God is in control of all things. I was reminded of this on Friday morning. I was off from work to go deer hunting. I was about to go out the door for the morning hunt when my kids got into a heated argument. I decided now was not the time to leave and spent the next several minutes talking with them. By the time I got out the door the nighttime darkness was just starting to leave. To say I was upset is an understatement. Any good hunter knows you want to already be in your spot and settled when it starts getting light outside. Truth is this is how my hunting season had gone ever since it started. I had just had a conversation with my wife earlier in the week about my misfortunes. I told her, “I don’t know what God’s purpose is but my hunting season has just been awful.”
As I walked out the door and headed into the woods on that cold, calm morning I prayed to God about it. I asked for Him to help me. Not long after I entered the woods I saw a flash of movement in front of me about 50 yards or so. As I had feared, the deer were already moving around because of my late arrival in the woods. Ordinarily, the deer would have been long gone. Today would be very different.
I stood motionless on the path leading through the woods. The path is large and wide…about 8 feet or so across. I was hoping the deer would quietly leave without causing a lot of noise. Many times when they are alarmed they will make loud noises called blowing, to alert every deer in the woods of danger. I stood motionless for a couple minutes before I started to hear the deer coming towards me. I could just make out shapes coming my way. After three or four minutes the noises just stopped. I could no longer see the deer in the darkness as I strained my eyes as hard as I could. As precious time was wasting, I patience was running out. Thinking they may have slipped off without me knowing it, I slowly began to walk up the trail in the direction I heard them coming. I hadn’t taken two steps when I saw a large white flash not ten yards in front of me. It was one of the deer. I couldn’t believe it had been so close to me. It ran back several yards and just stopped. I continued standing there motionless trying to decide my next move when I again began hearing footsteps. I thought they were leaving but to my surprise the footsteps got closer and closer again only this time they were approaching on my left.
After a couple minutes I was clearly able to make out the shape of one of the deer. It couldn’t have been more than 15 yards away eating from the ground. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I had no idea why it wasn’t running away but I wasted no time in getting ready for a shot. I pulled back my bow, steadied my aim, and released. I could tell by the noise my arrow made that I had missed. The deer got startled and ran back 20 yards or so in the direction it had come from and just stood there. I couldn’t believe it was not leaving. At this point it is only 30 or 40yards from me and I continue to stand on this very open path in the woods. I wasn’t concealed at all.
It couldn’t have been a minute later and I again hear movement. This same deer is coming back. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I looked over to see it standing to the left of me at 15 yards again. I resisted the shot this time because of my last miss. There were some tree branches hanging in view and with the limited visibility, I didn’t want to risk hitting one so I waited. After 5 minutes or so both deer crossed over the ravine to my left and disappeared out of sight. I finally had the chance to walk to my stand without causing a lot of noise.
I walked slowly and as quietly as I could through the dry leaves. I made it about 50 yards or so when I began to hear noises coming from the direction the deer had went. I looked through the ever increasing light to see these same two deer coming towards me. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I took a few more steps and stopped. I looked again and now they were 30 yards or so from me and they were looking directly at me. I sidestepped to my right and stood behind a tree trying to slow my speeding heart. The deer continued to get closer and began to eat 15 yards or so in front of me in the woods. Why did they travel over 100 yards to stand directly in front of me at 15 yards again? Why did they seem to be drawn to the sounds of my feet? I tried to find an opening through the tree limbs, pulled back anther arrow, and released. I knew for sure I had missed again when I heard a funning noise after I had shot. The arrow had deflected off a limb and was sticking in the ground pointing straight up. That was definitely a first.
By this time you are thinking surely these deer are long gone right? Wrong. The deer went right back to eating, occasionally looking at me as if they were making sure I was still there. I pulled another arrow from my quiver and put it on the bow string. I can’t begin to explain all the thoughts going through my mind at this point. I didn’t understand what was happening but it all felt very surreal…almost like a dream.
After the deer finished eating it decided to do the unthinkable, it was going to walk onto the trail I was standing on to give me a clear shot. There were no tree limbs and no trees to get in the way as it walked out directly in front of me at; you guessed it, 15 yards. The shot was such a slam dunk that I missed it. I stood in disbelief as the deer ran 20 yards or so to my left and just stood there. My spirit was crushed. How did I just miss that shot? Why is this deer behaving like it has a death wish? So many thoughts were going through my mind. I was a mess. I did all that I knew to do. I prayed. I told God that if He could just bring that deer back one more time I could make a good shot.
After the deer walked into the woods out of sight I walked back to retrieve my arrow. Why I didn’t go ahead and walk to my stand at this point is beyond me. Maybe my confidence was just too shaken. My honest answer is I am not sure.
I walked the 50 yards or so down the wide open trail to retrieve my arrow. When I found it, just as I expected there was no trace of a hit. I had missed the deer cleanly. I placed the arrow into the quiver and pulled out another arrow and placed it on the bow string. I hadn’t been standing there 2 minutes when I began to hear noise from the direction the two deer had just gone. A moment later, from the woods immerged one of the deer. As soon as I saw it, it looked directly at me. I couldn’t get a shot but no worries, the deer would get into a good shooting position for me. She circled through the woods so she could again step out onto the same trail I was standing. Before she stepped out into the opening, she looked at me once again. This moment that only lasted for a brief second, is burned into my mind. In that moment I saw God. I saw the gift that He was giving me and I felt a love in the deepest parts of me.
I pulled back my arrow, the deer stepped into the opening at 15 yards, and I released. The deer dropped to the ground and shortly thereafter, I dropped to my knees. I looked up to heaven, and with tears rolling down my cheeks, I thanked God for His amazing love. In that moment, all the frustration of the hunting season vanished. I don’t know why God does what He does sometimes but I do know He loves us with an amazing love. If you trust in Jesus He will change your life.