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Daily Bread for Deer Hunters

Daily Bread for Deer Hunters

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Daily Bread for Deer Hunters

Lunghezza:
297 pagine
4 ore
Pubblicato:
Sep 24, 2013
ISBN:
9781301933167
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

In this, the second book in the "Hunting for the Heart of God" series, Sean Jeffries has written a devotional that has a single entry for each book of the Bible. As he studied through God's Word in preparation for writing each chapter, he prayerfully sought the heart of God and relates his reaction to each Biblical book to hunting and the life of a sportsman. Though the Bible itself is not about hunting, many of the principles and precepts of the Christian life can be applied to life in the outdoors. "Daily Bread for Deer Hunters" explores sixty-six of these themes and provides the reader with thought questions to help him discover how they apply to his own life, both as a hunter and as a man of God.

Pubblicato:
Sep 24, 2013
ISBN:
9781301933167
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Sean Jeffries is a life-long hunter who has a passion for sharing his experiences afield with others. He has kept detailed journals of every hunt that he has undertaken since 2000, and is the owner and operator of the Wingshooters.net website.His books include "Eight Days in Africa", "Always Take Your Rifle", and a Christian Living piece entitled "Deer Hunter's Devotional", which ties Biblical passages in with the outdoors."Deer Hunter's Devotional" is the first piece in the "Hunting For the Heart of God" collection, which will later include a novel and a book of church-related essays.Sean lives in Clover, SC with his wife Micki, their two dogs, and their newborn son Paul.

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Daily Bread for Deer Hunters - Sean Jeffries

Afterword

Author’s Note

When I finished writing the first volume in this series, Deer Hunter’s Devotional, I almost immediately felt like something was missing in my life. Writing that book forced me to delve into the Word of God like I never had before, and my relationship with the Lord grew with each chapter that I wrote. It was that sense of closeness with God that I was missing. When I was writing the first devotional, I felt as if God and I were in it together, and although I still prayed and conversed with Him after the book was finished, it just felt different.

And so one morning on the way to my deer lease for a late October hunt, I asked Him what I should do next. My prayer was something along the lines of Challenge me, God. Give me an idea for another book that will glorify You and make me go deeper into Your Word. I’m not sure if that was a great idea or not, because what came back to me was the idea for this, the second volume in my Hunting for the Heart of God series.

The idea this time was to take a couple of verses from each book of the Bible and write a devotional that was relevant, intense, and thought provoking. The challenge in this one was of course that I couldn’t just jump around the Bible and find applicable verses like I did with Deer Hunter’s Devotional; this time I would hit each book in order, pick a verse, and somehow relate it to the outdoors.

So the book that you now hold in your hands is the result. Sixty-six chapters, one for each book in the Bible. Reaching the end of this book was a long road, and it’s been an incredible learning experience for me. I’ve gone deeper into God’s Word than ever before, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to make this journey. And as always, thanks to my friends and my family for their prayers. Without their help, I’d never have been able to get past the draft phase with these books. Thanks as always to Matt Brinton for catching all of my mistakes and typos!

Reading This Devotional

Before we get into the text, I thought I’d take a minute to talk about how this book is laid out, and how it’s designed to be read. Each chapter in it is written so that you can read it in one sitting. Most of the chapters are only two or three pages in length, occasionally going into a fourth or fifth page. I wanted to make sure that you could do your daily reading in the book quickly while still giving you something that would, hopefully, be deep enough to provoke you to think about what you’ve read.

At the beginning of each chapter you’ll find a verse of Scripture. I want to be clear on one thing here. The Bible has very few verses that directly refer to hunting. It’s extremely easy to take a single verse out of context and make it mean anything that you want it to, and I have been very careful to avoid doing that.

Rumor has it that the early Celtic Christians referred to the Holy Spirit as the Wild Goose. In this book, each verse was prayerfully and carefully chosen, and the text of each chapter follows the Wild Goose as He led me toward the Heart of God. I did try to keep close to the theme of the original context of that verse while still bringing hunting and the outdoors to mind. That wasn’t always possible, but where I was led, I had to follow. While my thoughts often flowed in different directions than the intent of the passage, at the end of each chapter I have tried to bring my musings back in line with the chosen verse.

