This past Sunday Ryan and I attended church and our Pastor's sermon spoke to me so much that I wanted to share my thoughts. I love how God works in ways like this, when certain things are going on in your life and you go to church and boom, its like the sermon was directed right to you. Part of the sermon Pastor spoke about accountability and have those people in your life that keep you accountable. Those people that when they see you headed down the wrong path in life or drifting away from your faith or seeing negative changes in you they call you out on it. They keep you accountable. Pastor told a story about how he and his wife helped some friends move and how he had a moment where he spoke to his wife kinda harshly. His friend pulled him aside and in a nice way brought it to his attention on how he treated his wife. He said his first thought was to immediately be defensive but he gave it a minute and realized his friend was right.
Have you ever witnessed a moment like this. Maybe its how you see spouses treat each other or maybe its how a mother treats a child, or how a child speaks to their parent. Do you call them out on it. Society today tells you not to because you don't want to overstep boundaries or offend someone. God forbid we offend someone! Don't get me wrong I believe there is a time and a place to call someone out on something and definitely the manor in which you present it is important, but when did honesty stop being the best policy?
Pastor's sermon got me to thinking about the people that are in my life that have kept me accountable. The people that haven't been afraid to be honest with me or to call me out on my own behavior. I remember a moment when Ryan and I were in the midst of our struggles and a good friend called me out. His polite harshness was the moment that made me realize I wasn't being accountable for my own actions. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines accountability as this, the quality or state of being accountable, an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions. Im so thankful for those people in my life that chose to be honest with me that kept me accountable. Sometimes it takes an outsider to be the reflection in the mirror that you need when you know longer can see it yourself. When we see our friends or family members drifting off the right path sometimes keeping them accountable takes effort. They may push you away but I believe thats when they need help the most.
We teach children at a young age to be accountable for their actions so why do we not do that for adults? Taking accountability means admitting you made a mistake, punishment may result, especially as a kid, but accountability shows ownership and a willingness to admit mistakes, and there is nothing wrong with admitting that you made a mistake. Your true family and friends will love you know matter what mistakes you make and why will they continue to love you, well because know one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes don't define us, they teach us. So take a moment to think about the people in your life that keep you accountable, maybe reach out and thank them for it, or maybe its time to step up and be the one that keeps others accountable.
Thought I would toss in a sunset picture I took a few weeks ago, because who doesn't love sunsets, plus this is prettier to look at then the gloomy weather we have been having in Minnesota! :)
Do you ever wonder why certain people are put in your path of this crazy thing called life? Do you ever wonder why some relationships end and some are life long? Im a big believer that God places people in your life at specific times. Im also a believer that every relationship good or bad is meant to be. As of lately these thoughts have been on my mind. I think about all the friendships I have had in my 30 years of life and as I have grown older, my circle of friends has become smaller. Life happens, people move, get married, have kids, all theses situations that slowly prevent you from spending time with friends. Then you have those situations where as you grow and mature, you realize that certain people no longer fit into your life. I have learned that the quantity of friendships you have in your life doesn't matter but the quality of those friendships does. Over this past year in our marriage God has definitely utilized certain people in our life to help guide and support us in our struggles. Even though we have worked through our struggles I still believe that God is putting people in our life but for different reasons now. Coming home from Canada I couldn't help but think that our trip was meant to be, not just for the experience alone but for the friendships we made on that trip.
Let me tell you about Jon and Patti, the owner of Rousseau's Landing. These two crazy kids hold a special spot in my heart. They are the type of people who would give you the shirt off their back, do anything for you, go above and beyond to make you feel comfortable and happy. They are the kind of people I strive to be more like, selfless and giving. We had the privilege of getting to know them over the week and got to hear about their life and many hunting adventures they have had together. As I sat there listening and laughing to their stories I couldn't help but think how much fun they have together and how much they like each other. Clearly they love each other but to like your spouse I believe is different. How many people in their relationship with their spouse have let that spark go. When you first meet someone you don't love them, you like them. Those initial exciting feelings of liking someone so much that you can't wait to keep getting to know them. Eventually that like turns to love.
