by K.J. Houtman
There were mixed emotions heading into my first bow hunt—definitely excited, but a little afraid. Maybe it’s just me, but I was excited for the opportunity, yet afraid of making a mistake. Getting skunked doesn’t scare me. That can happen. But I won’t shoot a turkey if I don’t go turkey hunting. So first steps, first. Lots of preparations have been underway for months.
My Matthews Mission bow is finely tuned. The fiber optic sites are well-placed and after practicing and increasing my strength over the last four-and-a-half months I am now able to use it with a hunting draw weight of 42 pounds. Don’t judge. For this new-to-bowhunting Grandma that draw weight is just fine, thank you.
At the indoor range my groups were nicely tightening which increased my confidence. So in early spring I took two important steps—asked permission to hunt on my in-laws land in Wisconsin and went online to fine out about a Wisconsin license.
The Wisconsin DNR site told me, “Tags must be ordered by December 10th for spring hunting season.”
Well … Darn it all! I only got this bow a few months ago for Christmas. I didn’t even know I would be turkey hunting back in early December.
Darn it all … again. I’m going to miss the season.
Then, as we were working together on Under the Big Pine stuff, Bill Miller and I were talking and I told him about my disappointment.
“First season, yes,” Bill told me. “But there are later seasons in May with over-the-counter tags. You still can still get your hunt in … just a little later.”
So I continued with my preparations, practicing in the yard, getting used to wind and outdoor conditions. I picked up a ground blind and camo clothing. Bill gave me a box call and a slate call, so I practiced with those. Put my hands on some decoys, too.
April rolled around and my friends were talking about their turkey hunting successes. And I listened. When videos were posted on facebook or on outdoor websites I watched. Articles online, read them. All increased my knowledge and my understanding of the world of turkey hunting. I realized setting my sites on killing a turkey with a bow the first time out I was a lofty goal, but I wanted to give it a try.
I started to think about “what’s the worst that could happen.” Not calling one in would be a disappointment, but I was fully aware I might not bring a Tom in within my range of 20 to 25 yards. That was not on the “worst” list. Missing my shot? Embarassing, yes. Worst? No. Wolves out in the in-laws woods? Well, that could definitely be worst walking out at oh-dark-thirty, but I convinced myself the wolves would probably leave me alone.
After checking my calendar I found a few days open to head to Wisconsin in May. I double checked the regulations again for licenses online. Yup, available. Almost three thousand available for the zone needed. Saw there was a first-time hunter reduced license, but wasn’t sure how to access that online. Decided I would call.
When I called the operator she said that if I could wait seven to 10 days for the license to arrive by mail we would be able to do the transaction over the phone. I needed the license in just a few days, so I decided to stop at a sporting goods store after we crossed into Wisconsin.
It was at the counter at the store the clerk asked, “Zone five? Errrr … sorry, none available for Zone 5,” the clerk told me as she peered at the computer screen.
“None available,” she repeated.
What???? How could I have done this to myself? All this planning, all this preparation, but then not following up on the license I needed to hunt legally. I knew I would learn some hunting lessons this first time out for turkey and the first time out with a bow, but I didn’t know it would come this soon … or this way.
I skulked back to the truck and drove the rest of the way to my in-laws house mad. Mad at myself for not planning properly. Mad that all the preparation in the world doesn’t do a darn bit of good if you don’t get a license. I chastised myself over and over. There wouldn’t be a hunt.
Maybe, in a way, that is a lot like salvation. Heaven has been promised for us—and the ticket in has been paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. For me and for you. We can’t buy it, the purchase has been made. We do need, however, to accept the gift.
All the bible reading, all the going to church, singing in the choir, saying prayers … they may all be good things. They are kind of like the preparations for my hunting trip, but there won’t be any hunting if the license isn’t purchased. A small step, but one on which all success or failure hinges
Like the decision to accept the love and grace, the gift of salvation in Christ. Without it we are doing all sorts of “stuff,” but lacking the assurance that comes when we belong. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is not just Lord and Saviour of all … He is Lord and Saviour for me.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile (Romans 1:16).
Thank you for your gift of love and salvation in Christ. I love you, Lord. Amen.