An "Outside-In" Approach
In my previous post on gear, I talked about using an "Inside-Out" approach to assessing your hunting equipment needs. In this post, I'll be focusing on an "Outside-In" look at breaking down your property to make more educated decisions as you begin building your hunting strategy.
What's the most low-pressure approach to scouting? Not going in the woods at all.... So, using the right online tools can put you on the right track toward success.
There are several ideas out there concerning how much time you should spend in the field checking cameras and scouting before the season begins. Some say that the more you are out there, the more the animals will become accustomed to your activity. Others prefer a much more hands-off approach. I would argue that both strokes are two broad in dealing with scouting. Both are subject to daily activity on the property you hunt.
If your property is a working farm or ranch, many times from a whitetail standpoint, those animals are used to a certain amount of pressure from human or livestock activity, but here we go again with the broad strokes. I hunt an 800-acre working cattle ranch in East Central Missouri. Every week, a portion of the herd of cattle is moved from section to section. It's rare that any one section will sit dormant for very long. Because of this, deer will begin showing up within a few days of the cattle being moved from a location, but will quickly vacate the immediate area once the cattle are put back on that section. This is typically within a 24 hour period. Why? It hasn't been proven on this property that the cattle physically chase the deer off. Rather, the cattle will completely decimate the small clover that is scattered throughout the pasture and also, because the deer share travel routes with the cattle, cattle will move through bedding cover without any reservations of walking down small cover that the deer use to bed. Immediately, two out of three basic needs of both does and bucks are gone. This is particularly true once the leaves begin to fall and food sources become more scarce.
That's why I rely heavily on two methods: Glassing, and Maps. Glassing helps me formulate what is really going on in a specific stand location from a distance that will not further disturb what is already unsettled without the help of trail cameras. (Cameras on this farm are almost useless due to cattle). While I know the terrain of almost all of the tree stands on the property, mapping helps me pinpoint what wind directions will be helpful or detrimental when I'm trying to close in on a particular animal.
There are several great hunting apps on the market right now that will allow you a lot of flexibility with regard to seeing and marking your hunting property. My favorite is still my maps application on my phone strictly because it doesn't take up a lot of space, and it's readily available. I like to use the satellite imagery to determine terrain features, and to see how dominant wind directions can work against me or in my favor. It's super simple. Just put in your hunting property address, adjust the map as necessary and go to work. I also like that I can zoom in on certain locations and break them down in more detail.
Wind Direction: Best Friend or Worst Enemy
Another resource you should have at your fingertips is a solid weather resource. Preferably one that you can use to research previous year's temperatures, weather patterns, and dominant wind directions at the time you will be hunting. This is not always 100% accurate, but it is a good baseline to begin determining what some connections are between the normal weather conditions and the deer movement within the general time of the season. Remember, weather trumps a lot of other conditions in the field, and the wind that goes with it can be your biggest ally or your worst enemy.
Here's a diagram of a stand I hunt and it's relation to how the wind effects deer movement at one of my stand locations.
By looking at this map, it would appear that only a northwest wind would suffice for hunting. However, glassing this location reveals that while travel routes follow the wood line, most of the deer utilizing the area are coming from the east side of the travel Route. This allows for either a north or northwest wind. My approach then, would come from the south/southwest. Check out the Facebook live seminar for a more in-depth explanation.
The wind direction on your stand site demands four questions. First, where are the deer coming from? This means knowing where the bedding areas and travel routes are located. Second, what is the dominant wind direction? Third, do I have access that will not spook bedded deer? (Is my scent blowing toward a travel route or bedding area?) Fourth, what are the thermal currents doing while I am in my stand? Thermals rise in the morning and fall in the evening. Falling currents disperse themselves around the base of your stand, and are carried by the wind. Are you covered?
What about trail cameras?
It would be silly for my to try to argue that trail cameras aren't valuable. They are. They can help you zero in on tough animals that may otherwise never be patterned. They help with property inventories and so many other things. I typically don't use them because the properties I hunt don't allow me to manage them well. As I mentioned before, one is a cattle ranch that constantly rotates the herd, which means lots of cattle photos and even damaged cameras if I'm not very careful about where I set them up. The other property is 3 hours away, which doesn't allow me to get to the camera as often as I should.
Utilizing cameras well can be a lot of fun and can mitigate the need for a lot of time spent in the field glassing. They can also tell you a great deal about times and conditions in which the animals are most active. If your hunting property allows for good use of cameras and you can afford them, use them.
Time to Begin Your Approach
After you have done all your digital research, you can begin a more aggressive approach if necessary. I like to know exactly where travel routes to and from bedding, water, and food are located. The only way I can do that is on foot. As mentioned before, I like to start by glassing and actually seeing the animal behavior. Then, during slower movement times of day, I will work into specific areas that I have already identified through online maps to identify prime stand or setup locations. This is also the time to factor in dominating wind direction if necessary and begin planning your hunting strategy.
Plan the Hunt, Hunt the Plan
Once you've done all the work you believe is necessary to begin hunting, then it's time to devise a strategy that will take all of your research into consideration. The reason this activity is called hunting is due to the fact that sometimes, your strategy won't work. When it does, it makes all the work that much sweeter. A good friend of mine encouraged me after an unsuccessful hunt with a simple phrase that has made me more successful. "Plan the hunt, and hunt the plan." The more experienced you become with the animals you are hunting and the property you are hunting them on, you will begin to devise more well constructed hunting strategies, and eventually it will all come together. Keep hunting.
Do you have a specific scouting strategy that has helped you be successful in the woods? Share below!
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It's an amazing time to be a hunter...
We live in a time that allows hunters to be as efficient as ever with their time and techniques in the field. Much of this is due to the constant re-invention of basic gear concepts at an alarming rate. Need broadheads? Fixed or mechanical? What cutting diameter? What weight? Do you want to sharpen or replace blades? Will they fit your arrow shaft? Do you want field point accuracy or do you enjoy tuning your hunting arrows? No problem! There are only about 50-100 different types to research and choose from, and you have a month to prepare for season. Better get started.
It's dizzying. How in the world could a hunter ever be able to make an educated decision on any piece of gear with so many options out there? Well, most of us do our research as best we can and hope that we make a wise decision based on you tube videos, magazine articles, blog reviews, and friend recommendations. For some reason though, we also tend to wind up with a ton of hunting gear that sits collecting dust because we either didn't like how it performed, or we never actually needed it in the first place.
For me, a piece of equipment is a tool, not a novelty. I don't own expensive gear, and almost everything I do hunt with has either been marked down drastically, has been purchased as a result of a gift card, or has been given to me. Part of this is also due to the fact that my gear gets used...a lot. I'm not super gentle with my equipment. But the most influential factor is, if you're like me, spending a fortune on hunting equipment is neither good stewardship, or practical. When it comes to my hunting gear, I like to ask three questions:
1. What do I have? To be able to save money and time, I like to do a gear inventory. This of course will be easiest to do if your gear is stored in an organized way following the previous season. I like to start with what is closest to me, my clothing and boots. Then I move to my weapon of choice and the items it needs, then to optics, packs, and terminal gear. Finally, I look at my tree stands or blinds.
2. What do I need? After figuring out what I have, I make a list and look for any gaps. Damaged gear gets top billing, particularly if it is as crucial as something like a set of binoculars, boots, unsafe tree-stands, etc. Then I move on to terminal gear. Items that need to be replaced like scent sprays, attractants, etc. then get moved to the top of the list.
3. Do I really need it? My wife LOVES this question! As hunters, we need to be very honest with ourselves about items we need, what price we pay for them, and their true necessity. I actually enjoy finding less-expensive, yet more effective alternatives to off-the-shelf products, particularly in the terminal gear areas. I'm not at all afraid to take a little extra time to use tactics from the "old-timers play book" to save a few dollars, especially if it helps me afford more time in the stand.
That said, sometimes you just can't beat well thought out products from respectable companies that spend time developing gear so you don't have to.
Where to begin...
If you are new to hunting, it can get expensive very quickly. Every piece of gear that exists enters the market at a particular price point in order to reach a particular budget and category of customer. Therefore, it's important to have an idea of what your budget is before you dive into the mad world of hunting gear. To be blunt, it can turn into quite the rat wheel and break you if you're not careful. I recommend scouring the used marketplaces for the gear you would like to have. Don't make an enormous investment in something that you may or may not use again next year. It's acceptable to upgrade later. I would also advise though, that if you intend to upgrade later, purchase gear that you know you will be able to sell at a reasonable price in order to off-set the cost of an upgrade. Craigslist, Ebay, and even the buy-sell-trade groups on Facebook are useful places to find and sell used gear.
Another important point is to take into consideration the savings behind "crossover gear". There are a lot of hunting items that will cross over their value from season to season. Taking your time to find gear that performs this way can save a lot of money and headache. It will allow you to be able to more effectively hunt from season to season without a constant flow of money when the next season approaches.
The Inside Out Approach
When it comes to covering the bases with regard to making sure you have the right gear, using an "inside out" approach can be very helpful. Starting with what is closest to your body, working your way out, and factoring in the proper hunting application, you can figure out where to begin and how valuable each piece of gear can be to you.
Four Layers of the Inside Out Method
Level 1 Clothing and Boots
Start with a base-layer and work your way out. That means thermals and socks, to a mid-weight layer, and all the way out to bibs and/or storm jacket if necessary.
Level 2 Pack Gear
Start with what you will need to carry for your hunt, and then find an appropriate carrying medium.
Level 3 Weapon of Choice
Bow, Gun, Spear, Atlatl. Whatever it is, it will need equipment. Start with the weapon and research what you will need.
