Life is full of choices, most are as mundane as choosing how you want your steak cooked (if it's well done, we probably can't be friends) or which pair of boots to pull on. Other choices are more serious and have a greater impact on us. As hunters, we are faced with choices every time we walk into the woods and often these choices are unique to only to us as hunters.
I like to think that as hunters, we set the bar a little higher for regular men. In a time where parts of society condemn us and the media often portrays us in a very negative light, it is more critical now that as hunters, we make the right choices, whether seen or unseen by others we must act with integrity. C.S. Lewis said "Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking" How we act and the choices we make represent not only us as an individual but our whole sportsmen's tribe.
Sometimes our choice is whether or not to simply follow the fish and game laws of our state. Hunting out of season, shooting before legal light, tagging our deer and not shooting from a road are laws inmost states and these should be easy to follow (by most hunters).
But, as I stated earlier, as sportsmen, we face a unique set of choices. The choice to follow not only the law but to follow the "unwritten" rules, the sportsmen's "Code of Ethics".
Some of the "unwritten" rules I can think of include:
Ø Never take a shot you're not sure of; Strive for a quick, clean kill.
Ø Only shoot at free and wild animals.
Ø Treat the animals you hunt with respect, especially after the kill.
Ø Don't shoot pregnant, undersized or young animals.
Ø Never waste meat; if you're not going to eat it, get the meat to someone who will.
Ø Don't condone illegal or unethical hunting by others.
Ø Respect the environment. A true hunters a true conservationist.
Ø Don't mess with someone else's hunt.
Ø Be respectful when you're getting your kill home. A gutted buck on the hood is never a good look.
Ø Pass along and instill the unwritten rules of hunting ethics with young hunters. They learn the hunting skills by practicing. They learn integrity by watching.
Following both the written laws and the unwritten rules of ethics, we make ourselves better, we make the perception of hunters and the sport of hunting better and we provide an example to young hunters that will make them better as they mature as sportsmen.
While sitting in my deer stand thinking this allover, I also thought about some of the choices people in the bible had to make. I know I sure wish old' Adam wouldn't have chosen to bite into that forbidden fruit when Eve offered it up! Another one is a decision Jesus made, His decision to accept His fate to be horrifically tortured and killed. You see, Jesus had a choice while he stood in the Garden of Gethsemane. Being both fully man and fully God, He had a choice. Jesus prayed 3 times to God and ask each time to not have to face what was coming but only if it was God's will.
By making a choice to accept God's will, Jesus surrendered himself to unspeakable torture and horrid death on a cross to save guys like you and me. He knew what He would face, He knew His flesh would be stripped away as he was beaten with a whip, that He would be spit on, that nails would be driven through His hands and feet and that thorns would be driven into the flesh of His head as they forced a crude crown upon him, yet he still made the decision to sacrifice himself so that you and I might join him in Heaven one day.
When I think of the choice Jesus made for me, it makes it much easier to make the right decisions when I am faced with a choice. I still make bad decision and fail every day. But knowing a choice Jesus made for me gives me hope and drives me to want to be more like Him.