As many of you know, sometimes it is more fun to take someone hunting than it is to go yourself. This is especially true when it comes to your own children. But that’s not the only time. I remember the day I took a young black man on his first deer hunting trip. I will call him a man even though I was old enough to be his dad. This young man had not grown up in a hunting or fishing family and was never exposed to this wonderful sport and to what lessons it teaches. As is any man his age, he was guarded in his emotions; after all, this new adventure may not be “cool.” And if anything needs to remain intact, it is a young man’s “coolness.” (I was the same way) Not only had he not been exposed to the outdoors in this way, but he grew up without the presence of his father in his life, who might otherwise have done some of these outdoor things with him. We had already taken a few fishing trips together and I had witnessed a wonderful disarmament of his carefully guarded disposition. This surrender did not come about from anything I said, but from the relentless prodding of one bluegill after another on the end of his rod. I knew our deer hunting trip would continue to break down this façade until what would be left would be someone who was real and satisfied being just that.
Sure enough, my heart began to beat furiously when that small buck showed itself. I knew my student’s heart would be pounding as well. This was what I was counting on. After he shot and the buck hit the ground, I saw it. It was unmistakable. It was why I came. It was his uncontrollable and irrepressible smile. And it was far more attractive than anything made up. This was real and it was met with my own uncontainable emotions. I threw up a big grin, jumped on him, and wallowed him to the ground in excitement. We did it! We did it! We did what thousands of leaders, theologians, politicians, lawyers, and educators could not do. We tore down the walls of generational, political, racial, and sociological differences. And we did it with a deer hunt.
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