It was the end of the 2013 season and I’d just been scolded by my wife for being on my phone too much. It wasn’t the first time she’d chided me for my addiction to the mobile device, but it was the first time it really struck home. I was on my phone too much, but not just at home or in the car or at the in-laws. I was on my phone too much in the woods, my supposed escape from it-all, and in this moment of realization, it felt like sacrilege. I needed to change this. And so on the second to last day of the season, I went on a hunt with no phone.
Many brilliant realizations came to life on that hunt, as I finally opened my eyes to the splendor of nature around me, rather than indulge in the digital distractions of Facebook, Twitter, text messages and email. The sparkle of the fresh snow laying upon the swamp grass was like a carpet of diamonds pocked with cloven hoof prints crisscrossing this way and that. I marveled at a woodpecker blazed with a red mane streaming down his back, as he smashed, battered, and beat an old dead tree into submission. The squirrels morphed from an annoyance into marvelous entertainment, as a pair of bushy tails took turns leaping back and forth from one gnarled oak branch to the next. I took in a landscape layered in a depth of beauty that I rarely noticed before.
At the end of that hunt, after a close encounter with a late season doe and a missed opportunity due to a misfire, I leaned back against my tree and let my mind swim through this dizzying array of emotion. I watched as a few solitary snowflakes began their descent to the ground, skylined against a heavenly backdrop. The waning sun, slowing fell beneath the horizon, leaving behind a canvas of lucid colors intertwined in such a way that I couldn’t look away.
And in this moment, I thanked the Lord for this hunt, this day, this moment. Turns out that this night was exactly what I needed. Turns out that when I turned off my phone, the world turned on.
This Friday, I’d encourage you to head to the woods with your phone powered off. Take time, this day after Thanksgiving, to reflect on all that is around you without the distraction of a smartphone at your fingertips, and give thanks for the blessing of the hunt, your family and friends, and this wonderful way of life we call hunting. And when you return, we’d love to hear about your experiences. Please leave us a comment on this blog and let us know what you learned or experienced on “No Phone Friday.” I think you’ll find that it was more than you could ever imagine.