John McAdams with a doe his father shot during his first deer season at age 3.
When I was 3 years old, my family purchased 160 acres of land in East Texas. We spent a great deal of time camping there that spring and summer, and I had the time of my young life out in the woods with my father and grandfather. During that time, they had several discussions with me explaining that they were going deer hunting there during the fall and winter and that I wouldn’t be able to come with them.
However, when my grandfather came by the house early in the morning during opening weekend to pick up my father, I met them at the top of the stairs. I asked them “Are you going to the property?”
When they answered in the affirmative, I responded, “I’ll be right back.” Since neither of them had the heart to tell me that I couldn’t go, I got to go deer hunting with them then and every year thereafter.
I can’t remember many details of that deer season, only that it was a lot of fun and the start of many hunting trips for me. The downside of this is that my grandfather has not gotten a deer since I started accompanying them on hunts.
However, the joy of being with my father and grandfather out in the woods and the excitement of seeing deer made me a lifelong hunter. Even though he hasn’t shot a deer personally in the past few decades, my grandfather has shared in all of my hunting successes (and failures) since I joined their ranks, and I’m sure he considers that a fair trade.
Though it is a cliche, kids really are the future, and this is especially true with hunting. My grandfather was quite the sportsman in his day, but he is getting on in years and rarely hunts anymore. The fire inside him that burned with love for the outdoors would die with him if he did not pass that torch on for my father and me to carry.
John McAdams, his brother and grandfather pose with a little buck John shot while in eighth grade.
In addition to his love of the outdoors and his many great stories, my grandfather possesses a wealth of knowledge gained from hard-earned experience that would also go to waste without someone to share it with. Fortunately, he has been able to share most of these things with my father and me to continue the tradition.
Along with the sentimental reasons listed above, there are also practical reasons to introduce a kid to hunting. If you turn them on to the sport, not only will you have a potential hunting buddy for years, but they also will be among those who fund conservation efforts through their purchases of hunting gear and licenses as adults.
They are also more likely to vote for public officials and policies that support the continued access to hunting in the future. In short, continuing to expand the ranks of hunters is vital to allow future generations of Americans to enjoy the outdoors.
Yes, it is often times inconvenient to take a kid hunting. They generally have a shorter attention span than adults, and it is much more difficult for them to keep quiet and sit still for an extended period of time. For these reasons and others, having a kid with you makes it much more difficult to seriously hunt for a trophy deer.
However, it might be useful to take a different view of the situation. A kid generally does not get upset about shooting a doe or a young buck instead of a trophy deer. They enjoy hunting because of the pure, unbridled joy of spending time with “the boys” and enjoying the beauty of the outdoors.
They do not get caught up in whether they shot the biggest deer or if they are properly practicing quality deer management. A kid would probably be just as happy, or maybe even happier, after shooting a doe or a four-point buck as many adults would be after shooting a nice 10-pointer.
We would do well to follow their lead and stop getting caught up in all of the other distractions that often accompany the sport and start remembering why we started hunting in the first place: because it’s fun.
I am the hunter I am today because of the experiences I had as a kid while hunting with my father and grandfather. One day, I look forward to introducing my son or daughter to the outdoors and to hunting. Hopefully, they will gain the same appreciation for nature and wildlife that I have, and this may well be one of the biggest lasting contributions that I make as a sportsman.
Keep this in mind the next time you have an opportunity to take a kid hunting, and consider making an investment of your time now for the future of the sport.
Just after first light that morning, my father tapped me on the knee and slowly motioned to our left. I looked and saw two shapes carefully moving through the mist. Looking through the scope on my rifle, I could see that the shapes were two young bucks about 50 yards away, walking warily toward the feeder in front of us, and my pulse quickened.
“They’re bucks,” I whispered to my father.
“Pick one and go ahead and shoot him,” my father responded.
Steadying the rifle on the front rail of the deer stand, I took aim at the front shoulder of the lead buck and squeezed the trigger. With the roar of the rifle, my life changed forever.
The road to that day began many years previously when I began accompanying my father and grandfather on their deer hunting trips, as I described in my previous article. As the years went by and I grew older and more mature, I began hunting myself. I started off hunting squirrels and other small-game animals. By the time I turned 11, my father decided I was old enough to hunt deer under his supervision.
That summer we attended a hunter education class together, and he purchased a rifle for me: a post-1964 Winchester Model 70 Featherweight chambered in .308 Winchester. He made some special reduced-power hand loads for me that had considerably less recoil than factory loads. The 130gr bullet fired at 2,300 feet per second was still plenty powerful for a white tail at relatively close range, but the recoil was much easier on my wiry frame to shoot than full-power loads.
