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Final Descent Outdoors is going into it’s fourth year of being a national hunting show and our fifth year overall. With staff scattered from Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas we are yearly able to harvest some great deer and capture some amazing footage for our viewers to enjoy. We take pride in the fact that we are “average joe’s” just like our viewers. We are school teacher, firefighters, ministers, salesmen, truck drivers, and everyday folks. The goal of Final Descent Outdoors is to produce the absolute best outdoor television possible for our fans and feature our sponsors and their products that help make us successful in the woods. 

We are passionate about hunting but we are also passionate about our faith in Jesus Christ. In life as well as the show our goal is to make God look good. Furthermore, we are family men and God has called each of us to lead our families. Our spouses and children come before any hunting season. We want to allow our viewers to walk with us through the unforgettable moments, the laughs, and the heart breaks. Aren’t those the emotions that bring us back to the woods over and over again?

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Spiritual Fitness During the Offseason and Beyond

Brad Clay

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I often find that hunters and outdoorsmen are a gratified lot – especially during hunting season. Of course, this is in part because they’re doing what they love – pursuing deer and other wild game. There is a meaningful spirituality that enhances their contentment in the woods, on the water, and in everyday life. It’s my opinion that this is even more profound for the Christian sportsman. The parallel between spirituality and the outdoors can be difficult to delineate, despite its usual occurrence while in a stand, examining game trails, and scouting ridgelines. Make no mistake, it’s real and most outdoorsmen will attest to it. The obvious and awesome feeling that we have a relationship with something bigger than ourselves is palpable with every sudden breeze, interesting shadow, and appearance of wildlife. It’s in these moments that we realize hunting is about more than filling the freezer or laying our hands on the antlers of a harvested whitetail. It fills an inner need.


The Spiritual Offseason

Like physical health, spiritual health brings contentment. But I’ve learned that I can’t get spiritually healthy simply by taking up tennis or starting a running regimen; or hunting. At least I can’t stay that way by doing these things alone.

Unfortunately, I have a spiritual offseason – one that appears not only after putting away my hunting gear but randomly throughout the year. Spiritual health requires spiritual practice. My time in the woods is one where I have a much easier time engaging in prayer. It’s seamless with fewer distractions such as work meetings and family obligations. I’ve seen it written that God doesn’t ask you questions because he already has the answer. He just wants to walk with you and visit. Or something to that effect. Knowing this, I wonder why it’s so easy for me to, at times, skip practice.

Though I’m not always the best at following through, here are a few ways check for and build healthy spiritual habits.

Being in Control

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I remember a great hunting season a few years ago. One where I made good effective shots at every turn and took a couple of really nice bucks and several does. No long tracking jobs or mistakes in the stand. I had it figured out it would seem. I got lazy though and late that season, missed a 15-yard chip shot at a deer and got careless with my decisions in the field on several subsequent hunts. For example, I had abandoned the basics of hunting by not playing the wind and rushing shots. I was lazy and cocky – a bad combo for a hunter that wants positive results.

Similarly, about every time I get on a good streak of any kind in life, apathy toward my walk with Jesus increases. In these cases, I undeniably find I’m trying to take the wheel. It’s like a reflex action. Obviously, the same thing happens when things aren’t so good. Spiritual lethargy sets in. I’ve learned to strive to check my motives and mindset on a regular basis. It keeps me on track in the deer woods, but, more importantly, in life. Even if it comes after triumphs and failures, it makes for good conversation with Him.


Goal Setting

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I know a lot of hunters that engage in physical training for high-country elk hunting trips. Their goal is to take a nice animal, but also be in ample shape to survive the physical exertion and high altitude. I get it. I’m a list maker and planner by habit. Though it may seem like a robotic way to address my faith and religious life, it works (until I fall off). Here, I set goals such as morning prayer, daily devotionals, and Bible studies. Much like Paul’s goal to spread His word far and wide, consider putting real objectives into place. Then strive to follow through. Just like the time I spend trying to hone my bow hunting skills through target shooting, I find it helpful to set spiritual targets for the week and day.


Confidence and Optimism

Like mentioned above, cockiness can lead to complacency and a feeling that I run the show. On what ground does my confidence stand? Achievements such as harvesting a trophy animal or getting a promotion at work? Staying busy or people pleasing? This type of confidence alone isn’t healthy, but spiritual hopefulness is. I often find that it’s time to exchange my earthly confidence for one that has a stronger foundation – one that can’t be taken from me. Once I do, “I am confident of this very thing,that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus”. Philippians 1:6


Consistent and Smart Discipline

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Much like with the start of a new year, lots of people regularly resolve to get healthy. Likewise, hunters often resolve to hunt more successfully. For example, they seek better hunting grounds and equipment. However, fitness and hunting gurus alike will tell you that the secret to fitness or hunting success means much more than the Keto Diet or a change in bow brands. To the contrary, it comes from making healthy and consistent choices – translation, healthy habits. Though an imperfect analogy, healthy habits have a relevant relationship with the Christian life and identity. This takes us back to spiritual goal setting. It also means to employ healthy habits regularly, whether life is throwing rocks or softballs your way. Hebrews 12:11 comes to mind; “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”


Regularly Acknowledge His Grace

No earthly person always lives a spiritually healthy lifestyle. However, it’s reassuring that, as believers, our salvation does not rest on what we do. Regardless of hunting or life success (whatever that means for you), we’re in the middle of a race that has a finish line. Most importantly, as believers, we know that Christ has confirmed that with true faith, we’ll cross that line as a winner. Unlike us, He already ran the race and did so to perfection.

Though not always fun or glamorous, it’s awesome that, following Him on earth means a more meaningful journey. And with real training, we can minimize times that are devoid of spiritual fitness along the way. The best part is that ultimately, life in eternity will entail indescribable peace and bliss. And huge whitetail bucks in my humble opinion.


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Based in Texas, Jerald Kopp is President of 1st Light Hunting Journal. His content is largely about hunting strategies and the outdoor lifestyle – often from a Christian perspective. Jerald is an avid outdoorsman with deer hunting and whitetails being by far his greatest passion. In 2005, he established the Empowerment Outfitter Network (EON) – a faith-based non-profit organization that provides hunting opportunities for disabled and terminally-ill children and youth. When not hunting, he spends his time traveling and enjoying life with Amy, his wife of 30 years. Jerald and Amy have two adult daughters and a son-in-law.








Attraction and Distraction: Hunting Mineral Sites

Brad Clay

Staffer Trenton Gaines arrowed this Texas panhandle buck coming to Buck Blitz on October 13th, 2018.

Staffer Trenton Gaines arrowed this Texas panhandle buck coming to Buck Blitz on October 13th, 2018.

Hunting mature bucks often crowd my thought bubble. However, if you were to actually tap into that bubble, you’d see large-antlered deer, regardless of age. Lots of them. For me, the preoccupation is a year-round affair. Therefore, I find myself always putting in work with the goal of encountering such animals in the fall and winter. I know I’m not alone here and come springtime, many whitetail hunters will establish or renew mineral sites throughout their hunting grounds. I know firsthand that, once established, deer hit them hard.

Before we go any further, let me give the obligatory warning to educate yourself on your state’s game laws regarding the use of minerals. In some states, it’s illegal to provide minerals to deer any time of the year. In other states, it’s simply illegal to hunt over them.

There are a few reasons to maintain mineral stations including whitetail nutrition, attraction, scouting, and antler development. The latter, however, often results in over-inflated hopes of overnight increases in antler size. While, from a health standpoint, whitetails need nutritional supplementation in the spring and summer, there is no guaranty of any quick turnaround in antler growth. There are simply too many other variables involved, including area genetics and rainfall. Nonetheless, during the spring and summer, deer do need to maintain the minerals and salts in their bodies. While mineral sites may or may not result in large headgear, they still fill a nutritional need. Even on a small tract where it can be darn near impossible to manage for genetics, mineral supplementation will still enhance herd health. The cool thing is that, when used as an attractant, we can leverage it as hunters.


The Benefits of Mineral Site Attraction

  •  Inventory. It’s no secret that trail cameras can help inventory the bucks in our hunting areas. Mineral sites are just another way to aid in the process. Put cameras on them. Not exactly an earth-shattering notion, I know. The resulting snapshots are valuable at all times. This includes summer footage of velvet-laden bucks, the hard antler period, and even the late winter and spring when bucks are devoid of antlers at all. It’s all good intel.

  • Long-Term Go-to Spots. Like food plots and feeders, a well-established mineral station can draw deer to desired locations. Whitetails are intelligent, but are still creatures of habit and will return time and time again to mineral-rich soil; especially if it’s refreshed adequately and often. Even where it’s illegal to hunt over them, you can draw them into optimal pastures or sections of timber; sometimes during precious daytime hours.

  • Setting up on Them. As game and habitat managers, most hunters will still admit that the end goal is shooting a big buck. With that in mind, it’s important to maximize daylight encounters with said buck(s). This means finding locations where deer are most likely to move during the day. Good choices for stations are near bedding areas, consistent rubs, and funnels. Though you want to avoid over-pressuring a buck’s master suite, use game cameras to help narrow down their locations. Start on the outskirts and carefully work your way in.

