As sons of a Naval Aviator, my two younger brothers and I grew up all over the United States as my dad was transferred from one air station to another during his career. At a very young age I developed a passion for the outdoors and the creatures that call it home. I found beauty in everything from back yard fields and ponds to swamps and coastal estuaries, from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and southern deserts, to the majestic mountains of the north. My parents made it a point to expose their sons to all the various aspects of nature in this beautiful land.
Some of my earliest memories are of hunting, from venturing into our backyard with my bow and arrows, stalking songbirds, to making the early morning trek into the marshlands of Coastal California, lugging the hand-me-down shotgun that gave me my first taste of manhood. Every time I left the comfort and safety of home for the beautiful uncertainty of the wild I felt more alive, and I knew I would never be fully satisfied within four walls.
I became a father in 1981 and the first time I looked at my daughter Erin she took my heart and forever became my little princess. Her brother Evan arrived in 1983 and it wasn’t long before it became evident he was very much like me. He has loved the outdoors since he was old enough to walk, accompanying me on many hunting trips with his wooden rubber band gun in hand. His sister was such a sport, enduring cold, wet mornings in duck blinds right along with the big boys. Both of our kids have grown to be amazing in their own way, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.
In 2007, I retired from a 30-year career in law enforcement, moved to North Idaho, and looked forward to unlimited hunting and fishing time until the Lord called me home. Two short years later I was challenged by my pastor to find “retirement” in the pages of Scripture. Being unable to, I embarked on a life of full-time ministry, and was allowed to be part of the start of a new church.
I consider it a privilege to be allowed to worship the Lord Jesus Christ, whether inside the Church building, or hiking in the woods with my wife or buddies. I never want to lose my perspective on the Creator and His creation. He is the One I worship, and the beauty I see around me is merely a shadow of His glory.
In 1998, nearing the age of 41, I discovered a passion that eclipsed even my love of hunting, and that was Jesus Christ. The year before, my wife Shelly dedicated her life to Jesus. By her example, I came to understand I was a sinner in need of a Savior, and I recognized He was the One sent by God the Father to die for my sin. I gave my life to Him and never looked back. I can honestly say knowing the One who created the great outdoors and everything therein has only increased my wonder and amazement each time I enter the woods or look across a great expanse of plain. Every sunset is more beautiful and every morning more full of promise now.
My wife Shelly, a non-hunter when we met, has learned to enjoy following me around the woods. Her first hunting trip was a freezing morning on a pond, waiting for ducks that were never visible through the fog. She decided that day she wasn’t a hunter and we spent the next three years jumping out of “perfectly good planes,” making skydiving our way of life. After that, waterskiing became the focus of many weekends, with Shelly finding other pursuits during hunting seasons. Many years later, she actually enjoys hiking and hunting, with me or with her girlfriends. Whether she’s smeared with camo paint, or made up and wearing her finest, she’s still my “lovely bride.” Proverbs 31:10 says, “Who can find a virtuous wife? Her worth is far above rubies.” I found her, and I will love her all my days.