My father was, and still is, serious about hunting safely and ethically. Even though I was going to be hunting under his direct supervision, he was strict about ensuring I understood when to shoot as well as the details of shot placement. As a result, I spent hours at the range practicing precise shot placement at various ranges and angles.
Finally, I had to pass a written test designed and administered by my dad. The test covered a lot of details about hunting in general that were not covered in the hunter safety class.
For instance, one of the questions was: How do you best determine if a deer is actually dead when you find the body after trailing it? Answer: While approaching the deer from behind, use a stick or the barrel of your rifle to touch the deer’s eye. If there is no reflex movement, then the deer is actually dead and is safe to otherwise touch. When we hit the woods that fall, I was probably one of the best prepared boys to ever start deer hunting.
Several years previously, my dad had constructed a two-person, elevated stand down in a creek bottom overlooking a feeder on our land in eastern Texas that we would hunt from that year. That area was always a solid producer of deer; my dad once counted 17 does eating from the feeder at the same time. If there was ever an ideal place for a first time deer hunter, this was it.
We made it up to the cabin for our hunting trip right after Christmas. That first morning dawned foggy and crisp with a light wind from the North. To this day I love weather like that because I’ve had so much success hunting in those conditions. This particular morning would be the first of those successes, and I distinctly remember seeing the muzzle flash of my rifle through the fog while looking through the scope at the buck.
The buck staggered at the shot and disappeared back the way he came. From his reaction, I knew that I had made a good shot. If it is even possible, I think my father was even more excited than I was after the shot (and I was pretty darn excited).
He gave me a pat on the back and said, “You didn’t even feel the rifle kick, did you?” No, I didn’t, and I don’t remember the report of the rifle hurting my ears either due to the adrenaline rush I was feeling.
After a few minutes, we got down and began looking for the buck. We quickly found him shot through both lungs. Even that reduced-power .308 Winchester load did a number on him: the buck ran less than 25 yards after the shot.
With just six points, he was not a big deer by any stretch of the imagination. However, I was a happy young man that day, and I still look back upon that hunt fondly.
I have plenty of larger and more impressive trophies hanging in my office, but I still proudly display the antlers from that little buck on the wall. There is no feeling like the first time, and on that cold day in December I took my first step into the world of big game hunting.
In the military, personnel are taught to always obey the lawful orders of those placed in positions of command over them. In turn, military commanders are taught the weight of those orders and how they can either save soldiers’ lives or lose them.
Throughout history, men and women have followed orders in combat, but sometimes, an order is given and disregarded when a person decides that their life is less important than the lives of others.
Here are 10 acts of bravery that were performed when someone decided that the order they were given was not worth the potential cost to their fellow combatants, civilians, or humanity.
10 Sergeant Dakota Meyer
US Marine Corps, Operation Enduring Freedom
Sergeant Meyer was serving in Afghanistan in 2009 where, at the Battle of Ganjigal, he was instructed by his commander to disregard a distress call due to an order to fall back. Nearly 100 American troops were pinned down by enemy fire and were repeatedly denied artillery support. Sergeant Meyer realized that the possibility of those troops’ survival was unlikely and took matters into his own hands.After being told by his commanding officer to remain behind with the unit’s vehicles, Meyer refused to follow the order and got into a Humvee with his driver. Under heavy enemy fire, Meyer drove into and out of the battle zone five times and was able to save the lives of more than a dozen fellow Marines.
Meyer’s website describes his actions: Over the course of the five hours, he charged into the valley time and again. Employing a variety of machine guns, rifles, grenade launchers, and even a rock, Meyer repeatedly repulsed enemy attackers, carried wounded Afghan soldiers to safety, and provided cover for dozens of others to escape.
For his heroic actions in the face of overwhelming odds, and in spite of his refusal to follow the orders of his superior officer, Sergeant Dakota Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor.
9Private Daniel Hellings
British Army, Operation Enduring Freedom
Private Daniel Hellings was on patrol with several Afghan soldiers in Helmand Province, Southern Afghanistan, when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded in a narrow alleyway. The blast severely injured two service members, blinding one and damaging the other’s legs. Shortly after the first explosion, another was triggered only a few meters from Private Hellings, and a third soldier was injured.
Private Hellings’s commander immediately ordered him to withdraw from the alleyway because it was too dangerous. The commander insisted that an alternate route be found so that they could evacuate the injured soldiers. Hearing these orders, Private Hellings got down on the ground and began an hour-long fingertip search for more explosives. A fingertip search is exactly what it sounds like: He prodded the dirt and debris very carefully and methodically so that he could find the IEDs without setting them off. This is accomplished by lying on the ground only a few inches from the explosives.