Western Oklahoma bucks eating Buck Blitz in July of 2018.

Western Oklahoma bucks eating Buck Blitz in July of 2018.

Hunting at a Granular Level

It’s no secret that deer often decrease their visits to mineral sites during the season. For one, alternative food sources like plots and acorns become more prevalent during the fall. Also, vegetation typically holds less water, meaning a lesser need for a sodium source. However, for bowhunting, in particular, mineral stations are great alternatives for early-season sits. If legal in your state, these sites are great for taking advantage of the tail end of the summer-early fall movement patterns. This means that even visits from bachelor groups of bucks are not out of the question. Suffice to say, it never sucks to have encounters with 2 or more bucks during a bow sit.

Creating Patterns

Behavior modification. When effective, there’s something liberating about it! Everything from teaching a dog to work the birds or potty-training a child. Employing mineral stations to reinforce optimal deer travels is a powerful practice. One of my favorites is using them as a staging area by placing them between sanctuaries and food sources. And near bow set-ups. If you’re not allowed to hunt over them, use them to do a little positive reinforcement. If you’re not allowed to use them at all, well, that’s a shame. You might be surprised at the correlation between whitetail movements from Spring and Summer to Fall. At a minimum, think of the possible benefits of doe groups replicating their offseason patterns during the fall, not to mention the rut.

Trenton Gaines recovered his Texas panhandle buck 60yds from his blind.

Trenton Gaines recovered his Texas panhandle buck 60yds from his blind.


Create a Diversion

Finally, if legal in your state, consider locating stations within bow range, but obstructed by clumps of brush or other structure. If you are able to coax deer in to feed comfortably, quality shot opportunities arise as they exit the barrier. Again, this is especially effective during the early days of bow season before mature buck movement patterns change.

Again, nutrition aside, I suspect that most hunters use mineral sites as a means of ultimately arrowing a slobber-knocker buck. If you don’t already do so, embrace the unorthodox and literally hunt near the mineral-rich soil that you’ve worked so hard to create; and frankly, sunk money into. In the spirit of stacking your arsenal, why not? Just like mock scrapes and rub lines, mineral licks represent a great solicitation. While they should be used as just one part of a nutritional regimen, they can play a direct role in the kill.




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Based in Texas, Jerald Kopp is President of 1st Light Hunting Journal. His content is largely about hunting strategies and the outdoor lifestyle – often from a Christian perspective. Jerald is an avid outdoorsman with deer hunting and whitetails being by far his greatest passion. In 2005, he established the Empowerment Outfitter Network (EON) – a faith-based non-profit organization that provides hunting opportunities for disabled and terminally-ill children and youth. When not hunting, he spends his time traveling and enjoying life with Amy, his wife of 30 years. Jerald and Amy have two adult daughters and a son-in-law.





Finding The Elusive Morel Mushroom

Brad Clay

An Oklahoma grown morel just waiting to be picked!

An Oklahoma grown morel just waiting to be picked!

Spring means a couple of things. For one, it’s time to start thinking about chasing turkeys. The thought of a spring morning set-up on a long beard is a classic part of spring for many sportsmen. Listening to him hammering in a tree and waiting for his descent is one of, if not the best part of the season. Next up, baseball! As a dad I’m spending a ton of time watching t-ball, baseball, and softball this time of year. Even the professionals are getting it going and nothing beats a baseball game and a bag of peanuts. Yet another awesome part of spring is crappie fishing, or just fishing in general. You have to love catching some slabs.  But our activity of focus today is the hardest one for me to conquer. I can call a turkey, wet a line, and easily watch a baseball game, but finding morel mushrooms continues to be my springtime nemesis. 

On social media, I see people finding them by the dozens, yet I can’t find a single one. I can only think of a handful of times I’ve actually discovered them. I love to eat them and if you haven’t tried one, you have no idea what you are missing.  They’re delicious! I usually have a friend or two that feel sorry for me and spare a few here and there. Therefore, I can at least fry up a few every year. So, for me, writing this article on finding morels is like writing one on how to perform open-heart surgery. Simply put, I have no business giving advice on the subject (except on maybe what not to do) so I asked my buddy Reed Boettcher, the Advertising Director for our friends at Great Plains Kubota. I consider Reed to be a morel guru, based on his social media pictures and descriptions on not only where to find them but how they come about in the first place.

FDO Staffer Daniel Arms with a handful of morels. That Great Plains Kubota Sidekick makes for a nice morel finder!

FDO Staffer Daniel Arms with a handful of morels. That Great Plains Kubota Sidekick makes for a nice morel finder!

Reed said, “Every spring, usually during the months of March and April, a curious looking fungus graces the greening ground: the Morel.  It resembles a brain or something from outer space, but what it lacks in attractiveness it made up for by flavor.  Mushrooms aren’t for everyone, but for those who do eat them, the Morel reigns supreme. These mushrooms signal the coming of warmer weather and are a welcoming site to many avid mushroom hunters.  People who don’t even enjoy eating them enjoy combing the woods in search of them. They are a sign that winter is over and spring is upon us.” Once again, if you haven’t tried them then you have no clue what you are missing!  Reed went on to discuss the strategy for finding them. “Hunting for these delicate delights starts with study.  It is important to know exactly what Morels look like since other poisonous varieties grow during the same time of year. The photos in this blog are of Morels and one could use them to identify them in the field. However, further research on this fungus is strongly suggested.”


I never find morels...I'm constantly in the woods, but doing some yard work I stumbled onto some! Pumped!!!

I was actually lucky enough to find some Morels growing in my yard and to confirm, I FaceTimed Reed to make sure I wasn’t stumbling upon a look- a-like mushroom that was going to cause me to lose my mind and land in jail.  He confirmed it was a Morel growing in my yard and went on to say, “Morels aren’t always found in the depths of the forest.  Some of the best spots are in plain sight. Look for Morels under Cedar trees or in shaded areas where organic decomposition is prevalent.”  So if you are like me, you love Morels but struggle to find them. Hopefully this will help a little in your efforts!  So here is to baseball, turkey hunting, crappie fishing, and finding lots of Morel mushrooms!

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Author Brad Clay is the host of Final Descent Outdoors and a licensed and ordained minister in Oklahoma.  Brad served for 12yrs in vocational ministry before stepping out to do full time outdoor ministry in 2013. Brad resides in Edmond, OK and is married with four children.

Low-Risk High Reward: Doing All the Little Things

Brad Clay

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He just kept showing up on the game camera. Not every time mind you, but just often enough to where I had to keep hunting this honey hole. The mature 10-pointer was starting to play head games with me. The rut had ended and It seemed that the buck had established somewhat of a late-season feeding pattern and bedding area. I knew I was running out of time to get him into bow range - or at least have an actual live encounter. The afternoon had gotten away from me and I was getting a late start. Plus, the wind wasn't particularly right. Nonetheless, I was going in.


Pushing Too Hard

Like the previous week, the wind wouldn’t horribly wrong, but certainly wasn't ideal for this stand. Further, I had already estimated the buck’s bedding area to be nearby - as little as 100 yards. My tripod stand, tucked within a group of live oaks and underbrush was located between the feeding and bedding area. Time was not on my side. Once again, I went in, hoping for the best.

Deer Encounters and False Validation

Except for pressuring the bedding area and ignoring the wind, I had done everything else right. I entered the blind from the best direction possible, thoroughly sprayed down with my favorite scent eliminator, and kept my movement to a minimum. Within the first thirty minutes, I had 6 deer come in and two of them were nice younger bucks. I had pulled it off, or at least I thought. Like the previous hunt, the outing ended with no sight of the target list buck. This happened yet again a few days later.

The Camera Doesn’t Lie

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Two weeks later, I carefully entered the area and pulled the camera card. As I reviewed the footage, I noticed that starting three days after my last hunt, the old buck was again appearing regularly; during prime hunting times too. I subsequently continued to hunt the stand. Nada.


A Realization of the Obvious

Subsequent camera images eventually yielded no visits from the buck. As a seasoned (albeit stubborn) hunter, I knew the answer to my problem. In my haste, I had pressured the old guy. Continually. With a bedding area that close and not perfectly adhering to wind conditions, I was at a minimum spooking him. In fact, I ultimately probably busted him out of his happy place. His bedroom. Though I had known better, excitement and hunter’s greed had won me over.

Conclusion

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Getting quality chances at older deer often requires doing ALL the little things. Can we get away without doing this? Maybe occasionally. However, to optimize success, deer hunters need to stack all the odds in their favor. After all, whitetails are wily creatures with keen senses. Will it guarantee a chance at a trophy whitetail? Certainly not. Most hunters have “done everything right” with no big buck results - and even sometimes no deer action of any kind. But if we are consistent about checking all the boxes, success will come (assuming we seal the deal and make the shot). In fact, most successful mature whitetail hunters will attest that behind each harvest of a mature whitetail was a litany of little things done that made it happen. No corners cut. No compromises.

That buck was killed the following season in a completely different location - by another hunter. Lessons learned.

