Same Efforts, Different Results

Well, it’s late Fall here on the Grand Prairie. The rice, corn, and soybeans are cut, the combines are clean, and the ducks are coming in. And, of course it’s deer season, so it’s time for another deer hunting story. (Last year’s is here.)

Once again, our story opens on the edge of a field. It was corn this year, with rice just to the east, soybeans a little north, and a thin spread of woods to the south. The sun is setting gently, and my cellphone is on “vibrate” with an alarm set for 5:26pm. Why that time? Because the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission prefers that one not hunt deer at night, night being “30 minutes after sunset.” They said sunset that day was4:56pm, so I had my alarm set–when it starts shaking, DON’T SHOOT!!

I’m sitting in my little ground blind, a six-foot high box sitting by the old railroad tracks, watching the sunset and out come a few little scrawny deer. Now, I am into my second year of filling the freezer at gunpoint, and I know a deer that’s worth the effort from ones that are not. These? You could have tripled their antler spread and I still wouldn’t have shot them. I am looking for meat, not trophy bucks. Out from behind them, though, comes a nice, fat deer. He’s on the hefty side and, on top of that, he’s standing broadside about 75 yards away.

Ahem, those of you who love forest animals, look away.

He quickly stopped standing, but as he went down, I noticed movement out of my left eye. On the east side of the deer stand, about 125 yards out, was another nice, fat deer. One without the sense to run away when another deer hits the ground after a loud “BOOM!” Rifle comes in from the south-side shooting port, goes out the east-side shooting port, bolt cycled, new round ready, and “BOOM!”

The second deer runs off. Now, I had lined up the same shot on the second deer as on the first: just behind the front shoulder, right into the kill area. My first thought? I looked back at the first deer: I half expected him to be laughing at me, having faked me out that I missed both shots.

Instead, though, he was down. We found the second deer about a half-mile away in the run-off stream for a reservoir. As we prepared the meat, I put the rib portions of the two deer right on top of each other. Guess what? The entry wounds lined up. The exit wounds lined up. I had made as close to the same shot on two different live targets I think any normal person could make. (Please note: Airborne Rangers and Navy SEALS are not defined as normal. Nor are any Marines.)

One shot had the intended effect: a nice game animal within easy carry distance of the truck. The second shot partially had the intended effect: the deer did die. She did get back to the truck and into the freezer. It just took a lot more work, even having been hit the exact same spot.

Now, where is this going? (Some of you say “Nowhere is this going!)

Just a story to make this point for us all:

Sometimes, you can do the exact same thing and get different results.

The house on that side of the church? Knock on the door, get it slammed in your face. The other side? Find a family in need of everything. Share what you can, starting with the Gospel, and see the amazing things that happen as lives are transformed. Same effort. Different results.

The church grouch on the piano side? Pray with her in the hospital one day, and watch her become the lighthouse of prayer and foundation of support in controversy for all your days of ministry. The organ side? He will come around after another four issues and three contentious deacon’s meetings. Same effort. Different results.

One church chooses to send money to a shared account for missions with tens of thousands of other churches, and then never thinks of spreading the Gospel again. After all, they wrote the check. Another church uses the same pre-printed envelopes and sends the same check and then keeps the idea of being on a goal to spread the Gospel alive in their minds. They pray, they go, they learn, and the church is transformed from social event to actual church.

The examples could go on: we can all find those times where, almost astoundingly, the same efforts produced different results. Failure follows success and success follows failure, even without major shifts in methods at times.

What do we do?

1. Re-evaluate your efforts and make sure you are doing it right: Are you aiming properly, using the proper ammunition, is your scope zeroed right? Are you proclaiming the Gospel clearly and trying to get past the cultural barriers around you?

2. Follow your shot: check for the evidence of effect. Perhaps there is one drop of blood showing that you made contact with the target. Maybe that one person cooled, just one degree—so seize the baby step and watch for further signs.

3. Have a secondary plan: carry a flashlight and a handgun. Not because hunting with a pistol is fun, but because bobcats come out at night, and you’re following the trail of their possible lunch. There may be a need to trade out programs or structures to accomplish the goal–swap Sunday School for a home group. Trade an NASB for a KJV in certain settings (both directions!)

4. Don’t miss the easy target: shoot the closest deer first. Do not fail to teach the Gospel to people already in the building just to get those not there.

5. Get local help: following a blood trail is hard, but finding your way back alone? With the farmer who owns the land, though, it was easy. Do not fall into the error that the “professional” has all the answers. Some folks in your community have been there long enough to be a lot of help.