He was able to uncover four IEDs, one of which had command wires running the length of the alley, but instead of waiting for a bomb-disposal unit, he continued. His fearless act of bravery in defiance of orders helped to save the lives of his three injured comrades. For demonstrating “a level of courage and ability far beyond that which could be expected of his age, rank, and experience,” Private Hellings was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.
8Major General Daniel Edgar Sickles
Union Army, Battle Of Gettysburg
This one is contentious among Civil War historians and has been since the Battle of Gettysburg. General Sickles was commander of the Third Corps under General George Meade during the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. After being told to move his unit to Little Round Top, Sickles refused and instead moved his men to Peach Orchard, where they were nearly destroyed.
With the Union forces in the wheat field and peach tree orchard, the Confederates, under the command of General James Longstreet, initiated an attack. The small Union forces were nearly destroyed in the attack. Even though his defiance of orders led to the deaths of many of his men, General Sickles’s choice to fight in the orchard instead of the little hilltops allowed for a counteroffensive along the flanks of the attacking Confederates to succeed, thus routing the Rebels and helping to win the battle.
General Sickles was injured in the battle and lost a leg, which he donated to the Army Medical Museum in Washington, DC. He spent many of his remaining years defending his actions as being instrumental in the defeat of the Confederacy at Gettysburg. He was awarded the Medal of Honor (the only combat medal given at the time) and helped to preserve the battlefield at Gettysburg for its use as a cemetery and national historic site.
7Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov
If you don’t recall the time back in the early 1980s when the United States and the Soviet Union fought in a bitter thermonuclear war, then we all owe a debt of thanks to Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov. Colonel Petrov was in charge of the command center for the Oko Nuclear Early Warning System when, on September 26, 1983, he disobeyed a standing order to report the probable launch of American nuclear missiles to his command, suspecting that it was a false alarm. It was.Petrov knew that if he alerted his superiors, they would likely order retaliation with nuclear missiles and begin World War III. Because of his ability to think on his feet and surmise the threat as being a false alarm, he effectively saved the entire world from nuclear annihilation. The incident exposed a flaw in the Soviet Union’s missile-warning system and helped to prevent any future situations. Petrov was neither awarded nor punished for his failure to follow orders, but he is remembered as the man who prevented a nuclear war.
6First Lieutenant Frank Luke Jr.
US Army Air Corps, World War I
First Lieutentant Frank Luke Jr. holds the distinguished honor of being the first aviator in US history to receive the Medal of Honor. The award was given to him posthumously following a daring raid that he undertook in spite of being ordered not to fly.
On September 28, 1918, Luke was grounded by his commanding officer and told that he could not fly and would be charged as being absent without leave (AWOL) if he flew the following day. Disregarding this order, Luke took to the skies in his SPAD XIII (a French biplane used at the time) and went on a balloon hunt. Luke was already considered an ace for having 15 aerial combat victories and was known as “The Balloon Buster” for his skill in taking out German aerial reconnaissance balloons, which were used as spotters for artillery. The balloons were always heavily defended by anti-aircraft guns, but Luke went after them anyway.
On what would be his final flight, he successfully took out three balloons before taking heavy machine gun fire and being forced to ditch his aircraft. He climbed from the wreckage and confronted the German military with his sidearm before finally succumbing to his injuries. Regardless of his failure to follow orders, First Lieutenant Frank Luke Jr. was awarded the Medal of Honor for his remarkable skill in being able to destroy 18 balloons in only 18 days of combat.
5Lieutenant Albert Battel
German Wehrmacht, World War II
Dr. Albert Battel, a lawyer, a member of the Nazi party, and a lieutenant in the German army, was able to block the SS from taking Jews from the Przemysl ghetto to the Belzec Extermination Camp. He was in command of a unit stationed in Przemysl, Poland, and was in charge of monitoring the Jewish ghetto laborers who were working for the army.
On July 26, 1942, Battel ordered his troops to block off and seal a bridge in order to keep the SS from entering the ghetto to remove the prisoners. Knowing that he was not only defying orders, but also putting himself and his men in danger, Lieutenant Battel was able to extract 80–100 Jewish families and move them to his army headquarters to protect them. Sadly, he was unable to prevent the SS from returning the following day and extracting the remaining Jews. While he wasn’t able to save all of them, several hundred people were able to survive the war thanks in large part to the actions of defiance of one German army officer.
Battel was only reprimanded by his superiors for his actions, and he was eventually promoted before being returned to the front lines. He didn’t know that his actions had reached the ear of Heinrich Himmler, who insisted that he be abolished from the Nazi party at the conclusion of the war and arrested. This never came to pass, as Battel was discharged due to a heart condition in 1944.
