En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Early One Thanksgiving Morning!

Posted by Scott on November 27, 2009

The sun was rising early one winter morning over the eastern horizon just barely peaking above the tall pine trees like the glitter of a shiny new diamond ring. The temperature was below 30 degrees, and it felt as though icicles could form on the end of our nose. Although, you could see the smoke from our breath it seemed once in the air it just stopped in midair for a moment before finally floating away. The morning was deadly still, no wind at all. With every heartbeat you could feel the pains of freezing cold run through your veins.

My brother, Jake and I was up early at the edge of the woods watching down a small natural clearing between the pines for the largest Tom Turkey we had ever seen on the last hunt we took. Jake, my younger brother, had caught a quick glimpse of him once before and the last hunt in September, both of us saw him up closer. This turkey would feed a large family for days we thought. So, this morning, the day before Thanksgiving, we were determined to bag this old Tom and bring him home to feast on for Thanksgiving. Both of us had twelve gauge shotguns and three loaded shells total between us. So, we must be accurate and selective with our shots.

As we waited next to a couple of huge pine trees almost frozen to the tree from the cold, we heard a noise coming from behind us. It was a noise we had not ever heard before. It was the sound of a large giant grunting through the woods, bouncing off the trees, tumbling in the leaves, and splashing in the creek bed. At times it sounded as though there was more than one, but then at other times only one of whatever this was. Jake and I would watch intently behind as we tried to keep a corner of one eye down the lane for the old Tom Turkey.

In a brief moment of silence, we could hear in the distance the gobble call of a wild turkey. We rubbed the frozen fog out of our eyes to make sure our sight was as clear as possible in order to see the turkey. The sound seemed to get closer to the lane, but nothing was in sight yet. Behind us the noise was also getting closer. Jake and I were perplexed at what we should do…it seemed as though what was behind us would collide with us head-on about the time the turkey would come into the clearing just 50 yards down the lane.

I told Jake to move to his right just behind the tree next to the one near the clearing in order to get a better look behind us to see whatever was tumbling, grunting, and somewhat squeeling down the hillside. We could not imagine what it could be. One thought crossed my mind maybe it was another big turkey. Jake said it may be a stray cow wondering through the woods trying to get back to its herd. Neither of us were satisfied with those ideas, because the noises did not sound like a turkey or a cow. We had to focus on the turkey. Our main goal was to get the biggest Tom Turkey from those woods for our Thanksgiving feast.

All of the sudden the racket behind us finally stopped. We finally took a deep breath which almost froze our lungs as our focus went back to clearing and the call from a turkey. “Still no sign of a turkey”, Jake whispered. We looked all around as far as we could see through the clearing in order to spot the first sign of a turkey. The gobbling noise was getting closer, but still we could not even see the hint of a turkey. By this time, the smoke from our heavy breath seemed to freeze midair as it clouded our vision of the clear lane in anticipation of the wild turkey entering the lane with what we supposed would be splendor. As it seemed like a decade of time waiting for that turkey to come out into the clearing, Jake tapped me on the shoulder with a shaky kind of tap.

I shrugged off his attempts to get my attention for a moment as to indicate to him “stop and watch the clearing”. A few seconds went by when the tap on my should was more forceful and now quivering. So, in disgust I turned to give Jake a stern look of disgust, when I caught a whiff of a smell that was undescribable. The smell was similar to a packing plant, but the stinch was even worse than that. As I peaked over Jake’s shoulder I caught a glimpse of the largest nostriles I had ever been eye to nostrile with attached to one of the biggest, stinkiest, angriest wild hogs we had ever put our eyes on. There it was peering down at us on the ground, with a half cocked grin on its face, teeth gleeming just a bit, its breath fogging out the sides of its mouth like a steam engine train about to leave the station and with a glare in its red glowing eyes as though it had found fresh meat for its own winter feast. It was not moving, but my thoughts were “this beast is definately trying to decide which one of us to eat first”.

Jake was frozen in fear on the ground. He had a huge hunting knife on his belt, but could not move towards it for fear this wild beast would attack. To my surprise the wild hog was not attacking. It was glaring at us, mouth half cocked open, and breathing hard with a labored breath. I was not sure the smelly pig could even see us, but I was not willing to just set there and find out either. Knowing we could not get up and out run the horrible pig, very carefully and slowly I raised my twelve gauge shotgun just above Jake’s shoulder. Working carefully to move it forward so the end of the barrel of the gun was clear of the side of Jake’s face while pointing it directly in the face of this wild beast. What seemed to be huge chunks of time slowly passing by was only a few seconds. As I was trying hard to steadily pull the trigger, all of the sudden without warning something startled the hog and the hog jumped backwards and my shot fired directly through the left ear of the stinking beast. The hog ran off tumbling on the ground and bouncing off the trees grunting and squeeling as it ran the opposite direction up the clearing. Our guess at the time was the hog weighed in around 155 pounds. This was a big hog. “We could have eaten that big hog”, Jake confidently exclaimed. I told Jake the hog was much closer to eating us than we were of eating him. Let us just be thankful the hog is gone. We came to get a turkey anyway.

Now, Jake and I figured the shot of the gun would have destroyed our chances with the old turkey down the lane. Jake looked down the clearing and saw the head of a turkey picking something up off the ground through the tall tickle weeds lining the clearing. He rubbed his eyes again to make sure he was seeing what he was seeing and sure enough, it was that huge Tom Turkey. About the same time as our shot a big gust of wind came up from the direction of the turkey. Apparently the shot of our gun had been muzzled by a number of factors including the strange wind and the turkey had not heard the shot.

