I’m writing this article from a deer stand as I look out into the woods and onto a small green field on a beautiful and sunny winter day!
I love deer hunting, and I just love being in the woods! There is something about men and women hunting and the connection many of us have with the wilderness.
Now I know a lot of women who love the woods, too, and I know a few that love to hunt as well. My wife, Janeese Spencer, doesn’t like to hunt, but she has a very special appreciation for God’s creation – the forest, the mountains, the rivers, the lakes and the streams. She would rather be hiking a trail, backpacking or camping in the woods then just about anything else. Fortunately, we live in the country where we can both enjoy God’s creation every day!
Men are from the Wilderness/ Women are from Eden
Maybe women and men enjoy the wilderness for slightly differing reasons.
We read in Genesis 2:15 that God created Adam, which in Hebrew means Man, in the wilderness and then placed him in the Garden of Eden. Then God formed Eve from the side of the man inside of the Garden of Eden paradise. So Man was created in the wilderness and the woman was created in the beautiful, garden paradise. Maybe that’s why many men I know tend to be more rugged, tough and rough around the edges while many women I know are more graceful, exquisitely strong and love colorful and beautiful things! Man and women were both made in God’s image, but they are very, very different. As John Eldredge says, “women are the crown of God’s creation!” I could agree with him on that! I know I love my wife and she has blessed me in so many ways. And because of her I am a better man and hopefully have a few rough edges rubbed off.
With all this in mind, maybe men love the ruggedness of nature and the raw challenges in the wilderness, because it reminds them of where they came from and what makes them come alive. Whereas women may love the exquisite beauty of nature and God’s creative detail because it reminds them of the garden from which they came and that’s what makes them come alive!
Whatever may be the draw to nature, many men and many women are drawn to spend time in wildness of God’s creation. And while I enjoy many activities outside in nature, one of the ways I like to do that is to sit in a deer stand when I hunt.
So here I sit in a deer stand reflecting on why I enjoy the wilderness and hunting so much.
1. Soul Health
It’s good for my soul to sit quietly and still in the woods. “Be still and know that I am God,” the Psalmist writes. Most of us are so busy and distracted by way too much stimulation in our lives: revolving news cycles, social media, divisive politics, along with the constant checking of emails and texts. Not to mention Zoom calls, meetings, deadlines and other pressing concerns. For our spiritual health, we all need to make time to shut it all down, be still and reflect on God’s goodness and blessings. It’s good for the soul! There are many ways you can do that but one of the ways I do it is in a deer stand!
2. Enjoy Creation
One of the greatest gifts God has shared with us is this magnificent creation! When hunting or hiking or just relaxing in nature, you have the opportunity to soak it all in as you listen to the birds chirping, owls hooting and coyotes yelping. As you take in the views of the forests, the mountains, the lakes or the oceans, you are reminded of God’s power and splendor! For me, it not only replenishes my soul, but it fills me with gratitude and a deeper appreciation for the very gift of life itself. We live on the only lush blue-green planet that we know of in the universe, and it is teaming with life, rivers and oceans, plants and trees, fish and birds, animals and, of course, humans! All the other planets are desert wastelands either too scorching hot or too frigidly cold. There is nothing like planet earth where God placed us. It is a Garden of Eden.
This global pandemic has reminded us all (or should have) of how precious life is, and how quickly it can be gone. Jesus said he came to bring life so we may enjoy it to the fullest! (John 10:10) So, may we enjoy life and creation to the fullest and one of the ways we do that is to get out there and see the natural world God’s created for us to treasure and protect.
3. Reflect on Life
One of the things I do when I’m in a deer stand or otherwise enjoying alone moments out in nature, is to reflect upon my life, my relationships and my purpose.
I ask myself questions like, “How do I feel about my life right now? Am I happy? Satisfied? What’s right, right now? What’s not feeling right, right now?”
I ask myself about my relationships. “How is my relationship with God right now? Am I putting Jesus at the center of my life right now? How am I doing as husband, father, friend, co-worker right now? How can I improve? What do I need to work on?”
I ask myself, “Am I fulfilling my purpose right now? Am I making a difference right now? Am I looking like, acting like, sounding like Jesus right now? How am I serving other people right now?”
Then I pray! I just talk to God about whatever is on my heart or my mind about any of these things that I have reflected upon. And most importantly, I try to get still and quiet and just listen to what God may want to say to me.
A lot of people that don’t hunt think that hunting is about shooting a deer or other animal. Sure that is part of it. But 99% of the time you are just watching the deer and other animals and many times you don’t pull a trigger especially when deer hunting. Just seeing the deer is a big part if it. 99.9% of hunting is the sheer joy and fun of being out in God’s creation. I have gone whole deer hunting seasons without pulling the trigger once. Plus, most hunters I know are great sportsmen, law-abiding citizens, ethical hunters and superb conservationists. Most of us just love to be outdoors in the wilderness!
Whether you like to hunt or not, take some time to regularly get outdoors and reflect on life! It will do you good!