Of course, one could instead spend a lot time arguing about the merits of a .308 Winchester over a .270 or if deer are born tasty or become tasty at a certain, undefined point later. We could argue over the merits of professional processing against getting our own hands dirty with the project. But those are other subjects for other days.

Instead, I leave you with this: If you know, based on Scripture, that what you are doing is rightly in line with the will of God, then keep at it. Even though the same efforts bring you different results.


  1. Jess Alford says


    I have to say, you can paint a masterpiece with words. Great Post.
    You make a great point.

    You did do something that was selfish. You kept the two fat deer for yourself.
    Couldn’t you have shot one fat deer and one skinny deer and leave the other fat deer for someone else? I bet that thought didn’t enter your mind. What can you say for yourself?

    • says

      What can I say?

      Well, if I thought I needed to defend myself, I would tell you that my instructions from the farmer whose land I was on were “Shoot the ones that have obviously been destroying my crops.” Which means the fattest ones!

      I left the scrawny deer for next year. I’ll get them, eventually.


      Thanks for the encouragement on the writing. I will say this: I’ll shoot more fat ones for anyone else who will either clean them yourself or pay for the processing. We love all the Lord’s creatures around here, we just love some of them more as meat than anything else.

  2. Bruce H. says

    Well done, Doug.

    I liked all 5 points. In point 2 you said, “Follow your shot: check for the evidence of effect.” I have applied many principles of Scripture in many applications of my life. I like to see the results of God’s truth as it plays out over a week or many years.

    “Cast your bread upon the waters, For you will find it after many days.” Ecclesiastes 11:1

    • says

      Thanks, Bruce.

      There is more wisdom about life in Scripture than most of us actually acknowledge. Not to devalue theological debate, but I think some times we’re so bent on finding our 14th point of support for a second sub-thesis, that we miss the obvious and practical.

  3. says

    “Airborne Rangers and Navy SEALS are not defined as normal. Nor are any Marines.”


    Good analogy, Doug.

    I would add that followup cannot be stressed more. If you hadn’t brought the deer back and processed them, they would rot. Likewise many Christians.

    I’ve found that this is one area that is problematic. For some reason many American Christians think that once anyone professes Christ, they can take care of themselves. In one form or fashion discipleship should never end, and especially new believers must be actively pursued to disciple them until they become “self-feeders”. At that point their discipleship becomes one of side-by-side ministry.

    • says

      Follow up is a big one. I’m not sure I’ll write the post about transforming the dead deer into the meat in the freezer, though.

      That was not a pretty process. And there was lots of cleanup in the kitchen!

      But that’s true for life, too: do we want to keep our hands and kitchens clean, or do we want to get the work done?

      I knew there would a Marine out there who might feel that hitting the same spot every shot was just normal. That’s not quite so for mere mortals.

  4. Larry Hibbard says

    A most excellent post, my son!! Keep shooting – whether its at a deer or you are firing the Word!!! There is a world out there that needs what God’s people have and we need to share it. We may have to go at it from different angles but we need to get the Word out. A world is dying and we have the antidote for what ails mankind.

    • says

      Thank you, Esteemed Father….

      I’m thinking of duck hunting this week to try and get a different story. Except that will be “How to fire your shotgun blindly into the air and kill mosquitoes.”

  5. cb scott says

    Doug Hibbard,

    Excellent post. I greatly enjoyed it. You should write a book using this post to develop the chapters headings.

  6. cb scott says

    Doug Hibbard,

    I have always admired you honesty here on Voices along with your ability to enjoy humor. I have come to the same appreciation for Dale Pugh.

    Therefore, I think you should add a chapter in your book entitled: Never Hunt ELEPHANTS With DUCK Loads.

    • says

      Now, I’ve seen what happens when you hunt rabbits with an elephant gun.

      And yes, I can picture the elephant doing the same to that poor little leprechaun in a few weeks.

      Thanks for the encouragement, CB.

      And a book I intend to write is titled “Pastors Need Big Trashcans.” I’m thinking there might be a chapter or two that I will pull from this.

      • cb scott says

        Doug Hibbard,

        That video speaks volumes. I think it would be an act of mercy to play it on the big screen at the little stadium in South Bend.

    • says

      Or possibly “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the SEC but Were Afraid to Ask.”
      Like how many Texas Aggies does it take to kill an elephant? One. His name is Johnny Heisman.