Close Encounters by Randy Rowley 12/15/07 ©


In Texas, the vast majority of medium-size game hunters are rifle hunters.  The typical rifle hunter hunts from an elevated or ground box blind, tripod, ladder stand, or climbing stand set up about 100 yards from a feeder.  The steady rest such blinds provide makes bringing home the bacon much easier than shooting from standing, kneeling, sitting, or prone positions outside such stands.  Also, most of the time, hunters that far from their feeders don’t have to be as concerned about wind direction, how they smell, making noise, or what camo they’re wearing as those who hunt up close.

However, a small percentage of hunters prefer to get 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 usually hunt from pop-up blinds, tripods, ladder stands, or climbing stands about 20 yards 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 put their blinds where the prevailing wind direction won’t blow their scent toward their feeders.

They buy rubber-sole boots and clothing with ‘activated charcoal’ and store it in large Ziploc bags to avoid odors from their closets permeating it.  They take showers with no-scent soap and apply no-scent deodorant.  After dressing, they spray themselves thoroughly with scent elimination spray.  They wear fleece clothing to reduce noise and painstakingly make their bows as noise-free as possible by adding string silencers, vibration eliminators, and felt by their arrow rests.

Bowhunters also have to practice much more than gun and crossbow hunters.  Most of us can put our rifles up in January, 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 determine or calculate the correct distance to their prey, gauge the wind, keep their bow arms straight, draw their arrows as quietly as possible, anchor their arrow nocks to the corners of their lips, have a clean release, and follow through.  Bowhunters must usually practice throughout the year if they’re to be successful.  In short, up-close hunting is much more challenging than hunting from afar.

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 they are for those hunting from a distance), and being close enough to hear and smell your prey.

The first time I was close enough to smell game 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 that hog, a reddish hog bolted and ran in the opposite direction from where we were heading.  We ignored it because the black hog 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.  Then the hog left the tank.  It stopped briefly, and Eddy put an arrow through both of the hog’s lungs.

While Eddy field dressed his hog, the rest of us hunted 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 running across the pen.  Eddy then went to where we thought the hog was.  He yelled and beat the brush with a big stick, hoping to drive it toward us, but it didn’t budge.

Eddy and Larry thought the hog had snuck past us, but Ken and I weren’t convinced.  Ken and I stalked side by side toward where we thought it had gone.  As we neared a large cedar tree, we suddenly smelled it!  It was that musty, rancid smell 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 I had time to do was a snapshot – I pulled my bowstring back and let my arrow fly without aiming.  It sailed just over the hog’s back and stuck into the ground.

We concluded we wouldn’t get a non-running shot at that hog that morning, and needed to ice Eddy’s hog, so we went back to camp.

Did you know God wants our relationship with him to be up-close, like bow hunting?  He doesn’t want to know us from afar.  James 4:8a says, “Come near to God and he will draw near to you.”  Through a conscious act of our will, we move close to God.  We must be the initiators.  Then he’ll 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 the confidence resulting from our faith.

When we’re up close to God, it’s easier to:

  • Hear his voice – when we hear God’s voice, we often discern his will for our lives.  (See John 10:27, Romans 12:2, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, 1 Peter 2:13-15, and 1 Timothy 2:4.)
  • Imitate him – when we more clearly see him, we want to be like him.  (See Ephesians 5:1.)
  • Forgive – forgiving others will become our default. It’ll become as natural as breathing.  (See Matthew 6:14–15.)
  • Have the proper perspective on trials – when we exhibit the right attitude, we become more spiritually mature and complete, lacking nothing.  (See James 1:2-4.)
  • Experience his peace, love, joy, and the abundant life.  (See Philippians 4:7, 1 John 4:16, John 16:24, and John 10:10b.)
  • Become intimate with him – if we only encounter him at Christmas and Easter, we won’t know him.

Some of the many ways to move closer to God include:

  • Die to self – we can’t get close to God until we die to self.  We must surrender our wills to him and allow him to be our Lord.  Galatians 2:20a says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
  • Seek him – we’ll find him when we seek him.  God said to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 29:13, “‘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 aren’t the only places where we can worship God.  Some of my best worship experiences have been in some ugly deer blinds.  Jesus said in John 4:23, “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 many Christians – 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 and the big things.  Prayer unlocks God’s power.  James 4:2b says, “You do not have because you do not ask God.”
  • Read, study, and memorize his word – the Bible isn’t just a history book filled with good advice.  It’s the “words of eternal life” (see John 6:60-69).  Its pages contain the way to find God’s will, as was previously discussed, and success.  Joshua 1:8 says, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.”  God’s word shows us who we really are.  There have been many times when I was tempted to sin, and remembering a verse or 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.  Psalm 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’ll stay in his will, and he’ll respond by revealing more of his will to us.
  • Serve – Jesus didn’t come to be served but to serve.  He said in Mark 10:45, “‘For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’” and 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.”  We must put on our aprons to move closer to him.

Moving closer to God requires us to leave our comfort zones, change our behaviors, become more dedicated and obedient, and persevere.  It’s not for the timid.  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 the better for it.


Categories : Devotionals

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A little that a righteous man has Is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, But the LORD upholds the righteous.