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Based in Texas, Jerald Kopp is President of 1st Light Hunting Journal. His content is largely about hunting strategies and the outdoor lifestyle – often from a Christian perspective. Jerald is an avid outdoorsman with deer hunting and whitetails being by far his greatest passion. In 2005, he established the Empowerment Outfitter Network (EON) – a faith-based non-profit organization that provides hunting opportunities for disabled and terminally-ill children and youth. When not hunting, he spends his time traveling and enjoying life with Amy, his wife of 30 years. Jerald and Amy have two adult daughters and a son-in-law.





Scoring in the Red Zone

Brad Clay

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The Red Zone. In the football vernacular, most of us understand that it refers to the area of the field between the 20-yard line and the goal line. One definition goes on to say, “The term is mostly for statistical, psychological, and commercial advertising purposes”. Bow hunting also involves a small area within which to score - and I can certainly understand the psychological part of the definition. It is a reality that we occasionally spook the bucks we are hunting; especially while bow hunting. However, the most frustrating and bewildering moment comes when we get busted while preparing for a shot well within our range; even worse as we draw our bow back. Just the thought makes me cringe. Horrific memories of actual encounters gone bad are etched in my brain. 


My hunts aren’t captured on hunting shows or even personal videos. For this, I’m often relieved. I do however recall a hunt from earlier this season that was truly made for TV; until the moment of truth when everything fell apart. For me, this was a dream hunt. The kind that will provide detailed memories for as long as I live. It was during Texas’ peak rut and late in the morning, a doe entered in front of me and started to feed. Only seconds later, I heard a series of grunts and steps coming my way from up the ravine to my right. A ravine that led right under my stand. This was one of those moments when you know something good is about to happen. There was no disappointment, as a puffed up 9-pointer soon was in front of me. Over the years, I’ve downed my share of deer, but this time I was a mess. I waited forever for the perfect shot. Looking back, Probably an entire two minutes... The buck was fixated on the doe and slightly screened by limbs from the live oak I sat in. He was ripe for the taking. I carefully started my draw and he jerked, stared at me... and ran. Game over. I spent the next hour sitting in that tripod stand reflecting on my biggest mistake. 

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Misjudging Distance

Actually, in this case, I flat out didn’t take into account just how close this buck was. In my haste and quest to capitalize on a “chip shot”, I failed to acknowledge that the deer was a mere 10-12 yards away. He was so close, it didn’t even cross my mind. I know that judging distance takes practice and I also use a laser rangefinder. However, in this case, all I really had to do was wait long enough for the buck to move out a little farther. After all, he wasn’t going to venture out much beyond the hot doe, which was at about 30 yards. Adrenaline had gotten the better of me.


Though this was by far my biggest miscue during this hunt, here are just a few others to avoid when bucks come in too close for comfort. Though this short list doesn't include scent control, it may still seem like bow hunting 101 - but if you’re anything like me, they’re mistakes that are sometimes repeated.

Movement and Impatience

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 As bowhunters, we try different tactics to keep deer from seeing our movement when coming in close. For example, when a deer is approaching, some hunters simply draw earlier to prevent being spotted. While this can work, it can be a real wild card. Not only can it be a strain and effect accuracy, letting down results in a lot of abrupt movement. However, if you’re going to wait it out, then truly wait it out. Be still and let the situation unfold. Says the bowhunter that blew a chance at a nice buck at 10 yards… My fidgety ways have at times cost me shots. I’ve also been fooled by bluffing deer lowering their head only to catch me trying to capitalize on it. Yes, suspicious deer try to sucker you into moving by dropping their head and then picking it up abruptly. It’s like they’re staring into your soul. Most of us know this all too well. Though it’s often hard to hold off, be patient and take extra time to let them settle in. Also, make your set up comfortable enough to minimize squirming.


 Hunting Equipment: Less is Better

I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve inadvertently bumped into my quiver or other gear. The resulting noise is almost always a deal breaker during close encounters with whitetails. If you insist on taking a lot of equipment, at least organize it in a way you can maintain silence. Set it or hang it within reach, but far enough away to avoid blunders. This goes for smartphones and reading glasses too by the way.


Decreasing Exposure Through Stand Adjustments

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Most of us set our blinds and tree stands directly on a major food source. This, of course, gives us a bird’s eye view and a clear shot at deer. However, it also gives deer VIP seating for viewing us – especially later in the season when many trees have lost their foliage. This doesn’t mean we have to make wholesale changes to our stand placement, rather a little fine-tuning. For example, tree stand hunters can simply move their stand a few degrees to the right (for right-handed shooters), for better concealment. This provides a means of somewhat using the tree to screen you when drawing. While this makes spotting deer a little more difficult, it can help you to get off a shot undetected. For ground blinds and other bow setups, this can mean simply moving or angling the stand just enough to better take advantage of cover or minimizing silhouetting. Here, adding cut limbs or camo cloth for additional cover is always an option too.


It’s ironic that our goal is to bring bucks in close, yet it can be so difficult when they truly get in our kitchen. And there is a lot to lose regarding spooking deer. Making mistakes in close quarters with them not only can ruin the hunt but have long-lasting implications. At a minimum, bucks adjust their travels when they encounter humans. Usually, however, our up-close gaffes result in shocked deer that have now pinpointed our location. Deer certainly remember it too. Even if they return to the spot, they’ll be overly cautious – once again, making close encounters difficult. The fact of the matter is that we will spook deer at times. Nonetheless, it’s good to keep in mind the implications of doing so. To minimize disaster, the little things matter. There is a lot on the line when deer draw near.


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Based in Texas, Jerald Kopp is President of 1st Light Hunting Journal. His content is largely about hunting strategies and the outdoor lifestyle – often from a Christian perspective. Jerald is an avid outdoorsman with deer hunting and whitetails being by far his greatest passion. In 2005, he established the Empowerment Outfitter Network (EON) – a faith-based non-profit organization that provides hunting opportunities for disabled and terminally-ill children and youth. When not hunting, he spends his time traveling and enjoying life with Amy, his wife of 30 years. Jerald and Amy have two adult daughters and a son-in-law.






Camouflage in the Woods and Life

Brad Clay

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Sensory overload. There aren’t many things that can scramble my brain and make me more tired than big box hunting stores. Sure, I love my trips through Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops and the like, but have about a 45-minute window before getting cross-eyed; especially in the camo clothing section. Nonetheless, rarely do I leave this area empty-handed.

I have all sorts of camo for different terrain, weather, and conditions; uninsulated, insulated, moisture-wicking, scent-control - you name it. Then there is camo designed for timber, grasslands, and a variety of foliage colors. There is even blaze (safety) orange required in many states to help hunters see one another. I’m starting to sound like Forest Gump, I know... As silly as it sometimes seems, the fact remains - it is important to blend in when you hunt. And let’s face it, for many of us, it proudly displays our lifestyle. Our identity.


Relationships

As hunters, we treasure our relationships with hunting buddies and even the game we pursue. It’s really no wonder that, for both fun and productive reasons, many of us even name the deer we hunt. “I saw old high-brow this morning” or “Curly has gone nocturnal on us” might grace our conversations. Yeah, these are relationships alright. But what about our relationship with God? As a Christian, I have long since acknowledged that often I keep this relationship to myself. I’m spiritually camouflaged. 

The Ultimate Personal Relationship

In my mind, my relationship with the Lord is, in fact personal; and I think it needs to be to remain authentic. But should it be hidden? I’m not so sure. 


Concealed

The scenario is common. In the early morning or late evening hours, my eyes see slight movement and, if I look very carefully, there it is. A deer at the edge of a brush line or standing in the tall grass. It is there, well-blended into its surroundings. Much like us; well-blended atop a tree or under a low canopy of limbs and underbrush - Our camo pattern mimics our surroundings. We are still; frozen.

We likewise are often concealed behind a protective pattern in life; one that obscures our outline; it matches our surroundings. We’re camouflage Christians. 


Witnessing

Deer hunting is nothing if not a sensory experience; especially regarding our sight. Whether through optics, from game cameras or just plain old straight vision, what we witness in the  field is almost as important as what ends up on the back of the truck. If this weren’t true, there wouldn’t be the litany of hunting shows, podcasts, and website forums. Clearly, we love seeing the whitetails and other game we chase. And we love to enthusiastically share what we see with others.

But what about our non-hunting world? You know, the one we spend most of our time in? For me, I know if I was half as excited about sharing my faith as the account of a buck with kicker points, I’d be a pretty decent witness and example for the Lord.


Choosing the Right Pattern

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 As people of faith, we can find ourselves so well camouflaged that no one can tell the difference. God’s Word gives several warnings against blending in with the world and mimicking its ways. Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will”. Perhaps the type of camo we wear in the deer woods matters, but the same goes in our family life, workplace and social lives. From a spiritual standpoint, there should be a clear choice. Though our relationship with our Savior is personal, we need to be willing to stand out a little. I know I can be deficient in this area. We often have to pick our spots, it’s true. However, if nothing else, strive to put forth a Godly example. Be willing to expose yourself. That is, even if it’s not your camo of choice, go blaze orange once and a while when it comes to your faith. Consider standing out. 


