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The Condition of Lost...as promised (Longer than most)

Discussion in 'Indiana Whitetail Hunting' started by reowen51, Feb 19, 2007.

  1. The Condition of Lost… Tree Stand Reflections


    I had watched it unfold on the silver screen many years ago. William Brimley’s character, Bear Claw Chris Lapp yells out to Jeremiah Johnson played by Robert Redford, “That be fur enough pilgrim. You sir are molestin’ my hunt.” Bear Claw was obviously annoyed at the greenhorn mountain man as he stagers into the middle of Bear Claw’s grizzly bear hunt. I chuckled at that line then and as I watched this “pilgrim” making his way down the deer runway through the woods and on a direct line to pass under my tree stand. I couldn’t resist. “That be fur enough pilgrim…you sir are molestin’ my hunt,” I called out to the stranger. Startled he stepped backwards momentarily gaspin’ for air and yelled, “Where are ya?” Laughing out loud I said, “Up here in the tree stand.” He picked up his head and spotted me in my camouflage clothes perched on my stand 15 feet above him. “Oh, I’m sorry,” he said. If you’ve seen the movie I want you to know that I resisted the movies next line (“That you are!”) mainly because I saw a sincere look of concern on the guy’s face. He was sweating profusely and breathing so deep that his next words to me did not surprise me. “I’m lost,” he said! “Are you sure you are lost and not just confused?” I asked.


    Over the next few minutes we were able to agree on some mutually known land marks and I was able to give this poor guy two options. Well you can go back through that cedar swamp you just emerged from or you can walk out that way to the power line turn left on it and follow it out to the road turn left on the road and your camp should be down there a ways. It’s about five miles around but it’s a lot easier walkin’ than what you just came through.


    He thanked me and we chatted for a while as he caught his breath and took a hanky from his jacket pocket and wiped the sweat from his brow. “Man, have you ever been in that swamp? That’s one scary place! I didn’t want to spend the night in there…no way! I knew all to well what he was talkin’ about I had been turned around (confused) in that swamp several times myself. I didn’t tell him that though he had a long walk and probably wouldn’t get back to his camp till an hour after dark. “You got a flashlight? I asked him. “No, I’ll be fine once I get back on the road”, he said. “Well good luck, I said and pointed again in the direction of the power line and said, No more than 200 yards right through there!


    He vanished as quickly as he had come upon me. I chuckled to myself again and drifted off to thoughts of times passed when I was the one requesting directions and feeling very happy to have found somebody to talk to. I wondered if getting lost in the woods is less common today with GPS’s and compasses making it virtually impossible to do! I know I am more confident today because of the technology I take afield with me.


    Getting lost in the big woods, arguing with my compass and discovering new hot spots that I never found my way back to had been an everyday experience for me, especially, in my teens. I remember taking off with my younger brother one day. We ignored my Father’s rule about not crossing any water or roads. The two of us stumbled out of the woods into another deer camp. It was dark! The guys we found there offered to drive us back to dad’s car a mere seven and a half miles distant. But when you are young, lost is an adventure. As I thought, the woods around me fell back into the kind of quiet that allows a man to draw deeper into his soul and lose himself in memories of days gone by and lessons learned. My mind settled in on those times in my life when I had been lost. Far from these woods, right there in the mainstream hustle and bustle of our culture I had often lost my way.


    Our American culture does not provide roadmaps that do anything but show us where to drive our cars. The really important guidelines we need are not readily available. Most of us never find a mentor or guide to help us find our way. Our education does not include lessons on how to succeed in life. We are taught to read, write and do some math by our public schools. We are not taught to succeed there. To succeed, we go forth in life to experiment. Often we condemn ourselves to repeating the most important lessons many times. Success is discovered through trial and error. Getting lost is easier than succeeding because it requires no planning or time spent working on bettering ourselves.

    A noise, a snapping twig I think, puts me back in touch with my surroundings and I emerge into to outer world again focusing my senses on the swamp. On past hunts hearing noises from over there has usually produced deer on the runway right in front of me. If they come out of the swamp over there they will have to turn to my left if I’m going to get a shot. If they go right they will pass just out of range of my bow and arrow. I wait. The minutes pass…nothing. The sun is casting my shadow on the ground to my right and something about the shadow outside of me makes me wonder about my internal self. Is there a shadow in me in a dimension I do not recognize or understand? Would others call it a soul? My senses bored with the outside world now allow me to slip back into the tranquility of my mind. The question of lost needs answering and for some reason balance pops into my mind. Was that thought brought on by a fear of falling? I do not know but I focused my mind on balance.