Level 4 Hunting Method
This deals with tree stands, blinds, or none of the above. When it comes to tree stands, not all stands can be used for every hunting need. You may need a box-blind where no useful trees are available for a hang-on or ladder stand. Start with your hunting location based on scouting data and make the proper choice.
As you can see, this method goes from what is closest to you physically, but it also works the same way in each category.
Now we can talk about personal preferences...
What I've given you above is a foundation to begin building your gear catalog. From this point, almost everything is completely up to your personal preference. The gear balance is a challenging one, but once you begin to develop your process, you will be able to save money, and possibly even avoid the advertising flu that will try to attack you just about any time you turn on hunting TV.
What is your favorite piece of gear you own? Why? Comment below!
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What are you doing to be more personally prepared than you were last year?
Every time I see an article dealing with personal preparedness to hunt lately, there is a collective groan that takes place as soon as it posts. Often it's because we confuse "personal preparedness" with "physical preparedness". It's no secret that different types of hunting in different parts of the world demand different levels of physical ability, so to "throw the baby out with the bath water" can be a grave mistake. Physical preparedness for the field, however, is only a part of being ready for the marathon that is the fall/winter hunting seasons.
Being personally prepared to hunt includes 3 major elements:
1. Physical Capability: Being in satisfactory physical condition in relation to how you will be hunting contributes directly to your success in the field. I'll unpack that in a bit.
2. Shooting Effectiveness: What's your maximum effective range? Can you adapt to varying shooting conditions? Do you know when not to shoot? Can you identify bad habits in your shooting in order to improve? Do you know that not all animal anatomy is identical, so point of aim can vary? All things to consider before the season begins.
3. Woodsmanship: This is an enormous category, but a pillar of readiness none-the-less. It includes everything from being able to sharpen a knife to how long to wait to blood trail following a marginal hit on a particular game animal.
I'll keep this brief. About four years ago, I was 30lbs heavier than I should have been. I loved my carbonated beverages and pre-packaged delectables, especially when I was on the road to hunting camp. Working out was stupid, and my wife was (and still is) an awesome cook. Everything changed when I was tracking a deer I had made a poor shot on because I hadn't practiced shooting my bow enough. My heart started to race and I broke into a cold sweat. My left arm began feeling numb. When I got back to the house, my blood pressure was frighteningly high. I was 28 years old. I shouldn't have even been having the discussion of calling the trip short because I thought I was having a heart attack. It turned out that my fears were unfounded. My biggest problem was, that I hadn't taken good care of myself.
This was the entire story of my life at the time. I was so ridiculously busy that I didn't bother taking care of anything really. My shooting stunk, my ability to get out of bed for a morning hunt was good for about a day, and my endurance in being able to "sit it out" on a slow day was only good until about 9:00am. Pitiful, I know.
What changed after that season was my outlook on personal preparation for hunting. The Missouri Archery season begins September 15 and ends January 15. I had eight months to get ready for a four month marathon. There is no reason the other eight months could not be used wisely.
My leading problem was that I had no recognizable definition of what a successful season looked like. My philosophy of hunting hadn't grown since I began hunting when I was seven. Why was I even hunting if I had no image of true success to reach for? Defining success in the field is incredibly personal. To some, simply getting a day off work to enjoy sitting in the woods rather than busting it in their 9-5 is success. To others, making a kill is the ultimate prize. To others still, success is helping someone else harvest an animal. What is critical is that there is a goal to reach for if we are going to prepare for our greatest season ever.
The Pillars of Readiness
Regardless of your definition of success, every Hunter has a personal obligation to be as well prepared as they can before the alarm goes off opening morning. We owe it to our families, our hunting partners, and the game we pursue to take the time to be ready for each situation that any particular hunt may throw at us. A good friend shared a hard truth with me on a hunting trip after I had forgotten an important piece of equipment. I asked him if he had a spare that I could borrow, and his response was, "Your lack of preparation is not my emergency." I know, it sounds cold and unhelpful, but it made me make doubly sure that I had everything I needed to head to the field from that day forward. Our lack of preparation is not our family', friends, or the game warden's emergency. That's not to say we won't make a mistake from time to time, but it is to say that laziness should never be an excuse for poor hunting practices.
These three pillars are guidelines for you to systematically invest time and energy into preparing yourself for the hunting season.
Pillar Number One: Regularly Improving Physical Ability Relative to Your Capacity, Hunting Style, and Quarry.
Here it comes...... ready? You need to begin getting in an improved physical condition for this season. Wonder why I'm doing this series a month before many hunting seasons open? I know that in 28-30 days, by making some solid adjustments to your eating and exercise behaviors, you totally can. Try walking a mile each day and removing excess sugar from your diet. Take it from a Mountain Dew addict, in a few days, you'll stop sucking wind when you walk up the stairs. Try doing a few sets of push ups and sit ups every morning. You'll notice a change in a month. Yes. A month. Moral of the story, you'll enjoy hunting so much more if you can put less of a physical strain on your body due to being out of shape.
Like I said earlier, your physical condition will always be directly related to your ability to persevere in the field. Someone in good physical condition will be able to maintain a heightened alertness for extended periods of time, more effectively thermo-regulate thier body during temperature swings, and if the hunt requires a good deal of hiking or climbing, they will be able to more safely push thier cardio-vascular system as they increase the aerobic demand on thier body. This also leads to increased ability to slow down breathing and heart rate when it's time to take the shot.
Some folks will never need to be in the kind of high altitude shape that a mountain sheep Hunter will. I can say from my personal experience, however, that hunting is much more enjoyable when you can be in good enough shape to not be concerned with your physical condition when creating your hunting plan.
I'm no physical trainer by any stretch of the imagination, and of course, always check with a doctor before beginning any workout regimen, but if you are interested in ramping up your training and seeing more dramatic results, you can click here to download my personal one month "rear-end" kicker, the 28 Day SEAR. Yes, I wrote it and I actually have use it. Even more than that, if you would like to make a significant investment in super-charging your results, I totally recommend purchasing the 28 Day Challenge from Wilderness Athlete. Using these two things, I was able to drop 30 pounds of fat, gain muscle, and see a major increase in energy in approximately one month. See, if an average joe like me can do it, I know you can.
Pillar Number Two: Shooting Effectiveness
Becoming an effective shooter in hunting has five elements working on improving these things will make you more efficient and safe in the field.
No matter how far you can shoot, or how well you can execute a shot under marginal conditions, taking safety for granted immediately undermines your classification as a "good shot". No animal or hunting situation is as valuable as your life or the life of another Hunter. If you have never been introduced to the Ten Commandments of firearm safety, I recommend yousee them here.
2. Situational Awareness
What's going on outside of your sight picture? There may be other animals with the one you are attempting to harvest that may walk into your shot path. There may be terrain obstacles like rocks, sticks, trees, or other items in the path of your shot. Most importantly, what's beyond your target? Taking a shot without that data could turn what seems like a harmless shot into a nightmare. Something else to consider is where the animal is standing when you take the shot. It's critical to be able to find blood, hair, or tracks to determine whether or not the animal is hit. Otherwise, tracking could be impossible.
3. Problem Solving
Moving parts fail, sometimes non-moving parts fail. Being able to identify potential mechanical failures and deal with them safely in the field is a part of hunting. Do you know how to safely clear a jammed cartridge in your firearm? Do you know how to re-attach or adjust a part of your bow that has fallen off in transit? A major part of effective shooting is being able to properly handle and manipulate your choice of weapon. Hunting season is not a good time to have to deal with these sorts of failures, so it's important to have your equipment ready before the season opens. If you do not know how to properly inspect or tune your equipment, I recommend taking it to a gun dealer or bow shop and having a reliable professional walk you through making sure your equipment is in hunting condition.
4. Understanding Your Target
Although you use the same technical procedure to shoot a target as you do to harvest an animal, hunting is very little like punching paper at a range. The goal of shooting a paper target is to hit a single dot with the highest degree of accuracy you can as consistently as you can at varying ranges. Shooting an animal is about placing a single shot, without any warm up, in a most efficient area that will cause the animal to expire most quickly and ethically. The only way to do this is by understanding the animal's anatomy, and the capability of your bow or gun. Typically this means placing a shot in the heart and lung region(for larger game species) or in the head (for birds like turkeys or water fowl.) But this isn't where this understanding stops. What does a heart shot do to an animal after it is hit? What's the difference between a broad head impact and a bullet? Knowing these things will help you decipher animal behavior after a shot, and interpret blood trails more effectively.
5. Consistent Accuracy
It sounds counter-intuitive that you need to practice as much as you can to be able to make a one-time hit on a target in the field. Consistent and accurate shooting is about a person being able to use a gun or bow that has been zeroed in properly and at any moment, execute a shot with precision multiple times if necessary. Just as with a sport like golf or baseball, we have to train our body and our mind to make the proper calculations and recall necessary muscle movements to recreate a system that leads to a successful shot. This means we have to develop a reliable technique and be able to utilize that technique again and again until it is second nature. Our equipment and our technique work together to make an accurate shot. Therefore, it's helpful to view shooting practice as giving yourself time to condition your body for when that specific action is called for.
