Work the soil and plant the seeds -- GOD will repay

By Charles J. Alsheimer

 I’d hate to think how my life would have turned out had it not been for the whitetail deer. It has enabled me to do some very special things. For more than 35 years, this animal has allowed me to be immersed in the hunting industry and hunt and photograph it throughout North America. But more important, the whitetail has made it possible for me to meet some incredible people. One such person is Steve Chapman, of Tennessee. He’s a musician, award winning songwriter and best-selling author of more than 26 books.

In many ways, I knew Steve before I met him. In 1985, I became acquainted with his music. I’ll never forget the first time I heard Steve and his wife, Annie, sing their popular song “Turn Your Heart Toward Home.” Its message to the families of America is powerful, and I still find myself humming the song and thinking about its words. From that point, I’ve been a big fan of Steve and Annie Chapman’s music. Though our careers are much different, Steve and I have several common bonds that draw us together. Certainly, our love for family and the joy we share in knowing Jesus Christ as our savior are paramount. However, the thing that caused us to finally meet and become friends was our mutual love and respect for the whitetail deer. Steve has made a name for himself with his books and music, but I don’t know if I’ve ever met a more avid whitetail hunter. The mention of whitetails puts a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye.

In 1996, when Steve called and asked if I’d be willing to write the foreword to his new book, A Look at Life from a Deer Stand, I was curious about what the book would be like. His title intrigued me, and knowing his gift for writing, I was anxious to see the manuscript. Suffice to say, I couldn’t put it down. I was struck by Steve’s unique and wonderful way of communicating his deer hunting experiences and outlook on life. At times, I found myself roaring with laughter. Other times, I sat thinking about the serious side of his words; words that vividly illustrate how I can become a better person, father and husband — the things that matter most in life. Simply, he makes me think. The man is a breath of fresh air; a living, breathing gift from God. A Look at Life from a Deer Stand is not your typical deer hunting book.

Though it has sold more than 400,000 copies, making it one of the top-selling deer hunting books of all time, it will not tell you how to kill the biggest buck in the woods. But it might change your life. It is a powerful work from one of America’s top songwriters. Several years after the book was released, I suggested to Steve that he should do a study guide for the book. Though the book’s theme throughout dealt with deer hunting and life, the message conveyed in its 20 chapters could easily be turned into material suitable for Bible study classes, men’s retreats and hunting camp settings. Well, I don’t know how much I influenced Steve, but in 2012, the study guide to the book was published by Harvest House Publishers. Immediately, I knew it would be a great tool to help deer hunters put balance in their lives.

A Tool Box for Men

Through the years, I’ve taught a men’s Sunday school class during the summer quarter at our church. The past two years, I’ve used Steve’s book and study guide, along with my whitetail photos, to show the relationship God has with whitetails and man, and what we can learn from the whitetail about life and our Creator. The two main themes of the class have been that God loves us, and great things are possible for those who believe and follow Him. Chapter 20 of the book is titled “God Will Repay.” In the chapter, Steve relates how he and his son, Nathan, helped a needy family when they harvested two does on a morning hunt. Their intent that morning was to be fortunate enough to get one deer for their family’s freezer. They got more than they bargained for when they killed two fat does; one for them and one for a family in need. Some might say there is no big deal in what they did. I tend to view their experience differently. Steve shared that he and his son had prepared for the hunt, and God repaid them for their preparation and desire to help a fellow person by putting those does in their sights. To illustrate the chapter’s points regarding God’s desire for us to give back to our fellow man, I shared through my photos how God blesses the whitetail deer. He blessed the whitetail with five incredible senses: touch, taste, eyesight, hearing and smell. Without these senses, the whitetail could not thrive and survive as it has since the dawn of creation. That is how God has repaid what I consider the crown jewel of North American wildlife. But the greater takeaway from the book’s chapter is the way God repays those who follow Him. Allow me to illustrate an experience I shared with my class that shows how God repays.

