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May 7, 2014

On the Outside Looking In

The first week of spring turkey season where I do most of my hunting was fast and furious with numerous gobblers sounding off and many of them coming right into range to calling and the decoys. Many toms breathed their last that week. However, since that first week, the behavior of many gobblers around those same parts has been much more characteristic of what I have become accustomed to over many years of turkey hunting. Gobbling some on the roost, shutting up quickly once they hit the ground, hens getting with him shortly thereafter and an overall short and unproductive morning in the woods. Now, it has not been due to a lack of effort though. We have worked hard to try to get underneath these gobblers while they're up the tree. We're in the woods before first light, maneuvering stealthily through the woods, getting as close as possible to them as soon as they start gobbling, placing decoys in the best possible areas, and 'talking' just like the hens are talking around us. The only problem is that we aren't dealing with a stupid animal, and he's not going to leave the hens that are roosted right next to him to go in search of one that sounds a bit different than those he is used to communicating with daily. No matter how close we get and how authentic we sound, very few gobblers are killed on the mornings when they are roosted with or nearby to their hens. And when we attempt to get boisterous in communicating with the hens, they often take the gobbler in the other direction. Close is never quite close enough when the gobblers are henned up.

2 Timothy 3:1-9, 13 (NASB)
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth...so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all...But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

In some regards, turkey hunters play the role of 'impostors' in their attempts to lure a gobbler into gun range. Even though they are on the "outside" of the flock, they attempt to sound and act like part of the gang in order to fool him just long enough to kill him. And in a very similar way, Scripture warns that there are impostors around us that demonstrate religious activity but are not connected to a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Impostors love to look religious and put style over substance. They are those who are attractive on the outside, but are morally bankrupt on the inside. Impostors ignore the Gospel. Believers are warned to beware of false prophets and keep away from those who lead unruly lives not according to Christian tradition. Impostors profess to know God, but they deny Him by their deeds. Impostors are always looking for something new and different. In summary, impostors attempt to get on the inside track by appearing, sounding and implying to be Christian, but God knows His children, and He will not be fooled.

1 John 1:5-7 (NASB) says it like this - This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Are you able to recognize spiritual impostors around you? And in an honest reflection - do you find your "spiritual" life being outwardly attractive but inwardly empty? Spend time today on your knees today before Him, confessing your shortcomings and asking Him to make clear your spiritual intentions. - GE

April 29, 2014

The Triple

Something extraordinary happened to me the other day while spring gobbler hunting with my two friends (my guest Glenn, and his guest Joe). The morning's hunt started with a brief canoe ferry to avoid walking through some marsh and stirring any gobblers along the path to our final spot. We arrived on land and beckoned any local birds with some barred owl calls. An initial response was heard some distance away over some marsh. As we slowly walked on, we received another response that was closer yet across the river. After some more discreet walking, we found ourselves in our spot with a triangle of fairly distant gobbles, and we set up in a deliberate triangle ourselves. What happened next was unusual. A lone big gobbler came straight in to our initial yelping, without either gobbling or strutting, and fell on the first shot. After that, yelping hens remained nearby as evidence of birds still interested. Our serenading continued. In succession, two more birds marched in without gobbling and fell at the firing of each other hunter. It was remarkable and unusual for sure, but not impossible. What then is the extraordinary part?

Romans 12:10 (ESV)
Love one another with brotherly affection.  Outdo one another in showing honor.
 
2 Corinthians 8:21 (ESV)
for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lords sight but also in the sight of man.

