Turning attention to whitetails

October 5, 2009

Faith Outdoors

Yesterday was an ambitious day for me in the woods of Goodhue County. It was time to do some scouting and stand preparation for our deer hunt Nov. 7. I went down to our deer-hunting properties with my son, Joe, my friend, Bernie Schwab, and his son, Chris, who is not old enough to hunt, but definitely old enough to be interested in the rituals of the hunt.

We worked hard and long to get things ready and got most of the work done. We performed the arduous task of moving a stand about 200 yards and setting it up, then did some work on a tripod stand on a different property. I have taken two deer from that stand and am hoping for a third this year. And, we went to cut some shooting lanes near a stand from which Bernie shot a beautiful 10-point buck last year.
As it turned out, someone (probably the landowner) kind of beat us to the punch. When we got to the back corner of the property where our stand is located, we discovered a bunch of fallen trees near the edge of the woods. The line of freshly-cut brush and trees extended for quite a ways, starting near where the stand is located. I wondered how this would affect deer movement.
There was similar clearing done not far from my tripod stand. It seems like this kind of tree removal happens about every other year on at least one of the properties we hunt. And, there are often other curve balls to go with it, like other hunters showing up unexpectedly (including trespassers), vandalism to our stands, and, of course, nasty weather.
Each year, it seems, there’s always something. But, such things serve as a reminder that change is a fact of life, and a fact of the Christian life as well. Jesus warns us of this, and even challenges us to be ready for it.
I have thought about this lately and, in my self-reflection, discovered that I very much like to keep things as they are — the good things, anyway. I am often quick to complain — and complain loudly — when the curve balls of life come sweeping in. I always want and hope to adapt well and quickly. But in things like deer hunting, I like success and favorable conditions to last year after year.
But, every year God shows me that change is inevitable. At the same time, he has also shown me how well he can work in such circumstances. Last year was the worst year for bad weather and curve balls, yet our hunting party of five managed to harvest three deer on opening day, including Bernie’s 10-pointer. Amazingly, it was the most deer our party has gotten in the six years we have hunted together.
Based primarily on that, I am optimistic this year. We have already faced curve balls, and there may be more to come. But, I believe God will bless our hunt. Does that mean three more deer? Or four? Or, even five? Or, perhaps, none?
I don’t know. At this point, I will merely thank God for the opportunity to spend time in the woods with Joe, my No. 2 son, Andy, Bernie, Chris, and Bernie’s oldest son, Dan, who will be trying for his second deer this year. And, I will wait confidently for the blessings he bestows on us Nov. 7.
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About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

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