Based in Texas, Jerald Kopp is President of 1st Light Hunting Journal. His content is largely about hunting strategies and the outdoor lifestyle – often from a Christian perspective. Jerald is an avid outdoorsman with deer hunting and whitetails being by far his greatest passion. In 2005, he established the Empowerment Outfitter Network (EON) – a faith-based non-profit organization that provides hunting opportunities for disabled and terminally-ill children and youth. When not hunting, he spends his time traveling and enjoying life with Amy, his wife of 30 years. Jerald and Amy have two adult daughters and a son-in-law.

Has Oklahoma Become An Elite Whitetail State?

Brad Clay

The Cariker Buck taken by Final Descent Outdoors staffer Jason Cariker scored 204” and is the largest buck taken by an FDO staffer.

The Cariker Buck taken by Final Descent Outdoors staffer Jason Cariker scored 204” and is the largest buck taken by an FDO staffer.

When you think of big whitetails you dream of the midwest as a hunter.  States like Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Kentucky come to mind as they have rightfully earned the title of big buck states.  They have continually produced big deer and have become a hot spot for hunters from not only across North America but the world searching for an opportunity to take a giant whitetail.  Since 2000 Wisconsin has had 730 B&C bucks both typical and nontypical with famous Buffalo County, WI producing the most.  

Over the last couple years Oklahoma has worked its way into what many refer to as a “Sleeper State”.  This term is used to describe a state that is on the cusp of having the reputation of producing huge deer consistently.  In 2017 Oklahoma had 37 bucks scored that toped 200” blowing lots of hunters around the country away.   We recently sat down with our friend and long time Oklahoma B&C scorer George Moore to talk about the recent success the state of Oklahoma has had.  “I’ve been asked a bunch, why do you think you scored so many big bucks in 2017?  I believe four factors played into me personally scoring 37 deer of 200”.  One was social media.  A guy kills a big deer and takes a picture and even if he doesn’t want it known it gets out there.  We have probably had big deer like this killed over the last four, five six years and kept it off social media and know one knew about it.  Social media has really made what we have more aware than ever before.”  

George Moore arrowed this 206” Oklahoma whitetail back in 2010.

George Moore arrowed this 206” Oklahoma whitetail back in 2010.

With Moore’s theory that big deer have been killed in Oklahoma consistently for a while but technology has helped bring that to light in more recent years.  Moore went on to also explain that many hunters don’t want people to know they killed a big buck fearing neighboring pressure increase, poaching, and so forth.

“Another big factor is trail cameras.” Moore explained.  “We have had game cameras a long time but people are using them to educate themselves on the deer they have on their property. If a guy has a giant buck on trail cameras why would he shoot that 140” buck knowing that a bigger buck is also in there.  We are seeing trail cameras change how hunters hunt and we are seeing them pass deer they normally wouldn’t because of that.”  Moore went on to say this.  “The third factor is this, in 2016 we had a bumper acorn crop.  We will have another big acorn crop in 2018 and in 2016 we didn’t see as many big bucks as we did in 2017 because they weren’t coming to food plots and feeders cause they didn’t have too.  They were on acorns.  In 2017 we had a terrible acorn crop and people with feeders and food plots and the rut fell perfect so people saw those big bucks more frequently.” 

“The fourth factor is simply education of our hunters.” Moore stated.  “I’m 64 years old and when I was 12 or 13 years old hunting in Oklahoma when you saw a deer you killed it.  If you saw one with horns that was a big deal.  We just didn’t see many deer.  You shot everything you saw.  I think education has played a huge role.  People like you (Brad Clay) and shows like Final Descent Outdoors that also show what management can do is also a big factor.  We are seeing younger kids being educated and hunters being educated that if you want to kill a big buck then you need to let the young ones grow.”  Along with being able to inventory the bucks on your property education from croups like the QDMA and the Oklahoma Wildlife Department with their campaign slogan “Hunters in the know, let young bucks grow” as helped Oklahoma see better age structure in Oklahoma.  According to the QDMA Oklahoma made a vast jump in recent years and in 2016 59% of the bucks harvested were aged 3.5yrs old or older. 

Final Descent Outdoors staffer Paul Powers arrowed this Oklahoma buck in 2018 scoring 186 4/8” making it the second largest buck taken on Final Descent Outdoors.

Final Descent Outdoors staffer Paul Powers arrowed this Oklahoma buck in 2018 scoring 186 4/8” making it the second largest buck taken on Final Descent Outdoors.

Was it abnormal with Oklahoma having 37 bucks over 200” in 2017?  Yes, but we just had perfect conditions.  That’s just what was scored.  I had several people that killed big deer that I reached out to about scoring their deer and they said no, they weren’t interested because they didn’t want the attention.  I actually had people upset with me in 2017 because I scored and was posting these big bucks on social media.  They don’t want the state to get the attention.  Will we have another 2017?  I don’t know.  Will we have some 200” bucks killed?  Sure we will have some but we will need to have those perfect conditions again to have another year like that.”

So to answer the question of whether or not Oklahoma has become an elite whitetail state Moore had this to say.  “I would say we were for sure in 2017 a top 8 state.  Wisconsin, Ohio, Kansas, and those states are always way up there but Oklahoma is for sure being recognized as one of those top 8 to 10 states in the country for producing big whitetails.” 

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Author Brad Clay is the host of Final Descent Outdoors and a licensed and ordained minister in Oklahoma.  Brad served for 12yrs in vocational ministry before stepping out to do full time outdoor ministry in 2013. Brad resides in Edmond, OK and is married with four children.

Look'em in the Eye: Hunting Deer from the Ground

Brad Clay

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The abrupt sound of snapping wood and wire caught me off guard. Familiar with the area, I had heard this before.  Not 30 yards directly behind me was an old ragged barbed-wire fence with a large gap. Deer easily slipped through it often as evidenced by the ancient trail leading to and from it.  Does, however usually made much lesser noise crossing through the sizable gap. I knew this by the number of them that had seemingly appeared out of nowhere on many hunts. 

It was an early October evening and there was a slight westerly breeze. Tucked in a mott of heavy cedar and pecan trees, this spot always had produced good whitetail encounters when the basic rules of sound and scent were employed. Looking up, I saw the tall tripod stand that was once securely tethered to a giant pecan tree. It had since been covered with fallen limbs and was practically an afterthought despite its close proximity to the very chair I sat in. I could barely remember the last time I had been perched in it.

Before long, a young, but attractive 7-point buck moved in from my right and was soon feeding in front of me. Though careful, the deer settled in within 25 yards of my blind - a creation made from native brush and camo cloth attached to limbs and T-posts. No, it wasn't the type of animal I was hoping for, but the anticipation and subsequent 20-minute encounter was entertaining. This was early in my bowhunting days and I easily became addicted to the challenge of face to face encounters with whitetails.

Going Native

Natural ambush setups existed long before the portable blinds we see today. Bow hunters and rifle hunters alike have used thick stands of brush, fallen trees and the like for concealment. This continues to be a viable still hunting alternative, although it does take more time to build and maintain. Perhaps the biggest mistake hunters make with make-shift blinds is failing to create a dark, solid background to avoid being silhouetted. If it can't be achieved with surrounding native brush, it's important to hang something in the back of the blind. I've often used black weed cloth along with cut brush. Though many hunters adamantly prefer elevated stands, ground blinds have plenty of similarities to their skyward counterparts. Locations are chosen based on travel corridors and feeding areas and wind direction needs to be accounted for. From a low position, the latter certainly presents more of a challenge regarding scent control. 

Portable Commercial Blinds

The abundance of pop-up ground blinds we see today represents an easier approach. Though there are different styles, the common denominator is that they can be erected in mere minutes - and sometimes seconds. They also come in camo patterns suitable for any environment. However, it's still a good idea to compliment them with cut native brush and luckily, most commercial ground blinds come equipped with loops for attaching branches. Though they may mask human scent to some degree, they're still at ground level and scent management can't be overlooked. Perhaps the biggest advantage of enclosed portable blinds is that they conceal movement much better than their DIY counterparts. Oh, and you can't ignore their benefit on rainy days. 

There Goes the Neighborhood

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Deer are keenly aware of their surroundings and the sudden addition of a ground blind won't go unnoticed. My Disdain for deer stomping and snorting alone are enough motivation for me to manage my hunting surroundings - from their perspective. Set up your blind a minimum of a couple of weeks prior to hunting it. Consider what your initial reaction would be to your neighbor across the street erecting a storage shed in his front yard. You get the idea.

Ideal Conditions

 The best circumstances for ground hunting of any kind are wet days and moderate breezes. The noises made moving to, from and inside ground blinds scream for damp ground. However, with many dry hunting days being likely, clear the inside of the blind of any leaves or brush. Further, consider clearing a path to it. Another consideration is to set up near a running creek or river - and even within earshot of occasional road traffic. The latter may seem nonsensical, but common sounds that whitetails are accustomed to hearing can mask the sound of your movement.