This is not an expository book; that is, it does not try to explain each verse, but rather it uses each verse to set the tone for the text that follows. In each case, I’ve attempted to give you something to think about that is relevant to both the verse and to your life as an outdoorsman. With that in mind, I encourage you to go back to your Bible and read each verse in its proper context and through this gain more familiarity with God’s Word.

Genesis: The Blessings of a Father

"Now then, please take your gear, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me; and prepare a savory dish for me such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die."

Genesis 27:3-4

In my book Deer Hunter’s Devotional, one of the things that I wrote a good bit about was the upcoming birth of my son. I’m happy to report that he was born on the day after Thanksgiving of the year 2010, just a few short weeks after the book was published, and in the years between that writing and this, my second son was born as well.

Being a new dad, fatherhood is on my mind a great deal these days. As my boys Paul and David have become more and more aware of the world around them, I myself have grown aware of how intensely they are watching everything that I do. Paul in particular, being the older, turns his head to follow me as I walk past the nursery where his momma is feeding him. He cranes his neck to see when she carries him past the home office where I work at my day job.

There are so many things that my sons will learn from me; not only as a matter of direct teaching, but also through the observing how I choose to live my life. How I treat my wife will teach them how they should one day treat their own. The way I act towards those around me will directly influence how they will act towards all of the people that they come in contact with in their own lives. And what I do when I’m afield will help determine the kind of outdoorsmen that they will be.

A father can give his children so many different kinds of gifts over the course of their lifetimes. Many of these are material in nature: bikes, toys, and electronic gadgets. There are also things that are useful in the world of the outdoors; fishing rods, BB guns (and later real guns), and many states offer discounts on lifetime hunting and fishing licenses when they are purchased for young children.

There are, however, a handful of things that I want to give my sons that are not material possessions. They are much more important than that. I want to first give them a father who points them consistently towards their true Father in heaven above. I also want to give them a picture of a real Christian marriage, where they see that I value their mother in a way that is second only to my love for Christ.

They need to see that they are not first, nor even second, in my love. They are third, and yet I want them to understand what a great gift it is to be loved third. I will live in heaven with God forever, and so God must be my first love. On earth, I will be with my wife long after Paul and David have left and gone off into the world to start their own families. And when they do set out to start those families, I want them to depart with my blessing.

How rare is it in these enlightened days for a father to formally give his son his blessing when he sends him out into the world at eighteen or twenty? Parents often give their children one last bit of wisdom as they embark upon their adulthood, but how often does a father actually give his blessing in so many words?

One of my favorite pastimes is to listen to Christian audio books or conference recordings when I’m out and about by myself in my truck. When I’m driving around town, whether on a short trip or a long one, if I’m by myself you can bet that I’m listening to Christian teaching. Recently, I heard an audio CD featuring a man who was talking about the very topic of the blessings of a father.

This man’s son had recently joined the military and was about to go off to boot camp. The father invited friends and family from around their town to come to a going-away party for the young man. At the end of the party, the father stood up and imparted his blessing onto his son. This was a very intentional thing; something that was done with great seriousness and reverence. It was more than the man just giving approval to his son. It was a Biblical portrait of what it meant to give a blessing to an adult child as he went out to make his way in the world.

How powerful it must have been for that young man to stand there in front of everyone and receive this great gift that his father had in store for him. That is one young adult who will go forward into the world confidently, knowing that he carries the love, support, and acceptance of his dad. I hope that when the time comes for me to send Paul and David out from my house that I will be able to similarly impart my blessing onto each of them. I hope that they can go into the world each with the utter relief that comes from knowing that he is loved, honored, and respected. They will have to do their part to earn that by learning to live responsibly, and for my part I will make sure to teach them that.

But long before that day, I look forward to the smaller blessings that I can bestow upon them. I plan to take them hunting with me as soon as each is mature enough to handle it. They will go as observers at first, but I pray that someday they will come with me as willing participants. And when the day comes that they want to venture out on their own with a shotgun or rifle, I will give them my blessing for that if they are worthy of it.

Thought Questions

If you are a father, have you given any thought to what it means to give your blessing to your children?