April 22, 2014

Another Chance

This past Friday, my buddy and I ventured back into one of our favorite farms to hunt. We knew which field on the farm we wanted to hunt, but we had to take a guess as to which corner of the field a gobbler may be roosted that morning. We eased down near the back right corner of the field, placed a decoy out a few yards into the field, and then settled into the surrounding cover near the corner. As it got a bit lighter, it turned out we chose the correct side of the field. Four different gobblers began sounding off within 100 yards or closer of the corner in which we were seated, one by himself and three others together, and our confidence was brimming. I positioned my gun barrel towards the corner of the field where we both felt certain the birds would enter the field after coming off the roost, and prepared to wait them out. We had also brought along a video camera and he got it positioned on the corner. I started thinking that it would be really cool to get some footage of a gobbler strutting at close range prior to me shooting, so I decided that I would let him walk out into the field a little bit before shooting, confident that with our decoys close by that he would give me 'all day' to take a shot. Well, it turned out that the boss tom was the first bird to enter the field. A few hens came out behind him, and one of them seemed to get a bit antsy around our decoys. By that time I had let the gobbler strut past where I originally intended to shoot him, and when the hen acted odd at our decoy, he strutted straight away from me out to the middle of the field, well out of shooting range. I could literally feel my buddy's hand tightening around my throat! I had blown my opportunity at this huge bird, being too concerned about capturing video of him, when I could have shot him as soon as he entered the field. Fortunately, there were more birds in the woods slowly making their way to the field, to include the other three gobblers that we had heard, and they eventually entered the field through the same corner. The lead gobbler was also a very nice tom, and when he saw the decoys, he strutted right towards them. Thankful for another opportunity, I quickly laid him out at about 15 yards.

Psalm 86:15-16 (NASB)
But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth. Turn to me, and be gracious to me...

April 16, 2014

Personally Accountable

If you've spent any time watching the Outdoor Channel, you've likely come across the show titled Wardens. Wardens chronicles the lives of the men and women who protect our public lands and wildlife. From ride-alongs on interstate game checks, to anti-poaching sting operations, from remote snowmobile trails in grizzly bear country, to unforgiving white-water rapids, the focus of the show is on game law regulations. I happened to find this show quite interesting when it debuted because it was detailing game wardens' accounts in Montana, a state which I had visited in 2012 and where I recognized some of the areas in which they were working. If you have spent a considerable amount of time fishing and hunting our nation's woods and waters, then you have probably been checked by a game warden, referred to locally these days as a Conservation Police Officer (CPO). My father and I happened to encounter one this past Saturday on the opener of spring gobbler season here in Virginia.

Romans 1:28-32 (NASB)
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

April 8, 2014

Out of Aggression

Each year, anadromous fishes of several species (hickory shad, American shad, blueback herring, alewife, and striped bass) leave their ocean home and head up into the freshwater reaches of Atlantic coast rivers to spawn. This past Saturday afternoon, I had the privilege of being able to fish from the banks of the James River in downtown Richmond for the storied hickory shad. This was the first opportunity I had to fish for shad in the past couple of years. Fortunately, my buddy and I caught the tide change at just about the right time, and we were able to get into somewhat of a pattern of hooking these small yet fierce fighting tarpon-like creatures towards the end of our trip. I say hooking rather than catching, because I was having one heck of a time keeping them connected to my gold spoon all the way to the bank. But at any rate, anglers that have been able to experience the strong fight and acrobatic maneuvers of the shad species will know what I mean about needing to catch just one more...and maybe one more after that!

James 1:18-20 (NASB)
In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

April 1, 2014

Can You See Me Now?

Well, I couldn't be any happier to announce it - I think spring has finally arrived! Grass and Trees are beginning to bud, flowers are jumping out of the ground and the grass is beginning to green up. It won't be long before that lawn mower is working overtime. Spring turkey season is on our door step as well, and in fact, the youth and apprentice hunters will be in the woods this coming Saturday attempting to harvest gobblers. It's during these first couple of weeks of turkey season where the woods are still relatively bare as the trees and bushes are just beginning to bud and sprout leaves. Hunters during this time have to pay very close attention to their movements, as turkeys moving through the open woods can see just about any little head or body movement or gun barrel adjustment and will be gone in an instant. However, as the woods continue to green up and leaves on trees and bushes get larger and more abundant, hunters are able to use that foliage and its resulting shadows to get away with more movement in setting up on and adjusting to a gobbler's movements during a hunt. The increased foliage that is a help to the hunter is actually a detriment to the gobbler, as it conceals the imminent danger that he is approaching.

Ephesians 5:13 (NASB)
But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.