Close Encounters by Randy Rowley 12/15/07 ©


The vast majority of medium-size game hunters are rifle hunters.  In Texas, the typical rifle hunter hunts from an elevated or ground box blind (made from wood, fiberglass, plastic, etc.), tripod, ladder stand, or climbing stand set up about 100 yards from a feeder.  The steady rest that box blinds and many tripods and ladder stands provide make bringing home the bacon much easier than shooting from standing, kneeling, or sitting positions outside of such stands.  Also, most of the time, hunters who are 100 or so yards away from their feeders aren’t very concerned about the wind, making noise, how they smell, or what camo they’re wearing.

However, a small percentage of hunters prefer to get in much closer to their prey.  They also use different tools in the pursuit of their passions.  We call them bowhunters, and they’re 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 their hunting spot.  They put their blinds where the prevailing wind direction won’t blow their scent towards their feeders.  They buy rubber-sole boots and clothing with “activated charcoal” and store it in large zip-locked bags to avoid odors in their closets permeating it.  They take showers with no-scent soap and apply no-scent deodorant.  After dressing, they spray themselves abundantly with scent elimination spray.  They wear fleece clothing 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 practice.  Bowhunters don’t have that luxury.  Shooting a bow is much harder than shooting a rifle.  Bowhunters must calculate the correct distance to their prey, gauge the wind, keep their bow arms straight, draw their arrows back as quietly as possible, anchor the nock of their arrows to the corner of their lips, have a clean release, and then follow through.  Bowhunters must usually practice throughout the year if they’re to be successful.  And they must do that without being seen, heard, or winded.  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’s more exhilarating (an adrenaline rush), fulfilling (harvesting game when the odds are lesser than the odds of those hunting from a distance), and being close enough to hear and smell your prey.

The first time I was close enough to game to smell it was during a late March FCS 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 couldn’t 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 in 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 stock tank (pond), he was startled to see the snout of the black hog sticking out of the water like a submarine’s periscope.  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 reddish 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 the hog had snuck past us, but Ken and I weren’t convinced.  We stalked side by side, towards where we thought 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 tree and ran right in front of me, about five yards away.  All that I had time to do was to pull my bowstring back and let my arrow fly, without aiming.  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 us to know him from afar.  James 4:8a says, “Come near to God and he will draw near to you.”  We must, through a conscious act of our wills, move close to God.  We must be the initiators.  Then he will move close to us like a magnet attracts metal.  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 move close to God with an open heart and confidence that comes from our 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, we become 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, we’re not going to know him.

Some of the many ways to move closer 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 our Lord.  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 the last resort for some 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 often prayed for long periods.  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’s the “words of eternal life” (see John 6:60-69).  In its pages is the way to find success.  It exposes us for who we really are.  There have been many times when I was tempted to sin, and remembering a passage from God’s word kept me from doing so.  Hiding God’s word in our hearts ensures we’ll always have his word near us.  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 move close to 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.”

Moving closer to God requires us to get out of our comfort zones, change behaviors, become more dedicated and obedient, and persevere.  It’s not easy.  But when we move closer to God, the rewards are great.  If you know God only from afar, I encourage you to move closer to him.  Many have done so and are all the better for it.

Categories : Devotionals

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