk for several afternoons as it scanned low over a clearcut. On the third day, I witnessed him swoop down and come up with a rat. Hadn’t seen that in a while, if ever.
There was hearing a deer walk through before daylight and wondering whether it was a buck or doe. Would it hang around until daylight? Nope, those crunchy footsteps disappeared up and over a pine ridge in the dark.
And it still haunts me as I write, but there was one really big-bodied deer that got by me and vanished into a privet head before I could identify what it was. I’ll be hunting that stand this coming December as I watch over my right shoulder a little more frequently.
There was needed reflection and prayer time. There was time I needed to be still and listen. There was time I needed in my favorite Book.
And then there was Will from Indiana. He’s my 15-year-old nephew who wanted me to take him deer hunting. We bought him a one-day license and picked the only day we could find when it wasn’t going to rain.
That morning we saw four, but they were all out of range in a Morgan County hayfield.
That afternoon, we hunted along with my red-shouldered hawk friend and 3-dozen doves that had me daydreaming about September millet fields.
It was just about dark when a big doe appeared 80 yards in front of our box stand and quickly made its way toward our left. Before Will could put the .243 where it needed to be, the slickhead got by us just 40 yards away.
In 45 seconds of quiet chaos, we were able to stand up, turn around and get him steady and ready for when the deer appeared out back. It did, and Will made a great shot. I watched her kick hard, run 75 yards and crash.
About a half-hour later, Will was getting his first lesson in how a tracking dog works. He let my 15-lb. wire haired dachshund yank him through that clearcut in order to recover his prize. l believe if that little dog was any heavier, Will would have been skiing on his belly.
After the Lord spoke creation into existence, He took a day of rest.
God doesn’t need rest, but what a great example He provides to show its necessity to the human body. To me, rest from the rat race through an escape to something I’m still very much passionate about fit the bill for recharging my batteries.
Those 11 days in the deer woods, returning to the very activity that would lead me to a job with GON years later, helped rekindle the passion I have for working at the state’s best hunting and fishing magazine that brings you all that good hunting and fishing information. And thanks to a supped-up website, a new GON app and the digital world we live in, we have to be faster in how we get things to you.
I can’t do it 24-7, but with the proper, God-ordained rest with a gun in my hand, I can certainly keep plugging away at it for a while longer.