My friend Carol always talks about how much she likes her husband and how much fun they have together and when you see them you can tell. She always tells me to never stop liking your husband. While in Canada Ryan and I had no tv, internet or cell service so at night after dinner what did we do, usually played cards and talked. Ryan and I have been together for 12 years and married for 6 and I still don't know everything about him. I enjoyed these quiet evenings at our cabin because it was just us having fun together. I obviously love my husband but I really really like him! I love that it can just be us going out to dinner and we have so much fun together and boy can that man make me laugh! Last night Ryan and I had a conversation about when we want to start over with IVF again but we also talked about the type of parents we want to be. Its clear that after you have kids life changes but Ryan and I both agree that quality time together is so important for our relationship even after kids. I see so many parents that sacrifice so much for their kids but to the point that their identity strictly becomes mom or dad and their marriage begins to suffer. Yes I know I don't have kids so I don't know what its like to be a mom but growing up I remember my parents having date nights, going to card club and going on trips while we had a babysitter. I admire my parents for this because it showed that my parents relationship was important. I never felt unloved or not payed attention to.
Keeping that spark alive is important in relationships. Ryan is my best friend and how awesome that I get to grow old with him. I always thought that I would be done having kids by the time I was thirty and now that I am thirty and have no kids I'm ok with it. I'm fully taking advantage of how awesome life is without kids and as I see my friends and family start their own family I get to watch them and figure out more what kind of parent I want to be. It definitely will be an adventure when and if kids happen for us but I believe God is placing people in our life to keep us on track with our relationship. We had moments where we didn't put our marriage first and it suffered and I'm so happy its no longer that way. So take it from this thirty year old kid never stop liking your spouse and having adventures. Take some time to enjoy each other, your marriage will thank you!
Wednesday August 31 started out like any other typical day, the alarm clock went off, I heard the grumble of Ryan's voice, I pulled the covers up a little higher and soaked in those last few minutes of sleep from the snooze button. We slept with the windows open that night and with a forecast of cooler temperatures that day I dreaded getting out of our warm bed, but I knew those bears wouldn't hunt themselves. I had a feeling about today, and even told Ryan on the second day of our trip that we wouldn't get our bear until Wednesday. We ate breakfast, threw on our Sitka gear, grabbed the popcorn from Patti and headed out to Creepy Hollow. There we sat in the cool weather eagerly awaiting the arrival of our bear. Before we knew it time had gone by and our grumbling stomachs were the only two hungry bears in the woods. We headed back to camp with the unfortunate news of no bears.
We gave ourselves a longer break for lunch that day and decided not to head out until 4. We arrived back in Creepy Hollow with the excitement that the popcorn we put out that morning was still there. I filled the bait box with Patti's bear food and we got nestled into our stand for another four hour sit. To pass the time I started playing my word find game on my phone. Now all of you may laugh and say typical blonde playing games on her phone, but every hunter out there knows to pass the time you are either playing games, checking social media or taking a nap while waiting for that animal to come into your sites. You reading this, if you're a hunter, you know you have done one of the above while hunting, so no judgment. I remember being hunched over, feeling cold and thinking to myself how good at sitting still I was getting to be. Sitting for bears was prepping me for deer season. For those who know me best they know I'm a mover, I like to be active and sitting still for that many hours isn't the easiest thing for me to do. All of a sudden I heard Ryan whisper with exuberance, " Lauren there is a bear coming in give me your phone!" I looked up and my heart started pounding, there was a black bear 20 yards from me. I initially said to Ryan its the smaller one, should I shoot it and he said yes!
We watched the bear come in and he started eating the popcorn. Ryan persistently kept telling me to stand up and draw my bow back. I stood up and my finger accidentally slipped off of my release and that bear heard the small faint click sound that it made. Luckily the bear didn't see us and he continued on eating the popcorn. I knew I had to be patient and wait for that perfect shot, let the bear get inside the box and wait for him to stand up and extend his leg out. I had my bow drawn back and the bear still wouldn't give me a good shot. Ryan kept say, SHOOT IT, SHOOT IT, SHOOT IT! All I wanted to say to Ryan was SHUT UP!! I was getting so frustrated with him because he was so excited and not staying calm. Finally the bear gave me a better shot. I remember feeling this calmness come over me. I was trying to zone out everything except me and that bear. I remember feeling the kisser on my lips, I felt the tension between my shoulder blades, I kept my shoulders relaxed trying not to wiggle as best I could. I took some deep breaths and looked straight past my pin right at the bear and let that arrow fly. It struck the bear and he jumped up and ran up a tree that was close by and then eventually ran into the woods and we heard him crash. I sat back down and immediately told Ryan you need to calm down! He was shaking so bad! My type A personality kicked in and my initial thought was I hit him to low and to far back, I wasn't patient enough, I should have waited for a better shot. I was so concerned about not hitting him in the heart that it hadn't really sunk in that I actually accomplished my goal of getting a bear with my bow. We waited fifteen minutes before I headed back to camp to go get Jon. During that time we kept replaying the video Ryan took, and we waited for the death moan. I heard to groans but not a typical death moan. Ryan's excitement was a little to much and the video he took was unfortunately not the greatest, especially after I shot the bear. I headed the 6 miles back to camp and found Patti. Umm Patti, I got a bear. That woman didn't skip a beat and gave me the worlds biggest hug. I explained to her how I'm not yet excited because I was so concerned about the shot, she told me not to worry and to get excited, my first bear! Jon saw our pick up, came over and looked at me, well..... Yes he said! I put all the gear in the truck this morning, I'll grab the guys and we will be ten minutes behind you, lets go get your bear! I took off in the truck and it started to sink in, this actually happened. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes with joy and I couldn't get back to Ryan fast enough. I actually was so excited I drove right past the entrance to where our stand was.