Do you live in the knowledge that your children are watching everything that you do? Does this affect the way that you act?

How did you react to the statement that we should love God first, our wife second, and our children third?

Exodus: Entering New Territory

So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.

Exodus 3:8

I’ve been chasing whitetail deer for almost thirty years now. Although I’ve been blessed with a lot of luck in more recent seasons, in my first six years of deer hunting the only place that I had to hunt was on the game lands of the Uwharrie National Forest, in the heart of North Carolina. Although the woods there were and still are quite beautiful, in those first half-dozen years I didn’t harvest a single deer, although I occasionally did manage to miss a couple of shots at does with my bow. There were more hunters and less deer in those days, making even seeing deer quite a challenge.

In 1991 my situation improved when I was given access to 160 acres of private land that was owned by a man named Arnold Kirk, who was a friend of my father. I spent the next eight or nine years hunting with Arnold and was able to kill ten or twelve deer on his property. Over the course of those many years, Arnold and I became great friends, and I eventually even married his niece.

A few years after that, Arnold and I, along with two friends, went in together and leased 300 or so acres of property that was adjacent to Arnold’s land. It was an absolutely beautiful tract of land, with pines and hardwoods dotting the landscape. A network of four-wheel drive roads provided easy access to most of the good spots on the property, and the place was heavily populated with deer. There was a long power-line right-of-way that ran through the middle of the lease, and we were able to plant several food plots along this long stretch of open land. We named the place the Briarpatch Hunting Club.

Two years after we first gained access to this land, the entire hunting situation there changed for the worse. The timber company that owned the lease came in and clear-cut the entire property, leaving only a few small stands of pines surrounding the various gullies and ravines that provided runoff for the summer rains. In a typical situation, clear-cutting can prove to be extremely beneficial to wildlife, especially when the young green shoots start to appear each spring, providing plenty of forage for game animals. In this case, however, the land that we had worked and loved was utterly raped, with dead trees and debris left laying everywhere, the roads rutted and impassible, and there was no sign of deer anywhere on the property. The timber company sprayed chemicals to kill the remaining brush and to discourage the growth of sweet gums, and there was nowhere left on the property that was worth hunting.

In April of the year after the clear-cutting, I was heading down to the lease to do a bit of turkey hunting. On the drive down, I had been praying about my hunting situation, asking God to give me guidance as to whether or not I should stay in this club or find another. When my prayer was done, I turned on the radio to listen to WBT’s broadcast of the Carolina Outdoors show. The show is often geared to activities other than hunting, but on this particular morning the hosts were discussing turkey hunting.

During the show I heard a commercial for a new hunting club that was starting up that offered a new tactic on hunting properties. The club would obtain leases throughout both North and South Carolina, and the owner of the club would give charter members a free year of hunting. Each member could reserve then a specific property and have the whole place to himself for any given hunt. This sounded like a unique way to run a club, and I was intrigued by the thought. It seemed like a good way to reduce hunting pressure by limiting the number of members that could be on a piece of property at any one time. The commercial ended by providing a phone number and an offer to call Don Hansen now for details.

Even though it was extremely early in the morning, I picked up my cell phone and dialed the number. I was soon talking to Don, the owner of this new club. We spent the next twenty minutes on the phone, and it was decided that we’d meet in person to discuss the club. We did that a week or so later, and I told the man that I’d give him a final answer after talking to my wife. I had liked everything the he and I had talked about, and really had a desire to be a part of his club.

Over a late dinner that night at a local restaurant, my wife and I did indeed talk about my desire to join the new club. I told her about how the situation at my current club had gone downhill, and that we were lucky to see any deer at all. The catch, I told her, was that regardless of how tough the hunting had gotten, I wanted to remain in the Briarpatch club for another year as well so that my best friend Ted and I could still hunt together. She agreed that it would be ok to do this, and before long I was a member in good standing of this new, second club.

Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out the way the owner of the new club had intended. Over the course of that very first year, he wasn’t able to obtain as many hunting properties as he had hoped for, and not once did I set foot on club property. The man, being honest, offered a second year of free hunting to the charter members of the club. We all took him up on the offer, but even in that second year I only hunted once on club property.