Pillar Number Three: Woodsmanship
If you to look up the definition of "woodsmanship" online, you would find some remarkably unhelpful language used. The best I could find during a quick Google search was from Dictionary.com that said, "a person accustomed to life in the woods and skilled in the arts of the woods, as hunting or trapping." Fair enough I suppose. There is a mountain of skills that hunters have used over the centuries to survive and be successful in the woods and there's no way I could cover all of them here. Woodsmanship isn't just about hunting either. It's about being able to maintain yourself and your equipment, it's about utilizing what's in the field around you to make yourself effective. What's unfortunate is that many folks today have lost these skills and have had them replaced with technology that does much of the leg-work for them. Here's a list of essentials to research that will be helpful to you:
- Knife Sharpening
- Fire Building
- Building a Makeshift Blind
- Blood Trailing
- Using the sun to tell time
- Using Paracord
- Field Dressing
- Determining Wind Direction
- Animal Calling
- Hide Tanning
These three pillars are the beginning of preparing you for your hunting season. Do you have more? Comment Below! Me sure to follow our social media for more on personal preparation for your greatest hunting season ever!
By Jim Richman
When I saw the report on the latest Outdoor TV celebrity facing sentencing for poaching activity, I hate that my mind went to one place... "Here we go again". My response had absolutely nothing to do with the action of the person being reported on. I have my personal opinion about what I've read, but I don't feel the need to simply repeat what has already been said 40 Bazillion times on social media.
I think this is a good time, however, to talk about how Christian sportsmen are to respond when it seems the outdoor world wants to pick the bones of the latest story completely dry.
Three things come to mind from scripture. First, "You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world." Yep. Jesus said that. He made it clear that his people are to be what brings a usefulness and illumination to whatever place God's sovereign hand places us in. My question is, how can we make that happen if we are steeping ourselves in the mire of gossip, inflated opinions, and plain tasteless banter about something we had nothing to do with? Yes, we all have a right to an opinion, but my goodness, if we aren't giving an opinion that lends salt or light to a conversation in a way that also represents the nature of Christ well, that opinion should be kept to ourselves.
The second thing that hit me as I watch the carnage taking place every time this happens is the simple lack of respect that exists for another human being. Yes, these people are celebrities, and yes they represent the outdoor industry, and yes people are going to be effected dramatically from all of this, and yes, it's clear that some people have been effected by questionable business practices by the various companies these people are affiliated with, but at some point, don't we have to submit ourselves to the golden rule of Matthew 7:12-14? "Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." Do we wish that someone would lash out at us in a moment we make a poor decision? According to much of the discussion at hand on the "all powerful" social media outlets yes... that's what they actually want.
Thirdly, we have to understand that this shouldn't be a surprise. People fail. We make bad decisions. Those decisions almost always effect someone besides us, and a price is paid every single time. That's the message of the cross. Jesus gave himself up for you and me to atone for the blatant disregard we chose to demonstrate toward God and His design. That's grace. Sin offends, Grace reconciles.
So how can we do this realistically? First of all, we have to think about what we are about to say. Is it helpful? Are we just being redundant? What about this warrants my input? Is this even a conversation I need to bother dealing with? Sometimes I wonder if we have come to a place where good communication frameworks have been set aside entirely just for the sake of making sure our voice is heard. That's not what God wants for us.
We also have to consider the person we are conversing with. Is this volley of words going to edify them in some way, or will we be digging a hole we will never get out of. Honestly, I haven't found a social media conversation yet that is worth destroying a relationship over.
Finally, who's watching? So many people don't realize the impact their interactions online can have. I couldn't even count the times I've seen posts from close friends that I simply have to give myself a good old fashioned face palm over because they had no idea how many people were going to see it. That's also a part of why JCS began. I can reach so many more people with an online platform than from a pulpit. Consider that, the next time you hit the "post" button.
From a practical perspective, each time we see this take place, I can't argue that it doesn't effect the hunting world negatively. It eats away from the epicenter of the offense, to the eyes and ears of all of those who desire to destroy this heritage. What I truly hate to see is brothers and sisters in Christ, jumping on the bandwagon that could ultimately end it all more quickly than an anti-hunting organization ever could. It's a horrifying phenomenon called implosion. We, God's people, are called to a life of Ephesians 4:29 "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that is may give grace to those who hear." I believe we have the responsibility to speak life and truth into these moments, and that it is in times like this that GOd's people can make a difference unlike any other.
What's your opinion?
Let's hear your take on how Christians in the outdoor community are dealing with these moments of adversity. Comment below!
By Jim Richman
My high school football team was terrible. We got so sick of hearing the cliché bark of small town football coaches that “perfect practice makes perfect”, doing what they wanted us to, and then failing, that we generally gave up on winning half way through the season. It wasn’t because of a lack of talent. We had several players that went to college on scholarships, and others who were very successful multi-sport athletes that did very well for themselves. The reason we were so bad was because our practices stunk! We practiced just as much as any other team, but nothing about it seemed to stick when Friday night came around. We weren’t practicing for the right reason. We weren’t practicing in preparation to win. We were practicing to be perfect at the drill we were doing at the moment. This left us completely unprepared for our games.
It wasn’t that long ago, I began to notice this same pattern in my bow hunting. I would practice constantly from all kinds of different shooting angles and scenarios, beat my head against the wall shooting thousands of arrows, and finally quit once I “got close enough” to what I was going for. Then once the moment of truth came in the field, I would choke. Every time.
Because Jesus accomplished the necessary act of making us right with God, we now possess the opportunity to experience a growing, fruitful, and maturing relationship with God. We can be ready for life.
Practicing for Preparation
Spiritually speaking, we need God to sanctify us, or make us more like Christ, so that in those moments of truth, we do not miss or hit the wrong mark. Along with this sanctification comes a maturing of the thoughts, actions, and grace we need to be effective in the moments of truth that God calls us to be prepared for.
Along with God’s work of sanctification comes our responsibility to pursue growth. Let’s say you are the greatest bow-hunter in the Midwest. You have harvested multiple trophy class whitetails and turkeys in all of the mid-western states. One day, you open your email box and find that you have drawn a once-in- a- lifetime big horn sheep tag in one of the best trophy areas of Colorado. You put off shooting; because you can clearly shoot a bow at 50 yards, particularly well from a tree stand or a ground blind. You put off doing any physical preparation, because you don’t want to be one of those “fit-hunter” types on Instagram.
The day finally arrives and you are sucking wind a hundred yards behind your guide because you’re out of shape. The guide glasses across the canyon ahead, only to see a record shattering Bighorn 75 yards from him on your side of the canyon. The sheep has no idea you are there, but because of the terrain, the closest shot you have is 63 yards. Your equipment is more than sufficient. Your chest is rising and falling because of the hike, you draw and try to settle your pin, but you can’t calm your breathing. Your arms are burning, and adrenaline attacks your nervous system like a flood ripping through dry creek bed. You slap the trigger of your release, only to see your arrow soar over the back of the sheep. It’s over. You failed.
It’s no guarantee that you would have harvested that animal even if you were in better shape, or had practiced shooting at that distance in a simulated scenario. What you can be sure of though, is that even if you had missed anyway, if you had taken the time to prepare and make yourself as ready as possible, walking away from that moment would have been much easier to swallow.
I love the apostle Paul’s instruction to his understudy Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1-2. Paul says to “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” Paul is preparing Timothy for those moments that he is called to rise to the occasion. It is important to be in good spiritual health, even if you are not called on to demonstrate it. God does not work on our timetable. Particularly when it comes to maturing us.
Paul knew that Timothy, like many Christians, would endure moments when the word of God would not be regarded as authority, and he would have to stand to use it even when the opponents rejected it as the corrective. In essence, Paul saying, “Timothy, this is how you will be able to rise to the demands of the moments when God’s word will not be recognized or regarded as authoritative, and remain faithful to God in your ministry.”
What is beautiful is that there is forgiveness. Maybe you haven’t risen to the occasion when God has provided you the opportunity to stand for his word. Start now. Just like you would go back, after missing a shot, begin preparing now, while the season is not upon you, to get things right.
I’d like to give you two areas of maturing that I believe God gives us to work diligently in with regard to our relationship with Him. While there are a number of other spiritual disciplines that are important, Jesus makes clear that Prayer is not optional, and the Word of God can literally sustain us in our times of greatest need. Therefore, a clear place to begin working toward this mature readiness is by way of prayer and scripture.
Luke 11:1 “Lord teach us to pray”
Mature, powerful, focused prayer is not an innate ability that suddenly springs forth in a moment of trouble or anxiety. When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them how to pray, it was because they realized that what he was doing when he prayed was very different than what they had been taught and practiced. The content of his words were different, the attitude of his heart was different. He was conversing with God in a way that was so different, that it seemed like it wasn’t even prayer when it was held up to the teachers of the time.
This short passage gives us insight into a great deal about how we should view and understand prayer.
But what about Romans 8:26?
The Holy Spirit’s interceding for us only magnifies the importance of learning to pray. The HS interceding is there as we are learning to pray, and guides and crafts our prayer as we grow more and more into the will of God. This passage does not dismiss us from praying. Often, Jesus uses the term, “When you pray.”
Learning to Read the Scripture:
We live in a culture that has more knowledge available to them than ever when it comes to God, the Bible, and all other things spiritual. Christians have come to a place of having their traditional beliefs challenged in the most public of arenas, and it’s seldom pretty. In order to be effective for God’s glory in today’s culture, we can no longer live according to assumed understandings of Biblical truth. We have to know the truth for ourselves and we must be able to apply that truth consistently in both word and deed.
While evangelicals embrace what is known as the doctrine of “The priesthood of the believer,” it’s important to realize that the Bible is and always will be a book that is filled with challenges. A book that is made up of ancient languages that are segmented into different styles of writing means that while you and I can read and understand a good deal that is taught throughout the scripture, handling it well requires that we are always growing in our ability to rightly read and understand God’s word. This is a lifelong endeavor and we should never find ourselves in a place where we are complacent our current knowledge.
