A deer’s sense of smell is its best sense. We all have had shot opportunities ruined by a change in wind direction. Deer live (and die) by monitoring the wind. I have often wondered how many deer I didn’t see because I didn’t take proper care in controlling my scent.

On my last hunt of the 2009/2010 deer season here in Tennessee I was blessed by the wind direction. As my son and I came out of our box blind to do some spot and stalk hunting, I made sure to keep the cold northwest wind blowing in our face. We had about an inch of snow on the ground and visibility was awesome. As we moved along the ATV trails there seemed to be no activity of any sort. Since my freezer was still empty of deer meat, I was getting anxious about shooting a deer.

Walking down a steep hill with hardwoods all around us, I saw a doe jump up and run down into the bottom below us and up the other hillside. I did not have a chance to get a shot off, but she put me on high alert. As I was watching her run off, my son spotted 3 more does running toward us. They were on a path that would bring them up the hill right to us. Two of them came up out of the cut below us and stopped within 15 yards of us. However, there was a downed tree between us and still no shot! They turned and ran off with the wind in their face. After spotting 2 more deer I was able to drop one of them in her tracks with my 30-06. At this point I realized what started all this action: 2 dogs were coming up through the woods below us and their scent was carried up into the thicket these deer were bedded in. My son spotted another group of 4 and again my 30-06 brought down another one. Two deer on the ground less than a minute apart! My freezer is now full!

As I reviewed the hunt in my mind over the following days, I realized that I was able to shoot those deer because of their total reliance on wind direction. You see the dogs came in down wind from where the deer were bedded and both deer that I shot were headed back into the thicket where they came from because the dogs had already passed them. They never saw us because they were relying on the wind as their defense mechanism and we were upwind from them.

It got me thinking: how many times have I relied on one mechanism to improve my health? You see, there are many health fads out there that only focus on one thing for people to do to become healthy. Have you heard about the chocolate that helps you loose weight? I am not kidding. There is a company that sells a natural dark chocolate that is supposed to speed metabolism and help you loose weight. What about only eating protein, a.k.a Atkins diet? Or the grapefruit diet? Or only doing weight training and no cardio? You see, all these things are only one “mechanism” and like those deer that are in my freezer right now, if you rely only on one mechanism to improve your health, then your going to get caught by something upwind that you can’t see.

Now, I am all for making things simple and that is true for healthcare as well. However, just doing one thing is too simple. I try to keep it at 3: eat well, think well and move well. For this post, I want to focus on moving well.

How much moving do you do in an average day? Is your job pretty sedentary or are you up and moving most of the day? Do you try to park up close to Walmart or do you park further away and get a little exercise walking in? You see, our bodies are meant to move. Without movement, our muscles breakdown and atrophy. This lack of movement is accentuated when we put our bodies under new stresses, such as dragging a deer out of the woods. As we were dragging one of my 2 deer up to the ATV this year, I said, “This is why I workout 3 times a week!” After my friend who was helping me caught his breath, he said, “This is why I take heart medication!” Only taking heart medication is focusing only on wind direction!

Making fitness part of your lifestyle is one of the easiest things to do. So many of my patients ask me what is the best kind of exercise. I then ask them what kind they like. No matter what they tell me I tell them that is the best kind of exercise because that is the kind that they are most likely to do. Find something that you enjoy and do it! Since most of us enjoy the woods so much, why not try hiking at a local park 3 days a week? I enjoy mountain biking for this very reason. It gets me out into the woods and I get a great workout while I am doing it.

The point is to just get out and move. You will learn what is good for your body and eventually your body will actually look forward to the extra movement. Also, there is a side effect to exercise that most people don’t realize. After starting an exercise program, you will actually have more energy. That’s right, in response to the demands of the fitness routine your body will produce more energy! So there goes that excuse! If you need help with what maybe right for you, comment on this post and I would be happy to help.

If you are like me and your family is like my family, then at Christmas time and birthdays you usually get a few gift cards. I actually prefer them to most gifts because I can use them when I want and on things that I want. I know I get particularly excited about gift cards to my favorite outdoor stores (Bass Pro, Dicks and Cabelas, just in case you were wondering!). This year my parents got me a gift card for Sears… I couldn’t tell you the last time I bought something in Sears! Oh well, maybe I can buy some tools to use on the hunting property! (I am grateful for the gift, don’t get me wrong.)

When I used to work in a sporting goods store, the company had a policy of sending in secret shoppers to rate the employees’ selling skills. If an employee scored a 90 or better, then the employee earned a $25 gift certificate to the store. In the 4 plus years that I worked there, I know I took home more than $700 in free merchandise from these gift certificates. I loved that program!

Thinking about those gift cards or gift certificates… they each have a redemptive value on them. When you go to the store, you know how much that card is worth. You know how much you can spend. Without adding your own cash to the purchase, you are limited to what the card’s value is.

Have you ever thought about what your “redemptive value” is? What someone would be willing to pay for you? If you are like most guys, you may struggle with your own personal value at times. You look at your job and realize that just about anybody can do what you do. Sometimes you get home from work and your family barely notices or maybe you don’t even have a family. You may think that no one would be willing to pay a penny for you!

