It was a beautiful, warm May afternoon in North Carolina. The sun was shining and there was a nice breeze as I headed out to do a little turkey hunting with my bow. I set up on a ridge with my back to a large oak tree, settled in, waited a little while, and started calling. Nothing happened for a while, but I just kept calling sporadically. The warm day and the nice breeze caused me to snooze a couple of times. But then I thought I heard a gobble in the distance. I called, but no response. Then I heard it again– a definite gobble and it was getting closer. I am watching and I see movement ahead of me about 60 yards, coming down a game path. I get my bow ready and hear another gobble, definitely getting closer. Ready, I see a shape and it is getting closer. Whoa, not a tom but a hen. She kept coming and eventually passed within 5 yards of me. The tom was still coming, the gobbling sounding closer and closer. Finally, I saw him at about 50 yards, pacing back and forth, not getting closer now but gobbling expecting the hen or me to come closer to him. The other hen had stopped making noise and now I had the tom’s full attention. Then, after about 20 minutes, the tom starts coming toward me and I am ready. My bow is in position, the tom is closing in and I patiently wait.
About 20 yards from me, there is a small tree down and when the tom gets there (hopefully), I will have a shot. As he draws closer, I am ready and then he stops. He jumps a little bit and is agitated. He gobbles and quickly heads off away from me, and I have absolutely no shot. I am perplexed. I had not moved and I believe there is no way he could have seen me. How did I spook him?
Curiosity got the best of me, so I got up and went over where the tom last stood, stepping over the downed tree. I looked back toward where I was and there was no way that tom could have seen me. I was perplexed. I felt something brush against my boot, thinking it was a branch I had kicked with my foot. It snapped back again and I pushed it away with my bow and kept looking around. The third time it hit me hard and I looked down and jumped. I had stepped into a hole of young copperheads and they had been striking at my boot. I got out of there and was glad I was wearing my snake boots and that I hadn’t been bitten.
I was a little rattled but no worse for the wear. However, the next morning brought me to reflecting about the previous afternoon. I woke up and my shin and ankle were sore and upon further examination, quite bruised. I went to the doctor and discovered the snakes had struck me so hard they had caused bruises, but no bites. Wow, thank goodness for snake boots.
I should have known better than to step over that downed tree without looking. I was very fortunate that I was not bitten, and I learned a few lessons from it.
What were those lessons? We need to think things through before we make decisions. Rash decisions very rarely make good decisions. Before we make decisions, we should pray for God’s guidance. The Lords says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8) I knew better than to step over that tree without looking.
In addition, life is going to give you bumps and bruises and try to knock you down. That is life. But when those things happen, God gives us strength to get through. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?” (Psalm 27:1)
Finally, always wear snake boots! No, always read your Bible because its wisdom gives us strength and guidance! May you have a blessed and prosperous 2019!
But in the end it’s only a passing thing, this shadow; even darkness must pass.