The Preseason - A Chapter from Deer Hunter's Devotional
“The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.”
As August arrives, the heart of the Sportsman begins to stir. He knows that fall will not be far behind, and with it comes the opening of the hunting seasons. There is much work to be done before the fields and forests are ready for opening day. Food plots will have been planted and tended throughout the summer, but there are still many other things left to do.
The grass along the sides of logging roads will need to be bush-hogged, and the summer rains may have eroded the roads themselves, cutting deep channels into the soft red clay. Growing trees may have pushed some of the permanent ladder stands out of position, causing them to tilt in uncomfortable directions. Some of the trails will have been blocked by fallen trees, and there is always brush that needs to be trimmed.
With so much physical labor to be accomplished, it's easy to forget that we should do some work in the spiritual world as well. The Lord has given us this incredible wilderness to enjoy, and it's important that we remember to thank Him for it and to offer prayers for a safe and successful year in the deer woods. Mixing prayer and deer hunting – or even pre-deer hunting activities – is a wonderful thing, and this year I intend to do more of that than ever before.
I can remember one season a few years back when I went down to my lease in late August. I drove to every stand on the property and prayed over them all, asking that the men who hunted from each one would remain safe, that they would enjoy their time in the woods, and that they would see the hand of God as they spent time in His creation.
Stopping at every single stand that I could find, I asked that the men's thoughts would turn to God as they sat silently in the woods waiting for deer. I asked that each stand be productive and that the men who hunted from them would use wisdom as they saw deer and decided whether or not to make the shot. Though I am telling you about this now, I did the whole thing in secret, praying “in my closet” as Scripture instructs us to do. I did this not only because it seemed like a good idea, but because I saw it as a way of getting closer to God.
We have thirty or forty permanent stands on our lease, so you can imagine that praying over each one was an all day job. And so it was, but it also gave me the opportunity to get rid of any wasp nests that had been built into the corners of our box blinds, and to mark each stand on my GPS. This year I'm going to pray over my stands again, and as I do that I will take time to notice the direction that each stand is facing and will make a chart that will help me choose which stand to hunt according to which way the wind is blowing on a given day. I see no issue with being productive both spiritually and physically at the same time.
Some of our deer stands are starting to get old, and many of the wooden ladders are weakening. As I visit each stand during the preseason, I'll inspect the ladders for loose nails, hammering them back into place or adding new nails if necessary. Prayers for safety are particularly important at the older stands, and I will be diligent in asking God that no one get hurt in one of them. We haven't had an accident on the lease yet, and I don't want this year to be any different in that respect.
As I finish my day of prayer on the lease, I will stop at the main gate and ask for God's blessing upon the land as a whole. I'll ask that we continue to have access to this beautiful piece of property, and that we would use it in such a way as to glorify Him. I'll ask that He guard our coming and going on the property this year, and that He protect us from harm. There are dangers like rattlesnakes, coyotes and bears on this property, not to mention the occasional trespasser. I'll ask that God protect us in our encounters with any of them.
I'll close by asking that He bless even the animals themselves, growing majestic racks on the bucks and good size and health on the does. I'll ask that the turkeys have a successful breeding season, and that the birds and squirrels are plentiful. I'll even pray for the eagles that have nested in the pines across the road from the lake.
All of this is a way of connecting with both the Lord and the environment. Remembering God in our hunting endeavors draws us closer to Him. Paul instructs us to pray without ceasing, and praying over your stands and your deer woods are a good way to implement this. Walk with God not only in your daily life, but in all of your activities. You‟ll be glad that you did.
ACTION POINT: Pray over the stands on your deer lease this year. Pray specifically for safety during your hunts and for a bountiful year. Pray for men to come to Christ as they see His hand at work in the incredible world of the outdoors that surrounds them.