Meat for the Poor

Proverbs 19:17 says, “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed.” This is a Bible verse that came to me when I received a phone call from a pastor friend in 2004. He knew I would be traveling to Saskatchewan in November to hunt whitetails. The pastor shared they were supporting a missionary in the region I’d be hunting, and one of the missionary’s needs was food to help needy families. He went on to ask if it might be possible to donate some venison harvested by the hunters in camp the week I was there. I told him I’d contact the outfitter and get back to him. At the time, I didn’t know what to expect when I made the call to my outfitter, Bentley Brown of Turtleford, Saskatchewan.

I explained to Bentley the pastor’s request, and after a brief discussion, he said he’d be happy to see what the other hunters thought about donating their venison, if successful. I called the pastor and shared what Brown had said. After getting the missionary’s phone number, I hung up and thought, “This is going to be interesting, because there is no guarantee anyone will kill a buck or even want to participate.” The first night in camp, I shared the missionary’s needs with the hunters. To my surprise, the other five hunters wanted in on the request. Now all we had to do was be fortunate enough to bag the buck of our dreams. Bentley added a bonus by telling us he still had two carcasses hanging in his meat locker that hunters had left from the previous week, which he’d donate to the cause. So we had a jumpstart before our first day of hunting. It turned out to be an incredible week, with all but one hunter tagging out by the end of the day on Thursday. Was it a coincidence that five slammer bucks presented themselves in front of Brown’s hunters? I think not.

God knew the missionary’s need and used five deer hunters to seal the deal. On Thursday night, Bentley and I called the missionary to tell him there were seven 200-pound whitetail carcasses for him to pick up. When the missionary came the next day, he was overcome with emotion. To say he was grateful would be an understatement. God had repaid not only him but every hunter in camp. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.

A Life Lesson

When you’ve lived for almost seven decades, like I have, you learn that nothing great comes by chance. At least that’s the way I look at life. When I left the corporate world in 1979, many close to me thought I was making a huge mistake by trading in a good-paying job with many benefits to chase my dream of becoming a full-time outdoor writer and nature photographer. What caused me to make the leap (as some called it) was the desire to do something I loved and my deep faith in God. I believe that every person has been blessed with a special talent. Sadly, many never have the opportunity to turn their gift into a life’s work. I was passionate about deer hunting from the time I was a teenager. But only when I became immersed in nature photography did I see the potential of possibly turning hunting, outdoor writing and nature photography into a career. However, something greater than chasing a mere pipe dream had my attention. It was God. My writing, photography, hunting and public speaking ability opened doors I never thought possible. About the time I left the corporate sales and marketing world in 1979, I began getting requests to speak at church wild-game dinners. Many are huge events with 300 to 500 men and women in attendance. Since 1979, I’ve spoken at nearly 2,000 dinners to more than 500,000 folks. They’ve provided me an opportunity to share my knowledge of the whitetail, my photography and my faith with attendees. Along the way, I’ve met some incredible people, built special friendships and seen men turn their lives around. The takeaway for me has been very clear: I’m able to do what I do because God paved the way. It’s that simple.


Allow me to wrap things up with two thoughts, unsolicited and personal. During my career, I’ve been privileged to have worked with many fine companies that carried out their business with impeccable integrity. Whitetail Institute is one such company. Though no one at this magazine asked or implied that I mention them in this article, I’ll just say this: The company’s products, people and the way it carries out business are second to none. For me, working as a freelancer, I view our relationship as a God-send. And last, you are probably reading this magazine because you love whitetails and have a desire to give back to wildlife by planting food plots, with the hope of having better hunting opportunities. If you believe that God created the land, sea and air, you know you have a responsibility to make things better than you found them. So, every time you work the soil and plant the seeds, do it like you are working for God by doing things to the best of your ability. From experience, I can tell you that when you look at your efforts this way, God will repay with better food plots, better whitetails and better hunting, not to mention leaving you with a great sense of fulfillment.