Another Chance by Randy Rowley 11/13/09 ©


I was cautiously optimistic when I pulled up to Daryl Shipper’s house on a Saturday in early October for a bow deer hunt on his new deer lease near Evant.  I was only cautiously optimistic, as although I had seen several trail cam pictures of big bucks on the lease, I knew from experience how hard it was to see such deer during shooting hours and, harder still, to get a shot at one within bow range.

We arrived at the ranch, met Mike, Daryl’s brother, got our bows and gear ready, and then headed to the stands.  I climbed the 20-foot tall tripod I was gifted to hunt, put my shooting glove on, nocked an arrow, and got my binoculars and rangefinder out of my backpack.

Soon the magical 30 minutes before sunrise arrived.  But it came and went with no deer or other critters in eyesight.  Then the sun rose, and it immediately began to warm the cool air.  It was a clear day, so I expected to see many animals moving about, but nothing of the furry kind presented itself, even after the feeder went off at 8:30 AM.

The evening hunt was much warmer than the morning, but it wasn’t unpleasant.  The breeze had also picked up, and it was blowing in my face.  I settled in the tripod’s chair with renewed hopes, but I once again didn’t see anything furry for the first couple of hours. Eventually, the daylight started to fade, as did my hopes of seeing any deer.  Then suddenly, a nice-sized buck stepped out of the tree line to my left!

He had a big body and the side of his rack that I could see was large with heavy mass.  But at 219 yards, he was way out of bow range.  He then took off at a fast trot, but 90 degrees away from me.  He stopped at 140 yards away and looked in my direction.  He appeared to be either an 8 or 10 pointer, and his rack was symmetrical.

After a minute, he resumed his mission.  I soon lost sight of him in the opposite tree line 155 yards away, heading in Mike’s direction.  He was the largest buck that I had seen when I could shoot bucks.  I had seen larger bucks over many years of hunting, but those sightings were always when I was hunting for does.

With renewed optimism, I resumed my vigil.  About five minutes later, much to my surprise, I saw movement and realized that what was walking through the gap between the two cedar trees to the left of the feeder wasn’t just a buck – it was the same bruiser that I thought was long gone!  He had snuck towards the feeder without me detecting him.

I had ten minutes of shooting time left, which was more than enough time if things went my way.  The buck went straight to the feeder, which was 24 yards from me.  Better still, he presented me with a quartering away shot.  When he put his head down and started to eat, I came to full draw.

I lined my Browning Midas’s peep sight up with my sight’s pins and placed my fingers at the corner of my mouth.   I had only once before hunted with a bow from a tripod.  An article that I read years before indicated to aim high when hunting from tripods and tree stands.   So, I put my 30-yard pin on his upper back above his chest and released the bowstring.

I couldn’t see if I had hit him, but he didn’t appear to be hit from his reaction.  He looked around and then slowly walked away from the feeder.  I lost sight of him as he went behind the larger cedar tree.

As I sat there with my heart beating a mile a minute, the unexpected happened.  The buck returned to the feeder exactly how he came to it the first time, except this time he was two yards closer!  The Lord had given me another chance!

I slowly nocked another arrow.  Once again, the buck presented a quartering away shot.  Once again, he put his head down and started to eat.  Once again, I came to full draw, lined up my sights, placed my fingers at the corner of my lips, aimed high, and loosed the arrow.

As before, I couldn’t tell if I had hit him, and he didn’t appear to be hit.  He looked around and strolled away from the feeder.  Unlike the first time, he didn’t circle the larger cedar tree but instead kept on walking.  I watched him for a couple of minutes and then lost sight of him about 100 yards away.

At the end of legal shooting time, I went to look for my arrows.  The first one that I found was buried about two-thirds of its length into the dirt.  The other one was lying on its side, facing 90 degrees from the other one.  Neither had a speck of blood.

The Lord gave me a shot at an incredible buck, and I blew it.  Then the Lord gave me an almost unheard of second chance at the same buck a couple of minutes later, and I blew it again!  Looking back, I realized that I had violated a cardinal rule of shooting – when you miss and are presented with the same shot – do something different!

I don’t know for sure what I did wrong, but my gut told me that I aimed too high.  A few weeks after the hunt, I spoke to two friends, who are highly experienced bowhunters.  They both confirmed that I shouldn’t have adjusted my aim for the angle that the buck presented me.  They confirmed my supposition – I shot over him.

The Bible is so filled with stories of second chances that it could easily be called ‘The Book of Second Chances.’ Some of the many people that God gave second chances included:

  • Joseph – he was arrogant with his brothers and rubbed the fact that he was their father’s favorite in their faces. Yet God gave him another chance, and he saved thousands of people during a seven-year-long famine, including his own family.
  • Moses – he murdered an Egyptian who was abusing a Hebrew. Yet, God gave him another chance, and he witnessed the burning bush, talked to God, delivered the Hebrews out of bondage in Egypt, gave the Ten Commandments and the law to the Hebrews, and wrote the first five books of the Old Testament.
  • David – he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband, Uriah, murdered. Yet God gave him another chance, and he wrote most of the book of Psalms, his reign established a dynasty, and Jesus descended from his bloodline.
  • Peter – he denied Jesus three times after Jesus’s arrest. Yet God gave Peter another chance, and he became the pastor of the church in Jerusalem and wrote First and Second Peter.

God’s offer for other chances applies to all of his children who have sinned and taken back at least partial control of their lives.  He said in Jeremiah 31:34b, “‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’”  Psalm 103:12 (NLT) says, “He {God} has removed our rebellious acts as far away from us as the east is from the west.”  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  Jesus’s voluntary sacrificial death enabled God to forgive us, no longer remember our confessed sins, and to put them away from us as far as they can be!

Do you need another chance from God?  He is willing and waiting to forgive you.  He does not keep score.  He has forgotten how many times you have asked for another chance.  You may think that you’ve reached the end of your chances, but he has never had such a thought.  If you need another chance, I implore you to get back into right standing with God by confessing your sins to him, and you will experience renewed fellowship.

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