January 7th, 2016 by Danielle Breteau

Hogs, Dogs and Heroes

Special Forces Wounded Warriors On The Hunt

Story by Walt Hampton • Photographs by Reaper Outdoors, SOWW and Walt Hampton

LOGO United States ARmy Special Operations commandHaving been raised as a hunter, I am guilty of forgetting how important that simple pleasure is to my life. What defines my personality is the ability to take up a weapon and go to the woods to enjoy the sport with never a thought of what it would mean to lose that privilege, or what it would take to regain that part of me if, God forbid, I was so challenged.

Hunting has always been an integral part of my life; it is my connection to God, the land and to those who over the years have meant the most to me. LOGO Special Operations Command USMCIt is a concept that many men far more articulate than I have tried to define over the years. I can only offer my belief that it is the hunt itself and not the kill that adds character to our lives, but the kill necessarily punctuates the act with the finality that completes the experience. When this activity is something you do well, imagine the struggle it would take to regain your soul if it was lost.

There are folks out there who have never been exposed to hunting, never LOGO Naval Special Warefare Commandconsidered taking it up or participated. What I have enjoyed over the years is watching when an introduction to the sport is done correctly and in the company of people with similar backgrounds and values – we gain another good soul to our ranks. Now, when you take men who already have focus and intelligence, such as our special operations personnel, and put them into LOGO Joint Special Operations Commandthis scenario, you see a transformation that is smooth and seamless from warrior to hunter; after all, these are just two different words for the same thing.

LOGO Air Force Special Operations Command

 

 

The inspiration

PHOTO 9Bobby Dove was a Green Beret medic who lost his right arm and leg in Afghanistan in 2012; his road to recovery revolved around adapting to his situation so he could get back into the woods. Hunting was that one thing that would define being normal again. Three months after his medevac he was on Buck Mountain in Virginia with us, and I watched him focus on the task at hand with repeated failures as he worked to regain what he thought he had lost. When he was eventually successful in completing his hunt by fair chase and on his own, you could see the transformation. He is a part of my family so I was there to see it, and it was the pinnacle of my hunting career.

Not long after that hunt, Dove was selected to participate in an event put together by an organization called Special Operations Wounded Warriors (SOWW) for their flagship event called Takin’ Bacon 2014. This is where wounded special operations personnel are teamed up with some of the finest dog men in the South just to hunt feral hogs.

When Dove and I initially arrived at the event, I was happily surprised to see Chris, an Army Special Forces wounded veteran who I had met in Dove’s hospital room when he first returned from overseas. Chris, a double amputee, was attending the event as one of the hunters. Chris had never hunted before this event, but ended up taking the most hogs – four all together – as well as the largest: 285 pounds. If you are one of those folks who likes to keep score, here is the breakdown of that weekend: eight special operations Purple Heart recipients took 24 hogs in three days. Oh, did I forget to mention that there were no guns allowed on this hunt – it was conducted solely with knives.

The lowland swamp country of North Carolina was the perfect setting for Special Operation Wounded Warriors’ (SOWW) flagship hunt, called Takin’ Bacon 2015.

This was not meant as a stunt. The knife was one of the first human weapons, and is often the weapon of last resort. It is a symbol of the level of commitment that each special ops person makes to ensure the job gets done – simply put, to never quit. A specialized knife was designed for this event by Mil-Tac Knives and Tools, and each of the hunters were presented with one of their own. It is a serious tool for men who understand the importance and value.

image1If you look at many special ops logos – Green Berets, Rangers, Navy SEALs, even the center of the Purple Heart – you will find the bladed weapon.

 

The Hunt

The hunt was purposely made to be difficult. It was imperative that these intensely committed individuals were challenged. If you were to take this group to a canned-hunt area and sit them in a box blind over a bait pile so they could pull a trigger on a released pig, they would laugh in your face. To be worthy, a thing must be earned.

I have attended several charity events over the years. The most remarkable impression I have from this experience was SOWW’s approach with these hunters; they were not going to be able to blend into the surroundings. Each was given a blaze-orange cap and told the only requirement of the weekend was that they wear them, so the focus of all other participants and visitors would be on them. Once the hunt began, they would be turned over to the dog-handler guides. The rest was easy; they were here to enjoy themselves. I also found that the warm family atmosphere represented by the presence of some very respectful kids made it feel as if I was attending a family reunion more than a charity function.

Each SOWW member had just one requirement: wear a bright orange cap for easy identification.

Over the course of three days 24 hogs fell to the blades of these operators.

 

The Dogs

PHOTO 8aIf you are going to do something, you should do it right. It was no coincidence that SOWW masterfully orchestrated this event by pairing the hunters with dedicated dog men who know what they are doing. The low-country swamp is no place for amateurs, be they man or dog, and to watch the performance of both at the top of their game was a rare privilege for me. These dogs are not pets; they are just as dedicated and professional as the operators who followed them into the impenetrable brush and waist-deep muck. The demonstration of their singularity of purpose was, in a word, magnificent. Doing what their kind has done for man for thousands of years, these animals made the connection of swamp, man and dog to represent the very essence of hunting. For a moment this changed the focus of a wounded man from what he thought he couldn’t do to what he can.