About the time I got a good glance at the turkey, he started moving up towards us just outside the tickle weeds and johnson grass pecking pebbles and seeds off the ground on his way towards us. My thoughts going through my mind was, “Lord, on this day will You deliver this turkey into our hands?” “You, Lord, always know our needs and You know this Thanksgiving my family has nothing to eat. You always make a way for Your people don’t You?” I knew in the back of my mind the wild hog that got away would have supplied meat for our family too, but Jake and I were especially wanting that turkey.

We are now down to two loaded shells for this turkey. My thoughts went towards mom back home with our three younger sisters and my grandfather who is in bed ill from cancer. My dad had died in an accident at the local mill several years before and the old farm house was cold, drafty and musty. It seems when the wind picks up from the north it comes right into our old house without any trouble, swirling around everyone’s head and does not stop going through our house until it exits the other side. The living room is where most of the family stays all day and the cold wind always seems to swirl vigorously around the room as we cover in blankets and huddle closely to the fire built in the little pot bellied stove. The vinyl on the kitchen flooring would raise up from wood as the wind tried to get into the house from underneath. What wallpaper was left on the walls flapped to the breeze of the strong north winds. The lighting in the old house was minimal at best. The owner of the home was an elderly man at the next farm and he could not afford to replace anything in the home and really we were grateful he was allowing us to rent the place in return for taking care of some of his cows and a few pigs on the old farm.

Today, however, if this old turkey continues in the direction he is moving, we will feast tomorrow with enough food to warm our bellies and help us to celebrate in true thankfulness for what God has given to us this day. Sure, we have lots to be thankful for already, but would it not be nice to say grace over a big turkey God provided for Jake and I to hunt down?

My thoughts cleared up and I could refocus on the turkey still moving up the lane was within twenty feet of us. Jake told me to take the first shot and he would back me up if I missed. I zeroed in on the old Tom Turkey, placed my steady trigger finger firmly on the trigger. What seemed to take me hours I knew was only split seconds in pulling the trigger, calmly and methodically I aimed at the head of the Tom Turkey, when all of the sudden out of the brush with a fluttering motion and noise from within itself a fine looking ringneck shot up right next to the turkey causing the old Tom to run off into the weeds while at the same split second I fired off my shot. I could not believe Jake and I had been out in that clearing since before the dawn of the day, in the bitter cold, nearly eaten by a wold hog, and now this old turkey was getting away again. Jake and I never recall seeing many pheasant in that area of the woods before. For that matter we do not recall ever seeing any wild hogs roaming those woods either. What a disappointment this morning has been. Such anticipation on getting that big old turkey and now it is gone. I quietly exclaim, “Could that old turkey just be a ghost turkey or something? No one seems to be able to kill it.”

Jake and I packed up our stuff and headed back towards the house empty-handed with one final loaded shell in Jake’s gun. We were extremely disappointed. With our heads dropped low and our walk kind of dragging we made our way back towards the house. Our family would not eat very well this Thanksgiving. My mind began to wonder as I began to remember the promises I had heard from the stories momma told us about God. Promises like He would never leave me alone by myself or forget about me. Other promises like our Lord would feed us when we were hungry, give us clothing when we need clothing, and shelter from the elements when we needed it. Momma always said no matter what, God would take care of His own and we needed to be found faithful and obedient to Him above eerything else. The further we walked towards home I took great comfort and peace in those promises. I could tell Jake was not as convinced as I was, but he would learn. I reminded Jake about those promises momma had read to us from the big Bible in the living room about how God would provide food for us and put food on the table this Thanksgiving and probably even better food than what we were hunting for that morning. Discussing this for a moment it seemed to lift our spirits and we raised our heads as we picked up the pace heading home.

As we climbed up a small hill on the path back to our house, we heard something strange coming towards us on the path just behind a patch of dried up sunflowers. All of the sudden out of nowhere a much larger Tom Turkey was pecking around on the lane right in front of us. The turkey had not seen us or heard us yet, but as soon as the turkey rounded the corner I had my eyes on him. Jake was not bashful either. He knew exactly what he needed to do and he confidently put his finger on that trigger without much of a thought and he fired of his gun. The last loaded shell we had was now spent towards this big old turkey. For me, it seemed like I could see each and every little ball of BB’s from that shell move through the air towards the turkey. All of our hopes was in that last shot. Jake had nailed the Tom Turkey dead. Feathers fluttered up into the air like dust from a storm. Both of us looked towards each other with a confident smile as though we had never doubted this moment would come. As Jake was picking the old turkey up, he looked at me with a strange, but satisfied look. “Well, we can eat well tomorrow”, Jake said loudly.

Jake further said, “God knows exactly what He is doing. This turkey is far bigger, younger, and better than the other one was”. Looking back I started to see God’s providential hand in the entire hunting experience. We only had three loaded shells on us. I started to conclude that God caused that old hog to come right on top of us, but did not allow the hog to attack us, yet He had us waste a shell trying to kill the beast. Then He directed the big Tom Turkey up the path right beside a pheasant and allowed that turkey to get away. God knew we were down to one bullet shell and was disappointed in our failure on the hunt. All the time God knew He had a bigger and better turkey up that path for us. He wanted me down to my last bullet so I had to rely on Him for the provisions for our Thanksgiving dinner. God is His infinite wisdom was building a faithful character in Jake and I that morning unlike any other time in our lives. As Jake and I took off half way running towards home, I simply looked up to the sky and quietly spoke, “Thank You my God for providing for us this Thanksgiving. Thank You, Lord, for proving my momma right as she told us about the promises you make to us when we are faithful to You”.

Our family was humbly thankful to God for providing us with such a treat as that big delicious turkey. It had so much meat on it we ate turkey for three weeks savoring each bite. I can tell you Jake and I have never doubted God’s hand on our lives from that day forward. We trust He always is working His perfect plan to the end and we need to step in and take part in whatever He is doing.

scott bailey (c) 2009

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