In his book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald Whitney says this about scripture intake. “Regardless of how busy we become with all things Christian, we must remember that the most transforming practice available to us is the disciplined intake of scripture.” Disciplined intake is intake that has a focus, a value, and an increasing effort toward a better understanding.
Even if we know all of the contextual information a text has to offer, there are always theological concepts, doctrinal issues, and applications that we must deal with. Falling into the trap of believing we understand the basic concepts and that’s all we need to know will never allow us to truly taste and see that the Lord is good. Only a continuous diet of working to understand all that God has intended for us to understand in a particular text will humble our heart and help us see God in a fresh and more powerful way.
Just as diet and exercise are the foundation of a healthy body, developing in prayer and Bible intake are the foundation for a growing relationship with God. Living the greatest adventure requires that you be in a continual habit of growth and be in good spiritual health in order to finish well.
I love adventure. It's because within adventure, we find freedom. Scripture teaches us that if Jesus sets us free, we are free indeed. Ultimate freedom. Eternal freedom. Freedom from shame and guilt forever. Why wouldn't we want to make sure we are apart of a forever adventure?
By Jim Richman
Because God chose to show you grace and mercy, Jesus, His only Son, came to this earth to die in your place. He did it perfectly. Then, he defeated the death that would have swallowed you whole and forever. He rose from the grave three days after he drew his last breath. He walked the earth and revealed himself to more than 500 people after he rose. Then, after he ascended to heaven, he fulfilled His promise to send the Holy Spirit to empower you and guide you through this life.
It’s important to be very clear, without first putting our faith for eternity in the one who willingly gave himself to atone for our sin on the cross, we will be speaking of two different journeys.
One path is the path that we hack out for ourselves, boasting along the way that by our own might and well-meaning good deeds accomplished enough to gain access into the presence of God. There’s no doubt we can achieve some powerful and monumental things by the strength of our hands and the human will. However, one must ask the question, “Does God allow sinful men into heaven based on their own standards or by justice that is governed by the standard of His holiness?”
The other path, and the journey we will be discussing, requires something that is actually impossible to attain apart from God’s intervention. It requires complete surrender and leaving behind what we know as temporal, comfortable, and safe, and turning to what is perfect, true, and often challenging.
At this juncture, Gospel of Jesus rescues us.
The greatest adventure man has ever known is enjoying union with Christ, maturing in our relationship with God, and sharing the journey with others. God is the author and finisher of this adventure of faith, and because of this, our only hope to grow in this journey is through him. If we are to engage in this adventure, it’s critical that we know, gain continuous understanding, revisit, and apply the one thing that can make us right with God. The gospel.
It’s easy to understand why climbing a mountain can become particularly dangerous without a sufficient foundation of knowledge and strength to begin working from. If someone doesn’t have a proper foundation of understanding and physical ability from which to operate and build their expedition, he or she will most likely make themself, and their entire team, vulnerable to the potentially deadly conditions of the climb.
Perhaps you’ve heard soldiers speak of some dramatic moments during combat and they credit their survival to their base of training that was gained before their deployment. That training is a foundation that helped them survive.
The common denominator in each of these examples is that the quality of each foundation is what is tested when met with adversity. In that moment, every weakness can be revealed.
No matter how you want to describe it, the principle remains remarkably similar to Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 3:11 “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Paul is referring to what he had done to begin the church in Corinth. Jesus was the foundation that was laid there, and anything that would be built upon that foundation would eventually be found true or untrue.
The gospel is the greatest test of our spirit’s foundation. This is because the message of the cross presses our sensitivity to sin (1 John 1:6, 10), it challenges our willingness to serve (Matthew 25:31-46), and tests our ability to sacrifice(1 John 3:16-18). It is critical that we take a close look at the foundation that we have built our hope for eternity on. We should re-visit that examination procedure frequently. By doing this, we will humbled by the strength of the foundation God provides through Jesus. We will also have our faith in a moment of challenge solidified as we remember who our new identities are now secured in.
Our Point of Reference
I can vividly remember a bow-hunting trip in the Ozark Mountains when I learned the value of having a point of reference. Carrying my climbing tree stand and all of my other gear, I marched off the side of a wooded finger that was in a twisting network of other hardwood ridges. Since the nature of a climbing tree stand doesn’t allow the user to simply use any tree, I spent a few minutes walking in circles in a dried up creek bed until I found a suitable one. I didn’t realize that in doing so, I completely disrupted my sense of direction. As darkness fell, I climbed down and went in the exact opposite way of where I had come from that afternoon. I hadn’t even taken the time to make mental markers of the characteristics of the ridge I had been walking, so I found myself aimlessly wandering through the woods in complete darkness well after 10:00PM.
The most refreshing sight of the entire ordeal was my friend’s head-lamp beam shining through the timber. That light brought more comfort to my mind than any other thing I could have seen in that moment. I finally had a direction to move that would rescue me from my predicament. The light was my guide as I stumbled my way up one ridge and down the next, across blow-downs and wash- outs, and finally made it back to the truck.
Jesus is exactly this and so much more to a person who realizes they have come to a place of no longer knowing what to do, or how to be rescued. The prophet Isaiah said this about Jesus, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of deep darkness, on them a light has shone.” (Isaiah 9:2) An honest person, will admit that they have sensed the darkness that Isaiah is speaking of in this passage. The remedy to the darkness is the light, and that light can only be found by looking to Jesus. Maybe you’re reading this because you need that reference point that will pull you out of the deep darkness that you are currently experiencing. Just like the only thing that could have rescued me on that night in the woods was my friend coming after me and doing what he had to, to guide me back.
New Life, and New Identity
If living a Biblically reflective Christian life is to be achieved, then we have to know what God has done, and who we have become.
When God plants the faith in us to believe in his Son, the scripture says, we become new creations, we are born again, we are given new life. We also see other imagery in scripture such as a “new heart” being used to describe the nature of someone being raised from spiritual deadness, into salvation.
A person that has new life through Christ now possess a new identity.
Scripture teaches us that before coming to saving faith in Jesus we are:
1. Spiritually Dead: Slaves to Sin, Heart of Stone
2. Self-proclaimed enemies of God.
Sound hopeless? It is the ultimate hopelessness.
The gospel of Jesus reminds us that we not only are justified (made right) before a completely holy and righteous judge, and given new spiritual life. It tells us that through Christ, the enmity we placed ourselves in is removed completely from our account and we are given the right to be called sons and daughters of God.
And so the identity after faith in Jesus looks like this:
The reason this is so important within the context of this series, is because our tendency is to dilute the power of God’s grace and accept an unbiblical view of Christian identity. If you are in Christ, you have been given a new life for the purpose of living it to its fullest for God’s glory. You are a child of the God who created and owns everything good that this earth has to offer. When we come to a place of forgetting the truth of who we have become, the gospel is the most powerful place to have our spirit renewed.
By Jim Richman
Have you ever asked someone how they were doing and they responded with an unconvincing, “I’m good.”? Their non-verbal communication was telling more of the truth than their verbal. Has this ever been you? To say we are “in Christ” and to live without any sort of outward expression of joy or motivation for growth is perhaps the greatest of the contradictory behaviors of Christians.
It is reasonable to think that if we believe in what Jesus has done, an outward expression of recognition (Joy, gratitude, obedience, etc.) would come through as a result. In Matthew 15 Jesus said, “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” What comes out of the mouth is a reflection of the condition of the heart.
When Jesus said, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you." he was speaking quite literally. The omnipresent nature of God, coupled with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in us provides a remarkable opportunity for God's people, and yet, we so often live as though Christ's words were only a figurative gesture. In order to overcome this contradiction, it is crucial that we remember what the presence of God means for us.
The Psalmist writes, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more.” The presence of God brings direction toward life, fullness of joy, and eternal pleasures. Had Jesus not come to fulfill God’s purpose and plan for your rescue, this would be the most hopeless verse we could read. Because of Jesus however, our greatest hope is attained, and entering again into his presence can restore our demeanor to one that reflects a joy that is full!
Likewise, the Psalmist mentions this beautiful phrase “Fullness of joy”. When was the last time you can say you felt “joy”? Maybe it was at your wedding, or the birth of a child. While these two moments are beautiful and perhaps contain the closest example of the “fullness of joy” we can come up with, even in those moments, there can be apprehension, nervousness, even concern for what is to come. The term “fullness of joy” means the best of those moments amplified by the absence of the blemish. There’s no tainted emotion or experience of joy in the presence of God. Our joy will one day be made complete in the physical presence of the father, but right now, His presence is most clearly felt through His word and in worship. You can experience the greatest joy available to you in this world, by simply putting yourself in the word of God and in worship with His people.
In John 15:12-13, Jesus tells the Apostles, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” In these two verses, Jesus defines the very nature of a closest friend. A companion. Someone you can trust for anything you may need. He shows us that God’s design for those of us who have believed on him is to have both companions in other believers and to look to Jesus to show us what true friendship looks like. Love makes a close friend. And the greatest love we can ever look to is the one who defined it by taking our place at the cross. Sometimes, a relationship with a true friend can be even closer than that of a dearest family member.
Knowing these three things, it’s interesting to think that even though our natural inclination is to reject Jesus and the love he shows us every day, he still loves us in return. That’s unity with Christ. What is there to not enjoy? The presence of God in our life is what we need most desperately. Paul sheds even more light on the nature of what being unified with Christ looks like when he says to the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Paul says, even though I live in this body of flesh, the sin, guilt, shame, and every other deficiency that offends God has been crucified with it, and now I live trusting that Christ has made me right with God. Paul uses the term “in Christ” or other related phrases, more than 160 times in letters attributed to him. Living a life “in Christ” is living the abundant life that God promises. To live “in Christ” is to enjoy union with Christ. If we are to stay faithful to God as we live our lives each day, enjoying union with Christ is a critical element of living the greatest adventure.
