"I have faith in God and He will provide." That's what I kept saying to myself one Sunday while hunting. As an avid hunter I live for deer season and am out in the woods as much as I can. But I'm a Christian and try to go to church every Sunday. Now I understand that life gets in the way sometimes and we can't always go but we always try. Well this given Sunday I didn't try. I just skipped. It was a perfect cold weekend and the last weekend of muzzle loader season. As you’ll see, that was not a valid excuse.
Saturday was the coldest day of the year yet but for some reason, hunting was slow. I only saw 1 doe that morning and she was over 150 yards away going uphill in some tall broom straw. Barely even saw her and definitely had no shot. It had been a rough bow season, having shot 3 deer that I couldn't find. Saturday evening was a complete bust and so I made a decision. To skip church in order to hunt this perfect weather. Turns out this was WRONG.
That morning I had 2 does pop out 35 yards in front of me while I was grabbing my grunt call. I look up to see 1 already in my corn pile and other coming out of the wood line staring me right in the eye. Before I could react, I was busted and the does were gone.
I was supposed to just hunt the morning so I could spend some quality time with my family and get some of my “Honey-Do” list done, but those does just fanned my flame. That evening was dead. I kept repeating to myself as I was feeling discouraged, "I have faith in God and He will provide." I guess I should've been more specific cause what he provided was a lesson.
That evening started rough with dead quiet woods only being interrupted by the occasional squirrel. That is until the last 20 minutes of light. I had decided if it was brown it was down and had a perfect eating size spike buck walk out to 30 yards of me. I "meh" at him, he stopped, and I shot. I look up from the smoke to see him lope behind a tree then disappear. My hunting buddy, who heard the shot, text me asking if he needs to come on over. I answered no, thinking that the deer may be standing where I last saw him and might get pushed to run instead of expire. I fight with my muzzle loader to reload it case he pops out and needs a follow up shot. (This was probably the only smart thing I do all day.) Maybe 10 minutes pass before I hear a sound that makes me look up and to my left. There stands, at only 75 yards, nothing but neck, shoulders, and antlers. One of my property's big shooters is broadside and still well within range. I put the cross hairs on him now repeating, "Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap." I think for a second to let him get closer to ensure my death blow but then a voice in my head yells at me, "You idiot. You have him perfect broadside shot at 75 yards. SHOOT HIM!" With that I roll smoke again. My buddy, hearing the unexpected second shot, ask again "Should I come to you?" Now with no light left and me thinking I just shot 2 deer for the first time in my life I text him back, "Might as well."
At this point a little back story is needed. Before any season I check my sights on my hunting tool to make sure I'm still shooting good and my ol’ smoke pole was giving me problems. Despite these issues I was determined to go. So, when I shot at the first deer I thought if I'm off a bit at 100 yards then I should be good at 35. I was wrong. Thought the same for the 75-yard shot I took. Again, wrong. So, what happened?
“I missed! Flat out missed!”
We get down and check for signs of blood and unfortunately find none. We follow that path that the deer went and neither produced anything that said these deer were shot. The big buck went over the property line onto my neighbor’s land that, at the time, I didn’t have permission to be. It began raining and was already dark. With no blood trail or sign of shot deer we had to call them both a clean miss and call it a night.
Fast forward to February, a few weeks after deer season ended I began my post season scouting and looking for the odd shed. By now I had an opportunity to speak face to face with my new neighbor and got permission to retrieve my harvest from his land. As I was walking I kept thinking about that big buck and kept thinking about the fact that one of my shooters I had named “Fish Hook” was no longer showing up on cameras. We had seen buzzards around this particular area in mid-December but again couldn’t find anything, I one last ditch effort I decided to take my neighbor up on his permission and search everywhere I thought possible for the remnants of this buck. After a good amount of time I was giving up my final search only to turn and be 15 feet from the picked over bones of this buck. To my joy his head and rack were still fully intact. This wasn’t how I wanted to find him or how I ever want any hunt to go down, but it was closure. I finally got my hands on the first big buck taken off my new property and I was ecstatic. I went home that evening with a skull half ready to become a new euro mount. With the help of a good friend we made it happen. I even grabbed some old barn wood from the property and built the mount myself to pay tribute.
That day I thought both shots were a clean miss. Don't know how or why just that they were. Frustration and despair start kicking in and I immediately start saying "why, God?" Then it hits me. On a long day he provided the deer and the shots. He didn't make me miss. I did that all on my own. I got what I asked for and a lesson on top of that. Just when you think you've got this and your confidence is a bit too high He reminds you that deer hunting is more than the trophy, more than the meat. It is also the experience that teaches us lessons only like the woods can. Instead of asking Why? I should have been thankful to be out there on my very own land, with a very good buddy and a chance at a great buck. God provided, maybe not exactly what I wanted but definitely what I asked for. I was so confident that just seeing a deer meant getting a deer that I needed to be taught a lesson. Also, given just enough of a tease to keep me going so when the even bigger of my bucks steps out I'll be ready. In the end it's deer "hunting" not shooting and there are no guarantees. I didn’t get the meat, but I did get a lesson in humility and patience. And in the end, I at least got the trophy. God is good and did provide. I guess I just need to keep in mind what to ask for.