A BOWHUNTER’S HEAVEN
Carl A. Peters
© Copyright 2010
“A MISS IS JUST A MISS”
Old Buck Mulie lowered his head in defiance, weaved a little, like a drunk ready to fight, then charged. Shreds of velvet dangled from the needle points of those big, beautiful antlers. WHOA! No time to think about horns right now though. Git outa the way! This time he almost “nailed me to the barn” on those long wicked spikes of his.
What a predicament. Here I was between the oak-brush and the aspens, in the middle of a large sagebrush hillside, way up on Colorado’s Ungcomphagre plateau. I was in this guy’s living room, and HE … WAS … MAD!
One week earlier, on Saturday, opening day of the 1977 Colorado archery season, I had stalked this same deer as he lay at the edge of the oak-brush on the ridge above me. But because of a miss — my arrow had sailed about six inches over his back and glanced off his antlers — all I got to see that day was his rump and those big horns bouncing down his escape route like a runaway boulder. But that was then. Let’s get back to now.
My hunting buddy, Glen, had just spooked Buck out of his bed up on the ridge, and that same deer was now making his getaway this second Saturday in a row, down the same escape route. Only today I was standing right in his way! When Buck exploded from the oaks not thirty feet away we scared each other so bad he almost fell down turning left while I, the expert marksman and bowhunter (swagger), stood there like a statue with my Howard Hill longbow at full draw. No smooth, quick release? Hey … I couldn’t even let go of the string. I froze!
A few seconds later I did manage one shot as the mulie bounded down the hill to my right, but because I misjudged, AGAIN … my arrow sailed just inches over his shoulder, AGAIN! This time, though, the Howard Hill broadhead smacked him at the base of that near perfect 24″ by 24″ rack. Buck somersaulted forward, piling up in a heap, as the points of his antlers dug into the dirt. Obviously a rare, instant kill.
I gloated over being Robin Hood Jr. as I walked down to the carcass. (Truth is, I almost broke my arm patting myself on the back.) But let me tell you, Buck had other ideas. I was about ten feet away when that mule deer had a gen-u-wine resurrection! He scrambled to his feet, spun to face me and lowered his head in defense. (This is where you came in.)
Buck must have felt it was either me or him out there in the middle of that open hillside … and he was right. He charged me three times during that 90 second bull fight, but lost his balance and fell onto his right side at the last second each time. I was finally able to end it all, but even today, more than twenty years later, I can recall every detail of that few minutes as though it was a Technicolor instant replay in my head. Because of a bad shot — actually, a miss by any good standard — I caused both Buck and me what seemed like an eternity of unnecessary misery.
When I consider all the years I’ve called myself an archer, whether shooting at hay bales for practice, or hunting the fields and forest, I’ve discovered one grand truth. When you miss the mark you aimed at, you’re only “Doin’ a what comes na-chur-ly.” And, you know, in the same way, missing God’s mark of perfection in our life is no different than missing a bull’s eye on a target. Every single human being is saddled with this spiritual problem, archer or not.
Why don’t you hang your bow on that tree limb, pour yourself some hot coffee from the pot there by the fire and rest your weary bones for a spell. Let me tell you the greatest story ever told around a hunting camp
First, let me ask you a straight, honest question — maybe the most important question of your life. If you were to die today, this very day, do you know for sure you’d go to Heaven? O.K., now wait a minute … none of the jokes. And please don’t shrug this question off as stupid. It’s a shame most people have to die FIRST before they find out just how important this subject really WAS!
A long time ago a friend showed me an interesting verse in the Bible. Being an archer, it had special meaning for me. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”1 I’m told that in the original Greek language of the New Testament the word “sinned,” in this particular verse, meant to shoot an arrow at a mark or bull’s eye AND PLUMB MISS!
Think back with me to he Greek games. Those were the original Olympics, only without politics. The archery competition is beginning. The bowmen, standing at the line, study the target — a slender rod about five feet tall, almost two hundred yards away.
Our first man draws the string to his face, concentrates with all of his skill, then looses a shaft. Gracefully his arrow arches, covering the long distance in a breath, then drops, missing its intended mark by only a hair. Nevertheless, a miss! He draws a second time, concentrates and releases only to whisper again, this time by several feet. As he empties his arrow pouch, he finds he has failed to strike the mark even once. And after each shot the spectators chant the Greek word, “Miss … miss … miss!”
The second archer steps forward, bends his bow and quickly sends his shaft on its way. The crowd again echoes it’s chant as his arrow falls eight or ten yards short and skids along in the dirt, kicking up a trail of dust. And likewise, throughout the hot afternoon, all of the other contestants fail, either missing completely or falling far short on every shot. Murmurs are overheard from several of the better contestants.
“The mark is too hard … too far. It’s impossible for even the best archer in all the land to hit squarely.”
Then out of the crowd steps one lone bowman. Nothing about him would make us think he has exceptional skill — a man of average build, common in every respect. He strings his bow as he silently surveys the difficulty of the task at hand. He has already observed all of the others fail. He knocks an arrow and with one mighty heave on the string, hurls the shaft through time and space — CRACK! — splitting the stave in two.
Silence falls on the crowd. Can he do it again? A new target is stood in place and again his arrow strikes it’s mark squarely. One by one this man shoots his arrows, and one by one each target is hit and splintered. He did not miss once, even by a hair. This man has humbly demonstrated perfection in the archer’s sport. The gold is his.
Every one of us who has ever shot a bow or gun, thrown a ball, flipped a marble, or tossed a rock at something has experienced this problem of “missing the mark.” And after many years of practice, even the best would admit they still fall far short of absolute perfection. And if each one of us was completely honest about it, we wouldn’t need to think back very far to remember many times when we’ve missed GOD’S mark — His standard of perfection.
Even if we slipped deep into the forest alone and confessed our failures secretly to God, each one of us would have to admit to HIM that we fall far short of HIS “Bulls-eye” for our lives every day. And a lot of the time these spiritual “misses” are because we never even tried to hit God’s mark — didn’t care — or worse yet, BECAUSE WE DELIBERATELY AIMED TO MISS! And you and I both know exactly what I mean by that.
“But, what is God’s standard or bull’s eye?” you ask. “I mean, what spiritual target are we shooting at, anyway? Every religion has a different set of standards. Who’s right … A, B, C, or X?” A fair question, BUT …
WHOA PARDNER! STOP RIGHT HERE FOR A MINUTE!
So far this has just been a teaser, aiming to interest you in the rest of the story.
This booklet contains five short chapters and takes about 45 minutes to read, head to tail. Read it all in one sitting if you’d like (free, of course) or study it one chapter each night for five nights. Either way, this booklet contains detailed instructions on how to find the greatest spiritual trophy of all time. You can find the entire story above, under “Booklets.” I’d sure appreciate it if you would give me your thoughts and questions when you’ve finished reading.
Have a good hunt. I’ll be praying for you,