Just as professing Christ and showing no outward affection for him and his ways is one of the greatest contradictions of being a believer, this sort of behavior can also become one of our most common consistencies. How do we break the habit of being poorly motivated to love, serve, and sacrifice? It is critical that we remember that God is with us. We have to gain some altitude and get a good look at the landscape of where we’re going and where we have come from and see God's interaction all along the way. The most clear place we can go to understand this is the gospel.
By Jim Richman
It would be a gross understatement to say that building relationships, maintaining them, leading, following, staying humble, knowing when to stand on principle, perhaps even sharing Christ at the expense of losing our own life is nothing short of adventurous. But what has happened to living amidst the adventure of new life in Christ with an appetite for it? Do we not know what an adventure is made up of? Are we not associating Christianity with the qualities of adventure? Have we become lazy? How can we love the journey again?
Author Matt Walker M.A. said, and I agree, that adventure is made up of 5 elements:
These elements outline what has been lost in our culture with regard to following Jesus. For a Christian, pursuing a life pleasing to God that gives maximum glory to him is the HIGHEST endeavor. It requires a total personal commitment to constant growth as God grows us. Every day, we face the prospect of uncertain outcomes as God strengthens us. This trains us to withstand adversity as we keep our eyes on our greatest companion, Jesus. Moreover, adventure is about freedom. That's why we crave it. The sense of freedom we feel when we jump from an airplane or settle our crosshairs on a monster bull elk is what drew us to that moment in the first place. Freedom brings us joy, and our ultimate, lasting joy can only be found in Jesus.
There is a conflict, however, between what many Christians profess and how they live. Evangelicals say they believe the Bible, but fewer and fewer have a working knowledge of the scriptures. Modern believers claim church is important, but studies are showing that decreasing numbers are attending local congregations. They can’t be replacing these activities in their lives with nothing. In the hunting and fishing community, it's amplified by the misunderstanding that we have some sort of spiritual security simply by acknowledging God's existence by taking part in outdoor activities. How can someone who claims to be united with Christ spend a strikingly unbalanced amount of time pursuing “the next best thing,” when the reason Christ died on the cross was to free them to pursue “the best thing?”. Likewise, how can a person that claims to be set free from spiritual death to abundant life in Christ, continue living in a manner that resembles spiritual deadness? For many, being a Christian is only a small part of who they are, rather than being who the Bible describes them as. It seems being a Christian has become drudgery, rather than a life of challenge, devotion, growth, and joy.
If you distill the message of Living the Greatest Adventure, you will not find another angle to “be a better Christian”. Since Jesus has done immensely more for us than we can do in return, we ought to be eager to set out with him on even the steepest of challenges in this life. The message of LGA is for you to encounter a fresh outlook on the beauty, challenge, and growth that God provides as He sanctifies you each day.
Living the Greatest Adventure finds its "why" in helping professing Christians reconcile what we profess, with living out what the Bible teaches concerning new identity that comes through life in Christ.
In Mark 1:16-20 Jesus sees two men fishing. Their lives were established. They woke up every day, did their job, went to their home, went to bed, and did it all over again. You can easily see how much drudgery went along with this type of life. Jesus spoke to them saying, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” I can only imagine how exciting and perplexing it was for these guys to cast down their nets and follow. They had to put their full faith in someone they had never met, and knew nothing about. They just knew that following him was right.
If you have made a profession of faith, but you can’t say you are “living the adventure” of having new life in Christ, you need to re-engage in the journey. Pray and ask God to show you why you’re not moving forward. Have you lost your way? Has your foundation been compromised? What caused you to shut down? Un-confessed and unrepentant sin, physical exhaustion, and even poor time management can cause the strongest believers to find themselves completely lost in the wilderness. It’s time for you to gain some perspective.
Maybe this image of “living the greatest adventure” truly resonates with you because you are living it and you know it. That’s fantastic! But be warned. There will be challenges that you were never intended to handle on your own. God puts mountains in front of us to strengthen and grow our faith in Him, not in ourselves. Now is the time for you to make sure your foundation is secure. In moments of truth, all of our weaknesses can be revealed.
The goal of this series is three fold:
By Jim Richman
I hope I never forget the feeling I had when I hung up the phone. Jason Temple, owner of Cross Country Camo, was casually calling to tell me he had gotten access to 6000 acres of thorny, snake infested, dusty, canyon country in west Texas to hunt Rio Grande gobblers. That was cool and all, but when he included me in the trip plans, things got serious in a hurry.
Boarding the plane from St. Louis, I suddenly realized this was my first out-of-state hunting trip since my grandfather had taken me on a whitetail hunting trip to Arkansas in my early teens. There was plenty of apprehension, especially since I had never flown with archery equipment. The takeaway, have friends that travel to hunt who can help you get over that anxiety. (If you have no friends of this ilk, I’ll be that friend. Click this link! Once the wheels touched down in Dallas, the apprehension had dissolved, and “hunting mode” was fully engaged.
As the sun rose the next morning, Jason and I had already begun a five hour road trip west to the beautiful Eason Ranch. As we drove, something changed in a sheltered Missouri turkey hunter. Once we got about 80 miles from the nearest town, jagged, steep-walled canyons began to replace the miles of flat, mesquite-filled cattle pastures that dominated the trip. I was a long way from the lush fields and white oak wood lots of the midwest. Different terrain, different tactics, and different turkeys were about to make me a rookie again.
As we were pulling decoys out of the duffel bag, we heard a very familiar sound. Wing beats. Across the dry creek in the bottom of the canyon, we had been spotted by a gobbler that was working his way in for a final drink before he went to roost. Our hunt quickly turned into a roosting endeavor. We watched the sun turn the canyon walls purple as he gobbled his way about 200 yards behind our location to hop into a tree for the evening.
We weren’t sure what to do. Trail cameras were showing birds at almost every other likely place on the farm, including where we had just been busted. The only thing we could do that made any kind of sense to two guys that had just been whipped by a Texas tom in six mile canyon, was go right back there the next morning.
While day was breaking enough to make out the silhouette of the windmill the next morning, we discovered that the gobbler had moved during the latest parts of the evening. 200 yards was more like 400, and it came time to put on our hiking boots. Once that tom hit the ground, his plans pointed him to the very back of six mile canyon.
Around mile three, as we were carefully walking a narrow goat path along a canyon wall, I remember telling Jason, “You know we have to kill this turkey right? We have to kill the six mile canyon gobbler.” It was wishful thinking. Three miles later, the gobbler decided to top the far canyon wall and head onto an open pasture. By lunch, I took a peek at my phone at it revealed that we had covered more than 8 miles working carefully along canyon walls and stalking through mesquite flat. We had worked three separate toms, and had closed the deal on zero.
We spent the hottest hours of the afternoon searching for Native American artifacts that were among the surprising number of camps scattered across the property. As we walked and looked carefully for the points of ancient hunters, I couldn’t help but wonder if the two hunters looking would be filling tags during our short time on the ranch.
When the evening hunt came, we honestly had no idea what to do. Turkeys seemed to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. We settled on a stretch of fence line that ran along a dry creek drainage. We had heard several turkeys along that creek throughout the day and because of the size of the trees along the edge, we thought it would be a good place to set up before roosting time.
As we casually walked along the fence line, a gobble rang out near one of the deer stands affectionately named “the gut pile stand”. Only 50 yards up the edge, the gobbler stepped into the road, and I took a shot. I missed. It was just too easy. Turkey hunts aren’t supposed to go that way. You don’t just walk along a fence row and have turkey walk out in front of you to shoot. All I really did was make a complicated situation more complicated. What were we supposed to do now?
After my miss, we decided to stay close to the fence since it led to a supplemental feeding location. Jason and I backed up into a cedar tree and positioned ourselves facing down the fence line in the direction we had stalked two turkeys earlier that morning. Not 30 minutes after my miss, we heard two gobblers fire up down the fence line. Each time we would call, they were closer. Once they reached our decoy set-up, all bets were off. They wanted nothing to do with the half strut Jake that we had facing a feeding hen. The lead tom putted, and I fired. He piled up at 30 yards and in a flurry, I ran out to him not thinking about the fact that I should have ejected the empty shell and prepared for a follow up shot on the second tom.
As the second bird sailed back down the creek bed, the turkey I shot laid at my feet and the day’s hunt was over. Jason and I celebrated with a high five and a quick prayer of thanks over the tom. I had never done more hiking, climbing, or calling in all my years of turkey hunting.
Before we got back in the UTV that night, we decided that the tom we had spooked would most likely be using the same travel route to feed the next morning. With little to no response to calling, the prudent thing was to set up at an ambush location and wait.
Day Two Success
The next morning, tucked under the same cedar tree, the first gobble rang up the creek bed. Since I had killed the evening before, Jason sat holding his recurve bow, and I sat with TK, Jason’s Mossberg 12 ga that had performed flawlessly the night before. The royal purple fletchings of Jason’s handcrafted arrows and the stitched leather of their quiver were a perfect tribute to the history of the land we were hunting. As we listened to the gobbler slowly announce his way through the thick mesquite and scrub cedar, it was clear that he was trailing patiently behind a hen. She was the reason we wouldn’t be doing any calling that morning.
