My bag is packed, the wheels are up and my spring has just begun.
I’m on my way to Oklahoma to share camp with some of my turkey industry cohorts. It’s the first of six trips in the next six weeks — four turkeys hunts, one speaking engagement and a Women in the Outdoors event. I estimate that to be roughly 9,580 miles in the air, 2,490 on the road, not to mention the dozens of miles on America’s back roads by truck or old logging roads on foot.
I hear it all the time: Must be nice to get paid to hunt.
It’s a hardy-har-har statement that’s partly true. I’m about to chase turkeys in four states and I’m on the clock (which is super cool). It’s a blessing … but not a vacation.
Each trip/hunt comes with an expectation. (You didn’t think I was invited simply for my relentless charm, did ya?) I’ve got to deliver a story.
That means when I’m not in the woods, I’m interviewing folks and taking pictures, posing for pictures for the other writers and maybe get interviewed myself.
I’m not saying it’s not fun. ‘Cause it is. But my mind never stops working, even when my back is against a tree and there’s a gun on my knee. I’ll simply whip out the notepad on my iPhone and jot down my thoughts to revisit in detail later.
And just because I’m on a work trip doesn’t mean work back at the office mysteriously stops. No naps for me in between hunts. There are voicemails and e-mails to answer, blog entries to post and magazine articles to edit.
OK, so maybe I tackle all that after a quick nap.
But I think my biggest challenge is the mental tug-of-war of not being at home with my family. There’s a tinge of guilt for being away from my little critter, leaving my husband to shoulder the load. But the tables will turn next week, and I’ll be home while he’s off somewhere. It’s a team effort that sometimes includes bringing in the second string (grandparents) when we’re both gallivanting around the country.
I think about my family a lot when I’m away, but I don’t worry. I pray.
I lift up roughly the same prayer before and during every trip. And last year I found a bracelet that has this Bible verse printed on it:
That you would bless me and enlarge my territory. Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain. 1 Chronicles 4:10
I think of it as my working mother’s prayer. But it’s really a traveler’s prayer.
I’m grateful for the chance to hunt all over the country, meet new people, connect with friends, for the ability to put my experiences on paper and the means to share them with others.
Every experience enlarges my territory. And I hope your territory grows this spring as well. Perhaps you won’t make several cross-country treks to do so. But maybe your mental territory will expand in some way.
You’ll call in your first turkey yourself. Or maybe you’ll do the same for a new hunter.
Perhaps you’ll keep a journal of your experiences this spring to share with your grandchildren.
Invite a nonhunting friend over for a wild turkey dinner.
Or maybe you’ll simply not carry a gun to the woods one morning and soak in the sights, sounds and smells of spring without an agenda. You’ll only carry a grateful heart. (OK, maybe that’s a bit much to ask.)
No matter how we enjoy this spring season, let’s use it to grow as people. And I pray that God will keep us all safe as we do.