“An harvest of the best, what needs ye more?” -Anne Bradstreet
Most hunters recognize there are more reasons to go hunting than the meat. Retreat into the mountains is therapeutic, an escape from the sterility and monotony of business-as-usual. The Jeubs treat hunting as a family event. Three of my children came this year (Cynthia, Lydia and Isaiah) and my dad traveled from Minnesota for his first-ever elk hunt. While Grandma stayed at home with Wendy and the rest of the children, we five huddled close together in our outfitters tent for the 3-day hunt.
Lydia and I shot the elk, the only elk any of us had a shot at all weekend. I sensed Cynthia feeling the pressure (the older sister thing) to get herself an elk, but the exhaustion was getting to her. All hunters struggle against impatience and disappointment, but she was feeling like she was disappointing me. Sensing this as we sat under an aspen tree waiting for elk to walk out in front of us, I said, “You know how much of our hunt has to do with elk? None. One-hundred percent of this has to do with us being together.”
I brought a signed copy of Wild at Heart by John Eldredge and read some of the chapters to my dad and kids for evening devotions. The opening of the book starts with a pursuit of a bull elk that is quite exciting, but never ends with the typical “shoot ’em up” conclusion you’d think of a hunting story. Eldredge surprises the reader by saying…
“My hunt, you see, actually has little to do with elk. I knew that before I came. There is something else I am after, out here in the wild. I am searching for an even more elusive prey…something that can only be found through the help of wilderness. I am looking for my heart.”
The heart of the Jeub hunt is family. Huddling around the campfire to stay warm at night, playing cards in the tent, the simple conversations in the woods, working together to cook up Sunday morning breakfast…these are memories that were discovered as they happened. Sure, watching Lydia stalk her elk was wildly exciting, but you know my favorite time of the weekend? The giddy laughter in the tent as Grandpa kicked all our tails at a spunky game of Thirteen.
Our harvest is now wrapped up in our freezer and ready to eat this winter. God is good in granting us a bountiful harvest of elk steaks, roasts, sausage and burger. But the best harvest was experiencing the wild together as a family. Can’t wait till next year.