I think many sportsmen are farmers at heart. They’ve simply missed their calling. Think about it: farmers love being outside, alone with their thoughts. They live for overcoming weather, equipment, and wildlife. And they find a great satisfaction in providing food for themselves and others. Is that not the same soul of a sportsman?
This past fall, on a crisp, breezy November afternoon, I sat in a tree stand along a cut bean field. Across my field, on the other side of the road, a seasoned old farmer cut wide swaths through his cornfield with his John Deere 9860. He had pulled his combine into the field about the time I arrived at my stand. From a hundred and fifty yards, the man behind the wheel seemed content in his work, enjoying his time alone…just as I was enjoying mine. That moment reminded me of what Edward Abby wrote:
“I find that in contemplating the natural world my pleasure is greater if there are not too many others contemplating it with me, at the same time.”
In college, I roomed with a friend who grew up on a farm. His family grew corn and beans, and kept about sixty head of milking cows. I spent several weekends with his family. In our “down times,” we hunted pheasants and geese, flooded gopher holes, or fished for perch in Summit Lake. It was during those weekends on his farm that I began to feel envy, and perhaps a sense of loss. My parents had always told me I could do anything; yet as my admiration of farming grew, I knew that dream would be impossible to actualize. So, I took my love for nature and majored in biology, planning to work with our state’s wildlife management organization.
Then, go figure, I ended up a pastor. But the part of me that loves the fresh air, time alone, and weather & wildlife never left…so I fish and bowhunt. And every time I go afield, I’m aware of how much I owe to the ranchers and farmers who let me enjoy their land. Thanks to them, those of us who have become teachers, accountants, mechanics, grocers, or in my case a pastor & author, get time alone in nature.
The change in calendar marks the end of another satisfying hunting and fishing season…thanks, in large part, to the landowners of Merrick County, Nebraska.
Check out Zeke’s new book, Man on the Run!