For Pastor Jim Coursey, hunting connects the human spirit with nature, bringing peace and calming anxieties, even for those like himself who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Once he found his own inner peace, he began to help those who had never hunted and started a bowhunting website to promote the sport.
“What I get excited about is giving people that moment,” said the pastor of Mosaic Church in Marble Falls. “I get excited about taking someone else and seeing them get the opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise get.”
Coursey sold his bowhunting website in 2007. Two years later, he landed in Marble Falls as a student missions pastor at First Assembly of God church, which owned about 40 acres outside of town. He was asked to manage the land, giving him a chance to take folks hunting. He started with clergy, getting them outdoors in nature where they could experience God’s creation in a new way. He discovered the power of alone time with a friend in need when he took Jason Cullison, a Marble Falls pastor at the time, on a hunt.
“He was, ‘Man, I’ve had a rough day, can you talk?’” Coursey said.
The two took up their positions in a deer blind where they could converse, albeit in whispers. As they spoke, a white-tailed buck showed up, and Coursey coached Cullison through the shot that brought down one of the largest deer he had ever seen on the property. From that moment on, Cullison was hooked on hunting. Like Coursey, he now shares hunting with others.
It’s not about the kill, Coursey said, because you don’t always get the animal. It’s about the experience. The anxiety from day-to-day life becomes buck fever in the great outdoors, and it works as medicine on stressed psyches.
“There’s something about being outside in nature that’s spiritual,” he said. “I think most everyone who goes hunting is spiritual on some level.”
Eventually, he began taking other non-hunters hunting, including young people. His aim is to get kids off of their devices and in nature.
“I think we all need some time to just turn it all off and get away from those screens,” he said. “You can do that when you’re hunting. Even if it’s for a few days, getting away from all the technology that’s woven itself into our lives is something we could all use.”
Coursey was introduced to hunting by his dad, who received an invitation to hunt when he was in his 30s. That invitation changed both of their lives. When the younger man returned from a stint in the U.S. Marines, he realized how important a role hunting would play in his rehabilitation from PTSD.
Coursey went hunting with his father, this time as a grown man. It was a tough time, he admitted, but being outdoors helped him find the peace he now seeks to share with others.