Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Last nights hunt


Yesterday when I got home from work I asked my 7 year old daughter if she wanted to go into the woods with me to hang a tree stand and to hunt deer on the way to the stand sight. I explained that we would be walking a lot and that we would be coming back in the dark. She gladly agreed because she has been itching to see a chipmunk in the woods.

On the way to the hunting locale we chitty chatted a bit about how excited we were to see chipmunks and how awesome it would be to be able to explore. Abbie really seemed excited which made me all the more excited to show her a place that I hold close to my heart. I would be sharing a deeply ingrained part of me.

Once we arrived we started walking down a big mountain. It didn't take to long until we got into some pricker bushes and Abbie began to complain a bit. Now the trouble here is that:

  1. It's raining
  2. I am carrying ladder sticks (heavy and cumbersome), tree stand on back, survival backpack on back, bow and arrows and 200 lbs me. I have all that I can handle as I fight the prickers and trees as gracefully as a grizzly bear in a compact car. I get one side freed from a poorly placed tree limb only to find that in the process I have somehow tied a Chinese mystery knot around my quiver (arrow holder for any who don't shoot archery).
  3. Now we have made it about 3/4 of the way down the hill and I realize that I am 25 yards to the North of where I am hoping to be and we are facing a sheer 20 foot drop off into the creek that I am shooting for.
  4. No problem we head South and the problem will be solved. Done this a hundred times. Abbie... my poor child is getting pretty freaked out about the "Stupid Pricker Bushes". I am all of a sudden hit with the reality that this child may not make it. The prickers are apparently not as stupid as either of us thought because they are eating her alive. We are 10 feet from the edge of a slippery cliff, 25 yards away from the trail that we need to get to and the stuff on my back is getting REALLY HEAVY oh and did I mention it is now DARK. Abbie says, I can't do it, I want to go home... I turn to her and say in my best tough guy voice. "What the h*** is wrong with you? We will see no deer on this trip thanks to your loud crying and screaming. I need to hang this treestand and I didn't drive 45 minutes and walk 1/4 of a mile through this maze of prickers just to turn back now." She began to ball.
Now, fathers. I don't ever swear in front of or at my children. I know for certain that my daughter never heard that word out of my mouth until that day. So why, when she needed me to be a daddy, did I fall so flat on my face. What could have been an opportunity to show the love of CHRIST became an example of how daddy loves this sport of hunting so much that I would let nothing get in the way of doing what I knew I had to do to make my hunt that much better.

I began to walk away from Abbie and said "Come On!". She paused a moment and finally ran toward me saying the whole time, "There are no prickers, there are no prickers..." We got to the trail and made it to the creek which we followed for a few hundred yards. I realized that while I could hang the treestand in the dark, I would do better to do it in the light without putting my daughter through an additional ordeal. I decided to lay the treestand and climbing sticks down on the bank of the creek and leave them until I could go back out there and hang in the light.

We started back and had a difficult time finding the trail in the dark for some reason. It is a trail that I have climbed for the past couple of years, yet admittedly it didn't seem the same as usual. I finally decided the general direction I needed to go and within 20 yards everything fell into place and the trail was clear.

Coming back up the mountain I told Abbie how sorry I was for acting like I did. I explained that I was wrong to speak to her that way and I asked her forgiveness which she kindly extended. She asked me if I could forgive her for being so loud, crying, and saying the bad word, "Stupid". And every time that she tripped on a log she would apologize and at one point she said you probably wish that you didn't ever have a little girl.


Wait just a second. Is that what she got from this experience? I absolutely adore her. I am possibly tooooo proud of her. She is the picture of what and who I want and allows wanted my daughter to be. Even before I was married. I knew I would want a little girl.

I felt like puddling up and weeping (not the crying type though). Here my daughter was teaching me something. She was showing me grace and her broken heart. I explained that she had nothing to be sorry for and that I really overreacted. It dawned on me that my children are pretty lucky to grow up in a Christian family where just by being around her family she can learn a lesson on grace that wasn't ever spoken by lived... mostly. It needs to be always, lest we steal there self esteem.

I thought it most excellent that my word was somehow made an equal with the likes of "Stupid" in her mind. How completely innocent she is. Shame on me for my outburst. I do really love this child... with ALL OF MY HEART (tears).

I have learned much from this experience... I am not sure what Abbie learned. Fortunately, God blesses us with other opportunities to demonstrate our love and GOOD parenting skills. I lost my opportunity yesterday. I pray that I am not so self consumed to miss it again.

As we went up the hill I tried to take the path of least resistance (aka. path with less thorns). And consequently got a little turned around. Abbie asked Daddy, are we lost? I said, "No" in my most confident voice. I said, all that we need to do is to continue up the ridge. Just then I realized that the ridge looked pretty level. My investigation of the tree tops offered no help, the moon wasn't visible on this rainy evening, my compass was somewhere else, and my GPS at home. Abbie, suspecting we were lost held my hand and said, "We're lost, right?" I said, "Not lost, just turned around a bit."

I began to look around and spotted the trail to our left. We headed that way and I mentally tracked our path and decided on a direction which thank God was exactly right. We ended up right at our truck. Thank you Jesus.

As we arrived at our truck, Abbie said, "I knew we weren't lost." She is awful sweet... don't you think?

We stopped at Hardee's and discussed our battle wounds (scratches from the prickers) and enjoyed a sweet father and daughter dinner. She was quite impressed by the whole thing after it was all said and done.

God bless you all,


Mark said...

What a wonderful story. Abbie is blessed to have a father that loves that loves the Lord as much as you do. You are a wonderful father to your children. Remember those father/daughter times and pray that they never end.
Peace and Joy

Editor said...

I am glad you took the time to let her know how much you loved her.
The deer hunting can be a big piece of your life together if you take the time to make her a special part of it.

Bro. Ray said...

I enjoyed your story. Isn't it amazing what we can learn from our children. blessings on you and your family.

Great White Hunter said...

I don't think there's a hunter out there who couldn't say that at least once he's become so focused on the hunt that a son or daughter became an annoyance instead of a joy. I know I've done it. You expressed well what I know many of us have felt when we realized what jerks we were being. But thank God for His grace! I like your blog!