The gobbler paced nervously in the same place we first saw him. Now he knew where we were, and Jason wasn’t going to be able to nock another arrow. The tom finally had enough and made his way to my right and away from us. I raised the gun and said, “Jason he’s not coming back, I’m going to kill him.” Jason replied with a quick “Kill him.” and I fired. The tom fell cleanly where he stood. Our hunt was over.
When I went to Texas to hunt turkeys, I had in my mind that I was going to do it with a bow, take head shots, and fit the trend in turkey hunting today. I’ve killed turkeys with a bow. I’ve killed them with a gun. I know the feeling of missing with both as well. This hunt was about new experiences, not trends. It was about making new friends, not about new footage. Don’t get me wrong, footage of a head-shot with a monster broadhead on my first rio would have been spectacular, but in a sense, I’m glad it didn’t work out that way. We had four sits to make this happen on our first trip. God allowed us to make it happen in his perfect timing.
I'd like to say a special thank you to John and Ronda Eason of the Eason Ranch for their hospitality and sharing such a wonderful property! If you would like to book a Whitetail or Desert Mule Deer hunt on the Eason Ranch contact John at (863)781-1254.
Guest Post by Dave Ashworth
Filming your hunts is one of the most rewarding yet challenging things you can do in the woods. Hunting by itself is hard enough but when you add camera gear and a cameraman, things are taken to another level. However, being able to capture your experiences and share them with others is so fulfilling. I have been filming for about 2 years now and have learned many things in that short period of time. Here are the top 10 things I have learned about filming your own hunts:
Choosing the Right Camera
One of the first questions I hear all the time is "what camera should I get to film my hunts?". There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It really comes down to budget and what exactly you are looking to use it for. Some people only have a few hundred dollars to spend and others have thousands of dollars. From what I’ve found it really comes down to how well you know your equipment and how you utilize what you have. Will a $5,000 camera get better shots than a $100 camera? Probably. But you can still make something pretty sweet with a $100 camera if you know how to use it.
Auto Focus vs. Manual Focus
A key to filming is understanding focus. Let's say you have a deer out in the middle of a field. If you put your focus on the deer, the woods in the background should look blurry. In an open field auto focus would work great since there is nothing in between you and the deer. When you get in the woods this gets a bit more tricky. Let's say you are in a tree and a deer is coming in at 100 yds. You put your camera right on the deer but it is in auto focus. Between you and the deer are hundreds of branches. Chances are the camera will focus on the branches instead of the deer (obviously a big issue). This is where you want to use manual focus so you can pull your focus on exactly what you want.
I would say 90% of the time we are shooting in manual focus. This gives us the most flexibility and assures us that what we want to film is in focus.
As you will quickly learn, lighting in videography is crucial. When you are hunting you are filming in super low light situations (ex. daybreak) and also very bright situations like midday. You need to know how to adjust your camera settings so your shot is properly lit. You have the find the right balance so your shots are not too dark and not too bright. There is not much you can do when editing a shot if the lighting isn't correct.
For staged shots you are able to manipulate the lighting with lights and reflectors. If you can understand lighting and master that skill, you will be way ahead of the curve.
Think Outside the Box
One of the things I love about filming is trying crazy shots. Don't just hold your camera at your chest and film the same 10 shots every time you go into the woods. Film some shots close and some far away. Film some from right on the ground and some from the air (a drone helps here!). Don't be afraid to try different things.
Tell The Story
This one is huge for us. It is so tempting to carry the camera gear into the deer woods and break it out when you are in the tree. It is much easier to do that then to film the entire day (from waking up to packing up the truck to leave). However, if you want to captivate an audience you need to tell the entire story. Keep in mind the story may start 5 months prior when you were planting food plots and hanging trailcams. Trust me, you will want to have footage from those times if you end up shooting a deer. Make sure you have your camera with you at all times and capture as much footage and possible. If you don’t end up using it, who cares! But I guarantee you will regret not having footage from certain times if a hunt comes together in the end.
One way to tell a good story is focus on things that are unique to that hunt. Is there a small town nearby that you always drive through to get there? Is there a gate you always have to jump out and open? Maybe there is tree you always walk by or a certain sound you hear when in the woods. Is it raining or snowing that that? You need to capture all of this! Obviously filming the actual hunt is important but filming the secondary stuff is what is going to separate your film from others.
Still Shots vs. Motion Shots
There are two points I want to make here. The first one is related to still shots. When you are filming, you need to have your camera still. Having a good tripod or a tree arm is an absolute must. Shaky shots are hard to watch and can really ruin the quality of the film.
Second, motion in some of your shots is crucial. Go back and watch your favorite hunting film and I guarantee you will see some motion in a lot of the shots. You can use things like sliders, a fluid head or drone to get the motion you are looking for. There are many ways to achieve motion in your shots but they add a ton of drama. Just make sure it is smooth and not jumping around.
You will need some sort of editing software to put your videos together. The two main ones are Adobe Premier Pro and Final Cut Pro. We currently use Premier but there are other editing software packages that can work as well. Just find something you are comfortable with and can navigate easily.
There are so many things you can do when editing a video. The key is to understand your software and have a good flow to the video that tells a story.
If you have more specific questions, I would love to chat with you. There is so much more that goes into creating a film but I hope this article was helpful. I am by no means a professional but I do study filming and work on my craft every single day. I look forward to checking out some of the awesome things you capture in the future!
Guest Post By Kyle Settle
God’s prevailing grace can often times be seen in our experiences in the outdoors. I know for me at least, even before I came to know and fully love God, I experienced moments where God’s grace was completely apparent. Even now, after giving myself to the Lord, I can see his work every time I am afield.
The years after college were a stressful time in my life as I was a young Engineer that was driven to succeed and was honestly greedy for success. To this point hunting and a connection to nature had always been paramount in my life but due to work and social commitments I began to stray from an outdoors lifestyle. Until one morning when I had an experience that snapped me back to reality.
With the opening of our rifle season, I decided it was time to go deeper into the mountains to hunt where I thought pressured deer would gravitate. I settled into a stand that rarely gets hunted and waited for the sun to come up. Even though this was close to 5 years ago now; I can remember how beautiful the sunrise was that morning. Turkeys began to pitch off from their roosts and mill around the ridge to my right. I began to call back and forth to them in hopes of them staying around during the morning. No matter how much I called they seemed to just want to go the opposite direction.
At this point in my life, prayer wasn’t a part of my routine and I was distance from the Heavenly Father. Prayer still came to me anyway. A few minutes went by without any signs. I began watching a large fox squirrel as he carelessly bounced around the log where I had shot at the Bobcat. All of a sudden he alerted and began to bark at nothing. Was this a sign? I immediately climbed down and walked down to the spot. Lying in a small nook between the log and a tree was my Bobcat. God has answered my prayer and given me an experience that I will never forget.
Three years later, I had a similar experience while hunting that not only strengthened my faith but drove me to fully give myself to God. My life was literally falling apart around me and I couldn’t see a way out so I did the only thing that helped to ease my anxiety and took to a treestand.
I was sitting in that stand analyzing all the poor decisions I had made in the last few years and was fighting an endless void that I felt inside. At this point in my life I was so wrapped up in myself that I couldn’t accept grace. I can remember praying for these feelings to be gone because if I continued to harbor them I would lose my life. Literally moments after uttering those words to God, a small five point Buck materialized out of the brush and walked directly under the stand. I raised my muzzleloader and harvested him at less than 20 steps. At this moment I realized that all the heartache I had endured was over. God had given me a sign that I was worth saving and that he had plans for me. Even though I did not know it at the time, Jeremiah 29:11 describes this instance perfectly “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Without that experience on that cold November morning, I would not have the life I have now.
Guest post By Mike Roux
There is no doubt in my mind that the Good Lord has blessed me far beyond my worth. If I never caught another bass, He has seen fit to let me fight dozens of largemouth over 8-pounds. Many of these were caught on surface lures. Let’s look at a couple of them.
The late June sun had almost disappeared beneath the western tree-line as my MOTOLURE top-water bass bait hit the water between two trees laying in the water about six-feet apart. The vibration of the lure created enticing ripples on the mirror-still surface.
The next time she came up my partner, Brian Dralle got the net under her and she was mine. The scale read 10-pounds, 4-ounces. She was and still is my largest bass taken on a top-water lure.
Late summer and early fall are great times for bass to aggressively attack top-water baits. I use several different surface lures and I would like to take just a few minutes to highlight some of my favorites. These are in no particular order.
MOTOLURE: Since I already mentioned this lure and it has caught my biggest bass on the surface we will start here.
I have used the MOTOLURE for about 10-years. It is responsible for catching me more bass over 5-pounds during that time than any other lure or bait. Offered in several model and color combinations, the MOTOLURE has a built-in mechanism that causes it to vibrate. Each time you “chug” the lure it resets the mechanism, causing it to vibrate again.
This kind of action is new and different than anything else the bass have ever seen, regardless of the fishing pressure on a particular body of water. This lure is well made and very durable and dependable. To get your MOTOLURES go towww.motolure.com. I highly recommend them.
ZARA SPOOK: The side-to-side action of this minnow-imitating lure is commonly referred to as “walking the dog”. By rhythmically twitching your rod tip you can cause this lure to move back and forth during the retrieve. This action effectively mimics the motion that an injured minnow might make.
The Spook comes in a variety of sizes and colors. I prefer chrome during the day and black after dark and before sunrise. Frog patterns with yellow bellies also work well, especially in the smaller sizes.
BUZZ BAITS: For over 40-years the buzz bait has been a favorite top-water lure among bass anglers. Because the combination of both noise and movement can really aggravate fish this is one of the most exciting surface lures available.
