Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dad's lessons about hunting...and life: #2

Most hunters I know strive to always shoot straight, and Dad was (and is) no exception. He valued good shooting and good shots, and if you missed an easy one, you knew you were in for some ribbing about it, probably both then and later, because the goal of a good hunter is always a clean kill. Partly, that’s because it is the kill that distinguishes hunting from simply taking a walk outside, and partly because if you don’t shoot straight, you’re unlikely to have much to bring home. And there were years, particularly when I was very young, when the rabbits, squirrels, and deer that Dad shot were the difference between meat on the table and not. The experiences of those years shaped my dad, and he shaped me in turn. So we practiced, and practiced, and then we went hunting, rejoicing in the good shots and kidding each other about the bad ones.

But we all know that sometimes, you don’t miss cleanly nor do you kill cleanly. Sometimes you "wing" that rooster, or duck, or deer. Well then, you need to do your best to track that animal, find it, and finish the job. All other hunting stops until that animal is recovered or you’ve exhausted your ability to search and still can’t bring the animal to hand. So I learned from Dad how to blood trail a deer, and how to train a dog to search for and retrieve pheasants & quail that were only "winged."

I’ve discovered that this principle holds in other areas too. Every man should be a straight shooter, a person with integrity, honesty, and a sense of personal honor. We shouldn’t seek to tilt the table to run our direction, but play fairly and treat others with the sort of gentleness we expect from them. And sometimes, just like when we’re afield, we wound and break things. We wound people and we break relationships when we failed in our commitment to be a straight shooter (as sinners, all of us fail, at least at times). And just like when we’re afield, we have to follow-up and, as much as possible, make it right. Only this time, instead of seeking to finish it off, we ought to be seeking to heal it and bring it back to life.

1 comment:

Alissa said...

You REALLY need to consider writing a book on this topic. :)