Photos from the Cross Trail Outfitters Hyde County Deer Hunt
Saturday, December 29, 2012
"What does God look like?" Jesse scanned the young men, and the not so young ones, around the circle and asked the question again. "What does God look like to you?" The three boys and three men, myself and eldest son included, pondered, looking down at shoes or around at the beautiful surroundings, not making eye contact with Mr. Jesse.
We'd traveled from the Triad to Hyde county, nearly six hours if you count a stop at Smithfield's to scarf down chicken and BBQ, for Cross Trail Outfitter's Annual Deer Hunt. At each CTO event a question is asked that gives participants something to contemplate throughout the day. And study on it I did.
The first thing that popped into mind was when Moses asked to see the Lord (Exodus 33). And then there was creation. Genesis one says "God created human beings in His own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:27) What about Jesus? "..the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14) Then I considered ways I'd experienced or seen God in my own life. Being in the delivery room for the birth of our five children, witnessing countless sunrises and sunsets, watching God heal family members or friends, seeing the Father redeem broken marriages. After forty years on this planet the list is quite extensive.
Back to this weekend and to Mr. Jesse's question. In Hyde County I got to see God in another way. I had the privilege of watching a stranger, CTO State Director, Mike Johnson, love on a group of boys, including my son, share his personal testimony in numerous ways, mentor budding outdoorsmen and pour his very life into each young man present. What a great example! Humility. Hospitable. Kindness. Patience. Selflessness. Joy. Love. I think maybe that's exactly what God looks like.
|CTO's Mike Johnson with my son, J., and his first deer.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Today was do or die. We had a double-ladder stand waiting for us, strapped to pine tree overlooking a great shooting lane, intersected by numerous game trails. But first we had to get out of bed and get out there and 4am comes awful early. I got dressed and assembled all our gear. At 4:40 I woke up the boy, he was sound asleep, dreaming of outdoor adventures I suppose.
After some milk, bananas and breakfast bars we went out on the porch to put on boots. Cold crisp assaulted any exposed skin. The sky was crystal clear, stars twinkling and the moon, though just a sliver, brightly shining. Following a short hike we climbed up into our perch, a huge pine tree and began our vigil.
Our walk in had disrupted the stillness of the morning but everything returned to normal quickly. As the sky lightened critters of all shapes and sizes began to flitter, crawl and hop about. The woods came alive and we had front row seats. Unfortunately, and you should be sensing a theme here, the deer slept in. I have to give it to Z. He did a great job of being quiet and being vigilant but the deer just didn't cooperate. (No one else in our party saw deer either.) Maybe the evening hunt would be a different story.
I'm not usually a big fan of box stands. They're comfortable and all, especially in foul weather, but they can be loud and it's difficult to hear inside them. However, when hunting with a child they can be quite the ticket so we picked a "shooting house" as our final hunt location. Hopefully it would live up to its name.
It was another perfect afternoon. Chill in the air, not too windy, a little overcast. Just perfect. We watched the food plot with rapt attention. Actually "we" did not. One of us ate peanut butter crackers and granola bars and played on the iPad, occasionally looking up to see if the planet was still turning. Seconds turned to minutes and minutes turned into hours. As we neared the time of magic, that time around sunset when deer move best, it just felt right. Even Z. put his electronics away, crawled into my lap and peered out the windows. Sure enough a twig broke off to our left. He looked at me and smiled. I carefully placed the .243's barrel on the window seal and handed it to Z. Footsteps in the leaves continued. It was coming into the plot. My boy's grip tightened on the rifle stock and he searched through the scope in the direction of the nearing sounds. It was going to happen. Last minutes of our last day and it was going to happen. I checked my watch. We still had time. It walked nearer. Z adjusted his grip. If it would just step out into the plot. "Take your time, find your spot in the crosshairs and squeeze the trigger." Last instructions from a nervous dad. Just when we thought it would never happen it stepped out. "Hopped out" actually. The biggest jack rabbit in all of Alabama hopped out into the clover and begin to eat. Z and I looked at each other, incredulous but smiling. The clock wound down and the hunt ended without added excitement. As we walked back to the truck, holding hands in the darkness it occurred to me. I'm not sure shooting a deer could have made this day any better.
We packed up and left Alabama, tags unpunched, and cooler empty. Maybe we'd get one next time. Maybe...