Pastor Mike Stacey
Lessons From a Deer Stand
I wrote this after my first time sitting in a deer stand about 16 feet off the ground in pitch black conditions.
September 16, 2013
I’ve never been in tree stand before. I’ve never been deer hunting before. I’m not sure what I was supposed to do if I saw a deer. But I had my bow, my arrows, my backpack, and I was dressed for the part. I was in my camo from head to toe. My deer stand was about an hour’s drive so I rolled out of bed at 4:00 a.m. I wanted to get there before daylight just in case the deer were moving through the area early that morning. I left the house about 4:30 and arrived at the sight an hour later. It’s pitch black. I load up with all my stuff and head to my tree. Remember, I have no idea what I’m doing. With light in hand, and slow, careful steps, I find the ladder. Eighteen feet high is a long way up in dark. But I make it. I’m there. It’s dark. Now what?
It’s amazing what begins running through your mind when you’re sitting eighteen feet in the air and you can see absolutely nothing. I’m there and my first thought was, “What am I doing here?” Then something amazing begins happening. My ears take over my body. I start hearing what I cannot see. Off in the distance two hoot owls begin a conversation. Then I hear a couple of hound dogs conversing as well. Then roosters begin chiming in. I can see nothing but I am overwhelmed with the sounds of my solitude. It’s a solid hour of blackness there in tree stand as I listen to the sounds of the morning.
Then the first ray of light begins to show from behind me. I’m excited and a little disappointed at the same time. I’ve never “heard” so much before. My eyes were not necessary to see how God was awakening the world I was a part of the that day. Slowly my eyes began to take over what my ears were still searching for. Turkeys began talking to each other and I could see them in my mind. Birds began chirping and flying around me. After all, I was up there where they usually have the domain. They weren’t real happy that I was in their playground, but I couldn’t move. Then the crows began voicing their concerns about my presence. I was a tourist that didn’t understand the language of the woods. But I wanted to learn.
Daylight allowed me to use my visual sensory. I read my Bible, found my drink, had a bite of a snack. And I waited. The crows left. The turkeys stopped conversing. I could hear the sounds of vehicles off in the distance. But I saw no deer. So I kept waiting. Wait, I have my cell phone. I check it. I have a signal! So…how about facebook? YES! Time to post where I am and what I’m doing. I even post a pic of me (not a very good one). I do a little texting and play a few games. Still waiting. No deer. Now I’m a patience person. I’ve learned from many years in the pastorate to be patient. But I didn’t know how long I was supposed to wait. I spent four and one half hours in that tree stand! And do you know how many deer I saw. NONE!
So what did I learn?
There’s so much about God’s creation that I had forgotten or never knew about. I was closer to nature than I had been in many, many years. I also was reminded that we really are fearfully and wonderfully made. When I couldn’t see, my hearing took over and I experienced life in a whole new way. I also had to discipline myself to stay the course. I expected things to happen early because I was there. What I learned was that the deer didn’t care that I was there. They weren’t coming. I could have been disappointed and frustrated but I wasn’t. I really enjoyed my time in the tree. I got to listen to God speak into me things I hadn’t heard before. He reminded me of how His creation works.
I’m going back to the stand. Not because I want to kill a deer (although I hope I can), but because it’s another chance to hear from the One who created all the things I heard and saw. My life is better because I got alone, really alone, with God. And I got to hear Him speak in all kind of ways. Listen. Can you hear Him?