Updated: Dec 8, 2021
*Warning...this post is a glimpse into my thoughts and beliefs more transparent than perhaps I usually publish. If religion or an introspective look is not something you think a deer hunter can learn from - this article is definitely not for you. Written primarily as a strong reminder to myself, I feel this is something numerous hunters can draw insight from, and no doubt sympathize with.
I PLACE HUNTING ON WAY TOO HIGH OF A PEDESTAL IN MY LIFE
To be very candid for a moment, this is arguably one of my biggest struggles in life. In Ephesians, Paul clearly identifies us as being dead in sin - and this sinner continually struggles with all things hunting infiltrating and infecting my life due to the erroneous level of importance I place upon it.
Yes, hunting is a passion so entwined into who Ty is, that it would be impossible to remove it and still be whom God created me to be. However, He did not design me to allow that passion to become an addiction which negatively impacts all other aspects of my life. I've hinted through some social media posts that things are not all good in the deer woods for Pops and I this year. It seems the tumultuous year that is 2020 desires to cause chaos even in the world of deer for us.
While each thing which has occurred by and of itself is not a big deal, the compounding impact of one thing after another has triggered quite the tailspin in my mind and if I'm honest, heart. For years deer hunting was the escape I would run to. That one place that I could always count on to recharge my soul's battery and make the problems of the world just not seem so insurmountable. This year however was quite different and the quiet time up a tree to think was torture as much as it was a blessing.
Entering the 2020 fall with far less properties, 2 lost and another cut in half, made the deer season feel odd before it ever started. That alone though could be looked past, but it didn't stop there. As the season approached, began and currently still is; it just seemed the list kept growing at every turn:
The logging conducted well after spring green up was pivotal for long term success...but in the short term it was confirmed two mature bucks had chosen to move off and not continue normal use of the property as they had for years.
Food plots at my place were an epic fail, like no other season before! Cereal rye is the only saving grace to have anything out there still as I type this.
Discovered there was hunting pressure negatively impacting one sanctuary on my personal place, due to a neighbor's main stand just a few feet off the line.
Illness struck me HARD late October to early November when I'd planned on hunting the hardest.
The sudden, in season, loss of our biggest and main late season farm; where large amount of food plots were planted solely with post-firearms season in mind.
Those are just the major negative notes from the year...as you can imagine it has been quite easy to allow myself to wallow in self-pity. Many would say it's only normal for me to do so...some would say even justifiable.
However, I'm reminded of a quote I heard once by Steve Maraboli;
"It's a lack of clarity that creates chaos and frustration. Those emotions are poison to any living goal."
The hardest problem of finding the peace and calm in the storm of such frustrations, is just the inability to stop and force oneself to step back from it. For it is then that we can begin to approach the situation with a calm and clear mind. Yes, it's true, this season and situations surrounding it are not items I'd have chosen to occur - BUT God still has poured out upon me blessings of which far exceed what I deserve, and that is where the clarity in the chaos begins to take form.
Furthermore, just how important is deer hunting if we are honest?
If God appeared before me and handed over a pen, a piece of paper and told me I had to write down the things in this life which truly matter - deer hunting would have no business being written down. So why then is a tailspin inside hunting, causing such turmoil and chaos in my life as a whole? The answer is an easy one; I've placed it on a pedestal of life much larger than it should be. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Now notice the passage doesn't say anything about the destination that path is taking you to or what the outcome is, it merely states he will make it straight. I like to think of it as he will bring clarity as to the path we are on and bring us back to proper perspective. Another way to picture it is He attaches horse blinders upon our life, removing all distractions in our periphery which may cause us to go astray.
It's true I could grow bitter and angry with a landowner that has seemingly changed the agreement we had without warning. Many would say that would be a just conclusion. However, with proper perspective - how can I possibly allow anger to enter into a situation of which I don't deserve to begin with? How can I allow hunting to construct such hatred towards someone that has for years granted permission to use their land as if it were mine so freely? When you begin to ask yourself these questions, proper perspective and clarity start to take hold.
There are numerous folks, some perhaps even reading this, which struggle to have access on any private ground and rely solely on public land. Who am I to sit here and pretend I deserve more? Who am I to not smile for all the blessings which I've had in the past and look to the future as an opportunity instead of a burden?
So here I sit, in the same situation that plays out in our lives in nearly every aspect of it; two paths lay before me and neither will be easy. I merely have to choose which I desire to do:
Do Nothing Route - Continue to struggle with the limitations of my present situation.
Make A Change - Struggle through door knocking, letter writing and the million no's which will no doubt come in response.
I liken it to the great words of Gandalf in the cinematic production of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In a moment, when Frodo says he wishes things had not happened in his time, Gandalf frankly responds; "So do I, so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."
I refuse to allow something so insignificant as deer hunting cause me such stress, anxiety and anguish. No matter what unfolds ahead of me leading into the 2021 season, I will force myself to enjoy the ride and embrace the journey. For it is the bumps, the turns and the hiccups which precede an event that make the events memorable. So letters will be written, perhaps hundreds. Doors will be knocked...well maybe not until this covid crap is done, but either way change is what lays before us, and that's actually pretty exciting.