Wednesday, July 17, 2013

With Dad on a Deer Stand by Steve Chapman

Steve Chapman, musician and writer, is probably best known for his book A Look at Life from a Deer Stand: A hunt for the meaning of life. which since its publication has sold near 300,000 copies.  I first purchased a copy of this book for my husband, and some years later I noticed the book on one of our bookshelves and "repurposed" it by passing it along to a son in his late teens/early twenties -- a time when I really wanted to encourage his faith walk, but words didn't always come easy between us.

Hunting culture is strong in our area of Wisconsin, and my sons are certainly part of it.  They provide meat for their freezers and hunt not only bow season, but rifle season and later the muzzle season.  They finish up deer hunting just as the first ice forms on the lakes and then ice fishing begins.  That, in itself is another story!  I fear that too many people (a few hunters, but mostly nonhunters) see this activity as bad boys gone wild and totally "red-neck" thinking.  Steve Chapman realigns that thinking in his first books, as he shows how hunting has allowed him to connect with God, by not only appreciating his creation, but by allowing him deeper understanding of Biblical life lessons.  Our sons first hunted with their dad on our own property, so I think they were raised with that "focus" to their hunting, and I heard back from that youngest son that he enjoyed Steve's book.  My husband gave up hunting about twelve years ago, our sons now hunt with friends in different spots across the state, and some years travel out of state to hunt elk or mule deer. Both are fathers, who someday hope to repeat the bonding experience their father started with them in the deer stand.

When  I saw that Steve Chapman had gathered a collection of stories focused on sharing the relationship
strengthening aspects of hunting, I wanted to read the book, hoping I would find another gem to pass on to my sons.  The stories within were written by Steve himself, as well as by professional wildlife photographers, writers, and just plain hunters.  Some of the stories had stronger faith messages than others, but all were entertaining.  I believe that hunters, especially young fathers, will really connect with the writers.  While nonhunters may be shocked by the story of the young dad, who bundled up his two year old daughter to take her out for a few late afternoon hours in the deer stand, I really wasn't/   It was either that or stay in the house, miserable.  As I read, I briefly thought about the dangers, but then I refocused on all I knew about the safety measures ingrained in my own sons and I was assured that the writer knew the same.  I also thought about the sturdiness of today's tree stands, the crispness of an autumn afternoon,  and the mixture of God's paintbox in that wooded setting. I thought about the story that my husband tells of having a little sparrow quietly sit right next to him in the tree stand, but mostly I thought about the sweet smile of my own four year old granddaughter as she used to share her precious version of her own afternoon "sits" with her daddy as they watched for a big buck during fall bow season.  Life with dad in the deer stand can be a window to God's world, his desires for our lives, and our joys and responsibilities as parents/children.

Filled with short stories, illustrated with pencil drawings, and under 180 pages, this book makes a nice gift for the hunter who reads, or perhaps for one who doesn't read much.  I read the book all at one time, but I could easily see it being the type of book that could be read in pieces over weeks or even months.  I received an e -copy of this book from Harvest House Publishers and NetGalley for review purposes.  All opinions are mine.  Check out for more information about his writings, music, and ministry.

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