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January 3, 2013

Keeping First Things First

Earlier this week I hunted deer with a club in eastern Virginia. This time of year, the long-standing tradition of many Virginia hunters is to incorporate the use of hounds and/or beagles into their deer drives. Our plan was to surround a block of pine cutover and have as many hunters as possible in the tree stands which surround that block. Several drivers would walk their hounds through the cutover in different directions in an attempt to jump deer which were bedded there. Well, we started out according to plan, and several deer were jumped, run and harvested by hunters in those stands.
Some of the hounds eventually followed deer outside of the hunt area, though, which resulted in both their handlers and also some of the standers leaving their initial positions and following the hounds to other areas in order to keep track of their locations. About three hours into the morning hunt, only three of the original hunters remained in the stands, and as it turned out, a pack of hounds belonging to a neighboring group of hunters came into our pine cutover running a trophy buck. I watched this giant at about 150-200 yards tip around in front of the hounds before he had enough of that and headed for the hills! However, with most of the tree stands being unmanned and many of the hunters being scattered around the area, the buck was able to get back out of the cutover and ultimately made it to safety into a nearby refuge. It was unfortunate, as one of the last hunters to get a glimpse of the deer before it entered the refuge estimated him to be a 10 point buck at least 20 or 21 inches wide.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB)
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

In thinking back on this experience, I was reminded of how each of us can get distracted, pulled away, sidelined from our primary and intended missions in life by things that seem really important to us at the time. Our purpose in hunting the cutover as a group was to line it up in an attempt to effectively harvest a number of deer in that area. However, based on several situations that arose during the morning hours, our original plan fell apart - dogs left the hunt area, some hunters got impatient during the quiet moments, others got cold or hungry. One thing led to another, and before most hunters realized it, they forfeited the opportunity to harvest a trophy deer because they became distracted and were not present at the moment of truth.

Men, I ask you to reflect on the most important missions or tasks to which God has called you. Where have you become distracted, disoriented, disengaged, or disobedient in your duty and privilege as a child of God, a husband, a father, a leader, a teacher, a mentor? Keep in mind that when we lose focus, both us and the folks on the other end of those relationships suffer and ultimately experience something less than God's best. If you find yourself off track, make a commitment today to make the necessary changes to rectify your priorities and the affected relationships. Know that you can confidently ask God for forgiveness for your sins and distractions, as well as the ability to get things back in the proper order, insight to know where to begin, and perseverance to stay true to the task at hand. - GE

Related Tip
Keep safety and courtesy at the forefront of your mind each time you hunt. Ensure that you wear blaze orange and have some form of communication (radio, cell phone, etc) with you during a firearms hunt. If you must leave your stand location, you will be able to let nearby hunters know of your intentions, and the blaze orange will make you stand out as something other than an animal moving through the woods. Also, if you must move during the hunt, consider how it can be done in a way that does not interfere with other hunters.

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