The Lake Uno Mas Hog Hunt by Randy Rowley 8/3/08 ©


On a Friday evening in April, 12 friends, four sons, and I left Austin for an FCS hog hunting and work weekend at the 10,000-acre Uno Mas Ranch near Artesia Wells.  The agreement was to hunt on Saturday in exchange for work on Sunday.  We arrived at Artesia Wells four hours later.  We only had to travel dirt roads for 15 miles to reach the ranch.

Unbeknownst to us, the area had gotten heavy rain, and the dirt roads were now mud.  Paul Wilson’s Ford Ranger hit a big puddle within a mile, drowning it out, followed by several vehicles getting stuck.  Se also missed our turn three times.  Randy Slagle’s four-wheel-drive Chevy Z71 pickup truck with all-terrain tires pulled the stuck vehicles out, which took a long time as he had to unhitch his trailer, pull the stuck vehicle out, and re-hitch his trailer.

Four hours later, at 3:00 AM, Kevin Font’s Chevy Suburban got stuck to both axles.  Most of the group decided to camp next to Kevin’s SUV, but Paul and I decided to look for the ranch.  We thought we had found it but were unsure, so we camped on the side of the road by our vehicles.

The men of the main caravan freed Kevin’s SUV at daybreak and continued their trek, but Steve Watkins’ truck got stuck after a mile.  Meanwhile, Paul and I found the ranch.  We then went back to the main caravan to lead them to it.  We decided to abandon four of the two-wheel-drive vehicles on the side of the road and shuttle the men and equipment the remaining four miles to the ranch in the two four-wheel-drive vehicles – Randy’s Chevy and my Jeep Cherokee.

We arrived at the ranch around 11:00 AM, unpacked, ate lunch, and rested.  Around 1:00 PM, we began to scout and put out some corn.  I took first-time guests Tim and Jesse Price with me in my Jeep.  I left my rifle back at camp because the ranch hand told us we wouldn’t see any hogs until dusk, but Tim and Jesse had the foresight to bring theirs.

As we explored, we saw a field about 200 yards ahead.  When we got closer, we saw it contained several dark animals.  We glassed them and saw that the animals were around 30 adult hogs and several piglets!  Tim offered to loan me his 1911 long-slide pistol chambered in .45 ACP, but I had no confidence I could hit a hog so far away with it, so I declined.

We stalked up to about 100 yards from the hogs, who were happily grazing and oblivious to our presence.  Tim and Jesse knelt by a sturdy wooded sign with “Oat Field” painted on it and used it as a rest for their rifles.  I ensured they picked out different hogs.  They agreed to fire on the count of three.  I softly counted.  On “Three,” there was a simultaneous Kaaaaabooooooom!  Pandemonium ensued, with hogs running in every direction!

Some hogs ran in front of Randy Slagle’s Chevy, and a couple of the hunters in its bed got off shots at them.  We didn’t hear any pig squeals and couldn’t find any blood.

Later, after getting in the stands, we finally had success.  Keith Miller killed a 210-pound boar around 120 yards away with a double lung shot.  Kevin Font killed a boar slightly smaller than Keith’s with a 200-yard plus headshot.  He also killed a 100-pound sow with a 198-yard neck shot.  Two other hogs were missed.

We ate dinner and began falling asleep around 11:00 PM.  But we were awakened around 2:30 AM by an approaching thunderstorm.  We decided to get the heck out of Dodge and quickly packed.

Due to limited seating, some men had to wait at the ranch with some of the equipment for later pick up by Randy’s Chevy.  They didn’t try to bring my Jeep back after they got it out, as with its street tires, it was almost as useless in the slop as a two-wheel-drive vehicle.  At 8:30 AM, Randy’s Chevy made it back to the ranch, and that was only because Larry Dowden helped push it the last two miles.  We feared being stuck there for a week while the road dried, so we left much of our equipment at the ranch.  We also abandoned Randy’s trailer on the side of the road as its wheels stopped turning, making it impossible to pull.

As we headed out on the final trip, Randy’s Chevy started to slip off the muddy road.  The four of us in the bed got on the other side of a barbed-wire fence and pushed Randy’s Chevy to keep it from sliding into it.  We finally made it to the highway around 11:00 AM.  The entire journey from the ranch to the highway took over eight hours.  None of the seven vehicles escaped from being stuck during that weekend.

Incredible as that sounds, it was only through God’s mercy that all seven vehicles made it out of the slop.  However, it wasn’t without casualties – Steve Watkins’ truck would only run in low gear during his trip home, and my Jeep’s differential went out a few months later.

It’s a good thing we left when we did because the storm dumped around two inches of rain.  We probably wouldn’t have made it out for a week if we hadn’t left then.  Yet, no one got mad, cursed, displayed a bad attitude, or attacked anyone else throughout this ordeal.  We were all disappointed, but outward sin was absent.

The Bible has a lot to say about trials.  James 1:2-4 (NASB) says, “Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

James did not say trials were joyful.  Instead, he taught that our perspective of trials (and responding to them properly) would ultimately result in perfection, completeness, and not needing anything.  What we should consider as joy is the opportunity to develop endurance or patience.  It’s all about our attitude.  Trials can teach us lessons we’d never learn without them and can make us stronger Christians.  If we didn’t have trials, we would remain weak, baby Christians who would never grow and take on missions from God.

Peter echoed James’ teachings on joy during trials, except for a different reason – if we share in Jesus’ sufferings, we’ll also share in his joy.  1 Peter 4:12-13 (NASB) says, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial among you, which cometh upon you to prove you, as though a strange thing happened unto you: but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.”  “To the degree” implies that Christians who have shared more of Jesus’ sufferings will rejoice to a greater degree at his return in glory.

When trials happen in public, we mustn’t forget that people will be watching to see how we react.  What will you say to the other driver if a car rear-ends yours?  If someone insults you, will your response be wholesome?  If a peer criticizes you in a team meeting, will you listen or strike back?  How do you react when someone falsely accuses you?

Far too many Christians react similarly to those belonging to Satan.  We forget Ephesians 4:29 (NLT), which says, “Don’t use foul or abusive language.  Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”  We also forget James 1:19-20, which says, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

When we react in the same manner as those who don’t know God, it’s because we haven’t entirely yielded every area of our lives to him.  We’re willing to let God lead us to a degree, but if things don’t go as we think they should, we’ll take back control.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “‘Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.’”  People will either be drawn toward God or move further from him based on our public reactions when we experience trials.

Shortly after that hunt, Jesse and Tim joined FCS.  Jesse said they joined mainly because of the hunters’ responses to our joint trials during the hunt – we handled them in a Christ-like manner.

Tim accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior shortly after joining FCS.  His name is now written in the Lamb’s Book of Life!  Tim possibly wouldn’t have made that decision if he’d seen men who professed to be Christians react badly to our group trial.  If we hadn’t let our light shine and reacted like those who don’t know Christ, Tim might never have met Jesus.

How do you respond to trials?  Do you react in a way that would make your heavenly Father proud?  If not, I encourage you to surrender your attitude during trials and reactions to them entirely to him.

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