The Wrong Trail by Randy Rowley 8/19/11 ©


Early on the first Saturday in February, Jim McGee and I headed to the Spanish Oaks upland game bird (quail, chukars, and pheasants) preserve near Thrall.  We were dressed and outfitted poorly for upland game birds.  Both of us were in full camo, and instead of bringing shotguns, we had brought scoped semi-automatic deer rifles.  No, we hadn’t lost our minds – you see, our quarry wasn’t upland game birds – it was hogs.

The preserve had a bit of a hog problem.  The pigs liked to come to the meandering stock tank (pond) to drink water and wallow in the mud.  They also enjoyed rooting in the fields.  As is typical with pigs, the rooting caused havoc to the preserve’s landscape.  The preserve’s owner told us to shoot as many pigs as we saw.

But there were problems – there was no hog fence to keep the pigs from escaping and no working feeders.  As there were no steady corn treats to keep them in the area, the pigs came and went at will.  Consequently, hunting from stands was unfruitful.  We had yet to see a hog while stand hunting after two hunts.

But we had a plan.  We had done several stalks together on another ranch and planned to repeat the tactic here.  The preserve had a large open field containing the stock tank.  There was also another large field several hundred yards away.  Between them was a heavily wooded area containing several gullies about three to four feet deep and the same width.  These were ideal pig turnpikes.  I figured if there were pigs on the property, they would bed down in the woods between the two fields.

We parked at the edge of the woods and started our stalk about 30 yards apart.  We made sure to keep ourselves from getting ahead of or behind each other and in each other’s sight.

We had made it about 100 yards when three things happened almost simultaneously.  First, I smelled a very musky and rancid smell which meant only one thing – a boar was near.  Second I heard something big crashing through the woods.  Third I saw a big brown blur to my left.  My senses screamed, “Hog!”  The boar ran across my bow about 30 yards away.

My Remington Model 7400 in .30-06 had see-through scope mounts, which enabled me to use my iron sights when needed.  Jim was to my right, so I knew I had a safe shot.  I aimed and tried to shoot the hog like a rabbit sporting clays target.  Except instead of 440 pellets (contained in a 12 gauge 1 1/8 oz. shotgun shell with #8 shot, often used in clay target games) heading his way, I loosed one 180 grain bullet.

The pig didn’t squeal, and we didn’t find any blood, so it was probably a clean miss.

We resumed our stalk.  In a couple of minutes, we came to a fence.  Figuring it was a cross fence I didn’t know about, we climbed it and proceeded on the other side.

We soon exited the woods and entered a large open field, and I immediately saw that things didn’t look right, such as the stock tank was nowhere to be seen.  We pressed on and discovered a stock tank I hadn’t seen before.  We resumed our stalk, and after another 300 yards, we spied the roof of a house.  The dwelling confirmed my suspicions – we weren’t on the right property!

We made a U-turn and retraced our steps.  After around 500 yards, we spotted my truck and crossed the fence.  Somehow, instead of walking a straight line, we gradually curved to the left.  What we thought was a cross fence was the border fence with the neighbor’s property.

We decided to call it a day and went to the owner’s lodge to tell him about the pig we encountered.  Joe Schram was chatting with the owner when we arrived.  After a couple of minutes, Joe pulled the owner aside, and they talked briefly.  They rejoined us and offered to take us chukar hunting.  We accepted, of course!

Jim and I waited while they put six chukars in one of the fields.  We then hunted them with Joe and the owner as our guides, two of Joe’s bird dogs, and using two of Joe’s shotguns.  We bagged four of the six.

So, what do you do if you determine you’ve taken a wrong trail in life?  The Bible has a consistent and straightforward answer – repent.

In Acts Chapter 3, Peter and John healed a man who had been lame from birth.  The man was so thrilled at being healed he began to walk, jump, and praise God.  The people of Jerusalem, who knew him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate, were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Peter then explained to the people that the man was made strong and completely healed by the man’s faith in the name of Jesus.  In Acts 3:16-19, he said, “‘By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong.  It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.  Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.  But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer.  Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.’”  “Acted in ignorance” refers to the crowd’s request to Pontius Pilate that he spare Barabbas over Jesus after Jesus’s trial and crucify Jesus (see Mark 15:6-15).

Repent has two required components.  The first is to acknowledge, sorrowfully, we took the wrong trail – we’ve sinned against God.  All of us have fallen short of God’s standards.  Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Our sin will result in eternal separation from God.  Romans 6:23a says, “For the wages of sin is death.”  A typical response to these revelations is sorrow.  And there’s a penalty for our rebellion.  Ephesians 2:1 says, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,” and Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  “Death” is eternal separation from God.

The second is to repent and turn to God.  We must confess our sins to him and profess he’s our Savior and Lord.  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” and Romans 10:9 says, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  God responds by forgiving our sins (saving us) and cleansing us from further unrighteousness by giving us the Holy Spirit and filling us with him.  This act is called a profession of faith.

Although sin no longer rules growing Christians, we can still rebel.  And when we rebel, we must repent to restore our relationship with God.  For a Christian, the act of repentance is the same as for an unbeliever – sorrow for our sin, confession, and turning back to God.  God responds by forgiving and cleansing us.  The only difference is a Christian turns back to God while an unbeliever turns to him for the first time.

The longer we walk on the trails of life, the more opportunities we’ll have to take the wrong trail.  But just as acknowledging we messed up and turning around got Jim and me back to my truck on that hog hunt, acknowledging we have a sin problem and turning around gets us to God or back to him.

Randy and Jim shooting a chukar

Jim and Randy

Categories : Devotionals

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Bible Verse of the Day

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.