Grumpy, tired and wanting to be anywhere but there, I forced myself out into the cold night once again. Fact of life is this: we hunt for our red meat supply. No deer=no (or very little) red meat for the winter. I love meat. I live by meat, then eggs and lastly vegetables. I could be perfectly happy without grains.
Jesus claimed no one can live on bread alone, but had it been specifically me He was talking to, I think “bread” would have been changed to “meat,” so essential is it do my diet, energy and well being.
Bread? I could very easily live without bread! But meat? Suddenly those words take on a different meaning. Suddenly the picture changes and I think of someone who wilts and withers away without God’s Word.
Without meat, I feel as if I would shrivel up and die. Living on every Word of God? Phew! Suddenly, it paints a totally different picture.
Meat is important! We’ve chosen to hunt for our supply. On the night of this story (and many before) I had to limit what I wanted (and semi needed) so that we could follow through on our chosen method of providing meat for the table.
I sure wasn’t feelin’ it that evening!
I was tired from fall’s labor. Tired from gardening, harvesting and preserving. Tired of being tired. And all I wanted was to curl up with a warm blanket and read or watch Edwardian Farm. Something nice and slow.
Instead, I found myself sitting in the van next to my husband, bumping up the rough driveway that leads to a friend’s property. It was my turn to hunt, so I would be deciding where and how we went about it. We’d decided this previously, to help iron out the “kinks” we always hit when hunting together.
I didn’t know the area like my man did. He’d hunted there long enough that he was aware of which trails were being used by the deer, the best location to sit and property lines. He knew important things like that! I didn’t.
I asked his advice, where he thought the deer would be coming in from, etc.
After choosing a good place, I hunkered down. At least I thought it was a good place. We sat for a few moments and then (get this) my man told me it was a dumb place to be.
That, my friends, was the wrong thing to say. Not that it was wrong. It just felt wrong.
I was already doing something I didn’t want to do, that I felt almost incapable of doing.
His comment irritated me! And yet? I knew I needed his advice! He had successfully hunted there before and knew all I needed to know to hunt smart. Though now I do wonder about his smartness in letting an angry wife carry a loaded 30-06? Perhaps he didn’t have much confidence in my shooting abilities? Who knows!
Well, frustrated words slipped out of my mouth. If he knew where we should be, then he should take me to the “right” spot: I wasn’t too proud to learn or be directed by another!
He led me partway up a little hill. My feet were walking quietly, but inside, I stomped the entire way up. Behind a fallen log, I squirmed and squiggled. He took no notice until I told him I didn’t like his spot!
Apparently he’d had more than enough of me that night, because he said we should just.go.home. It wasn’t worth the trouble it was causing!
He’s kidding! I thought. Though of course, he wasn’t! There was no way I’m going home cold, angry and empty handed! Nope! Even if I had to walk home, I WAS STAYING!!!
Somehow, my frustration at my husband was making me bold. Normally, I’m a timid hunter. You see, I had never bagged a large animal before. I’d much rather watch the animal walk away than pull off a poor shot. However, in that moment, I felt like killing something…anything! I suddenly didn’t care anymore.
After several minutes of scanning the forest floor with his binoculars, my man turned to whisper: deer were coming!
I recognized it in that moment: had we been in the location I’d chosen, I never would have gotten a shot off. Not a chance! They would have detected me long before I saw them.
A moment longer and I saw three forms moving behind the spreading limbs of the vine maples. Yep. The first one was big. Lifting the gun to my shoulder, I rested bent elbows on bent knees.
Safety off. I remembered!
Locate in the crosshairs. Only one more large tree trunk to pass by and then…wow, it would be a good open shot, one that I would be comfortable with even when I wasn’t mad!
Just past that tree trunk she stopped, showing 2-3 inches of body behind the shoulder. Front legs were hidden by an old stump and I could only see head, neck, shoulder and those few inches. Suddenly, she seemed so tiny. My heart was beating and my arms wanted to start the tiniest bit of a tremble.
Control, get control. I steadied myself, took a deep breath.
The doe’s was looking, eyes and ears focused in my direction. Suddenly, I saw the raise of her head, as deer do when seriously alerted. I knew it was now or never!
Aim. Steady. And for some ridiculous reason, I closed my eyes before I pulled the trigger. A roar exploded the silence.
Let’s just say? Next time I’ll skip the eye-closing bit!
The doe wheeled and ran. I had missed! I was sure of it. Did I jerk up when I pulled the trigger? I thought so.
My man, being the gentleman he is, volunteered to go down and look. He looked…and looked…and circled…and looked. As he found nothing and as I was certain I had missed, I sat on the hill and waited should another deer come in from another direction. When darkness dimmed the view, I went to join my man below.
He had found no sign. Nothing whatsoever.
I thought he had watched my hunt, but in reality he had slipped behind a tree to avoid being detected by the deer when they came into sight. Of course I had not told him which stump to look by and he had been searching by one further out.
Together, we went to the right stump beside the big ole’ tree. There on the ground was an edging of liver and a pile of green stomach food.
I was sickened! I had pulled off the very shot I dreaded. But one thing I knew: if the liver was there, the doe was dead…somewhere. We couldn’t find any sign in the darkness and decided to split up and comb the area. She couldn’t have gotten far! I found her only a little ways off. Death had come quickly and she fell in stride, for which I was relieved.
Strangely enough, my bullet had clipped the shoulder joint and somehow had also hit the back half of the liver and stomach. Her belly was sliced open down the center and only needed to be opened a bit more to remove all the innards. Not an ounce of the meat was damaged, for which I was grateful. We’re still scratching our heads over it all. Did the bullet ricochet off the shoulder bone? Is that possible?
I insisted on doing the honors of tagging and gutting. Heart and liver were kept and my man threw the doe across his back and stumbled toward the van. She was heavy. And big.
I was thrilled. And humbled. Really humbled.
After all our squabbling, after my bad attitude and the ugliness of what was going on, you’d think God would have (humanly speaking) sent something to drive all the animals away.
“My children are squabbling and perhaps it would do them good to just sit in their misery. Maybe then, they’ll realize how foolish their foolishness is.”
But instead, I got not just a doe, but a large doe that yielded 60 lbs of red meat. Strange how graciousness can be more humbling than getting what we deserve….