No person can match the size, strength and ferocity of North America’s largest land mammal – the bison. Pinned to the ground and smothering under the chest fur of a raging bison, Todd Pilgrim, after he regained consciousness, called out to God to save him.

Lure of Big Game

Retired natural resource officer Todd Pilgrim (57) had been trying to hunt a bison for 14 years. Along with an older friend, Fred Mullet (72), Pilgrim headed out for a bison hunt, two kilometres north of the Twin Lakes.

By mid-morning they had spotted a bison on an abandoned airstrip and Pilgrim fired three shots. The bison was wounded, but how badly they could not tell. The hunters tracked the bison for several hours. No longer in their sights, Pilgrim followed only the tracks until he finally came across a fresh spot in the snow where the 2000-pound bison had stopped for a rest.

Attacked and Wounded

Knowing he was close, Pilgrim excitedly glued his eyes to the ground, studying the tracks. All was super quiet. Not a sound. Unseen by the hunter, the bison was camouflaged behind the trees waiting to ambush him. Suddenly, crashing through the trees, Pilgrim the mammoth bison was charging at him. A split second later, he was knocked unconscious by the raging bull bison – attacked in the head and body.

Cries out to God

Regaining consciousness, he felt the weight of the bison on top of him, as it stomped, trying to grind him into the ground. He was smothering in the fur and under the weight. He couldn’t see out of his left eye and he was bleeding profusely. He knew his life was at stake, as the bison tried to line him up for a full-force stomp or a swipe with his massive skull.  Pilgrim said: “He could have crushed me with one swipe of his massive skull.” (1)

“I said, ‘Holy cow!’ I’m screaming, I’m screaming. I said, ‘God help me, I’m going to die.’” (2)

Runs to a Tree

Pilgrim managed to wrestle his way out from under the bison but in the attack, his rifle was no longer on him. With no options left, he desperately ran through the snow to reach a nearby tree. The raging bison was in hot pursuit.

“I ran for a tree because I heard, if you ever get attacked, run for a tree because they can’t go around a tree very well,” he explained. “He was right behind me [with his horns]. So, Pilgrim and the bison ran in circles around the tree for what seemed like an “eternity,” until the animal gave up the chase. (3)

The bison’s strength was waning. It started looking in another direction, allowing Pilgrim time to recover his gun. Fearing another attack, this time Pilgrim aimed for the bison’s heart and the bullet took him down.

“I am so happy that I’m alive, and life is so precious…. Death is never far away for any of us…That tree saved my life,” Todd Pilgrim said. “I want to go back to that tree and hug it for a full day. I want to kiss every inch of soil that grew that tree.” (4)

Spiritual Reflections

If you know anything about the Holy Bible, elements of this story will remind you of God’s wonderful salvation for wounded, helpless and perishing sinners.

  1. Lure of Big Game – The Bible tells us there is pleasure in sin, but it doesn’t last very long. (Hebrews 11:25) The very thing that tempts and lures us in the wrong direction (often secretly) – will ultimately bring us down. Sin that we hotly pursue attacks and wounds us. No, we are not talking about hunting bison or deer or porcupines. We are talking about pursuing things that we know to be wrong. The secret or hidden part of our lives. Pleasures and activities that offend the holy nature of God. You probably know people whose lives have been wrecked by the very thing they were chasing.
  1. Attacked and Wounded – As sweet as some sins may initially taste, sin is ultimately bitter. As fun as some sins may seem to be, you will be victimized and wounded by sin. Sin is our greatest enemy. Why? Because sin separates us from God. (Isaiah 59:2) The Bible says the ‘wages of sin is death.’ Romans 6:23.  

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:14-15

  1. Cry out to God – If you are feeling the crushing weight of sin (far heavier than 2000 pounds!) – if you are carrying the guilt of bad choices and the heaviness of sin – if you are wounded and have no ability to rescue or save yourself, where can you turn? Turn to God. Cry out to God for salvation. Here are three Bible verses for you:  

Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. Isaiah 45:22

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5:6

  1. Run to the Tree – Broken and wounded by sin, your situation is helpless and desperate. Sin will always be your enemy. It will viciously attack again. You have only one rescue option. Run to the tree. The Bible refers to the cross upon which Jesus hung as a tree.  

He [Jesus] himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1Peter 2:24

Countless numbers of perishing, helpless sinners have read this verse in the Bible and have been genuinely and spiritually saved. No, we are not talking about some physical salvation from a car accident or a bison-goring or a near drowning or a disease. Jesus’ death on the cross was for our spiritual salvation from the crippling and devastating and deadly effects and outcome of sin.

When you are wounded and helpless in your sins, running to a program or a religion will not save you. The Bible points you to the Tree – the Cross. Jesus was wounded on that cross for our sins, so we could be healed.

But he [Jesus] was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:5-6

Todd Pilgrim said: “That tree saved my life…I want to go back to that tree and hug it for a full day. I want to kiss every inch of soil that grew that tree.”

What about you? Is there any appreciation in your heart for the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ and what happened on that cross? Have you ever embraced the Saviour and thanked Him profusely for dying for your sins?

A genuine Christian is one who has run in their helpless condition to the ‘tree’ for salvation; one whose heart beats with love and appreciation for their Saviour, Jesus Christ.