I have never been hunting. I grew up in Mississippi, where hunting is like a big thing, but I never made it out into the woods.
When I was younger I begged my dad and brother to let me go with them. My dad never took me. He said I would talk too much in the deer stand and that when it came time to actually kill the deer, he was quite certain I would not be happy with what I saw.
For most of my childhood I tried to prove him wrong, but it never happened.
Recently, a friend invited my husband to his hunting camp for the weekend and said I could come too. A nice, quiet weekend tucked away in a remote cabin in the woods sounded appealing, so I agreed to tag along.
We got there Friday afternoon and suited up to hit the woods. I don’t own any camouflage, so I had to borrow some of Tyler’s. I put on his oversized shirt and puffy jacket, along with pants that had to be held up by a belt. He told me to wear boots, but not my nice boots because we would be trudging through mud to get to the stand, so the only remaining option were my bright red rain boots. I tucked them under my pants and was ready to go. I looked like a little kid playing dress-up.
We hopped on the back of a four-wheeler, and a man drove us to our stand. As he hit the gas, he looked back and said “I hope you don’t mind a little drunk driving,” and shook his Yeti tumbler in my face. I was certain we were going to die.
By the grace of God, we made it to our deer stand. It had a cute name, but I can’t remember it. The hunters at the camp give names to all the deer stands, which I just think is adorable.
I was giddy as Tyler and I climbed up into our stand. “This is going to be so fun!” I exclaimed.
“Shhhhhhhhhhh” followed by an ‘are you an idiot’ glare was my husband’s response.
“You can’t talk in the deer stand. You’ll scare them all away.”
“I doubt they can hear me whisp-“
He stopped me before I could even finish my sentence.
“Yes, they can. We have to sit down and be still and quiet.”
Maybe this wasn’t going to be as fun as I had anticipated.
We stared at a bunch of trees and some dead grass in silence for about 30 minutes. That may not sound like a long time to you, but I can’t recall the last time I sat in silence doing absolutely nothing for 30 minutes. If I had to guess, I'd say it was when I was a kid playing hide-and-seek and the other kids forgot to tell me the game was over.
I intentionally put my phone away and tried really hard to channel my inner outdoorsy side and be one with nature.
It was terrible. I looked at my watch every 90 seconds, feeling like a minimum of 20 minutes should have passed. I kept looking at Tyler and opening my mouth to say something, only to see him shake his head no. I wanted to go back to the cabin.
That first half hour was tough, but we continued to sit for about two hours, and the longer we sat, the more the silence grew on me. And I realized it was kind of nice not to hear the ding of my phone from emails or text messages. And I kind of enjoyed the fact that I couldn’t edit a video or work on a social media strategy or respond to emails. I just had to sit and there was nothing I could do about it. I had the freedom to do nothing. And I discovered it was rare and beautiful and very much needed.
Soon after we passed the two-hour mark, Tyler elbowed me in the side and pointed just off to our right. A little doe was making her way through the field. I got so excited and started fidgeting and moving around. Tyler had to signal for me to calm it down a few notches. We had been sitting for so long in the nothingness, that I had nearly forgotten we were looking for deer.
No more than a minute later, another deer wandered out. And then another. Before long there were about 10 deer right in front of us. Since Tyler had to move around a little to get his gun in place, I took this opportunity to make a little noise myself and got my camera out to take some video. The deer were graceful and pure, and I was mesmerized.
I had been enjoying the view for about 10 minutes, when Tyler whispered “Ok, I’m about to shoot one of them.”
They were so elegant and fascinating. How could he just "shoot one of them"?
“Cover your ears,” he warned and he fired a shot. A doe went down and the other deer quickly scattered.
I couldn’t breathe.
“Let’s go see her,” he said. He was so excited. So proud.
My eyes filled with tears. My dad was in fact, correct, all those years ago. I did not like hunting.
I did end up going back out with Tyler the following day, and really embraced sitting in the quiet stillness of the woods. He did not shoot anything on day 2, so it was much more enjoyable and far less bloody.
There is something significant about sitting in silence and not doing anything. For me, it took not having the option to do all the things in order to fully appreciate the quiet and calm. But I did appreciate it. And I’ve been trying to make a point to do that more often. To just be still. And quiet. And turn my brain off.
It’s not easy. I am in a season of life, where things are just busy. All the time. And I’m having to hustle a bit more than usual, because when you start your own business, you can’t exactly sit in silence and do yoga all day long.
But I’m learning it’s good to rest every now and then. Not only is it good, but it is important. I’m sure you, like me, are busy. And you may have trouble turning your brain off. While I don’t recommend hunting as a calming activity due to what happens at the end, I would like to encourage you to take time to rest. And to be still. And quiet. And turn off your phone and laptop. And quit being productive, just for a little while. It’s hard to make yourself stop, but your body and mind will thank you if you do.