This is the last post in the series of "Finding Ways to Unwind". In the previous post you were able to see the highlight of the evening: a nice little ten point deer stopping by my stand. It wasn't a shooter but it sure is nice to see some action. Makes a nice experience even better. Moving down from the tree I could see that my brother-in-law hadn't made his way down to the four wheeler yet. A relaxing walk to the four wheeler was the final step to the evening hunt.
Although the walk was a nice touch to the evening, the "cherry" on top was going to be the settling around the campfire and enjoying the evening conversation. This was going to be a nice time because both of my brothers-in-law were able to be in attendance, but most important my son was back from college. It's always fun to get together with the guys. In case you were wondering, my girls have had the opportunity to hunt. My youngest has been turkey hunting and my eldest daughter dove hunting. All of my kids went through the hunter safety course when they were in elementary school. I believe it's important for kids to have a understanding of guns and how to handle them safely. My girls know they are always welcome to join us. Generally they decline. They like to hunt for the sale specials at the clothing stores. When I go, I usually get to chauffeur and then pay the tab. That's okay because I love them and want them to look their best. I wouldn't trade a smile and hug from my daughters and son for any big trophy buck. Those moments are what make being a parent great.
As we settled around the campfire, the evening meal started to get prepared. Brats and dogs were the choice. I ate both topped off with chocolate chip cookie bars. Not a bunch of health food. Fruits, unless you count strawberry pop tarts for breakfast, and vegetables don't make the camping menu. I am sure it's an unwritten rule when camping to eat as much junk food as possible.
As we finished off the meal, we settled into tending the fire for the next couple of hours. Halfway through the evening our fireside chat was interrupted by coyotes howling. I am sure they were several hundred yards off from our campsite and we were never in danger but when you’re camping if there is one thing that can spook you, it's howling coyotes. Full bladder or not, I am not going out in the dark without a flashlight and something to fend them off. This prompted us to make wagers on who would be brave enough to walk across the pasture without a flashlight. The pot got up to one hundred dollars, but it was all a moot point because there weren’t any takers.
Then it led into the discussion of how nerve wracking a hunt can be in the morning. Before the sun comes up, walking into a deer stand can be a little spooky. Sometimes I catch myself thinking "mountain lion" as I am walking to the stand. Once this starts, I am just positive that one is waiting behind each evergreen that I walk by. To make things worse, I start thinking that this "kitty" probably has not had anything to eat for over a week. As I pick up my pace, I wonder if I would taste like fish or chicken. In reality, I have never come across a mountain lion. I have come across foxes, possums, bobcats and raccoons. None of them were a big deal compared to the time I walked into knee high grass.
As I walk through any tall grass I try and look a couple steps ahead. Doing so keeps from stepping into a hole, or worse, on a top of a critter. Just as I looked up to see how far I was from my pickup, I spotted a black and white furry tail sticking straight up like a lightning rod. This sight will freeze any hunter in their tracks. Moving ever so slowing and quietly away from "Pepe Le Pew," I managed to escape unscathed. These moments are just part of the wonderful experience of hunting in the great outdoors.
I wouldn't be able to camp tonight because I would need to leave in the morning to go and watch my daughter run regional cross country. Something I learned early on is that hunting isn't more important than two things: family and church. As much I love to hunt, I love God and my family more. I believe leaders have to set their priorities in life. What are you core values? They will keep you grounded as a leader. Hopefully these values are in an area that can help build you up as a leader. Most importantly these need to be values that will help you serve the world that you work and live in. Thanks for joining me in this series. I hope as a leader that you find your way to unwind. If you do then you will not only enjoy life, but will look forward to coming back to work.