Then, in November of 2004, my old hunting buddy Arnold called to tell me that a new club was forming in Liberty Hill, South Carolina. One of the game wardens had told him about the property, and he wanted to know if I was interested in joining. I told him that if we could go take a look at the property together, I’d give him an answer.

We went down and hunted on the new land one afternoon, and I was immediately hooked. I saw several deer and a grey fox on that first hunt, and was truly impressed with the layout of the property. Now all I had to do was explain to my wife that I wanted to back out of Don Hansen’s club and instead join the new club with Arnold.

Thankfully, she fully understood the decision to change clubs yet again, and so I soon became a member of the River Road Hunt Club. I’ve been doing all of my hunting there ever since, and every year since I joined I’ve spent many hours in the offseason walking around the property after the leaves were off of the trees, trying to gain an intimate knowledge of the many hills, valleys, and deep hidden places.

In 2011 I was handed the presidency of the club. It became my job to chase down the members and encourage them to pay their dues for the next season, and also to recruit new members so that we’d have enough money to cover the cost of the lease. The money was due at the end of June, and at one point in that first year it was really looking like we weren’t going to have nearly enough money in the bank to make our payment.

As much as I have loved that property, when it started to look like we wouldn’t be able to renew the lease I did not fall into despair. For the first time in many years, I realized that I could give up this piece of land if that was what God had in His plans for me. As recent as two years ago I would not have had this kind of peace about my hunting property. I would have clung to it tenaciously and desperately, even to the point of putting up my own money just to keep it.

Indeed, in previous years I had always been the first of the members to pay my dues. Not out of any sort of responsibility, but out of a deep-seated unwillingness to let go of the club. The way my thinking went, if I paid my dues early, I would be an exemplary member and would be invited back year after year. Honestly, I would have to admit that this piece of property was a sort of idol to me.

When it started to look like we weren’t going to have enough members to pay for the lease in 2011, I realized that God would provide other hunting opportunities for me if the need arose. Visits to various South Carolina internet hunting forums revealed that lots of clubs were looking for members, and failing that, my father-in-law lives on 80 acres of good hunting land just 30 minutes south of us.

God knows that hunting is one of the great joys of my life. He also knows that I have a great appreciation for land, not for the monetary value of it, but out of my love for the beauty of open country. Going forward, I will trust that He’ll provide a place for me to hunt, just as He provided the Israelites with a land of their own. I have made a promise to myself that I will not become so attached to a piece of property or to a specific hunting club that I would go to desperate lengths to keep it. I will instead trust God to provide. He will be faithful.

Thought Questions

How attached are you to your hunting property? How would you handle it if you lost your lease or had to find a new place to hunt?

Do you hunt on your own land, or as a part of a larger club? What kinds of problems have you faced in finding a place to hunt?

Do you live your life believing that God will provide for you? Scripture is clear that He will take care of our needs, but how thoroughly do you believe this precept?

Leviticus: Rules and Regulations

"You shall thus observe all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them; I am the LORD."

Leviticus 19:37

There are not many things left that I carried with me out of my childhood, through my teenage years, and into adulthood. In my attic there is a single box that contains a few of my favorite books and a couple of old notebooks from my high school days, but beyond that there is not much that survived the many moves that I made from one house to another as I entered my twenties and thirties.

One thing I did manage to hold onto is an old plastic tub that contains ancient copies of the hunting and fishing regulations guides for both North and South Carolina. The guides from North Carolina date back to the early 1980s, back to when they were just small pamphlets that got slightly thicker each year as more laws were added. The South Carolina guides were larger in size, and my treasure trove of those date back to around 1991, carrying through almost to the present day.

Every year as a young teenager one of the things that I really looked forward to was the arrival of the new Regulations Guide. In those days most hardware stores sold hunting and fishing licenses, in addition to shotgun shells and rifle cartridges. I used to get my guides from one of these old hardware stores. That same hardware store was the very place that we bought our ammunition. Even though we were underage, the owner of the place had his own love of hunting, and never doubted that we would be safe with our guns.

Whenever I went home with the latest Regulations Guide in hand, I would study it with more concentration than I ever gave my school work. Although I enjoyed fishing, I never paid much attention to that section of the guide. My first love

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