As I sit in this airplane and reflect on the past week, one word comes to mind: relationships. Now you may be wondering how that can be the word I choose to remember from a hunting trip and I’m about to tell you.
I remember growing up watching hunting on TV. I always thought it would be so cool to hunt the places that Bill Jordan, David Blanton, Michael Waddell and others would hunt. Five years ago David made that dream come true for me at Seven J Outfitters in Wyoming and the dream continues to come true year after year. This year was especially awesome for a myriad of reasons. Michael joined us in camp and for the first time I really got to know him on a much more personal level. He didn’t disappoint. In true Waddell form, he just so happened to take the biggest deer of the hunt!
Each day after the morning hunt, the hunters, cameramen, and guides sat around a table to eat lunch together. We broke bread, told stories and prayed together. We really got to know each other even better and become invested in one another’s life and well being. In Proverbs, we read that “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” This week there was a lot of sharpening going on and for that I can’t be more thankful. I needed it more than I ever could have imagined.
One thing you may not realize is the amount of time the hunter and cameraman spend together. We are a team in every sense of the word. This week I was a terrible teammate. I have been battling a herniated disc since early August. Stephen, my cameraman and friend, went out of his way to help me climb in and out of trees all week long. He didn’t have to do that. After all, he’s working and I’m hunting and having fun but he did. Two different times this week, I missed a deer after countless hours in stands. He could’ve very easily been frustrated but he wasn’t. He continuously encouraged me. He didn’t have to do that but he did. That’s what friends do for one another. I can’t tell you how much our relationship has grown over the past 5 years but we are very much friends as much as we are coworkers.
Each hunter has their own guide. I have had the pleasure of having Kenny Morga as mine the past 5 years. The man has forgotten more about deer hunting than I will ever know. Kenny was frustrated all week because he didn’t have the time to scout as he had in years past. He even went so far as to apologize to us for it. I stopped him right there and told him he had nothing to apologize for. He didn’t get his scouting in because his father was ill and eventually went on to gain his heavenly reward. Kenny was right where he needed to be. Deer can wait. Hunting can wait.
I missed my wife more this trip than I have on any trip prior. I know you may read this and wonder why. Godwin told me early on in my marriage that it gets better. At the time I didn’t understand what he meant. Now I do. Brittany and I continue to become more and more invested in each other and as that happens, your relationship grows deeper than you think it can. I am invested in her and her in me. At 3.5 years in, I can’t wait until we are 30 years in and see just how deep we have gotten. I can’t wait to see her and our fur child Jude this afternoon.
I dare you to go to Wyoming and sit on those hillsides and not grow closer to our God. His handprints are on everything out there. Sometimes in our daily life we lose sight of that. When you get down in a canyon on the side of a pine tree with no cell phone service, you connect with Him. He is always there just sometimes we need to be reminded what He desires from us. It is truly awesome to serve a God that not only allows us to talk with Him but also wants us to talk to Him. Sometimes in life it’s super easy to focus on the creation and lose sight of the Creator. This week was good for my mind, body and soul. It was right where I needed to be even though I stressed about leaving with everything going on at Duck Commander.
Thank you Lord for all of your blessings.
Thank you David Blanton and Realtree for the friendship, mentoring, and relationship we have developed over the last 15 years.
Thank you Michael, Cragg, Jay, Shawn and Tony for a week of fellowship.
Thank you Stephen, Phillip, Greg, Coulton, and Cub for your hard work this week behind the lenses and fellowship tree side.
Thank you Brittany, Lisa, Christie, Bethani and all the other wives that held down home base while we continue to chase our dreams.
Thank you Jeff, Deb, Kenny, Donnie, Dave, Drew, Connor, Chris, Aaron, Karysa and the rest of the crew at Seven J for an amazing week.