The other day I was out with the family on my dad’s ranch – one of my favorite places to be. I was just enjoying the day and watching my kids run and play with no worries, as free as   birds. On this particular day as I leaned on a horse pen and watched a hawk play up on the hill, I was listening to my dad and kids as they were driving down to the back forty on the quad to feed the cows. As I thought of them enjoying the time with their grandpa, I was thinking how thankful I am for all of the great time I have had with my dad hunting, fishing, fixing fence. Almost all of my memories of my dad are from time spent outdoors.

I think in today’s world we are losing some of the great aspects of the outdoors and are turning it into just another extension of the rat race. Some examples: a lot of hunters today make it all about the size of the animal instead of focusing on the experience; or fishermen speed around the lake hurrying to catch a fish when they could be enjoying the beauty of their surroundings; or hikers, bikers and runners put time limits on their outings when they could take it a little slower and see some of the terrain through which they are passing.

Here are some ideas for your next outdoor experience to help create and preserve the memories:

1. Take it slow. Take time to stop and look around you. Take it all in and see what you’ve been missing.

2. Give yourself time to stop and reflect.  Inhale deeply of the fresh air and allow yourself to de-stress.

3. Bring a journal along. When you see something interesting or noteworthy, jot it down right then before you forget.

4. Don’t forget the camera! If you store your photos in your journal, you will have a complete record of your adventures all in one place.

5. And, I think most importantly, take someone with you to share the memory!

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Jason is an avid hunter who always goes out before every hunt, looking for the best place to set up camp, noticing signs of game, and scouting for the ultimate trophy. But one too many times, he has found himself out on a hunting trip wishing he had written something down while he was out exploring. Recently he found himself trying to find a certain ridge he had been on nearly a month ago. He remembered spotting an excellent herd of elk from that ridge, but he wasn’t sure exactly which hill he had been on. On a trip before that he wasted an entire day looking for a spring where he had found deer sign, but couldn’t find his way back to.

Since Jason found his ideal scouting journal, he’s saved himself a whole lot of headache. (A quick tip for finding your ideal journal: Make sure your journal is small enough to fit easily in your pack, but has enough room to record everything you want to remember.) Here are five reasons Jason finds his scouting journal invaluable on his pre-season outings: Read the rest of this entry »

Hi, my name is Joe. I am just a man that is trying to live his life the way God wants me to, be the head of my household, and love my wife and kids. But, sometimes this world gets in my way and I start to let the world run my life. When that happens, I often hear a song in my head – The Call of the Wild by Chris LeDoux. Now some of you, especially those of you who have heard this song, might be questioning what in the world does that song have to do with loving your wife and kids? Let me explain. Let me tell you how I found God and His love through my love of the outdoors. Later we’ll get to the wife and kids part.

During the fall of 2006 deer season, I went on a hunting trip with my dad and my two older brothers. It had been about ten years since I had had opportunity to go hunting with my dad. I was looking forward to the trip, but the rest of my life was falling apart. I was searching for something. At the time I thought it was someone to love and have a family with – but I was wrong. What I needed was a relationship with God. On the second morning of our trip I decided to get up early and go to a favorite spot of mine and hike to the top of the range before the sun came up. That was my own plan, but God was working on a plan for that day, too.

As soon as I got in my truck I had a feeling that I was going to find something that day. I thought it was going to be a deer. And it was. But I also found so much more. Around 5 AM I got to the ridge I wanted to hike. I knew it was going to take at least an hour to get to the top in the dark, so I began preparing my backpack with supplies for the day. While I was getting ready, I had the Chris LeDoux CD playing in the truck and his song The Call of the Wild came on – the version where the elk bugles at the beginning and at the end. I stopped to listen to the song and while I sat there I began to ask a God that I did not know at the time if He would show me that He was real with the sign of a buck deer for me to take that day. As the song ended I stepped out of the truck and immediately heard an elk bugle. I thought that was odd – it wasn’t the time of year for that, so I figured it was a young bull and I wouldn’t hear from him again. I downed the last of my coffee and headed for the ridge. Once again, I heard this elk bugle. I realized it was coming from the direction of the ridge where I was headed, so I decided to slow down and take my time going up so that I didn’t spook this elk. I was afraid if I spooked him, he would spook the whole mountain and that would be the end of my hunting chances for that day. When I was about halfway up the ridge I heard the elk call again. I realized he was pretty close. Because it was about a half hour until sunup, I thought I better stop for a while and wait until I could see more clearly. I still didn’t want to spook him. The whole time I waited there he stayed close and bugled about every five minutes.

When the sun was up enough for me to see the top of the ridge, I could see the outline of the bull. I began moving up the ridge at a slow pace hoping for a better look. When I got to the edge of the clearing, I could see the elk I had been hearing and a small herd of cow elk grazing to the left side of the open space. I was feeling pretty good that I had made it this far without spooking them. I stayed and watched them for a moment and then headed away from them to the right of the ridge. I figured I needed to get back to deer hunting. As soon as I turned around, there stood a 4×3 buck deer. Without thinking, I pulled up my rifle and dropped the buck. Right then God dropped me to my knees with the realization that he had answered my selfish prayer from over an hour ago. That was the moment I realized I needed to give my life – all of my life – to Him.

Joe

November 2017
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