Steady wind and to a lesser degree, still days, are optimal for ground hunting. From a scent perspective, heavier winds are much better suited for treestand hunting. Either way, put the odds in your favor by using cover scents or scent neutralizers. There are plenty on the market and they work in my opinion. If you are a doubter, what do you have to lose?

Keep Your Head on a Swivel

Getting in the best draw and shooting position can be a challenge. Though a stool is better than sitting on the ground, changing position often results in abrupt movement. You've worked hard to have a shooter buck within range, so don't blow it in the end by having to rotate your chair. A chair or bucket that quietly swivels is a great alternative. I've ignored this strategy more often than I'd like to admit. More often than not, it has ended with the stomp and whistle from a buck or adjacent nanny doe.

The Bottom Line

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Though I still hunt from tree stands at times, I prefer hunting at the deer’s level - where I can clearly observe its mannerisms. Honestly, with most of my deer hunting taking place in Texas, tree stands are not always good alternatives anyway. Aside from the piney woods of East Texas, it can be difficult to find live oaks and other trees suited for them. Similarly, much of the South Texas brush country lacks tall trees at all. Either way, there's just something special about encountering deer and creation with my feet firmly planted on the ground. Is anyone available to help me move an old tripod stand out of a Cedar and Pecan thicket? If so, it's yours.


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Based in Texas, Jerald Kopp is President of 1st Light Hunting Journal. His content is largely about hunting strategies and the outdoor lifestyle – often from a Christian perspective. Jerald is an avid outdoorsman with deer hunting and whitetails being by far his greatest passion. In 2005, he established the Empowerment Outfitter Network (EON) – a faith-based non-profit organization that provides hunting opportunities for disabled and terminally-ill children and youth. When not hunting, he spends his time traveling and enjoying life with Amy, his wife of 30 years. Jerald and Amy have two adult daughters and a son-in-law.









Keeping Your Edge in the Outdoors and Life

Brad Clay

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After decades of hunting, I've always been bewildered by how I seldom can find a knife that consistently works to my liking. I've used many types and most of them are quality products. However, there always comes a point when I'm stuck in the hunting woods with a dull blade - and no sharpener. This speaks to one of the other things that astound me regarding my hunting; lack of preparation. Oh, I do a lot of things to prepare for deer season such as bow practice, trail camera recon, field work and even organizing my gear, just to name a few. Ask my wife and she'll promptly tell you just how much time I spend preparing for hunting. However, things sometimes fall through the cracks. As serious as I can be, perhaps I get complacent with some of the necessary preparation.

If you skin a lot of animals, you know that it's not difficult to compromise the sharp edge of a blade. If you skin hogs, you truly know just how dull your knife can become - and it's quite a chore. Aside from the horrendous smell, they have very coarse hair, tough skin, fat, and gristle. Luckily, the average outdoorsman maintains thoughts of pork tenderloin and ribs to carry them through the unpleasant task. However, even the sharpest of knives often result in intermittent pauses for sharpening. 

I've always wondered why my granddad sometimes took time to sharpen and oil his tools despite their inherent rusty and dull look. I chalked it up to the common notion that many people from an older generation appreciated their tools and took more pride in maintaining them. I know there is truth to this, but I think that there is more at play.

So how are the hunting knife outdoor success and our faith related? Well, in my mind it has everything to do with the fact that like with knives, we often lose our spiritual edge and become much less useful in our relationship with God. Further, we become a much lesser promoter for Him and what He offers us. I know many outdoorsmen who love skinning the animals they harvest. I've got to say, that I'm not usually one of them. Oh, I understand its role in the whole process, but after years of harvesting deer, the gratification is not what it used to be. Nonetheless, it becomes even more laborious when I've failed to maintain my blades in my pack - my edge. Often, I've failed to prepare and grow discontented in the dressing process; it feels like drudgery.

Spiritual weariness seems to come not only from not serving God but seeking to handle things on our own. From my experience, this makes the work is so much harder - much like butchering or dressing a deer with an inadequate blade. We're having to unnecessarily use more strength for the task. More lack of preparation. Simply put, we're taking it on alone and it's no wonder that eventually we get tired. 

As humans, it's easy to get into a rut and practice our faith through non-heartfelt prayer, devotions, and worship. In these cases, we have become spiritually dull and our acts of faith turn into monotonous chores. There is always evidence that we are not spiritually sharp; small things become large ones, despite having a big God in our corner, negativity and irreverent attitudes start to prevail, and we, in general, seek to operate as if we're in control. The Big me, little God syndrome.

I find that the only real way I can maintain my edge is to be resolute in spending real time with God in prayer. Thank Him for your blessings and voice your concerns and fears. Ironically, there is no better place to spend authentic time with Him than when in the outdoors. What is true for the hunter and the tools in his hunting pack also applies to the Christian's life. Proverbs 27:17 in part explains that “Iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” We can likewise employ similar wisdom on our own. "If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; But wisdom brings success" (Ecclesiastes 10:10). So, take the time to improve your hunting edge, but more importantly consider honing your spiritual blade as well. When doing so, we improve our quality of life and of those around us - family, co-workers and hunting buddies alike.

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Based in Texas, Jerald Kopp is President of 1st Light Hunting Journal. His content is largely about hunting strategies and the outdoor lifestyle – often from a Christian perspective. Jerald is an avid outdoorsman with deer hunting and whitetails being by far his greatest passion. In 2005, he established the Empowerment Outfitter Network (EON) – a faith-based non-profit organization that provides hunting opportunities for disabled and terminally-ill children and youth. When not hunting, he spends his time traveling and enjoying life with Amy, his wife of 30 years. Jerald and Amy have two adult daughters and a son-in-law.

5 Gifts For The Hunter In Your Life (Under $40.00)

Brad Clay

Shopping for the guy that seems to have everything can be tough. I know my wife hates to shop for me sometimes because it seems like I have one of everything.  Shopping for the loved one who happens to be a hunter can be even tougher if you yourself are not one.  So we are going to look at some gift ideas for the hunter in your life from some of our partners here at Final Descent Outdoors. We will have more great gift ideas for the hunter in your life as the holidays get closer!

Looking for a great gift idea that won't break the bank?  Here is a list of items that will make any outdoorsman happy to get.

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Real Avid Bore Boss:  If the outdoorsman in your life owns firearms, and I'm betting that they do then the Bore Boss from Real Avid is a great gift.  Real Avid has made a name for themselves for making innovative products and the Bore Boss makes cleaning a firearm a breeze.  (Retails for $9.99)


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ABKT Knife:  American Buffalo Knife and Tool make a wide selection of knives from everyday carry to speciality knives.  You can't go wrong choosing a knife...ever. Just be prepared to have lots of options for gifts when you look on their website. 


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Buck Blitz Super Concentrate:  Buck Blitz is a deer attractant feed company that up until recently only had it available in a 40lb sack which made shipping bought to say the least.  That all changed when they released their super concentrate mix.  It's easy, the concentrate mixes in with up to 300lbs of corn and gives it a powerful attractant smell and taste.  (Retails for $20.00)  


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Hunter's Kloak Electronic Mist System: This is a pretty awesome little tool for hunters.  It's hard to fool the nose of a deer and this Mist System helps you do just that.  It releases a mist of either a cover scent or an attraction scent on a set timer to help cover your smell while you are hunting. (Retails for under $40.00)


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30-06 Outdoors Black Horse Release:  If the hunter in your life is an archery fanatic then this is a great gift that won't break the bank.  The Black Horse Release is priced great but don't let the low price fool you, its a heck of a release.  I've used it exclusively for two years and absolutely love mine.  It's a home run gift idea. (Retails for $34.95)

 

 

Setting My Self Up To Fail

Brad Clay

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 After moving back to SE Iowa after college I embarked on a quest to kill big Iowa bucks with my bow. Easy right? I live in SE Iowa and booners are around every corner and in every 10 acres. Not so much.  After 2 years of pure struggle I finally put a big buck down (an eight that went 154 inches). I had finally put the pieces together and started to consistently kill a pop and young buck 9 out of 10 years even after getting married and having kids.  Using my knight rifle I was able to add to my total 6 more over that 150 inch mark and 7 of those bucks were on camera self-filming. 



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You would think the next step would be to shoot a 180+ while self-filming, right?  For most yes, but for me I love adventure and was reading a lot about DIY public ground back pack hunting and was going to give it a try. I had done some guided hunts in South Dakota and Wyoming and had a great time and had success, but I wanted to be able to go out west once or twice every year, and with a family, a guided hunt was becoming more and more difficult to justify.   Also, I love the satisfaction of DIY, knowing full well that I was setting myself up for years of failure and hard work.   Sounds fun right?  For me it is.  First I started to train and research what I needed to survive off of in the back country 10+ miles deep and over 12000 ft. for 10 days. I lost over 50 pounds and saved and bought the best equipment I could buy. I was going alone with no prior back country experience. So why embark on this journey you might be asking.  Simple; it’s the journey and the adventure that I was seeking not a trophy or accolades that I was someone special because I am not. See for me I DIY Public ground backpack hunt no matter the outcome of success! It reenergizes me to be a better husband, father, and leader.  Having no phone to look at and no Facebook or Instagram to compare myself to others too is a great place to be for 10 days to refocus, slow down, and spend time with the lord with NO Distractions. To push myself physically year round to prepare for it has done so much for my physical health and mental health. I am not a guru on physical fitness nor do I proclaim to be, but I will tell you it is worth it.  I had no idea how bad I felt until I felt so much better by eating healthier and pushing  my body beyond what I thought I could do. I reached out to friend that was a personal trainer to put a plan together for my goals. 