One tip to keep in mind with buzz baits is that you will need a very high speed reel. Normal reels will take a long time to bring these lures to the surface. Often you are outside the best part of the strike zone before the bait starts buzzing. High speed reels eliminate that problem, bringing the bait to the top quickly. BOOYAH buzz baits are the best and are the ones I recommend.
To see the entire line of Zara Spooks, Booyah buzz baits, Jitterbugs and Hula Poppers go to www.lurenet.com. Be sure to check-out my web site; www.mikeroux.com. May God bless al of your outdoor activities.
By Jim Richman
This year, when I returned home from a hunting trip, I was flipping through phone pictures and came across two images that set the mood for the Easter season. One was a photo of a cluster of stunning red blooms that were coming from a bright green and threatening Claretcup cactus that I took while hiking through the canyons of West Texas. The other was a single drop of blood on a stick of mesquite that was from a Turkey I had killed in the same area. The vivid red of both of these photos could only make my mind go to one place. The blood of Jesus. Through the terrifying thorns and seeming defeat of the cross, the blood of Christ remained the one thing required for God's people to have eternal life. It was the only thing that could satisfy the debt I owed to God for the sin that I had chosen. It stands out among the dry spiritual wasteland that is our sinful world as the most precious of all sacrifices. Like the beauty of the cactus flowers, the blood of Christ represents life, and like the lone drop of blood on the mesquite, it is the deciding factor between life and death.
But that's not where the story of Easter ends. We don't sing joyful songs of praise on Easter Sunday, only because Jesus died. We sing songs of resurrection. Songs of victory over death, because Jesus is alive! We celebrate his life because he fulfilled the mission he was sent to complete. As a sportsman, this is represented every day when I stand on a ridge top, or along a stream edge early before daylight only being able to see silhouettes of shapes and structures, and then the first rays of the morning sun shred the dark. Just like the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom, the veil of sin that separated God's people from His presence was torn completely allowing us access to Him.
For those of us who love the outdoors, we have the opportunity to re-visit the powerful message of the gospel every time we step outside. It is our anchor, our motivator, our guide through all of the things that God has set forth for us to accomplish with our time on this earth. This Easter, I pray that you won't just admire how beautiful spring is and go through the motions of the holiday as you are waiting to leave the Sunday meal and head for the lake or the turkey woods, but that you would look at those beautiful things and be reminded of the sacrifice of Christ and what it has done to bring you new life, hope, and a new identity. Change Easter in your life. Make it about the gospel.
54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
By Jim Richman
Give yourself plenty of time
As I was researching how to fly with Bowhunting equipment, I found that there are two schools of thought on how to lock your case. Some will say to use the TSA approved locking mechanisms on your case, or that you can purchase aftermarket. This allows the TSA to open your case at will and inspect without having to call you to open your case. Others, and this is where I lean, will tell you that you should use non-TSA locks to more efficiently protect your case from having the locks picked and gear removed. I like the idea of a potential thief having as much trouble as possible to get into my expensive equipment, so I purchased two key-operated padlocks and use them to secure my bow case. I'm happy to have my name called and open the case for them with me standing there as they inspect.
Note: The TSA has the right to bolt cut your aftermarket locks should they feel the need to and if they cannot get in touch with you. To avoid this, it's important to tell the person working the check in counter that you have the keys for the locks on your BOW CASE should TSA need to open it. The reason I emphasized BOW CASE is because some workers will not be able to tell the difference between a bow case and gun case. (Flying with a gun is an entirely different article:) The worker may tell you to stay close to the check in counter or close to where you can hear your name called after you check in should you need to remove the locks. This could take as long as a half an hour after check in. Be patient. I have even heard it recommended that you ask to be escorted to the TSA area if the location is not close to the check in counter.
What to Pack
My second checked bag will contain my boots, clothes, and other non-gear items, and my carry on will typically be my small backpack with the flying essentials.
No need to freak out
One last thing to remember
By: Jim Richman
By: Jim Richman
Static Blind Field Hunting
Because of the skyrocketing popularity of bow hunting turkeys, using a static position in a pop-up or natural blind has proven itself deadly when using more aggressive decoy sets. However, it is also possible to run into the issue of causing a turkey to “hang up”.
This is a type of hunt that can be more thoroughly planned for, allowing for a more tolerable situation of hauling in decoys. Therefore, I like to carry a full or half –strut Jake decoy and at least one hen, preferably two. Try using one alert and one feeding hen. At our hunting property, we typically use this method on the edge of a large pasture in places that our decoy sets can be seen at greater distances. One way we have found to help avoid the “hang-up” scenario is to turn the head of the “strutter” decoy away from, or at least perpendicular to, the direction the gobbler will be coming from. Mature toms like the element of surprise when coming in for the takedown on an intruder, and will spend more time showing off if they think the “new guy” can see them.
Decoy Priority: 4.5
Recommended Type: Sub-Dominant Strutter, One Alert Hen, One Feeding or breeding position hen.
So you’ve roosted a tom. You know where his hens have roosted, and you know you can get into the timber between the two in a solid topographical position. You’re not all that interested in taking the time to set up a blind, and you have a feeling this is going to be quick work at first light. This isn’t a bird I’m interested in playing around with making a movie star out of. In my experience, if all of these variables come together, I’m going to get in early, get as tight to that gobbler as I can directly between him and his hens, and not bother with making any extra noise. I might even let the real hens do all of the talking. The only time I’m using a decoy in this situation is if I feel comfortable enough to set up without much extra disturbance, and for the sole purpose of drawing a gobblers eye while he’s coming my way anyway.
Decoy Priority: 2.5
Recommended type: Feeding hen, and feeding Jake (At Most)
“Cutting-and-Running” can take on a lot of different forms, but the premise is the same. Cover a lot of ground, stopping at calling locations along the way to try to strike up a gobble, and hopefully find a gobbler that will work in to calling. It can be a very effective method later in the morning when turkeys are on the move and farther away from roost areas than calls can reach.
Not every cut-and-run set requires quick moving after a turkey gobbles. The trouble is, I have found that a turkey can cover a large amount of ground much more quickly than I can fish around in my pack or vest to set up a decoy, and then hide well enough to not get caught in the process.
When I know I’m going to be hunting this way, I rarely carry decoys because I want to be able to move and hide well. A good “hide” is better than a rushed decoy set. Even in windy conditions, a gobbler can pinpoint calling to within feet of your location. If a turkey responds to calling in a cut-and-run situation, I want him to come looking to within feet of where he heard my call, not see a decoy one ridge over, or a hundred yards out and hang up.
Decoy Priority: 2.5
Recommended type: Light-weight feeding hen
It’s a given that most hunters will have varying opinions on how turkey decoys should be placed, the quality of decoys that should be set out, and even specific scenarios that they should, or shouldn’t be used in. Based on nearly 20 years of turkey hunting experience, I’ve found that the mantra is true that, “It’s better to have and not need than need and not have”. When it comes to decoys in the rolling cattle country dotted with rocky timber ridges and glades where I hunt, decoys can either be a hero, or nothing more than an added pain when dealing with henned-up, heavy pressure, tight lipped Easterns. The best advice I’ve been given on the whole topic is “plan the hunt and hunt the plan”. Experience is the best teacher when dealing with these incredible birds.
From year to year my hunting scenario completely changes. Some years the property is nothing but clover for hay. Other years, we are covered up with standing corn or beans. This year was a perfect combination of all three, and my stand was located where all three came together. Interestingly enough, at the convergence of all three of those fields on the big draw I hunt, there was also a very active scrape.
My expectations were high, but I had no idea how good it would be.
My first night in the stand, around October 25th, I felt like I was in a hunting show. I was able to take a survey of how many deer were in the area without ever checking a trail camera. After harvesting a doe very early in the sit, I tucked back in to the stand and waited for dark. I had no clue that only a few minutes later, I would be provided another shot opportunity on a mature ten-point whitetail working that same hot scrape.
I had all the time in the world. I took my bow off the bow hanger and began my draw process. I felt like everything was perfect, and I let the arrow fly. Then I heard the arrow hit, saw small amount of fletch sticking out, and he bolted. The shot looked a bit high, but he was close, so I thought the angle was going to be fine.
It’s a powerful illustration for not stepping up and doing what the moment calls for.
Paul is preparing Timothy for those moments that he is called to rise to the occasion. Paul knew that Timothy, like many Christians, would endure moments when the word of God would not be regarded as authority, and he would have to stand for it and use the very thing the opponents were rejecting as the corrective for the moment. In essence, he’s saying, “Timothy, this is how you will be able to rise to the demands of the moments when God’s word will not be recognized or regarded as authoritative, and still remain faithful to God in your ministry.”
Wounding an animal that you are hunting is painful. It’s full of shame and regret. The moment of truth reveals our true strengths and weaknesses. If we are hunters, we will want to continue hunting. The only thing we can do, is go back to the drawing board and improve our skills.
I can say first-hand that Brute Force Pre-workout is not a product you will want to take before having to sit through a boring staff meeting. Only a few minutes after drinking the Brute Force, I noticed a tingling sensation in my fingers and lower legs, and then felt the warmth of blood vessels beginning to dilate.
Once I finally got out of my meeting and made it to the gym, I noticed a definitive difference in my quickness of being able to arrive at a "ready to work" state during a warm up. My muscles seemed to become more prepared for running and lifting more quickly than normal during my normal stretching routine. There was also a prolonged capacity for completing a workout when using Brute Force. I experienced less stops for rest, and a greater drive for pushing through an exercise, particularly when lifting. This pre workout does contain traces of caffeine, so if you work out late at night, I would suggest using the ultimate pre workout formula that is caffeine free rather than Brute Force.