I arrived back to Creepy Hollow to find Ryan still shaking and adrenaline still pumping. The guys showed up, all smiles and giddy with excitement to track the bear. Steve and Doug whipped out their small flash lights and started tracking the blood trail, I followed behind eagerly awaiting to see my bear, soaking in this whole moment. The blood trail kept getting heavier and heavier and all of a sudden I hear Steve say, theres your bear! He dropped less the forty yards. Jon got up to him and rolled him over for me. I just stood there looking at this beautiful creature. Steve asked me if it was my first bear and I said this is my first animal harvest ever! He embraced me with the biggest hug and at that moment I could see how excited he was for me and how proud he was of me. It literally felt like my own father giving me a hug. I felt the tears well up in my eyes and the water works started to flow. Jon looked at me smiled and I said this is just the most awesome experience ever! I went and sat behind my bear and we took some photos and then loaded the bear in the sled to be pulled out of the woods. For just meeting Jon, Steve and Doug a few days prior and not knowing much about them, this moment made them go from people we just me, to life long friends. A moment that I felt like bonded us together and in such a unique way. A moment I will never forget! We got Ryan out of the stand and he gave me a big hug and said of how proud he was of me. This moment was even more awesome because I got to share it with Ryan! I never thought I would be able to hunt from a tree stand with Ryan next me and Jon and Patti made that possible for us. A gift that will forever be cherished!
Before we left that afternoon I grabbed my Sitka vest my friend/mentor gave me. I thought to myself this vest is going to bring me luck and pass on his mad hunting skills to me and it sure did! He was the first person I wanted to share my good news with because I knew he would be the most excited for me! As a hunter you will always remember your first harvest, you remember every detail, every feeling and to be able to share this type of news with someone who understands completely is extra special! We headed back to camp, weighed Mr. Bear, he came in at 155 pounds. Not the biggest but I'll take it! Took some more photos and got ready to start the process of gutting him. I told Jon and Patti right off the bat if I got a bear I want to learn as much as I can and be able to gut him myself if they were willing to teach me. So I did! I won't got into depth on that part but with their guidance we got it done. Jon by my side guiding me step by step, Patti holding the light, taking photos and Ryan, Steve and Doug watching over while enjoying beers and whiskeys! I didn't have a perfect shot in the heart but I got the liver. Almost a complete pass through, as you will see in the photos my arrow changed direction and came out his back hind leg, the only thing holding my arrow in was the fletching. We finished and it was time to celebrate. We sat at Steve and Penny's campfire with the whole crew and we listened to them tell us hunting stories, it was the perfect way to end a perfect day!
Ryan and I sat one more day to see if he could tag out and unfortunately he didn't. We skinned the bear and quartered the meat the next evening. Friday morning came and in true Minnesota fashion we had our long Minnesota goodbyes. The whole group came out to see us off. I became so emotional as I hugged Patti, the tears streamed down my face and my heart was so sad on having to leave this place, these people that made such an impact on my life, on Ryan's life. We left down that bumpy road and I held Ryan's hand and just thanked him for this amazing experience. We'd be back and already have plans to go back next year unless something drastically changes in our life. So with the long trek back to Minnesota, bear in the Yeti and a plan to stop at Betty's Pies for dinner, we couldn't wait to get back in the land of cell service to be able to tell our family and friends.
So Theodore aka Ted was harvested on Wednesday August 31, 2016 at 6:37 pm, a boar weighing 155lb.
