Its been quite a journey for a kid who grew up on a potato farm to become one of the top white-tailed deer photographers, writers and hunters in North America. During the last twenty years Charlie Alsheimers pursuit of the white-tailed deer has taken him across North America. His photos have won numerous state and national photo contests and his articles and photographs have appeared in nearly every major outdoor publication in America, including Outdoor Life, Field & Stream, Sports Afield, and Deer and Deer Hunting. In addition he has written and co-authored two popular books on the white-tailed deer.
Perhaps Charlies greatest talent is his ability to communicate. As a result hes in great demand as a seminar speaker and lecturer. His path to the top has been bumpy and full of curves, but today he knows where the road leads. Heres how Charlie tells his story:
Surprised by Life's Turns
Im amazed when I think of how I grew up and what Im doing now. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to see if its all real. Being able to make a living hunting, photographing, and writing about whitetails and nature is a dream come true for me.
My dad was a tremendous athlete and a very macho kind of guy who taught me that I could do whatever I wanted in life if I put my mind to it. So, with his help I channeled all my efforts into sports while growing up. In the process baseball, basketball, and hunting became my gods.
Though I was very good at all three, I had no time for anything else. Occasionally my mom tried to get me involved in church, but it really didnt interest me.
After a successful high school athletic career I took my basketball ability to the college hardwood courts, where I became a starter in my first year. In spite of this success I wasnt a very happy person. With my life in neutral I dropped out of college after the first year and enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1967. While in the Air Force my life changed. In October of 1969, with a year and a half left in my enlistment, I received orders for Vietnam.
One night two weeks after arriving in Vietnam I came to grips with the reality of life when the Viet Cong attacked the base where I was stationed. GIs scrambled for cover as rockets and mortars landed all around. I never made it to the bunker. In all the chaos I "choked," stayed in my bunk, and prayed. Its the first time in my life I can ever remember praying. Though I wasnt hurt, men died that night. Feeling a need to get closer to God I began going to church in Vietnam and went regularly until I came home in December of 1970.
Challenged by Life's Opportunities
When I returned to the States I was a changed person. Nam had given me a greater appreciation for America and the benefits of living here. The experience had also given me a desire to make something of myself. I went back to college and began dating a school teacher by the name of Carla Todd, a wonderful Christian girl I had dated off and on since high school.
This time around my college experience was different. I was a deans list student and a member of the varsity basketball team with seemingly everything going for me. In spite of all the successes I was struggling inside. The more I tried to do things on my own the less peace I had in my heart.
But things were changing. From the time I came home from Vietnam I had been going to church with Carla. Between her and those in the church, I was beginning to realize the love of God. Early in 1971 a church member introduced me to Dick Snavely, the Executive Director of Family Life Ministries in Bath, New York. After that I regularly used FLMs basketball facility, and Dick and I became good friends.
On April 23, 1971, during a workout at FLM, Dick asked if I was a Christian. My response was that I was, and he asked me to tell him about it. I couldnt tell him anything! Though I had been going to church I knew little about being a Christian or what "being saved" was all about. I figured that if people went to church they were automatically Christians. Rather than changing the subject, Dick asked if he could talk to me about it. Because I respected him I said yes, and we spent the next two hours in his office discussing Christianity.
Dick shared with me Romans 3:10, "There is none righteous, no, not one" and Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." He also explained John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Changed by a Lifetime Decision
I asked many questions and for the first time in my life someone explained to me why Christ came to earth, died on a cross for my sins, then rose from the grave. And he told me how I could be saved by accepting Christ as my Savior. I knew then that the emptiness I had was because I didnt know Christ as my Savior. Before leaving I knelt in Dicks office and prayed, admitting I was a sinner, asking Christ to forgive me of my sins, and asking Him to come into my life.
When I got up I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. I had been hunting for peace for years...the hunt was over! My goal ever since has been to make Christ the center of my life.
In 1972 Carla and I were married, and after graduating from college I took a sales and marketing position with a large corporation. Though I loved the job, God had a different plan for my life. During this time I taught Sunday school classes and became more involved in nature photography and writing. I was not only growing in my relationship with Christ, but my hobby was becoming more than a hobby.
I took the big leap in 1979 and went full time into outdoor communications. Though some questioned my judgment, I knew it was Christs will. He opened many new doors the first year in addition to the writing and photography assignments. I enjoy those opportunities the most because so many people have come to share my trust in Jesus Christ during my speaking engagements.
When I was growing up on the farm I was convinced by the natural things around me that there was a God, but I just didnt know who He was. Now that I know God personally through believing in Jesus Christ, I realize God deserves all the credit for my dreams coming true. Since 1971, Proverbs 3:5 and 6 have been my life verses"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Ive trusted, and He has guided and directed me.
As I reflect on the many good things that have come my way, Im convinced of this: When you turn your life over to Christ He can make you a better banker, teacher, truck driver, lawyer, doctor, factory worker, nature photographer, writer or whatever...but you have to let Him take charge of your life. As I found out in 1971, only through Christ will you find peace in your heart, fulfillment in life, and know for sure you are going to heaven.