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I would recommend if you are like me with no prior lifting/working out experience to do so and be safe. It’s amazing what our bodies are capable of! Never once did I set foot in a gym.  It was all at home and a lot of times with my sons helping out. I don’t have time to drive to a gym so this was all done after kids went to bed or before they got up, and a lot of times it was after my wife had gone to bed too. Trying to keep priorities straight, but still reaching the goals I set was a real struggle. Finding time to shoot my Matthews more to prepare for those 60+ yard shots that the western terrain demands of you were also something I had to make time for. After saying that, I was all in and loved the discipline it required to prepare for such an adventure. With two trips planned and tags bought (one drawn and one elk OTC both in Colorado and two different spots) it was down to researching my pack list. Trip one High Country Mule Deer Colorado!

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Jeremy Roland has been with Final Descent Outdoors four years and is based in south east Iowa.  Jeremy is in the land of giants and has the deer on the wall to prove it.  Jeremy and his family farm several thousand acres in southern Iowa where he also hunts.  Jeremy actually stumbled onto a Final Descent Outdoors episode in 2013 and sent an email in regards to the show.  Jeremy helps lead a house church and wanted to use his passion for hunting for the Kingdom of God.  The rest is history.

 

Hunting for The Next Generation

Brad Clay

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My earliest memories of the outdoors were spent walking around in the woods with my bb gun my dad bought me just praying a squirrel would sit still long enough to squeeze a shot off before darting off and disappearing behind the limb of an old pecan tree.   I didn’t have much luck in my early hunting career as an 8-year-old squirrel hunter but I couldn’t wait to get outside after school and give it my best shot.    It wasn’t long after that my dad bought me my first bow, we would both shoot and try to hit a card board target we had leaned up against a sand pile, we were happy to shoot a group the size of pie plate at 20 yards.  My first tree stand was a homemade death trap made from welded rebar and a plywood platform that my dad chained to a tree.   I remember it like it was yesterday the first time my dad took me out to the woods to look for the perfect tree to hang it in. 

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My excitement was uncontainable and I couldn’t wait to see my first deer up close.  The next morning the alarm went off and we left out to try our luck, my dad walked me up to the tree and told me to climb up and he would sit on the ground behind me and try to grunt up a big buck.  As I set there I remember all the sounds that I hadn’t ever heard before, leaves crunching, squirrels barking and deer blowing, as the sun started to rise a little doe bolted from the timber and stopped about 100 yards in front of me, she stopped and looked back into the woods.  I was locked on to her watching her every move and out of the corner of my eye I see something walking towards my stand, as it walked closer I could make out a rack and my heart was about to jump out of my chest, he stopped broadside at 20 yards but I let him walk my dad had me watch buck masters every Sunday afternoon and my first thought was he’s not big enough.   My dad was in shock that I didn’t shoot and even less enthused when I explained my reasoning, central Oklahoma in the mid 80’s wasn’t full of monster bucks and the 2 points or better rule was enforced strictly.   It would be many years before I had a buck anywhere close to the one I passed that morning within shooting range but my passion for hunting and the outdoors grew daily.  

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As a young adult, the introduction of deer management and nutrition were still in the early stages in Oklahoma, we planted food plots that rarely came up and set up numerous trail cameras that only took a few pictures of a deer’s hind section or a blurry picture that was just out of range with glowing eyes would be enough to make you think you were hunting the next double drop tine buck, but faulty equipment and all I loved every minute of it.   Growing up in the 80’s didn’t offer much in the way of education in deer management I had no idea a deer loved acorns, nor did I know that shooting little bucks was a bad thing.  The bottom line is todays hunters have a much easier road to success then most of us that grew up in 80’s and with all the game camera technology we have today you know every buck on a first name basis before you ever see him in the wild.  The next generation of hunters will have all the tools to achieve what we only dreamed of in our youth, the deer population has exploded and hunters are more and more selective in what they consider a trophy.  We as hunters need to take all that with a grain of salt when teaching our young boys and girls what hunting is all about.  Granted we can teach them deer management and ethical hunting and gun safety but most importantly we can’t have forgot what we learned as young hunters, hunting is not always about killing something. 

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It’s a great tool for teaching our kids life lessons like respect, respect for fire arms, respect for the land, respect for wildlife and most importantly respect for others, our young hunters have the rest of their lives to chase after trophy’s but we only have a short time with them to instill values that will allow them to move us forward as a society. Teach them why we hunt and explain how our ancestors didn’t just hunt for sport they hunted to survive.   Teach them not only how to shoot an animal but how to clean it correctly and not to ever give up on a wounded animal.   The survival of hunting in our society will hinge on the next generation that we raise to carry the torch for all the hunters before them, hunting is a tradition that was a way of life for our ancestors we can carry on that tradition by passing our knowledge and passion to the next generation and installing the ethical values that we were raised with.     I cherish the days I spent with my dad and brothers in the outdoors and I have a lifetime of memories to reflect on and I plan on sharing those memories with my 3 boys and the memories we create will be a foundation for them as they grow.

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Blogger Jason Cariker has been with Final Descent Outdoors since 2014.  Jason and his wife live in Stratford, Oklahoma and have three beautiful children they have adopted and welcomed into their family.  When Jason isn't running his construction business or spending time with his family he is in church or in the deer woods.  He is excited to begin the journey of sharing his passion for the outdoors with his children in the very near future.

 

What Makes Her Tick. Women in the Outdoors.

Brad Clay

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When mid November rolls around and the alarm goes off at 4:30 am my eyes pop open and I jump out of bed just like my 5 year old son would on Christmas morning. I ever so gently nudge my wife who is buried deep into our down comforter. I say “hey honey do you still want to go hunting with me this morning?” The rut is on and I know the bucks are going to be moving because a big cold front just come through and it’s prime time right now. As she pulls the warm blanket back up around her chin I hear her mumble “no thanks, maybe this evening.”

   Does this story sound anything like something that has happened in your house? Having been an avid sportsman my entire life I love nothing more than getting to spend time in the outdoors with my beautiful bride. I don’t mind spending hours on end out in the cold rain and snow for that small chance of just getting to spot a trophy buck, or the hours spent before season prepping food plots in the blistering summer heat. My wife on the other hand doesn’t always seen to find those thing near as enjoyable as I do. It’s not that she doesn’t enjoy time spent in the woods, she’s just more of a fair weather occasional type of hunter. 

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   So what can a man do if he wants nothing more than to have a wonderfully successful marriage and still spend his free time in the outdoors? You just have to work at it until you find something that gets her excited the way a big buck gets you excited. In 2014 my wife and I along with a few friends attended one of Final Descent Outdoors ministry banquets. While we were having dinner my wife and her friend Jill were jokingly talking about bidding on a 3 day fishing trip in Pensacola Beach, Florida. The two ladies said that if they bought the fishing trip they could spend time getting a tan on the beach while us guys went fishing. Well as the auction rolled along the Pensacola trip came up for bids and I started raising my hand. My wife started to get a little anxious as the price crept up but in the end my hand was the last one in the air. We had won the auction and I was as excited as I could be because I had never been saltwater fishing but had always wanted to try. 

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   A few months later we found ourselves in a condo on the beach in beautiful Pensacola Beach, Florida. By this time my wife, Dejay, had decided that her and Jill should join us guys on the fishing trip. This turned out to be one of the best things that could have ever happened in the world of me trying to get my wife involved in my hunting and fishing lifestyle. We spent two days out on the Gulf of Mexico fishing for many different species of fish. That trip got my wife forever hooked on saltwater fishing. She had never been on a fishing trip that was so fast paced and action packed. Saltwater fish put up such and awesome fight. Fast forward a couple years and several more trips to Florida. By this time my wife had been on several fishing trips and had caught many saltwater species including amber jack, trigger fish, red snapper, mahi mahi, bonito, spanish mackerel, and even a black tip shark.

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   In August of 2017 Brad Clay of Final Descent Outdoors invited DeJay and I on an alligator hunting trip in central Florida. He needed an extra person or two to run camera for himself and famed huntress Kendall Jones. The trip was going to include more than just alligator hunting. We would also have a night of bowfishing for stingrays. There was no way Dejay was going to turn down the opportunity to spend time in Florida. She knew that we would be spending time on the coast which meant that we might be able to squeeze in a fishing trip. Alligator hunting didn’t necessarily excite her but she was intrigued by the idea of bowfishing for stingrays. Once the magical night finally arrived DeJay was a little unsure of her ability to actually shoot a fish with a archery equipment. After many misses and a few very close calls DeJay finally connected with her first stingray. She let out a big scream of excitement and did a little dance on the deck of the boat. She was hooked instantly. She spent the rest of the night arrowing fish after fish and the excitement never left. I was beside myself that my wife was having so much fun. I knew instantly that this would forever be an activity that my wife and I could spend many hours enjoying together in the outdoors. 

