Christian Short Stories

The Lion Had Lockjaw
By Web Ruble

Web Ruble writes: "Back in 1964 before I declared myself a Christian I had some qualms about killing animals for sport. Yet, I accompanied some hunters on this expedition. And God, apparently, saw that we were worth saving. This was despite the fact that I was a newspaper reporter and not terribly kind."

God protects us, I know. . . .just like He saved Daniel in the lion’s den.

What happened to us on that hunting trip long ago gives me a warm fuzzy feeling and the willies at the same time.

Looking back on that distant October now from a gap of 30 years, I marvel at what a dangerous situation we were all in and why God would have protected such a bunch of yahoos on an intended animal-killing spree. Yet He did.

We were deep -- and I mean deep -- into the Idaho primitive area, and “the boys” shot a couple of wild deer and hung them on a tree limb as trophies for picture taking.

Now, I am not a hunter. But I had gone along on the hunt just for the sake of having an outing with my wife’s brother, cousins and other family members.

As a matter of fact, I didn’t even bring along a rifle. However, I will next time if there ever were to be another “outing” for us now older-than -middle-aged folk to track and commune with the wildest of wildlife.

After all, where we were in Idaho was far from anything -- probably some 30 miles to the nearest doctor – and if anyone would have been injured it would have been a tremendous undertaking just getting him out of the great, high-elevation, largely vertical wilderness into civilization and a competent medical clinic.

Louie had gotten his big six-point buck but it had fallen into a brushy draw. Charlie had nailed a smaller one, but it had tumbled down a steep ravine into an impossible canyon. The shootings were early in the day, and so we spent the bulk of the rest of our time just getting those dead-but-still-bleeding deer carcasses out so we could dress them out and head for home.

We were salivating just thinking of having venison (deer meat) on our dining tables for the rest of the year. The thought apparently gave us energy. One thing did bother us, though: Once we got ‘em out of the canyon country and dressed out, how were we ever going to transport our kills out to the main road where our three vehicles were?

Well, it was decided to come to muscle with that logistical problem later. First we had to lug ‘em back up the hill to deer camp. To call it a camp might be stretching it a bit: several tents in a pine clearing dominated by a huge oak tree.

Well, it was late afternoon when we managed to stagger in there with our trophies. We used up all of the remaining sunshine and the twilight in dressing out the deer. Exhausted, we hung the deer carcasses on that large tree limb and repaired to our tents. We collapsed for a good night’s sleep. No real security was taken. We were too tired. Where we were most certainly there would be no other folk who would raid camp and take our deer.

Despite the fact that we were in a wild redoubt, we didn’t hear a cougar growl, a wolf howl nor a bird hoot all night long. Nothing. well, there could have been some wild noises, but we never heard them. We were too exhausted. We ate some stew Charlie had cooked over a fire he had started and crash-dived into slumber the minute we crawled into our sleeping bags.

Athletic and outdoor-experienced Louie got up first at the crack of doom, re-starting the fire and cooking some sourdough biscuits he had brought along. He also had a couple of coffee pots steaming on a trellis he had built over the fire pit.

A good night’s sleep after a vigorous day before, plus a hearty breakfast, had us all in high spirits.

Soon after washing and rattling away the pots and pans, it was time for pictures.

We all took turns using the camera and posing with “the meat” or the carcasses hanging from the tree limb.

Then came the dreaded task -- packing those hundreds of pounds of dead animal 12 miles over a rugged trail to where our vehicles were parked. I don’t know how we did it, but we managed. And when we got the carcasses arranged on the three vehicles, we began our long drive to Mountain Home near Boise.

It was my camera and film so I took it all and drove my old beater all the way to where I lived in Bend, Ore.

A week later I went to retrieve my hunting-trip film from the film drop at my local drug store. When I got them home, I quickly looked over a few of the shots of the dangling trophy deer and closed the envelope. I and my wife Alice then made the trip back over to Nampa, Idaho, for her mother’s birthday party, and a picture-viewing huddle with my hunting companions.

When the time came, I laid out the pictures on the kitchen table, and called the others in to look. I no more than got them spread out when an icy shiver ran down my back.

There in the photos -- on a limb above the one from which our deer carcasses were hanging -- was a huge cougar. None of us had seen it when we took pictures in camp and I had not noticed it in my cursory first glance the pictures. But he was there – bigger than life itself.

When I say it was a huge cougar (mountain lion) I mean just that -- gargantuan! And how we didn’t see it in camp I’ll never know. Moreover, despite our being in his territory, the 300-400-pound cougar never attacked us, growled or anything. That’s remarkable, because just below him was his favorite meal -- venison. Moreover, we had packed away our firearms, and we would have been culinary bonuses to his venison.

We were all stunned. It was not only sobering, but we realized we had unwittingly escaped being a meal from a huge, mean animal.

We learned our lesson. We never went hunting again. God had saved us.

(© 2011 Web Ruble – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)

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