There was a time when October 1st rated up there with Christmas morning for me. That’s because 10/1 is the opening day of archery deer season in Michigan. Allow me to offer up a disclaimer before I continue: I am the world’s worst hunter. Bambi is quite safe while I’m in the woods, thank you. More serious hunters often question why I continue to try.
Why continue to try?
Because if I didn’t try, I never would have seen that bald eagle land on a branch so close that I could hear him ruffle his feathers. I’d never know that mice are quite active all day long as they scurry through dry leaves in search of some hunter’s pile of corn that’s supposed to be deer bait. I’d never know that feeling to the toes is lost at twenty-three degrees and four hours in a tree stand. (I feel a top ten list coming on, don’t you?). I’d never know that it takes approximately thirty-seven minutes for a box turtle to cover fifty yards of open ground. I’d never know that a kingfisher looks like a dark gray bomb as it hurtles toward the water at speed that should surely break its neck.
Sure, I could do it with a camera, but the chances of actually outsmarting an animal and providing meat for the table adds a bit to the drama. Never mind that a pound of venison costs the average hunter $134.17.
This Saturday found me Up North. That’s a place in Michigan, though you won’t find it called that on a map. Up North varies slightly for each person. This year it was the Rifle River Recreation Area. Saturday also found me watching four wood ducks paddling around in front of me. The hens have an interesting whistle. They don’t quack (did you know that, in mallards, only the hen quacks?), but they emit this soulful sort of whistle that seems to work quite well in attracting other wood ducks to the buffet. After watching them for a while, it occurred to me that I was duck hunting. I decided it was more fun to watch. That was until other ducks started flying in. A man with a gun can’t resist a flying target. I missed.
Besides, if I gave up hunting just because I always end up eating Purdue chicken all winter, I’d have to give up a lot of things. Writing, for starters. If I base my success on publication, I’d have a short career. Oh, but I can do better than that. How about Christianity? I totally suck at it. However, since Paul said the same thing (a slight paraphrase on my part), I think I’ll continue to push on toward the prize.
I have a point somewhere in here. I think that success is always something to strive for, but it’s only a way to measure our growth. I can’t imagine all that I would have missed had I quit hunting years ago. I can’t imagine what I’d miss if I suddenly deciding writing wasn’t worth it. And I don’t want to imagine what I’d lose if I turned my back on my faith simply because it was too hard in this world and I lose my direction on occasion.
I don’t get excited over October 1st anymore, although it is still my favorite time of year. As you get closer to God, you get better at appreciating everything that lies at the edge of whatever it is you think is important. The deer may or may not show themselves on October 1st, but the morning sun on the dew will always be there. Remember to give Him the praise this week. He will never give up on you.