Life looks different from 6,000 feet.
As someone who lives at about 10 feet elevation along the Gulf Coast, it’s awe-inspiring to see the world from this perspective, especially in Texas.
Standing on the southwest corner of Elephant Mountain at Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA) I was in awe of the vastness of wild habitat in front me and on a high from an incredible encounter.
Five minutes earlier I realized a childhood dream by photographing a herd of desert bighorn sheep that had stood on the mountain’s edge and vanished into a draw below after I snapped a few photos.
As I gazed at the natural beauty I thanked God for this moment and His Creation. At this particular time last November, I was struggling with the loss of a child my wife and I worked with through our ministry and being generally burnt out from an intense schedule.
But on Elephant Mountain it all melted away. There was no grief or fatigue-just peace and inspiration.
As COVID-19 makes its way around the globe and impacts America with the historic shutdown of activity and relentless concerning news dominating all media outlets, I have come to a conclusion.
The great outdoors is the safest place to be.
Coming from someone who has recently written about being chased up a tree by a hog in Central Texas and ran off a mountain by drug traffickers in the redwoods of California that might seem suspect.
But in reality, the greatest threats to my safety have come from highways (18 wheeler crash) and careless, dangerous people,, not the outdoors.
It had nothing to do with the woods, prairies, bays, lakes, streams, and mountains. And although that boar got a little too close for comfort, animals always bring me peace and joy. Whether I am pursuing crappie on brush piles or photographing bighorns in Texas and around the nation, it is a great source of peace in my life.
I look back at the incredible day on Elephant Mountain and truly inspiring work done by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and groups like the Texas Bighorn Society to bring the majestic bighorn back to Texas. And I think that at 46 years of age, someone who has been to incredible heights in wildlife experiences could still see dreams come true.
While we have no idea how long this pandemic will force society to change its ways, we should consider taking more time to go outdoors. As schools close and jobs shut down, there is no better time to take your kids and grandkids fishing, turkey hunting, hiking and engaging in wildlife photography.
Instead of sitting home overdosing on media, seek the solace of wide-open spaces, tall trees, and beautiful streams. Let the marshes soothe your soul and the crashing waves of the surf remind you of beauty in this time of chaos.
I am not someone who thinks this is a tiny threat. I personally think it’s potentially a huge one.
But my faith tells me there is someone who will safeguard me and my gut tells me to avoid crowded places and seek the refreshing of the wild.
I wish I was on top of Elephant Mountain right but that’s an 11-hour drive for me.
The bayou down the road, however, is only a five-minute walk and there are plenty of bream to be caught and new memories to make as I bring my daughter along for the adventure. I might even take my fly rod along and practice for catching Yellowstone Cutthroat in Montana this summer.
Life is good and always better when it’s spend in the safety of the outdoors.
Chester Moore, Jr.