Christmas Buck

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I guess you never really appreciate blessings until you desperately need one.

Many years ago things were not going so well for myself or my family. I had been laid off and out of work for a while and unemployment had dried up. To say the least we were in dire straits. My wife had a decent job but it barely kept the wolf from our door.

I was catching every handyman type job I could find but they were few and far between. I spent most days trying to catch or kill game for our table. We had become quite dependent upon the squirrel and rabbits along with the catfish I brought in.

Deer season came and thoughts of a freezer full of meat and no worries about where dinner was coming from filled my head. The first few days of season went by without as much as seeing a doe. Days drug on into weeks and desperation turned to heartbreak and total despair. It seemed everyone around me was killing deer and dragging bucks in left and right. I prayed that the Lord would bless me with a deer for my family. Days went by still with no deer.

One afternoon I was driving to my hunting spot when I came upon a doe with her foot hung in the top strands of a barbed wire fence. I pulled my truck over and got out fully intending to knock her in the head and take her to feed my family. As I approached her and looked into her eyes I couldn’t do it. Instead I worked to free her and once I had done so she limped away about 10 feet stopped and looked back at me. I smiled and said” Merry Christmas old girl”. She trotted away as I got back into my truck. Knowing how desperate we were for meat in our freezer it was hard to justify what I had done but on my heart I knew it was right.

As I climbed up into my stand that afternoon I had no idea or confidence I would see a thing. Not fifteen minutes had passed when I heard a snort wheeze and looked to see a large 9 point walk out not 50 yards away. I made a clean shot and he dropped. 2 days later I was hired back by the company who had laid me off and we were capable of setting ourselves right again.

I have no idea if my setting the old doe free was just coincidence or a test of my character and resolve. I kind of like to think it was the latter. Whether it was or not it symbolized what I needed in my life. A reassurance that if you give unselfishly then at some point it comes back to you.

That buck came to me a week before Christmas and for Christmas eve dinner we had a huge deer roast with purple hull peas from my mother’s garden we had laid by in the freezer. A huge pan of buttermilk cornbread and fresh stewed potatoes with gravy. Not your traditional Christmas eve dinner but in all my life there was none better.

God bless you all and remember, mercy and kindness need not only extend to your fellow man.

Story by Jeff Stewart

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