Part II

          Perhaps, gentle reader, there are still questions in your mind about this little story. I'll bet many of you still wonder about Part I. More specifically, where was the miracle? What indeed is so miraculous about a guy going hunting on the last Saturday of the season, getting a quick snapshot at his doe, and missing it?

          After all, with that lengthy prayer I had made to God about hitting it clean so as to waste no meat, and having it die close to the road to avoid my having to drag it far and risk a heart attack, and my avoiding a messy gutting-out session that might expose me to hide-allergens and a possible asthma attack, and finally praying for the avoidance of other refuge hunters who might mess up my one-man hunt; or worse, contribute to getting me or someone else shot in the process. All this praying really created an awful lot of excess writing just to set up a missed shot.

          Well, patient reader, let the truth now come out: there is a 'rest of the story'. First, nobody said anything about the shot being a miss. It was only implied that the doe got away. Let us go to the opening in the shelter belt where the deer was last seen bounding and see if there is any evidence of a possible blood trail.

          Sometimes stricken animals run quite a distance before they drop. This is especially true with heart shots. At any rate it is a rule of good sportsmanship that every hunter check the path of any deer fired at for blood to make sure the animal is not left wounded or dead out of a hunter’s carelessness.

          Well I covered the hundred or so yards from my firing point to the opening where the doe had entered the shelter belt and began scanning the ground ahead of me. I had the sun at my back and could see quite well. I’d covered little more than 50 yards when a red glittering against the background of the snow caught my eye. At first I thought it might just be rose hips; so. I reached down and touched the patch of red. Amazingly, some of it came off on my fingers. It was blood! I must have hit the deer!

          Energized, I pressed onward through the shelter belt hoping to find more sign. A few more yards revealed more splashes of blood in the dry grass and then more and even more. She couldn’t be too far ahead of me. Then my heart fell. There, in the middle of the trail, lay a pile of intestines.

          'Oh no,' I muttered. 'Some guy must have shot a deer here last evening and gutted it out right here.' Still, since the shelter belt trail I was on paralleled the road back to my car, I kept on despite my disappointment. But then, a few yards further, I found even more blood. Could my deer still be ahead of me? I kept on for about another hundred yards, and then I noticed another splash of blood just at a point where the trail branched obliquely off to my right and into the cattail slough that edged the shelter belt on the north side. This was the same slough from which I had jumped the doe the first time but had held off from shooting..

          There was a regular alley of trampled down reeds leading off through the slough. Cautiously, I pointed my scope down through that trail. What was this? I thought I could detect an ear sticking out of the crumpled reeds. I scampered forward hopefully, and there, attached to that ear, lay the deer, stone dead.

          But that wasn’t all. There was something else lying beside it. It was a stomach!

          Once again my heart fell. Oh, I thought, someone must have shot this deer yesterday. Maybe he had a buck license and couldn’t legally take it home. Maybe he gutted it out so the meat wouldn’t be spoiled hoping some other hunter with a doe license would take it.

          Well, I had a doe license, and I was hungry for some venison. I decided to see if there was any more gutting out to do before I tagged and dragged out the deer. I pulled the animal’s hind legs apart to better inspect the surgery of my benefactor and then had an even greater shock. The deer wasn’t stiff and cold as I’d expected. Its joints were flexible and its belly really hadn’t been split open by anyone’s hunting knife. When I reached my hand into the small opening I could see in the deer’s thorax, the interior was bloody and smoking hot!

          Then the full realization of the miracle began to dawn on me. This was indeed my deer. I had fired as it was coming down with its hind legs still high and from the rear angle from which I had taken the shot, my bullet had barely grazed its brisket putting a half-inch deep nick in the liver and neatly unzipping about the last six ribs where they attached to the sternum. An inch lower and I would have missed completely.

          The nick in the liver had been enough to create the bleeding, and the opening in the brisket had been enough to allow for the intestines to fall out back on the trail. Somehow, the stomach too had been expelled here where the deer had finally died..

          Then I began to see the full scope of the way God had answered my prayer. First, not another hunter had been anywhere near my hunt, just as I had prayed. Secondly, my shot had spoiled literally no meat at all. That night we had the traditional liver supper, yet the liver was the only vital area that had been “nicked.”

          Thirdly, my fears about an allergy attack brought on in my gutting the animal out were completely assuaged. Most of the gutting out had been done for me in the deer’s wild run to the place were it died.

          And where was that place? I had to drag the deer only about fifty yards to load it into the back of my Colt hatchback. There would be no heart attack had from dragging a deer too far on this hunt.

          After I had tossed the young doe easily onto the tarp I had lining the back of my hatchback, I sat down with a drink of water and began to drink in how far out of His way God had gone to set up this miracle for me. He wanted me to see beyond any further doubts not only that he existed, but that he loved me enough to take an old idolatry of mine, (How many countless times had I missed church to pursue my obsession with hunting and fishing?),. He took my hunting obsession and used it to draw me close to Him.

          Instantly, also I realized that the little doe He had helped me kill, was the apple of His eye. He had lovingly watched her grow and gambol on the refuge all that summer. They had walked together in the cool of the day.

           Suddenly I saw, that that is exactly what He had done with His beloved, (only God-begotten) son, Jesus. He had asked Him to leave His heavenly seat there at His right side, and give Himself up as a sacrifice to ransom all of rebellious, wayward, sinful, and thankless humanity, myself included.

          My heart welled up with gratitude at what a mighty, and loving, and merciful God we have. I sang His praises all the way home from Rutland to Wahpeton. I was glad He had prompted me to re-read the proclamation, and discover in it that I had permission to revisit the refuge in quest of my deer,. and that in doing so, had found him–“my refuge and my fortress; in Him shall I trust.” (Psl.91)

          Hunters, fishermen; don’t forget to pray next time you set out. It might just open the door for God to do something miraculous with your life. And if you have the faith and boldness to ask for something specific, I know God won’t let you down. See, He’s the One who’s hunting you----- and has been all the time. Why not re-read His Proclamation. (The Bible) The rest of your life is not time enough to discover all of the gifts and wonders God has prepared for those He loves and who should love Him. This advice could save your life. It did mine.

Gene Pinkney

Revised 3/17/07