To put Brute Strength’s ability to the test, I performed a two-week experiment on myself. At the beginning of week one, I began using Brute Strength as directed immediately following a workout. For seven days in a row, I was able to do my workouts without dealing with over-sore muscles. At the beginning of week two, I cut Brute Strength completely and performed the exact same workouts with the exact same weight and level of activity. The second day of that week was miserable. Even though I was working out a different part of my body than on day one of week two, the muscle soreness was almost unbearable.
For the record, I don't encourage anyone to experiment like I did to test these products. After my two-week torture test was over, it was time to assess profit(gains) or losses. Without question, every free weight lift had increased by five pounds or more doing 3 sets of ten, with a squat max increasing by more than twenty pounds. I was pretty shocked.
The final analysis
Three years ago, I received the Dead Ringer Beard Buster sight from a friend as a gift. I didn’t actually put it on my shotgun for quite some time. Like a lot of hunters, I didn’t like to change something that had worked so well for so long. After I finally set my gun up with the Beard Buster, I learned an important lesson about how stubbornness can reduce effectiveness in the field.
What I found was a simple, but remarkably effective design that was built for real-life hunters, for they way they actually use and treat their equipment, and for hunting scenarios that require no-nonsense accuracy.
Next, the flexibility of being able to set the rear sight as far forward or back on the rib as you like helps to be able to gain the desired sight picture of the shooter. This was particularly appealing to me as a bow hunter because I like to be able to see as much as I can through my peep sight. As you can see in the photo, I set the rear sight as far back as I could on the rib, to be able to achieve this. More sight picture also makes for better distance judgment.
I began to see even more of an advantage with the Beard Buster when I began shooting higher performing turkey ammunition. As turkey loads are advancing and becoming more devastating at longer ranges, the need for shooting a shotgun with a more “rifle-like” shooting technique increases. The beard buster forces a shooter to slow down, keep their cheek placed firmly on the stock of the gun, and center the front sight within the four points of the rear sight. If a person is familiar with rifle shooting at all, you will understand how this process can even make a trigger pull more accurate… bad news for turkeys.
One very nice touch to the Beard Buster pack is the ability to choose the front and rear sight color combination. While the rear sight color is static, you can choose what your front sight color will be. I like the variance of the green front sight with the orange rear sight.
A call to action for Christian Sportsmen
That’s our message, will you make it yours? Will you share?
A primer in Choosing Camo
- Does this pattern confuse, or break up my outline well? Over the years, I have discovered that tighter, darker, and more busy patterns tend to “blotch” at greater distances, making hunters look more like sasquatch than the highly manipulated magazine covers. More open patterns confuse the eye more effectively, but can be percieved as too bright. Finding a good balance of open and detailed is very important.
- Does the material this pattern is printed on reflect or seem “glossy” when placed under light?
- Does this pattern have the potential to fade due to the material it’s printed on? We all have those old cotton tshirts that would work better as a snow pattern. Cotton/poly blends now retain their color much better.
- Do the accessories on the camo; buttons, zippers, velcro, have the potential to give me away in the woods?
Short Sleeve Tee: This shirt is made of a highly durable 100% poly that feels heavy at first, but does a good job of wicking moisture away from your body as you sweat. The collar is snugly fitting so you don’t get the white collar effect with lower cut tees. The sleeves are adequate length to cover more of your upper arm (sorry to you guys that like to show off the mini muscles), and my favorite thing about this shirt is that it is cut long enough not to come untucked when sitting and standing up.
Long sleeve tee: Perfect for turkey hunting or early season bow hunting when temps can vary widely. Again, it is also cut long enough to not let dirt or critters up the back of your shirt when sitting down.
Pants: Made of a very soft, almost flannel like material that is surprisingly comfortable especially during longer hikes. It’s deadly quiet. No more “Swishing” through the woods on a stalk or sounding like a paper bag walking through brush. I especially like the deep pockets all around. This is the only pair of hunting pants I have not lost turkey call strikers out of. They seem to be cut a little longer than some pants, but can be cinched around the ankles if necessary. I simply tuck them into my rubber boots. Finally, they also cinch around the waist for those times you forget your belt. (Like I do...regularly)
Fleece Pullover: Super warm, comfortable, and quiet. It has two nice deep pockets on the sides and zips all the way to your chin. And of course, it’s fleece, so it sheds the wind very well.
“I started MMC in 2010 building diaphragm mouth calls out of not being able to find consistent calls I liked and to become more involved in the outdoor industry. The following year I developed pot calls. I am a tool and die maker by trade so production and manufacturing came natural to me. This past fall I started building and turning others calls as well like locator, predator, and grunt calls. One of my goals has always been to build easy to run calls while keeping the sounds true.”
While it’s clear that the name comes from the cuts on the reed and the dark color of the call, this call is the best kind of scary. It was this two-reed call, paired with the purrs and clucks of the slate over glass that brought in my 24 lb slob in the photos this season. Super easy to blow, this call will make you feel sorry for the birds your calling in the best way possible. The rasp of this call shares a clarity in the yelping that is amazingly natural. It is my new go-to call.
Heres a a sample of the Vampire in action:
Please be sure to go to mouthymaynard.com to pick up any of these calls and check out the rest of his selection.
From The Kitchen
- 3-5 lb venison ham roast, trimmed
- Bacon grease (for browning roast)
- 8 small, tri-colored peppers, cut in strips
- 1 large green bell pepper, cut in strips
- 2 celery ribs, chunked
- 1 medium, sweet onion, chunked
- handful of fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
- 1 tbsp cajun seasoning
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder (or 6 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped)
- enough water to cover roast 3/4 of the way
Brown roast on all sides over medium-high heat before transferring to the pressure cooker. Layer the bottom of the pressure cooker with onions and celery and place the roast on top. Place the remainder of the vegetables and seasoning on top of the roast, add water and tightly close lid as per manufacturer instruction (every pressure cooker is slightly different). Cook time for our specific pressure cooker was 52 minutes with a "slow release," (again, refer to your manufacturer instructions and you'll see what I mean). After the pressure gauge has gone down, open the lid, carefully remove the roast and allow it to rest on a platter for 10 minutes. Then cut or shred to your liking!
By Field writer Rob Stain
Being created in God's Image is a stature reserved only for mankind. It means we are literal image reflectors of who God is, however, it is a blurred image due to our brokenness and finite nature. God created us intentionally, to reflect His Image for a particular purpose: glory.
In our selfish pride, inherited through Adam's rebellion, we fight with every fiber in our being to be the pinnacle of our own existence; the existential focus on our own throne and lordship of our purpose and destiny. This is a mutinous exercise against the God of creation who's worship is demanded simply by His existence. Adam's revolt should have ushered in swift justice: instant destruction to satisfy the compromise of God's gift and covenant of life in the Garden. However, God Almighty stayed His hand, demonstrating His long suffering nature by not only sparing Adam from instant death, but promising a rescuer in the coming Messiah who would save His people from their sins.
Why would He do this? How could a just God show such restraint, mercy, and beauty? How could He continue to love a people and a world that was now tainted by sin and ugliness? The answer is simple, yet overwhelming. God allowed us to fall and has promised restoration through His Son, Jesus, because it brings Him glory.
Glory is the purpose for why we exist at all. God created mankind to reflect His image and has commanded worship from us, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship" (Romans 12:1). This special existence as uniquely created, human worshippers must be signified through some amazing act that sets mankind apart from the rest of creation. But where is it in the Scriptures?
Let's look at the creation account of Adam again in Genesis 2:7, "then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature."
There are two amazing distinctions to point out here:
First, no other aspect of creation is described with such physical intimacy. For light and darkness, land and water, grass, animals, etc, Moses only gives one description for their creation. God speaks "let there be," and there is. Nothing short of amazing in it of itself. However, he gives more detail to the apex of God's creation. Instead of God simply speaking, Moses is careful to give anthropomorphic descriptions regarding God's physical posture. He comes down to the earth's service, scoops up soil into His hands and forms Adam's body. He shapes Adam's torso, legs and arms, hands and feet, fingers and toes. Consider all that functions like clock work in the human body from the largest muscle to the smallest cell: God forms Adams body's from the dust with His hands. Genesis 2 then says that God breathes His breathe into Adam's lungs. Much more intimate and descriptive than the similar but less descriptive "speaking" account of Genesis 1. God's breathe fills Adam's lungs, giving him life and inviting him into a relationship where God and Adam are together with no barriers like we have today because of sin.
Moses not only indicates the uniqueness of God's creation of man through physical description, but by important use of God's name in order to drive the point home that from the beginning of creation, God created humanity with the intention of having a relationship with us, and being worshiped by us.
This should make you feel quite special, because you are! God created you so that he might have a relationship with you. He loved you so much that He sacrificed His own Son in order that He could call you and rescue you. He created you with purpose. He created you so that you will worship Him and give him the glory He alone is entitled to as Creator, Savior and Lord over all creation.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism begins with this: "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." God has commanded that you obey Him, worship Him and has made "forever" possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He has promised to redeem His people from their sins and has provided reconciliation back to a relationship without separation through Jesus.
Make Jesus your Lord, obey the commands of God's Word, and worship Him in every moment of every day.
- In what ways do you reflect God's image?
- Do you worship God through the whole day in everything you do?
- What does Worship look like during work, while in the field, or when we are with friend or family?
- How can you grow as a worshipper and in what ways do you need to break yourself of rebellious actions and desires so that you might focus more on living God's way?