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  I know that my wife might not ever understand “buck fever” and what it does to me in the fall. She might night ever be interested in spending eight hours on a bass boat only to catch four or five bass, but I do know that I found something that makes her tick. You can bet that I will be spending some of my hard earned money on her a bowfishing rig so we can spend those valuable hours together on the water. These are the thing thats can make a good marriage a great marriage. I shouldn’t expect her to spend so many hours doing things with me just to make me happy. Marriage is about coming together and finding things that we can enjoy together.    


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Daniel Arms is a pro staffer for Final Descent Outdoors.  Daniel is happily married and a father of three (Weston, EmmaLee, and Houston).  Daniel is an Oklahoma Highway Patrolman and active in his local church in Sulphur, OK.  Daniel is an avid outdoorsman and when he isn't working, spending time with his family, or hunting he is making Youtube videos and gardening.

New Opportunities For Oklahoma Hunters and Landowners

Brad Clay

Mark Twain quoted, “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.” The phrase rings true for thousands of sportsmen across Oklahoma who will take afield this fall. With the average household income of an Oklahoma family being around $43,000 a year, a substantial land purchase or expensive lease is entirely out of the question. With abundant state public lands spread out across the state, it may not be feasible for the average hunter to travel long distances each weekend to bag a bird or buck. While hunters have multiple avenues of searching out places to hunt—websites, social media, public land, and knocking on doors, it does not deny the fact it is a challenge to find a decent place to hunt in the red dirt state.  That all may change very soon.

Beginning 1 September 2017, the Oklahoma Land Access Program (OLAP) will provide additional resources for hunters and landowners alike. Hunters will gain foot access to new properties—some of which have never been hunted. Each landowner participating in the OLAP (minimum 40 acre parcel) will be compensated to the tune of $2-$15 per acre depending on the acreage size, activities permitted, and duration of access. The premise of this program is to reward conservation-minded hunters and landowners by providing every law-abiding citizen an opportunity to hunt and fish. From a landowner’s perspective, you may be concerned about people on your property. Rest assured there are rules and regulations governing your land as well as signage identifying walk in access area type, open dates, method of hunting permitted, or fishing only. Hunters are reminded that the future of this program depends on their behavior and conservation of these areas. 

Now before you have a migraine thinking of worst case scenarios, keep in mind the OLAP will be heavily regulated by Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Game Wardens. A full list of regulations regarding the OLAP can be found on the ODWC’s website: https://www.wildlifedepartment.com/olap. There you can find the Introduction to the program, Rules & Regulations, Maps (released on August 5, 2017), and Landowner information with links to an online and printable landowner application. Additionally, landowners enrolled in the program have limited liability in accordance with state laws as described on the ODWC website. 

In 2015, I personally took advantage of the Walk in Hunting Areas in Kansas. I had booked a hunt with a Kansas outfitter that quickly went south. Sitting in the hotel room planning my next move, I pulled up the Kansas Department of Wildlife website on my smartphone and clicked on the complete online map of Fall WIHA atlas. I noticed there were several farms in the area that were open to walk in hunting. After a quick review of satellite images, I put a game plan together and hit the road. I drove to the areas that looked best on the map and stopped at my first location. The heavy worn trail crossing the county dirt road signaled this was the farm. One hour later I had my stand hung and made the ten-minute walk back to my truck where I had parked on the side of the county road. The next morning’s hunt had my adrenaline pumping. Buck after buck filtered down the trail to jump the fence and cross the county road heading from a green field back to their bedding area. It seemed each new buck that appeared was bigger than the last. I went home empty handed that trip but my experience was rewarding. I had adapted to my situation and enjoyed my trip all thanks to the Kansas WIHA Program. 

My hope is that this program will be successful like my experience in Kansas. The land was left clean and I could bet no one even knew I had been there. Landowner participation will alleviate hunting pressure that otherwise is distributed to only what is available now on public land. The potential of this program is vast considering the state’s population of feral hogs. Landowners who could not manage the wildlife residing on their acreages can now take full advantage of the OLAP. Ultimately, the success of this program will depend on hunters to be responsible, respectful, and pick up after themselves.  Additional OLAP information can be located by contacting Jeff Tibbits, Wildlife Biologist (OLAP) jeff.tibbits@odwc.ok.gov, 405-535-7382 or Kasie Joyner, Wildlife Technician (OLAP) kasie.joyner@odwc.ok.gov, 405-535-5681.

Author of this blog is staffer Adam Nicholas.  Adam has been filming for Final Descent Outdoors since 2012.  Adam and his wife Ashley reside in Choctaw, Oklahoma and are expecting their first child this November.

THE HARVEST: Divine Appointment

Brad Clay

It was a cold and snowy February night in Washington, Iowa.  I remember it well because I didn't pack for the weather and I remember being disappointed in myself.  It was a packed house at Faith Baptist Church's Wildgame Dinner.  We had a great meal and great fellowship downstairs and we all headed upstairs to the sanctuary where I was to share.  The spirit moved in a mighty way and we had 36 men indicate they made a decision to follow Christ.  

During the invitation men were moving and praying for one another and a gentleman in his early 70's made his way down the aisle to me.  He had a long white ponytail and ear rings (I honestly thought Willie Nelson was walking down the aisle for a second).  When he got to me he was crying and he said "I gave my life to Jesus tonight."  I said, "that's awesome man!"  He looked at me with a confused look and said "The thing is, I'm not suppose to be here.  You see, I live about 40 miles from here.  My wife has been sick and hasn't been able to work so I have been hauling fire wood to make some extra money and I was bring a brick to a man tonight and my truck broke down right outside that window" Turning and pointing to the stained glass window on the side of the sanctuary.  "I saw the lights on in the church so I walked up the stairs looking for some help.  I walked up to a man and told him my situation and asked if he knew a mechanic.  He said, well I'm a mechanic!  He told me about the wild game dinner and said give me your keys and I will look at your truck, go make a plate and then head upstairs to the sanctuary.  I did just that and now I'm standing in front of you and you can see that I'm not suppose to be here."

 I looked him right in the eyes and said "I'm sorry sir but you were suppose to be here, matter of fact tonight was a divine appointment. God has been chasing you and pursuing you my friend and that chase ends tonight."  I was able to pray over him and encourage him and it was a moment in ministry that I will never forget!      

 If you would like to support our mission by donating to our ministry please do so today!  Help us continue to reach outdoorsman for Jesus!  

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Author Brad Clay is the host of Final Descent Outdoors and a licensed and ordained minister in Oklahoma.  Brad served for 12yrs in vocational ministry before stepping out to do full time outdoor ministry in 2013. Brad resides in Edmond, OK and is married with four children.

 

THE HARVEST: Marriage Saved

Brad Clay

Isaiah 55:11 tells us that God's word never goes and and returns void.  As you probably already know, we end every show with a devotion where we challenge our viewers with a truth from God's Word.  I never know how God is going to use our show but we are constantly amazed by His work and use of Final Descent Outdoors.

This addition of The Harvest comes to us from Karen.  Karen emailed us just before Christmas.  Karen and Rick have been married for nearly 20 years.  Karen has been a faithful church member but Rick rarely went, mainly on Easter and Christmas.  They have three kids with the oldest being in jr high.  Every Sunday since the kids were born Karen and the kids would go to church and leave Rick at home to watch football, hunting shows, or to go hunting during season.  As the kids got older, they began to want to stay at home with dad.  That's where things begin to really get difficult for Karen.

How was she to respond to the kids?  They were saying, if dad doesn't have to go, we don't want to go either!  Karen was heart broke and started going to church for the first time without her kids.  She asked her Sunday School class to pray about the situation.  One of the men in the class, knowing Rick was a big hunter, asked Karen if Rick has ever watched Final Descent Outdoors.  He told her what channel and what FDO was all about and after church she went home and set it to record.  The show aired that evening and Rick watched the FDO guys hunt hogs with the Benghazi Heroes in Texas.  He loved it and over the next couple weeks continued to watch.  

A few Sundays later Karen was getting ready for church when Rick came out of the bedroom dressed and ready for church.  Karen was shocked!  For the first time ever, outside of a holiday Karen's family went to church...together.  Karen emailed us this incredible story and to say thank you for our ministry adding, "it might just have saved our marriage."  

Wow!  Talk about being blown away!  I'm so thankful that God's Word is alive and active and we are thankful God gives us the common ground of hunting to tell others about Him.  If you would like to support our mission by donating to our ministry please do so today!  Help us continue to reach outdoorsman for Jesus!  TO DONATE CLICK HERE

 

Author Brad Clay is the host of Final Descent Outdoors and a licensed and ordained minister in Oklahoma.  Brad served for 12yrs in vocational ministry before stepping out to do full time outdoor ministry in 2013. Brad resides in Edmond, OK and is married with four children.