Each SOWW member was paired up with a master dog handler and swamp hunter guide for the event.

The swamp does not care how many legs you have or who you are; you must earn your place here and when you have done this, in the company of men and dogs that must prove themselves every single time they face these obstacles, you become accepted into their circle, and the accomplishment makes an indelible mark on your soul.

 

The Transformation

PHOTO 13For me the purpose of the entire event was captured in this example: One of the hunters, a veteran of Mogadishu – yes, that Mogadishu – who was reluctant to participate in the event at all and initially held back, eventually hit the swamp behind the dogs in the dark of night. He emerged from that experience wet to the waist, briar-cut and bruised, his hands stained with the blood of his quarry, and started immediately texting one of his wounded teammates to tell him how he should come to the swamp with him for next year’s event.

No one left the event without a smile on their face and plans to return next year.

Wounded special operations hunters come from all different branches of the military, but out here, they are all brothers and dedicated hunters.

Each step in the process of a wounded soldier’s recovery has its place and meaning. No one thinks that a single hunt is a cure-all, but there are wounded operators out there who sustain both the physical and mental effects of war, and who we must reach. We have to let them know what could be the most important message of their lives – you are not alone.

Having had this opportunity to meet and come to know these exceptional individuals has made an impression on me that is hard to articulate. I can only say that my pride in my country and love for our way of life has been reinforced. For those of you looking for what being an American truly means, I know some men who can show you. You can bet that I will be back amongst them next year.

Each operator invited to join the hunt received a knife designed and manufactured by Mil-Tac Knives and Tools.

With the camaraderie of other wounded operators on that hunt, Dove was so impressed that he became a SOWW board member. Please help support this organization, their events and the fine work they do. ASJ

 

Author’s notes:

* Bobby Dove and his Green Beret teammate Cliff Beard operate Hooligan Charters out of Destin, Fla., and provide inshore fishing adventures.

* Clint McDaniel, one of the dog handlers who volunteered his time and effort to the SOWW charity hunt, is a top-shelf taxidermist with Candler’s Taxidermy Studio in Pelzer, S.C.

* Mil-Tac Knife and Tool created the knives that were presented to each of the hunters. Visit them at mil-tac.com.

 

Editor’s note: At the request of the author and SOWW, the names and exact location of this event has not been shared. 

 

 

 

 

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November 1st, 2015 by Danielle Breteau

TOP 10 Blades Of 2015

TOP 10 Blades 2015

BLADE CATEGORIES

 

Hunting / SurvivalCold Steel

 Warcraft Tanto

Cold Steel Warcraft Tanto

Why we love this blade ♥ Wield this thing once and you may never let go. The weight and balance alone immediately lets the user know they are handling a profound tool. A true blade of blades.
Style Tanto
Overall Length 12 3/4 inches
Blade length 7.5 inches
Blade material Steel U.S. CPM 3-V High Carbon
Blade thickness 5 mm
Blade width 1.5 inches
Handle material G10 Glass epoxy
Overall weight 13 ounces
Features Diamond like coating – Highly rust and scratch resistant
Comes with Secure-Ex sheath. Extremely well balanced as a survival blade
All business
MSRP $329.99

Hatchet / Axespyderco-logoo

H01 SzaboHawk Tactical Tomahawk


Spyderco Axe
Why we love this blade

♥ It’s not just a tool, it’s a close-combat weapon, and offers a curved handle that places the center of balance midway along its length. That makes this axe faster!
Style Tomahawk
Overall Length 11.88 inches
Blade Length 4.89 inches
Blade material D2 Tool Steel, TiCN Coated
Blade thickness 0.30 inches
Handle material G10
Overall weight 24.7 ounces
MSRP $349.95

Editor’s PickTops-color-logo

Baja 4.5

 

TOPS Baja 4.5
Why we love this blade

♥ It comes with a fire-starter flint because yes, this is for those types. A rugged blade with a handle meant for gripping in the wettest and messiest of outdoor survival situations. Makes us want to go outside bearing it in our teeth and growl a lot.
Style Spear point
Overall Length 9.25 inches
Blade length 4.88 inches
Blade material 1095 RC 56-58
Blade thickness 0.160 inches
Blade width 1.25 inches
Handle material Green canvas micarta
Overall weight 6.2 ounces
MSRP: $160

Folding / PocketOntario-Knife-Company-Logo

Joe Pardue Folding Knife

ONTARIO KNIVES Ontario knife utilitac 1-a
Why we love this blade ♥ Designed by Joe Pardue. Clean, simple, ease of use. Not over the top. Only five moving parts on this Tactical-assisted opening mechanism
Style Drop point
Overall length 8 inches
Blade length 3.2 inches
Blade material AUS-8 steel
Blade thickness .12 inches
Blade width 1 inch
Handle material Zytel
Overall weight 4.5 ounces
MSRP: $76.25

 

