I love the outdoors – fishing, hiking, riding 4 wheelers, I could go on….but I especially like hunting. When Liz and I first got married I remember talking about taking our kids hunting. I couldn’t wait for that day. We even named our first child Hunter! (I can also share with you offline how Liz vetoed my recommended name for our second son). Well God has been especially generous; we now have two young boys who are roosted on our family tree and are already bearing camo-clad fruit on the branches of our heritage as hunters.
Each year we take at least one hunting trip with my father in law. The boys love hunting with their Dad and their Grandy; while my father in law and I simply love spending time with the boys. This past week we completed this annual tradition again. As we have now returned from our week in the woods I begin reflecting on the lessons hunting teaches my kids (and all of us).
Stay in Your Stand: Sometimes you see deer, sometimes you don’t. Patience and endurance is KEY. The longer you are willing to wait, to stay in your stand, the better your chances of having a successful hunt. Hunting teaches us that a lack of patience and endurance bears little fruit.
For my boys, there will be a day in their future when they will stand before a beautiful young lady and vow to be her husband. I hope they remember, like their deer stand, they should not climb out of it. There will be great times and there will be tough times. Hopefully they will remember, “Stay in Your Stand.”
Or maybe like me, they may find themselves standing in an airport about to board another flight for another tour in Iraq or Afghanistan and thoughts of “why am I doing this again?” pops in their head. Hopefully they will remember, “Stay in Your Stand.”
Stay Awake: Last week I read an article in a hunting magazine that stated the #1 reason why hunters are typically unsuccessful is that they fall asleep during key moments of the hunt. I personally know how hard it is to stay awake. Arriving in the woods before sunrise and sitting still for hours is the perfect recipe for a nice nap. Add some cold weather and bundles of warming layers and even the best hunter is tempted to close his eyes for a moment. In its most raw ways, hunting teaches us that comfort based decisions are costly and rarely produce results.
I want my young men to know that there will be many times after a long day at work that they will want to go home and rest, to check out for a while…however their wives and kids will require time and attention. I hope they seize the moment to spend time with their family.
Throughout their life, I hope they put aside personal comfort for the sake of others. Hopefully they will remember, “Stay Awake.”
Know Where to Aim: The first thing we always do during our hunting trips is conduct some refresher training. We go over gun safety rules, the hunting laws (what we can and can’t shoot), and most importantly, when the right time comes, knowing where to aim. Anyone can shoot a gun, but knowing where to aim and how to hit your target makes a successful hunter.
As both my boys go through life I want them to have a crystal clear focus on where to aim. The world will present cheap targets with brief, momentary satisfaction. My prayer is that throughout the struggles and setbacks, the successes and victories, that my boys will always keep their aim on Christ and Christ alone.
There will be a day when both my boys sit in a deer stand alone….no longer needing me to supervise or assist. They will be able to make their own hunting decisions. The clock is also ticking toward that day when they pull out of the driveway and into manhood. Among the many things I hope they remember forever, I’ll add the simple hunting principles of “Stay in Your Stand, Stay Awake, and Know Where to Aim.”