The Harvest: Press On

Brad Clay

Life is tough.  I recently heard Tony Evans at the ReWired Men's Conference and he said that all of us in life are either coming into a storm, currently in a storm, or we are fixing to be in one.  I have to admit it, he's right.  Not all storms are huge, some are small but some are big.  It's just apart of life and we are to lean on one another through the storms of life.

Today's The Harvest comes to us from Darrell who has been in the midst of a horrid storm.  "I am 58 heard old life long hunter who until this morning had never seen your show on TV. I have been Christian most of my life and have trusted God to take care of me and my family. On April 12th my mother passed away, on May 24th my dad took his own life in a grief stricken state. At the same time my mother in law was admitted to a nursing home and my best friend and my father in law found out that he had cancer. On June 27 he took her life and then his. There are no words to describe the feeling of devastation in my family. Through it all God has been our rock. Thanks for the words of encouragement I saw this morning on your show. I am headed to Colorado this week to bowhunt elk and mule deer. This will be the first year in many that my father in law has not been with me and I will truly miss him. Please pray that God will fill the emptiness in our families hearts and minds as we approach this season of holidays and hunting. We have decided never to question God on all the tragedy we have experienced lately, but use these things to make us closer to our Father. Please pray for our family and God Bless. Ps your words of encouragement this morning truly blessed me. Thanks"

I'm trying my best to put myself in Darrell and his families shoes...and I can't.  I hate when people say, I understand what you are going through when they don't.  Sometimes all we can do is listen, encourage, and pray.  This is such a case.  I'm glad that the Holy Spirit used Final Descent Outdoors to encourage and provide strength to a man who has weathered a brutal storm in life.  We are all brothers and sisters and need one another to be lifted up.

If you would like to support our mission by donating to our ministry please do so today!  Help us to continue to reach outdoorsman for Jesus!  TO DONATE CLICK HERE

Author Brad Clay is the host of Final Descent Outdoors and a licensed and ordained minister in Oklahoma.  Brad served for 12yrs in vocational ministry before stepping out to do full time outdoor ministry in 2013. Brad resides in Edmond, OK and is married with four children.

Are the Anti Hunters Winning?

Brad Clay

I've been blessed to get to know Kendall Jones, the famed huntress who was thrust into the spotlight for her hunts in Africa. She recently broke one million followers on Facebook. I've been able to help her with some media needs, build a new website, photos, videos, etc. Through that relationship I've gotten to know her and I've realized she didn't ask for this fame, it just happened. If you follow her on social media you see the amount of hatred directed at her from anti hunters. Not just mild dislike but full blown death threats, wish of bodily harm, and other sickening comments.  Celebrities like Miley Cyrus and others have called her out by name bringing even more hate her direction.

it honestly seems like our rights as hunters are being infringed upon daily. As a God fearing hunter it's seems more and more like I'm in the minority in this country. So, how do we fight the good fight for our rights, conservation, and for our heritage?

Be Above Reproach: This is first and foremost.  We are under a microscope more than ever and those who hate the idea of hunting are looking for anything to use against us. We must be conscious of how we portray our love for hunting. By doing this we can limit the ammunition of the other side. 

Respect The Game: I saw a video a few months back of a young hunter riding on the back of a deer that he had spine shot and was still alive. Even in times where the scrutiny was less this wouldn't be remotely acceptable. We must depict hunting in a light that in no way gives anti hunters a reason to speak against us.  From videos, pictures, and speech.

Choose Your Words Wisely: This is tough for me, ask my wife. It's tough to bite you tongue, especially on social media where we can be like them and hide behind a keyboard.  We must choose our words wisely because our end goal is to educate and inform. I appreciate this about Kendall, despite all the hatred rarely if ever have I seen her lash out no matter how warranted it may be.  The high road is tough, it's narrow and few today follow it, especially when those on the other side are spitting fury our direction.

Educate: Reading the anti hunters comments and even some of the emails and messages we have gotten over the years through our tv show Final Descent Outdoors. We have seen some comments that are just mind blowing. We received one from a lady wanting to know why we didn't just buy our meat from the store where they make it.  As the poet Ted Nugent has said, every piece of meat you have eaten, somewhere along the way their was a gut pile.  I've realized that because I've grown up in a hunting culture their are a lot of things I take for granted when it comes to understanding how this all works and that we are not a bunch of blood thirsty barbarians.

We have to do our best to tactfully educate those who didn't grow up in and around the things we did.  For instance, how does killing an animal help save the species? If you don't understand where the money for tags go, how conservation groups work, then you might not be able to understand how killing an animal is actually saving it.  We must take the high road and educate!

 I realize it can be like beating your head against the wall but remember the best way to share our passion for the outdoors is not just through words but through actions. Let those we encounter in all areas of life see our passion, our heritage, as what it is, a God given right that should not be taken by those who don't understand it.

Author Brad Clay is the host of Final Descent Outdoors and a licensed and ordained minister in Oklahoma.  Brad served for 12yrs in vocational ministry before stepping out to do full time outdoor ministry in 2013. Brad resides in Edmond, OK and is married with four children.

The Harvest: The Fatherless

Brad Clay

I grew up the majority of my childhood without a dad.  My dad didn't walk out on me, he lost his battle with leukemia. No little boy should have to grow up without his dad.  I joke that I didn't have a dad to teach me to shave so I have this gnarly beard.  All joking aside it was tough.  I think the toughest was going to my little league baseball games and watching the other kids warm up with their dads while I didn't have a dad to play catch with.  It wasn't fair, it wasn't my choice, it wasn't right, but that's how it was.

This story from The Harvest comes to us from a teenage boy from Kentucky.  "Hello my name is Shawn I am 18 years old and I love hunting more then I can express, I have seen your shows a couple times now as I am an avid hunter and always watch the hunting channel because I love the sport and love to learn and watch new things.  My dad left about 9 yrs ago and I don't have anyone to show me how to hunt.  I really like your show not just because its good hunting but mainly because you guys talk about God. One day when the time comes I'll believe he will look at you guys and say "well done my good and faithful servants"!  I'm so glad I found your show and I have someone not only to learn from but also to look up to spiritually as well.  I hope I can meet you guys someday.  You have no idea how you guys have effected my life."

I relate so much to Shawn.  I didn't realize it as a young man but growing up fatherless made me a sponge for manhood.  I didn't know what it looked like.  I'm thankful God put men in my life to show me the way.  I am also thankful God allows us to be even a small influence in the life of Shawn, even if it's through his TV for thirty minutes a week.  Every bit of positive influence helps.

If you would like to support our mission by donating to our ministry please do so today!  Help us to continue to reach outdoorsman for Jesus!  We would love for you to consider donating to our ministry and helping us to continue to reach outdoorsman for Jesus.  TO DONATE CLICK HERE

Author Brad Clay is the host of Final Descent Outdoors and a licensed and ordained minister in Oklahoma.  Brad served for 12yrs in vocational ministry before stepping out to do full time outdoor ministry in 2013. Brad resides in Edmond, OK and is married with four children.

The Harvest: No Where Else To Turn

Brad Clay

I learned through my years as a vocational minister that ministry is messy.  Like, nasty, gross, heartbreakingly messy.  I've sat on the couch for two hours with a young man who was holding a loaded shotgun who wanted end his life.  I've stood behind a highway patrolman as he told a family that their father had been killed.  I've walked with students through rape, incest, substance abuse, and much more.  It's never easy but a minister's job is to be an open door, to pour God's truth into whatever situations walks through the door.

Well, just because I'm not on staff at church doesn't mean that ministry isn't messy.  This weeks The Harvest story comes from a young married man in Maryland.  "First off I love the show!  You guys were shooting those hogs out of that helicopter and it was incredible.  I have to figure out a way to do that some day!  At the end you talked about how sin can start out small and then grow into something big, kinda like how the hogs have done in Oklahoma.  Well, God really spoke to me about that.  I don't really go to church and I really don't know who to turn to about this so I just thought I would email you and ask if you would pray for me.  I'm married and I love my wife but I have a problem with pornography.  My wife knows about it and it's ruining my marriage.  Man, I need prayers. I also need advise on what to do.  Can you help me?

Messy right? What followed was lots of emails and eventually phone calls on how to begin to replace the need for pornography and replace it with a need for Jesus.  A full blown Gospel presentation and the young man's life was changed!  God is in the business of taking bad situations and making beauty from ashes.  This guy had grown up in church but fallen away.  He used an episode about eradicating hogs to stir his heart to eradicate the sin of pornography from his life.  It's amazing how God works.  We through it out and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.  So thankful to be used by God and that our show could help this young man overcome this sin and help save his marriage.

If you would like to support our mission by donating to our ministry please do so today!  Help us to continue to reach outdoorsman for Jesus!  We would love for you to consider donating to our ministry and helping us to continue to reach outdoorsman for Jesus.  TO DONATE CLICK HERE

Author Brad Clay is the host of Final Descent Outdoors and a licensed and ordained minister in Oklahoma.  Brad served for 12yrs in vocational ministry before stepping out to do full time outdoor ministry in 2013. Brad resides in Edmond, OK and is married with four children.