Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Enjoying God's Wild Side

Tim Lilley

Rapidly, we are approaching my favorite time of year. From late September through Thanksgiving weekend, I have found myself enjoying God’s wild side in dozens of wonderful ways, and in dozens of wonderful places.

If you ever find yourself beginning to falter in your belief in God’s love for us … go sit in the woods. I could share literally dozens of stories about those times when our Lord showed me his love for us and our world by sharing his wild side. None of those times was about harvesting fish or game; all of them were about the landscape God allowed me to share and the intimate glimpses into his ultimate plan for us and Earth.

There was a gorgeous early November day in North Central Kansas, pheasant hunting a long plum thicket, when I looked up to see a coyote looking down at me from about 30 feet away, up a side hill, where it was sunning itself. I looked at it for probably a minute before slowing moving along. The coyote never moved. It was a stunning display of how coexistence can play out when both parties want it to work.

Another early fall afternoon/evening, I sat in a treestand along the eastern edge of a Kansas cut corn field. I was about 15 yards from the point where a well-worn game trail entered the field, and I was hoping for a deer to make an appearance. None did; instead, I was treated to the fascinating protective teamwork displayed by a covey of about 30 bobwhite quail.

As they made their way across the wide open field – in a spot where I had seen and heard coyotes before – the birds took turns feeding. A few would pop their heads up and scan the area while the others fed. As if on cue, they would feed and other birds took up sentry duties. All the while, this group was in constant motion across the field. They made slow steady progress as they took turns eating and looking out for each other.

Then there was the afternoon/evening I spent overlooking a long stretch of powerline right-of-way in Middle Georgia. The landowner had reported seeing a monster buck only days earlier, about an hour before sunset. I arrived more than two hours before sunset and took a seat against a tree that offered a panoramic view of about 600 yards of that right-of-way.

As with the outing that featured quail, I never saw a deer. When I arrived, there were a dozen or more wild hogs below me rooting along a tiny creek that meandered through the bottoms in this area. Had I gotten an opportunity, I surely would have settled for wild bacon over venison; sadly, however, they never let me see more than the tops of their backs before moving off into the woods to the east.

Next came more than a dozen turkeys. They pecked along the open area clucking and purring, seemingly as content as could be. Apparently, they knew the fall turkey season had already come and gone. They hurried away when the largest bobcat I have ever seen walked into the right-of-way. It moved deliberately and appeared to be hopeful of wild turkey for dinner.

It was just about the end of legal shooting time (i.e. 30 minutes after sunset) when an adolescent black bear bounded into the right-of-way. Looking truly like a playful kid, the bear roamed around the open area about 200 yards away, then stood up and looked into the woods opposite where he entered.

He stood upright for almost 30 seconds before loping – seemingly playfully – off into the gathering evening. I swear that bear looked like it was so happy to be alive.

In that moment, I surely was – and, once again, grateful to God for showing me his wild side.