    I have concluded, that during those times when I have been lost, my life seemed to have lacked balance. I have identified that my life is made up of four complex quadrants. Each one is important to my health and happiness. I am one part mental, one part physical, one part social and one part spiritual. When I balance these things and treat each one with equal time and commitment tranquility surrounds me. It is not at all unlike this fall evening. When I over indulge in any of these areas. I have to let time and commitment slip away from one of the other areas. I am at these times out of balance. I believe that loss of balance can be interpreted as lost by those who observe me.

    There were those days in Jr. High and High school when being socially accepted and physically prepared for the next game put me out of balance mentally because I didn’t get it done in the classroom. I never took the time to thank God for the many blessings he had bestowed upon me and that knocked me off balance. Without balance it was easy to feel confused and ultimately lost. I stumbled along the path of life not at all unlike the lost guy I had encountered only a few minutes ago stumbling along the deer trail that passed under my stand. No plan, no balance, no clue, both of us lost.

    I remembered those days when I had thought my work was equally as important as my family. I failed to see they were both a part of the social side of me and that it would have been all right to prioritize them, placing my family first. Out of balance, I missed that simple fact at the time. Instead of running I took up smoking. Instead of reading and further educating myself I watched more television. Instead of congregating I bowled and put my extra cash into the jackpot instead of the collection plate. These were the signs of a person out of balance and thus lost.

    I continued to hunt and fish throughout that time. I was never was able to pull these thoughts together then. I wish I had. Those hours of time in my tree stand eventually gave me the power to make some little changes. Those changes resulted in me becoming the person I am today. I no longer feel out of balance or for that matter lost.

    Sitting back in my stand I had my left arm resting on a limb. Suddenly, something grabbed my left wrist. I turned slowly to my left to discover a Great Horned Owl had mistaken my arm for a limb and landed on my arm. We came face to face and I remember thinking, “How cool is this?” He blinked in disbelief and I looked down at his talons now firmly grasping my forearm and was impressed by the strength he possessed. I think we both realized simultaneously that a mistake had been made and he lifted off at the same moment that I raised my arm to shake him away. Owls are supposed to be a symbol of wisdom. Was he lost too? Or was this a signal to me that wisdom had come to me?

    The owl’s visit late that evening preceded the coming of darkness by only a few minutes and I began to gather up my things and lower them to the ground. I untied my safety belt, climbed down and headed for my car parked out on the power line. That evenings hunt had been a comical, thought provoking, wildlife encounter that I will never forget.

    When I approached my car I could see the figure of a man standing near my vehicle. Parked at the top of a hill both my car and the man were silhouetted against the moonlit sky. It was the same guy I had encountered in the woods earlier. He was still lost and had turned right instead of left on the power line. He figured that who ever owned the car would help him get back to his camp. He was really embarrassed when he realized we had already met!

    I agreed to drive him around until he was safely returned in his camp. We talked about the tradition of our hunting spots, my parking place and his annual deer camp. The number of years we had both been participating in this activity was staggering. I ask him if he had ever had a close encounter with an owl, he said, “No”. So I told him about mine.

    A quarter of an hour later we still hadn’t found his camp and as we drove by where I thought his camp was he said, “No I think it’s another mile or so up here.” He was right and when we pulled into his camp I remembered this place. This was the same camp that my brother and I had wandered into lost about thirty years ago. This guy’s Grandfather, I learned, was the one who had driven my brother and I back to our Dad’s parking spot. A favor returned!

    As I pulled away from his camp I couldn’t help but reflect over the day I had just experienced. I wondered do we “pilgrims” ever find our way in this natural world or do we just take turns being lost hoping someone else will help us? More importantly, I wondered, do we ever gain the balance we need in life to find and tune into our true soul? I should have asked these two questions of the owl, while I had his attention.

    Success is a Decision;
    Author /Motivational Speaker
    Robert “Bob” Owen
    www.success-decision.com
     
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