On August 26, we headed north bound from our small town of Goodhue Minnesota with a truck full of hunting gear, 2 chocolate cake donuts from Hanicsh Bakery, a bag of cherry licorice for snaking and an updated playlist on my iPhone for our 9 hour trek to Canada. We were making good time until Mr. Lead hand got pulled over for speeding. Luckily the officer was very nice and let us off with a warning. We arrived to Fort Frances, made it across the boarder and began the last leg of our journey where there was nothing but rock, trees and the occasional moose crossing sign with the words, "night danger" written underneath. With zero cell phone service and minimal traffic we wondered how the hell anyone would find us if something were to happen. By the grace of God we made it to the small town of Ignace, Ontario where the happening place is the local bait shop, Vern's Minnows and the graduating class of 2016 was a whopping 6 people. Just outside of town we turned onto the bumpy dirt road and pulled up into our bear camp, Rousseau's Landing. We were welcomed by a sign that read, SLOW THE TRUCK DOWN, FOR TRUCK SAKES, and Ryan and I both knew that these were our kind of people. I hopped out of the truck and stepped into the main lodge and was greeted by Mr. Jon Rousseau himself. We got checked in and headed to the cabin we would call home for the next 8 days. Jon and Patti immediately wanted to make sure that the cabin would be able to work for Ryan, they showed us around, let us get settled and said get some sleep tomorrow afternoon get ready to bear hunt! The next morning we journeyed out, checked out the camp and ended up switching cabins to one that worked easier for Ryan. The plan was set to head out at 3 and Jon would take us to our stand and bait the bear box for us.
Dressed in our camo gear, bows in hand we headed 6 miles out of camp to Creepy Hollow. This bait box had been consistently being hit by a couple smaller bears but also by a big 450 pounder. Driving into Creepy Hollow we knew instantly why they called it that. Thick full of trees and moss, with minimal light and mosquitos the size of small birds the erie sense came over us. We got settled into our very nice accessible tree stand and watched Jon as he slathered orange frosting on the tree trunks and filled the bait box full of Patti's finest bear food, put the cover on, set the rock on top, gave us a thumbs up, hoped in his truck and away he went. There we sat, hearts pumping, all excited, eagerly anticipating a bear to walk into our sites, hearing nothing but the squirrels, birds and occasional call of the loons on the lake next to us. Before we knew it darkness was setting in and I had to prepare myself for the trek back through Creepy Hollow to retrieve our truck. I walked down out of the tree stand, looked both ways down the road and went as fast as my little legs would carry me. Woods are creepy know matter what, especially at night, but woods with 450 pound bears intensifies the creepiness. We arrived back at camp with the disheartening news of no bears. By day two of bear hunting we had our routine down and started sitting morning and late afternoon into the evening. Mornings Patti would have a bag of popcorn for us to put out, who knew bears love popcorn, evenings we would bait the box and it never failed that when we would leave for lunch and arrive back in the evenings the box would be hit and popcorn would be gone. Day one through day three was spent at Creepy Hollow, the Buck luck kicked in and we saw not one single bear. The amount of squirrels sounding like bears was getting pretty old and we swear they were warning the bears that we were there.
On day four Jon decided to bring us to the other accessible stand they called, The Cliff Hanger. This bait box was being hit by a couple decent sized bears and a sow with two cubs. Even though it is illegal to shoot a sow with cubs at least we would be able to see bears come in, see how they act, and how they get into the bait box. Day four had ended and again no bears. Returning back to camp we hear of the other group of hunters getting bears and passing decent sized bears up. That evening feeling discouraged Ryan and I had a camp fire and Jon and Patti came over. They said this isn't uncommon, sometimes it takes a few days for the bears to get used to our scent. Patti told us to go with our gut on where to sit on day five. Any hunter knows that animals will do their own thing. The concept of bear hunting, especially bating a bear seems easy. You provide them dinner and they show up, but it doesn't always work that way. Hunting never goes with out putting in the time and energy. Patience is key and after a few days of not seeing anything your patience gets tested. Who will be more patient the hunter or the bear. Sitting in the woods in the peace and quiet certain senses become more heightened, your instincts on certain things kick in. We thought about what Patti had said and I told Ryan my gut was saying that we needed to be at Creepy Hollow. I finished my glass of wine, Ryan, Jon and Patti finished their whiskey and we said our goodnights. Our plan was set, Creepy Hollow we would go, and day five would be upon us before we knew it.
Stay tuned for our next blog post and the most exciting day of our trip!