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The Lost Shall Be Found

Trent LedbetterBy Trent Ledbetter

-- Two days into the muzzleloader season, I had yet to get a deer and they guys were riding me pretty hard. I had seen more deer than ever during bow season, but they always stayed just out of range.

I didn’t have a muzzleloader, but I borrowed one from a friend. It was his only gun, and he was an avid blackpowder hunter, so I had just one evening after work to make good.

For two days I held a back-and-forth debate with myself about where to sit. My friend called me 10 minutes before I walked out the door from work, and I told him about my dilemma. He told me to find a creek and sit by it. It just so happened that one of the places I was thinking about hunting was in a creek bottom.

So at 2:30 that evening, I was 30 feet up a pine tree, enjoying the peace. As the hours ticked away, all I saw was an armadillo. My hopes of killing my first buck of the season were slipping away as fast as the daylight. I began to kick myself for my stand selection when, not a second after that thought ran through my head, I heard the leaves crunch.

My heart started to pound and my breath got short. There was a deer moving in right in front of me, but it was so think I still couldn’t see anything. The footsteps got louder as the deer got closer.

Then I saw the antlers! Just two more steps and the buck would be in the open.

I found him the shoulder in my scope as the buck made another step closer. When I clicked the safety, it jerked its head up and looked right at me. "BOOM!"

When the smoke cleared, the buck was nowhere in sight, but I could hear it running along the creek bottom.

I wanted to find some kind of information before dark, so I hurried down and went to look. Not 15 yards from the stand, I found a pool of think, dark red blood, and my heart sank: gut shot.

I went home and enlisted the help of my wife and my Paw Paw to help track. We only went 25 yards or so before the blood quit. I suggested we go to church and give the buck even more time. The Lord didn’t have my full attention during that service, except during my prayers asking that I find that buck.

When the service was over, I went to my buddy’s house and got his trail dog. Katie (the dog) pulled us through the thickest mess of briars and brush I have ever seen. I wasn’t seeing any blood and thought we might be on the wrong trail.

Just as I was ready to pull her off the trail to start over, my brother-in-law said, "What’s that?" I shined the light ahead, and there was my buck piled up in the brush. It was a short celebration, because it didn’t take long for somebody to point out that we had no idea where we were. Thank the Lord we’re church-going people because even though things looked hopeless, we knew that those who are lost and believe shall be found.

Trent Ledbetter
Jay, Fla.

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