Now What?

  • Randy Karlberg
Moose with large antlers laying down

Have you ever been paralyzed by the heart-gripping feeling of now what do I do?  Can you think of a time when you had no idea what to do next?  How did you respond?  What steps did you take that were positive?  How do you find a way forward when you have no clue even what questions to ask?  There have been several times in my life where I felt paralyzed with the challenge of what is my next best move.  One that sticks out in the forefront is my first successful moose hunt.  

I was moose hunting with my best friend from college.  He had been on successful whitetail deer hunts.  I had also been on a successful caribou hunt.  But neither of us were what you would call seasoned hunters, especially moose hunters.  We were prepared for the challenge, and yet we had a great deal of learning to do.  Another good friend of mine had taught me the art of calling moose so they would come close to you.  I could mimic the sounds he made pretty well, and he encouraged me that those grunts and gulps would bring bull moose right up close.  But I was a tad skeptical.  Well, my best friend and I had all of our hunting gear packed and decided to head down to the Kenai Peninsula for an exciting adventure.   

On our first day, we saw a bull moose that came wandering right where we were spotting from.  Neither of us was convinced that this moose was responding to my calling.  We chose not to take a shot because we were not sure it was a  legal moose.  Later that night we went to a different area and started calling.  After about 20 minutes a testosterone-charged bull moose came right up to us, staring at my hunting partner eyeball to eyeball at only about twenty yards away.  Yet there was a problem.  He was standing behind a couple of spruce trees so we could not get a clear look at his antlers.  Again we decided not to shoot.  And after about 10 minutes of staring, he turned and trotted off in the opposite direction.  I am pretty sure I heard him mumble to himself, “I came all the way over here for that?!”  We went back to camp a bit dejected but we were in need of a wardrobe change.  

At least now we were convinced that this calling stuff was working.  So the next morning we went back to our first area and called again.  We heard a bull respond within about 10 minutes, but he never came out and showed himself.  I waited until he was not grunting anymore and started quietly in the direction we had heard him.  I was slowly creeping along from one little opening to another.  There were all kinds of moose chewed trees and shrubs in this clearing.  But no moose!  So I walked through a break in the trees into another area.  Just as I entered this narrow clearing, I was startled by a big bull moose jumping up to his hooves and looking back at me as surprised to see me as I was to see him!  That’s when I saw the correct number of brow tines on his antlers showing that he was a legal moose!  I quickly raised my rifle up and delivered a direct shot followed by another vital organ shot.  This big animal started to wobble and then went down to the ground very quickly.  It was only about a 35-foot shot.  Even I could make that shot count. 

I remember thinking two things as my hunting buddy joined me.  The first was wow, what an amazing creature this big bull moose was!  The second thing I thought and actually said out loud was, “Now what?!”  Here was this huge animal that was going to feed two families for close to a year and we really had no idea what to do next.  Of course, we knew that we had to start butchering the animal, but it was so big!  It was basically the size of a small car and we needed to dissect and carry it out of the woods to our truck.  We had approximately 450lbs of delicious red meat along with the antlers that weighed 50lbs to pack out.  This is why moose hunters say, “after you pull the trigger, the work starts.” 

So we began cutting open the hide and dissecting the animal, muscle group by muscle group.  It took us several hours to finish the task.  We were exhausted but very fulfilled with the realization that we had just harvested our first moose.  As I look back on the steps we took to begin the butchering of the animal, we wasted a lot of time looking and discussing our procedure.  We remembered dressing out the animal on our previous hunts, but this was so big!  We were intimidated and just had to get started and figure it out as we went.  Obviously walking away from a downed animal was not an option.  We had to get this done.  

I learned a life lesson that day.  There have been many times where I am paralyzed with doubt of what to do.  I have lost sleep trying to contemplate the next step I  should take.  And there have even been times where there was absolutely nothing I could do about the situation.  I had to just think about it and pray.  But as I recall staring at this massive creature with the responsibility resting on my buddy and me to take care of it, it occurs to me that this is not unlike overwhelming challenges that come to our lives.  And while bringing out a sharp knife will not help with most of our challenging dilemmas, making one step, in this case, a cut at a time, will eventually help us arrive at a manageable place.  

There are several promises in God’s word that help us through those rough times.  Psalm 29:11 – “May The Lord give strength to His people!  May The Lord bless His people with peace!

I Peter 5:6-7 – “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” 

Proverbs 2:6-10 – “For The Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright: He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of His saints.  Then you will understand righteousness and justice, and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.” 

And how about one of our favorite verses to quote and write?  Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  But have you ever read the context where Jeremiah 29:11 comes from?  It was Jeremiah writing to the Israelites while they were in captivity in Babylon.  Remember Daniel and his three friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?  The people of Israel needed to be slaves first, and then God promised them that He was going to give them a future and a hope!  God was teaching them through being slaves in a foreign land, and yet He had an amazing plan for them.  Read Jeremiah 29:10-14 – “For thus says the Lord: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you.  You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” 

God returned His blessing to His people seventy years after He had taught them a lesson through righteous discipline.  God teaches us a variety of lessons in life, and some of them come through trials and frustration.  Remember these promises of God when you are faced with trials in life and all you can muster is to utter, “Now What?!”  It very well may be that God is waiting until you have no idea what to do before He shows you the amazing things He has in store for you, especially when you have to depend on Him through trials.