“Nobody will believe this story”, I thought to myself as I trudged back to my truck in the darkness. It had been a long day of deer hunting covering many miles. I carried with me a large ten point deer rack. It was from a deer I had hunted all day, but didn’t kill.
I live in the middle of the Hiawatha National forest in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I had heard old stories of hunters taking the track of a buck and staying with it for hours on end and eventually getting a shot at the deer. As the day wears on the buck becomes less cautious and probably more annoyed by the pesky person that keeps following him. Eventually the buck becomes careless. Maybe doesn’t jump up and run soon enough. Eventually the hunter may get his chance. Of course this would only work in the big woods where you are unlikely to meet other hunters.
This saga began early one morning, late in November. We were getting hit with heavy lake effect snow and the deer were moving to their winter yards twenty miles to the south in the big cedar swamps. It was the next to last day of season and I had decided to try tracking a buck down. Shortly after daylight I drove to where a well used migration trail crossed a gravel road. I parked about one hundred yards before the trail, and then walked along the road checking for tracks. About fifty yards beyond the trail, I found what I was looking for. The tracks of a single large deer. I was pretty sure this would be a large buck following the migration route, but staying off the main trail. I got my gun and gear and started following the tracks.
After about a mile or so, I noticed from the tracks that the deer had begun to change directions often as if looking for a place to hold up for the day. There was a hill ahead of me and the summit appeared to be thick with young spruce trees. What an excellent spot for a deer to hide and watch his back trail. I circled around the hill, hoping to sneak in from the other side. I was too late. The sign in the snow showed where the deer had bedded down near the summit. Apparently the deer had spotted me and took off before I began to circle the hill. This cat and mouse game, went on for hours. One time I got a look at the deer as it exploded from some thick cover as I approached. I was able to see that it was a buck with a very large rack. That was all it took to re-energize me. An hour later I spotted the buck standing just below a ridgeline watching me. It was in open hardwoods about 300 yards away. I raised my rifle, hoping to get a better look through the scope. All I saw was the deer’s white flag disappearing over the ridge.
Late in the day the tracks were approaching a forest highway. I was hoping that the buck would not want to cross the highway in the daytime and would hold up on until after dark before crossing. It would be dark within the hour. I had determined that if it crossed the highway, I was quitting. There was a huge swamp west of the highway that ran for miles. I slowed my pace to a crawl. This would be my last chance for a shot. Checking each place the buck could hide, before moving on. I was concentrating on thick cover ahead of me on the left, when I caught movement off to my right. The buck must have been standing there watching me for several minutes, before bounding away. I knew the buck would be crossing the road and my hunt for the day was over.
This forest highway is usually busy with log trucks. I was vaguely aware of a log truck coming down the highway, accelerating for the approaching hill. I could hear the truck, but my mind was still on the buck. Within seconds it would be on both. I was four to five hundred yards from the road. Sound carries well in the still evening air and the next sound I heard was the truck slamming on the brakes. After that there was a thud, and then the truck accelerating again.
I continued on to the road, hoping I would not find the buck there. But alas, there it was, a crumpled heap in the side ditch. There would be no venison from this deer. I cut off the antlers, which surprisingly weren’t broken from the impact with the truck. I then started the long trek back to my vehicle, miles and miles away.
Even today when I look at those antlers, I remember an unusual hunt and a wise old buck that outfoxed me at every turn, only to be killed by an odd twist of fate.
Unlike that buck, we have a little more control on how we will be remembered. Life doesn’t always turn out the way we’d hoped that it would, and sometimes we make bad choices that get us into a heap of trouble. That doesn’t have to be what we are remembered for. God promises to give us hope, and a future.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
Asking Jesus to lead us to that hope and a future can change the course of our life. It can change what we are remembered for. We just have to decide to let Him help us.
What is it you’re facing? Nobody goes into battle alone. We can stand with you. Let us know in the comments below how we can pray for you, or by submitting your story.
He will fight for you.