Close Encounters by Randy Rowley 12/15/07 ©


The vast majority of big game hunters are rifle hunters.  In Texas, the typical rifle hunter hunts from a wood, fiberglass, plastic, etc. box blind (either on the ground or elevated), tripod, or ladder stand that is set up about 100 yards from a feeder.  The steady rests that box blinds and many tripods and ladder stands offer make bringing home the bacon much easier than shooting from standing, kneeling, or sitting positions outside of such stands.  Most of the time a hunter that is that far away from the feeder is not very concerned about the wind, making noise, how he or she smells, or what camo he or she is wearing.

However, there is a small percentage of hunters who prefer to get in much closer to their prey.  They also use different tools in the pursuit of their passion.  We call them bowhunters.

These hunters are a different breed.  They hunt from pop-up blinds, box blinds, tripods, or ladder stands only 20 yards or so from their feeders.  They take the time to become invisible to their prey’s defenses of sight, smell, and hearing.  They completely cover themselves in camo that matches the foliage of where they’re hunting.  They position their blinds so the prevailing wind direction doesn’t blow their scent towards the feeder.  They buy rubber sole boots and clothing with “activated charcoal” and store it in large zip-locked bags to avoid being permeated by other odors in their closets.  They take showers with no scent soap and apply no scent deodorant.  They spray themselves liberally with scent elimination spray.  They wear fleece clothing in order to reduce noise and painstakingly make their bows as free of noise as possible by adding string silencers, vibration eliminators, and felt by their arrow rests.

Bowhunters also have to practice to a much greater degree than gun and crossbow hunters.  Most of us can put our rifles up in January and then take them out the following November and do fine without any practice.  Bow hunters don’t have that luxury.  Shooting a bow is much harder than shooting a rifle.  A bow hunter must gauge the correct distance to the target, gauge the wind, keep his or her bow arm straight, draw back the arrow as quietly as possible, anchor the nock of the arrow to the corner of his or her lip, have a clean release, and then follow through.  A bowhunter must usually practice throughout the year if he or she is to be successful.  In short, up close hunting is much more challenging than hunting from a distance.

The challenge is a primary reason why people hunt up close.  Other reasons include it is more exhilarating (the adrenaline rush), fulfilling (harvesting game against greater odds than those hunting from a distance), and being close enough to hear and smell your prey.

The first time that I was close enough to game to smell it was during a late March hog hunt with Chambers Bowhunts near Sabinal.  On Saturday morning three friends and I did a group stalk in a 40-acre hog pen (the hogs could enter the pen but could not leave it).  We chased a medium sized black hog for over an hour.  While we were chasing the black hog, a reddish hog bolted and ran the opposite direction that we were heading.  We ignored it because the black hog that we were chasing was larger.

As Eddy Chance was walking by a tank he was startled to see the snout of the black hog sticking out of the water like the periscope of a submarine.  Eddy scared the hog out of the tank and then put an arrow through both lungs.

While Eddy was field dressing his hog the rest of us went after the red hog.  We chased it for an hour without success.  After Eddy rejoined us, Larry Dowden, Ken Farmer, and I positioned ourselves along a path that ran across the pen.  Eddy then went to where we thought that the hog was and yelled and beat the brush with a big stick, hoping to scare the hog towards us.  But the hog didn’t budge.

Eddy and Larry thought that the hog had snuck past us but Ken and I weren’t convinced.  We stalked side by side, towards where we thought that it had gone.  As we neared a large cedar tree, we suddenly smelled it!  It was that musty, rancid smell that only boars exude.  Ken went to the right and I went to the left.  Suddenly the boar burst from beneath the cedar tree and ran right in front of me, about five yards away.  All that I had time to do was to pull my bow string back and let my arrow fly.  It sailed over the hog’s back and stuck into the ground.

We decided that we weren’t going to get an ideal shot at that hog that morning, and we also needed to get Eddy’s hog on ice, so we went back to camp.

Did you know that likewise, God wants our relationship with him to be up close?  He doesn’t want to know us from a distance.  James 4:8a, “Come near to God and he will draw near to you.”  We must, through a conscious act of our will, come near to God.  We have to be the initiator.  Then he will come near to us.  Hebrews 10:22 says, “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”  We must draw near to God with a sincere heart through faith.

When we are up close to God, it is easier for us to:

  • Hear his voice – when we hear God’s voice, we can discern his will for our lives.
  • Imitate him – when we more clearly see him we want to be like him.
  • Forgive – forgiving others will become our default. It will become as natural as breathing.
  • Have the proper perspective on trials – when we exhibit the right attitude on trials it makes us more spiritually mature and complete, lacking nothing.
  • Experience his peace, love, joy, and the abundant life.
  • Become intimate with him –if we only encounter him at Christmas and Easter, he is not going to know us and we are not going to know him.

Some of the many ways to draw nearer to God include:

  • Die to self – we cannot get close to God until we die to self.  We must surrender our wills to him and allow him to be the Lord of our lives.  See Galatians 2:20a says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
  • Seek him – we will find him when we seek him.  Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
  • Worship him – we should have an attitude of worship.  We should worship him at every opportunity and everywhere we go.  Pretty churches are not the only places where we can worship God.  Some of my best worship experiences have been in some ugly deer blinds.  John 4:23 says, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”
  • Pray – prayer is a last resort for many of us – when all else has failed.  But prayer is not a Monopoly “get out of jail free card.”  God wants us to talk to him about the little things as well as the big things.  We should follow the example of Jesus, who prayed often for long periods of time.  Prayer unlocks the power of God.  James 4:2b says, “You do not have because you do not ask God.”
  • Read, study, and memorize his word – the Bible is not just a history book filled with good advice.  It is the “words of life.”  In it is the way to find success.  It exposes us for who we really are.  There have been many, many times when I have been tempted to sin and remembering a passage from God’s word kept me from doing so.  Hiding God’s word in your heart ensures that you will always have his word near you.  Psalms 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
  • Obey – Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands.”  By obeying Jesus’ commands, we stay in his love and he will respond by revealing more of his will to us.
  • Serve – Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve.  If we want to get in close with him, we need to put an apron on.  Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

Getting in close to God requires us to get out of our comfort zone, change our behavior, become more dedicated and passionate, and to persevere.  But when we get close to God the rewards are great.  If you know God only from a distance, I encourage you to get close to him.  When we get close to him, we are able to receive life’s greatest trophy – the wondrous abundant life.

Categories : Devotionals

Bible verse of the day

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him — his name is the Lord. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

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