Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Climbing To The Top

My son-in-law, Thane and I left the elk trail as it turned downhill because we wanted to go to the top of the ridge. There was a smaller deer trail that went left so I took it thinking it would be a short cut but soon a vertical rock wall loomed before us. The deer trail traversed across the steep face up to a lone pine tree. All I could think about is how many deer bones lay in the brush below for the ones that slipped. I asked Thane what he thought and his silent response was carefully working his way toward the pine tree. I knew then that I was committed to follow so I focused on the ground not looking off the trail. After we were safely on relatively flat ground I remarked, “Sometimes you and I do something crazy when we are hunting and that definitely qualifies.”

The mountain had many surprises for us as we would just get to what we thought was the top of the ridge only to be greeted by another ridge jutting up defiantly ahead of us. To make matters worse, we had to descend into a ravine before climbing up to the next bench. This pattern repeated itself for nearly two hours. When we finally got to the top ridge we took a rest before proceeding into the coolness of dark timber. It was there Thane whispered, “Elk!” I froze and looked just off the trail sixty yards ahead to see the antlers of a nice bull. Three bulls stood in a small swale trying to decide what we were. We cow called and thought they might stay but one bull finally turned and headed downhill. Soon we were left in the silence of the moment savoring what we had just encountered. The rest of the day we poked around a brush field and came across several fresh elk beds but never heard or saw any elk. We descended down through a clear cut as darkness closed the day but the afternoon encounter with three majestic bulls of God’s creation made up for the terrible climb we did earlier.

Life is full of terrible climbs as we go through the years. We try to climb the vocation mountain, the financial success mountain, and the social mountain only to come out battered and weary. Just when we think the top is in reach a ravine comes along. There is one mountain that we can climb and come out on top, the spiritual mountain. When we turn our life over to Jesus we have help to get to the top of life and eternity. God designed us for a relationship with Him so he can help us everyday. Sadly, many people never seek Him. They would rather tough it out on their own. I have a friend and spiritual brother going through a very difficult time financially but he is at peace because he knows the Father. He understands in his heart it is more important to know Jesus than anything else in life. His faith can not be shaken.

Are you having trouble with a mountain? God cares and wants to help. He is just waiting to hear from you. Grab a prayer partner and both of you spend time communicating with the Father. God is the ultimate mountain climber!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Bear and The Bees

We have all heard about the birds and the bees but I recently learn some facts of life from a bear and a hive of bees. Last Friday evening was quite warm for September but I headed for an old tree stand that I put up about ten years ago. Even though two well used game trails meet in the small clearing by the stand, I have never seen anything bigger than a pine squirrel.

As I approached the clearing it was very evident that a bull moose had just been there as dirt was freshly dug up and a few bushes received the pounding from his rack. A lovesick bull moose can be dangerous this time of year so I quickly put my elk decoy, Henrietta in the ground and started for the tree. I noticed a bear had also been there as many logs were freshly torn up. I climbed the ladder and had just put the bow on the platform when I heard the buzzing of bees even though my hearing isn’t too good. A glance to my left revealed a hive of bald faced hornets that the bear had just visited. Evidently the bear took advantage of the steps to the stand and crawled up, reached out and swiped the nest; removing the bottom half. The hornets were flying madly around and it is fortunate I blended into the tree enough to fool them. I bailed off the steps hitting the ground running. Then it dawned on me that my bow was still on the platform about four feet from the hornets. All I could do was set down and wait for them to calm down which took nearly an hour; then I slowly climbed up the steps and grabbed the bow. All I could think that this time I would see an elk since my bow was in the tree.

I chuckled as I headed to a different area for the rest of the evening and watched a glorious sunset. This evening reminded me how life can throw us unexpected obstacles and circumstances. It is only by having faith in God that we can deal with them in peace. God is in control; we aren’t. When life deals us a curve we should go to God immediately as He is waiting to help us. Men especially, often want to slug it out on their own which doesn’t work near as good. Grab a buddy and pray together.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Walking In God's Garden

I took off Monday afternoon and went archery elk hunting even though the temperature hovered near ninety degrees. I left Ardella in camp with the Jolene and the granddaughters and off course, Sadie. I left in a hurry and forgot to take any water, binoculars, and my elk decoy, Henrietta. My path resembled the kids in the Family Circus cartoon when they are supposed to go to the neighbor’s house and instead cover two blocks and climb trees and fences to get there. I proceeded up an old road through Vance’s property and discovered the fresh scat of a black bear but my mind was focused on finding elk. I walked the old road out along the top end off a clear cut made several years ago but could not find any elk tracks so I headed farther out along another road that dissects a more recent clear cut still not finding any elk tracks. An old grown in road cut down toward a creek bottom where I had set up camouflage cloth for a ground blind at an old elk wallow; so I turned down it knowing it would be cooler in the dark timber. To my surprise I found the blind fabric strewn across the ground and ripped into two pieces. At first I thought a moose had got tangled up in it but closer inspection revealed a black bear had found it. The bear also dug out some insects at the base of a tree where the fabric was hanging. I hung up the big part and checked the wallow but there have not been any elk use it yet so I proceeded back to the road in the clear cut and soon found some recent elk tracks. I followed the road around the hill where it ended but could not find any more tracks so I headed up a trail that parallels a small creek. I have never been in the creek bottom that tumbles its way through big dark timber and decided to explore this cool area the God had created. I descended into the cool timber where the temperature dropped about twenty degrees. The forest floor was a mat of pine needles and the gurgle of the creek very pleasant. A few ferns grew near the waters edge but other than that it was like walking through a cathedral of old trees I found numerous deer trails and spotted some old four by six beams stretched across some old logs. They were the remains of an old log flume that over sixty years ago carried logs out of the mountains to the valley below where they were loaded on train cars and taken to the Humbird mill in Sandpoint.

I was trying to envision the kind of life these rugged men had living in the woods most of the year when I saw a bone of a deer leg. I looked up and spotted the jaw bone several feet away and picked it up to age the deer by the wear on the teeth and decided that this deer was probably four years old. As I cast a glance to my left, some white antlers caught my eye. There was the skull and antlers of a nice five by five white tail buck. I determined it had been here nearly two years and realized I may have seen this year the year before he died as a nice four by four buck. He was with a huge five point buck and though I could have easily taken him, I choose to wait out the big guy who seemed to have a sense that something wasn’t right and melted back into the brush. A year later I took the big buck but never saw this buck again.

I climbed my way out of the creek bottom and took up a position by an old log pile for the rest of the evening and watched the sun slowly disappear over the Selkirk Mountains. As I walked back to camp in the dark and to lazy to dig out a head lamp I talked out loud to God, thanking Him for the adventure of the afternoon. We all need to get out in God’s outdoors and wander around and thank Him for his wonderful creation.