FixedHOGUE

EX-F02 point blade 4.5

Hogue
Why we love this blade ♥ It’s all about the grip. The overmolded rubber give the perfect grip and spongy effect while still maintaining a hard solid frame. Just so we are clear, it’s the grip of the knife we are talking about here.
Style Spear point
Overall length 9 inches
Blade length 4.50 inches
Blade material 154CM
Blade thickness 0.16 inches
Handle material Polymer and overmolded rubber
Overall weight 4.77 ounces
MSRP $149.95

InnovativeSOG

Switch Plier 2.0 Quick release Multi-tool

SOG Plier openWhy we love this blade,…um, contraption ♥ It has a spring-assist opening, allowing the user to access and open it single handedly. That’s ridiculously brilliant!
Style Multiple
One handed use
Twelve tools which include:
Blade steel type 420
Three-sided file
Awl
Bolt grip channel
Bottle opener
Can opener
Medium flat screwdriver
Multi-angle needle nose pliers
Needle Nose Pliers
Philips screwdriver
Ruler
MSRP $64

Best ValueCRKT

KISS (Keep It Super Simple) Pocket knife

CRKT Kiss open
Why we love this blade ♥ With it’ simplistic design, this little knife is the perfect companion and at a great price, plus it looks super techy.
Style Tanto
Overall length 5.75 inches
Blade length 2.25 inches
Blade material 3CR13 steel
Blade thickness 0.12 inches
Blade width Unknown
Handle material 3CR13 steel
Overall weight 2.3 ounces
MSRP: $39.99

Concealedbenchmade-logo

Adamas Backup Dagger 175BKSN

 

[#Beginning of Shooting Data Section] Nikon D800 2015/06/22 20:19:25.40 Time Zone and Date: UTC-8, DST:ON RAW (14-bit) Image Size: L (7360 x 4912), FX Lens: VR 105mm f/2.8G Artist: Adam Michaud                         Copyright: New World Industries                                   Focal Length: 105mm Exposure Mode: Manual Metering: Matrix Shutter Speed: 1/100s Aperture: f/18 Exposure Comp.: 0EV Exposure Tuning: ISO Sensitivity: ISO 100 Optimize Image: White Balance: Flash, 0, 0 Focus Mode: AF-S AF-Area Mode: Wide Area AF Fine Tune: -- VR: OFF Long Exposure NR: OFF High ISO NR: ON (Normal) Color Mode: Color Space: Adobe RGB Tone Comp.: Hue Adjustment: Saturation: Sharpening: Active D-Lighting: OFF Vignette Control: High Auto Distortion Control: OFF Picture Control: [NL] NEUTRAL Base: [NL] NEUTRAL Quick Adjust: - Sharpening: 2 Contrast: 0 Brightness: 0 Saturation: 0 Hue: 0 Filter Effects: Toning: Map Datum: Dust Removal: 2015/04/14 05:34:25 Image Comment: New World Industries                 [#End of Shooting Data Section]
Why we love this blade ♥ Sweet hidden little dagger for all those special moments
Style Double edge spear point
Overall length 5.47 inches
Blade length 2.50 inches
Blade material 440C steel
Blade thickness 0.125 inches
Blade width 1 inch
Handle material Vinyl coated tang
Overall weight 2.32ounces
MSRP: $105

TacticalAttelboro Knives

The Attleboro Knife

 

The Attelboro Knife

Why we love this blade ♥ Built by special forces and ultimate outdoor Grizzly Adam’s types. This knife is totally for the tough guys and has a glass breaker, because that’s what you need.
Style                                   Spear point
Overall Length                   9¾ inches
Blade length                       4½ inches
Blade material                    S35VN Steel
Blade thickness                 .150 inches
Blade width                       1 3/8 inches
Blade coating                    Cerakote Finish
Handle material                Phenolic canvas laminated
Overall weight                  6.1 ounces
Features                          Spear point with uniquely-angled serration’s on a portion of the blade                                         and only on the right side. Ergonomically designed for both large and                                         smaller hands. Butt of the knife features a beveled glass breaker
MSRP $295

Historic / Replica

Steve Auvenshine

Steve Auvenshire Contemporary Makers Blog Art Riser

Why we love this blade ♥Anytime you mix the authenticity of a master craftsman’s skill from a long gone era, with the ingenuity of a master craftsman of today, you end up with something of beauty.
Style Spear point
Overall length 7.25 inches
Blade length 4 inches
Blade material Forged 1084 tool steel
Blade detail The climbing vine design on the spine was created using needle files
Historical era Typical of a small patch knife from the 18th through mid 19th centuries
Handle material Whitetail antler
Blade design The knife has a pewter bolster with a hidden tang and the blade was finished with a chemical etch.
MSRP Custom

Congratulations

to all of the

Top Blades of 2015

We will see you next year!

We look forward to the next round of the TOP 10.
 GOOD LUCK!

10-Top-HolstersTop-10-Targets

American Shooting Journal
Executive Editor Danielle Breteau
Media, Inc.
Executive Editor Danielle Breteau
14240 Interurban Avenue South
Suite number 190
Tukwila, Washington 9816

 

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February 18th, 2015 by Danielle Breteau

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