Well, my friend, I have good news for you! Someone already has paid a tremendous amount for you. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son…” John 3:16 tells us. Most everyone reading this post is familiar with that Scripture but have you recently dove into it and really thought about its meaning in your life today?

If we are to know our redemptive value, we need to know what we are being redeemed from. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death…” Your wages for your life here on earth is death. Wages are given in exchange for something you have done. In this case it is our sinful nature. Thank goodness Romans 6:23 doesn’t stop there though… “but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord!” Christ stepped up and said, “I will accept his wages… he doesn’t have to die!”

So, what is your redemptive value? What would someone be willing to pay for you? God answered that by giving us His Son, Jesus Christ.  You are worth that much to Him!

If you are like me you are finishing up your hunting season, cleaning your gear, making  the needed repairs to your equipment and putting it away for the year. It is a sad time for hard-core hunters like myself. Although it can be quite miserable the last few weekends of the season with the air temperatures dropping and a cold north wind making them feel colder, I still hate seeing the season come to a close.

As a good hunter, now is the time to start getting ready for next season. Review your trips afield in your head. What did you learn? What mistakes did you make that made an impact on your season? One that I made that I know I won’t make again is shooting my rifle without sighting in the specific ammunition I was hunting with. My 30-06 is sighted in for 180 grain factory loaded ammunition. A friend gave me 165 grain, ballistic tip hand loaded ammunition to try. I figured that the small 15 grain weight difference would not make a trajectory change inside 100 yards. Well, 2 missed deer in one weekend proved me wrong!

One area that hunters tend to overlook in preparing for the upcoming season is their physical health. I see many health conditions and injuries in my office every week that could have easily been prevented with a little exercise and proper nutrition.

Most everybody knows what it takes to have good health, but few people put the effort in to having it. We all know that we need 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables everyday. Do you know how big a serving is though? It is basically the size of your fist. Therefore, an apple counts as one serving. A normal size salad at most restaurants can count up to 5 servings! Thinking this way, it is not hard to get your recommended amounts everyday!

What about exercise? Most hunters get out on the first day of the season and after walking several hundred yards through the woods and then climbing into their tree stand realize that they are out of shape. Most will rationalize it away that they are too busy to exercise. What happens when one season you head out and have a heart attack on the way to the stand? Too busy then for exercise? Again, it doesn’t take a huge time committment to get into shape. Twenty minutes a day, 3 days a week is all you need! Some of my patients complain to me when they see the hard-core “gym rats” that they just don’t enjoy exercising like they do. My advice is to remember that you exercise to live, not live to exercise!

So as you are cleaning your rifle, storing your camo and washing off your four-wheeler don’t forget about getting your self ready for next season. Make sure that the next hunting season isn’t your last hunting season!

As I come to the end of another deer season, I reflect back to what I learned from this year’s hunting adventures. It has been an eventful season albeit a slow season in the number of trips afield.

Archery season came and went with only one trip to the woods for an afternoon hunt. I had set my climbing stand on a tree about 45 yards inside the tree line. Out to my left was a very large food plot planted with corn and clover. This food plot, we call it the “big field” has always been productive in the past. As shooting light waned, my hunting partner texted me to see if I had shot anything yet. After I replied a disappointing “no” and was putting my phone back into my pocket, a deer just out of sight saw that movement and decided to vacate that area rather quickly. Lesson learned: even though texting is quieter than talking on the phone, it can still spook deer!

Four weeks later found my oldest son and I in an elevated box blind over the same “big field” for his first youth hunt. As 3 does meandered into the opposite end of the field, some 270 yards away, his first real case of buck fever began. When they closed the distance to 100 yards and showed no sign of coming any closer, he set up for his shot. Deep, slow breaths helped him calm the shakes, but he was still worried about the loud crack of the rifle hurting his ears. No matter how much prodding I gave him, he did not want to shoot without me covering his ears. So his first shot at a deer had me behind him with my hands over his ears. It turned out to be a clean miss. Lesson learned: buy some ear plugs so the shooter can lean into the scope without someone else’s hands over their ears!

First day of muzzleloader season and I am in the double tree stand with my youngest son for his first ever “hunt with dad.” We had practiced sitting still and whispering; the treestand even had camo netting hanging from it to cover most of his movements. Shortly after 7 in the morning, a doe busted us from behind but didn’t run off. After she decided that we were no threat and she went back to feeding, I was able to turn around and get my crosshairs on her. As she was about to step out into an opening where I could shoot her, my son suddenly stood up, uncovered his ears and said, “Daddy!” Somehow the doe knew he wasn’t talking to her because she didn’t stick around to find out what he wanted to say! Lesson learned: 6 year old boys can have the worst timing but we still love them anyway!

The next time he and I were in that same stand, as I trained my gun on another deer, he covered his ears and didn’t even lift up his head to watch. This particular deer did not like the way we looked up in that stand and did not present me with a clean shot. After she ran off and I put my gun down, my son is still sitting there with his ears covered.  I nudged him telling him it was ok to put his hands down and he said, “Did she run away? I didn’t even move this time!” Lesson learned: 6 Year olds are quick learners!

I have had several other deer in my cross hairs this season and still have 2 weeks left before the season officially ends. It has been a great season and certainly one that I will never forget.

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