What Really Matters…

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I had hoped to share a post with you about the huge bull elk I arrowed last week in Game Management Unit 9 here in New Mexico. I was going to add a nice photo of the 6X6 bull that came close enough for a clean kill due to my proficient skills as a hunter.

I did not succeed in killing an elk this year. Yes, I had plenty of mule deer walk within a few yards of me. I also managed to get a few bulls to respond to my bull and cow calls…but in order to arrow an elk it must come closer than 80 yards…and that is the closest any bull would come to me this season. I had dreams of elk closing the distance and standing broadside or quartering away from me at 30 yards or less…but my dreams did not become reality.

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Water holes that used to be full were bone dry. Areas that were once productive were barren. After hiking miles and miles up and down mountains…and deep into draws…I would then hear the bulls bugling from 300AM to 500AM off in the distance as I was wide away in my tent. Yet when I left camp before first light, I could not get close enough to put an elk down.

So I thought this post would be different…and it is…not because of my hunt, but because of what happened to me the day after I came home.

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I went to Trader Joe’s to buy a gift card for my son-in-law, Brian. He spent a day and a half with me up in the mountains doing his best to help me call in an elk. We heard plenty of bulls sounding off, but it never resulted in that special moment when a one comes close enough to be arrowed.

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As I got out of my truck and walked toward the store, I was suddenly hit from behind and slammed onto the pavement. I had no idea what hit me. As I rolled over, I could see the front end of a car just inches away. An elderly driver struck me while I was in the pedestrian zone near the main doors. She was aiming for the handicapped parking spot right by the main entrance, but missed it by a good six feet.

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Witnesses said her tire went up my right calf as they saw me knocked forward and down in front of her vehicle. People told me they expected to see me with a fractured leg and facial injuries due to how fast and hard I went down. The EMTs who were called told me that I was in shock on the pavement for about 30 minutes or so.

I am giving thanks to God this morning that Kirsten is not having to visit me in the hospital…that the succession plan for a new senior pastor at Faith due to my death or disability is not needed at this time…and for angels that may have caught me as I was going down.

So this post is not what I anticipated writing about as I packed up my gear and headed down the mountain. Am I disappointed that I did not get an elk this year? Absolutely. Have I already started thinking about where I might apply to hunt next year? You know it.

That said, what happened yesterday at Trader Joe’s reminds me that I am fortunate to be alive. My family will not starve this winter without elk meat in the freezer. Those who hunt in the United States these days do not have to arrow a big game animal in order to survive.

As the good folks back in Minnesota like to say, “It could have been worse.” Indeed. There are worse things than not getting a deer or an elk. I am not dead. I am not in the ICU with compound fractures or brain damage.

So as I climbed the mountains behind my house this morning at sunrise…I gave thanks and praise to God. I am alive. I am forgiven. I have been marked with the cross of Christ and sealed by the Spirit in Holy Baptism. I have a wife who loves me and a family that blesses us in ways too numerous to count.

I will be hunting again in a matter of weeks…ibex here in New Mexico and white tail deer in Minnesota. I hope I get close enough to arrow these animals with my bow. I am going to give it my best effort…and then some. If I succeed, rest assured I will tell you about it. If I do not, rest equally assured that I am glad to be alive…and thankful to dream of hunts in future years.

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Have a great week…tell your family and friends how much you love them…and look out for senior citizens in the parking lot when you are out and about!

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