He survived the war, and his work and efforts in saving the Jews was honored as being “Righteous among the Nations,” a special honor for Gentiles who worked during the holocaust to save Jews from extermination from the Nazis.
Interestingly, Corporal Desmond Doss defied orders by refusing to carry any weapon into combat, not even a knife. This was the result of his personal beliefs as a member of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Though he was able to join the military and serve during World War II, Corporal Doss maintained his status as a conscientious objector.
His refusal to carry a weapon and his actions as a medic earned him the Medal of Honor. In April 1945, Doss was accompanying the First Battalion as they attempted a summit where they took heavy artillery and small-arms fire. Seventy-five men were wounded in the attack, but Corporal Doss refused to take cover and instead personally moved all 75 men, one at a time and under heavy fire, to a safe area. The following month, he again exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in the rescue of another man who was severely injured.
On at least five separate occasions over the course of approximately 22 days, Corporal Doss personally rescued dozens of his comrades while under enemy fire. He was finally wounded by a grenade, which severely damaged his legs, and was struck by a sniper’s bullet, which injured his arm. Even then, he insisted that he be taken off his litter in lieu of another man whom he considered to be more seriously wounded. For his bravery in the face of severe enemy opposition and for his refusal to carry even the smallest means to defend himself, Corporal Doss was awarded the Medal of Honor.
3Lieutenant Thomas Currie ‘Diver’ Derrick
Second Australian Imperial Force, World War II
During the Battle of Sattleberg, in New Guinea, Lieutenant Derrick distinguished himself and was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration for members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces. The battle was hard-fought and may not have been as successful for the Australians had Derrick obeyed the orders of his commanding officer and withdrawn as he was told.
The Battle of Sattleberg was a push against Japanese forces for control of the town of Sattleberg, in which the Australians slowly saw gains over a period of eight days. As they advanced, the Japanese soldiers pressed hard against them, and the cost was high. On November 24, 1943, Derrick was in command of a small unit and was told to withdraw due to an inability to push for further ground. In response, Derrick said, “Bugger the CO. Just give me twenty more minutes and we’ll have this place.”
He then proceeded to move his men further up the hill toward the city and silenced 10 machine gun posts with accurate rifle and grenade fire from approximately 7 meters (23 ft). His push demoralized the Japanese forces, who withdrew from their position. Derrick then returned to his platoon and pushed them further toward the town before the rest of the battalion joined them the following morning and succeeded in taking the city.
The battalion commander insisted that the flag be hoisted by Derrick, who raised the Australian Red Ensign above Sattleberg, New Guinea, at 10:00 AM on November 25, 1943. For his gallantry in combat and in spite of his refusal to follow orders to withdraw, the king awarded Derrick with the Victoria Cross stating that, “Undoubtedly Sergeant Derrick’s fine leadership and refusal to admit defeat, in the face of a seemingly impossible situation, resulted in the capture of Sattleberg.”
On April 24, 1951, then-Lieutenant David Teich was a member of a tank company that was near the 38th Parallel (the boundary that currently marks the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea) when a weak radio call came in for support. Members of the Eighth Ranger Company were nearby, wounded, and under heavy fire, as nearly 300,000 Chinese soldiers moved toward their position. Having been ordered to withdraw, Teich approached his commander and asked if he and some of his fellow tankers could remain behind and attempt to rescue the Rangers.
The captain replied, “We’ve got orders to move out. Screw them. Let them fight their own battles.” Leich refused to follow that order and manned a rescue attempt anyway. When the tanks approached Hill 628, 65 Rangers climbed the hill under heavy fire and boarded the tanks. So many men were sitting on the tanks that the guns were no longer visible.
Teich’s actions saved the lives of dozens of men who would certainly have been killed or captured had he not disobeyed the orders of his commanding officer. More than six decades after the war, Teich still receives letters from the survivors thanking him for what he did on that day in April 1951.
1General Dietrich Von Choltitz
German Wehrmacht, World War II
General Dietrich von Choltitz took command of Nazi-occupied Paris on August 8, 1944. When he did so, Hitler told him that he should be prepared to destroy all religious and historic monuments should the city fall to the Allies. At the time, the Allied forces of the United States, Great Britain, and the French Resistance fighters were closing in on the city.
Paris was surrendered on August 25 without a monument or building destroyed. In his memoir Is Paris Burning? Choltitz wrote that the titular question was asked of him by Hitler, but knowing the city was lost and not wanting to cause further destruction, bloodshed, and damage, Choltitz refused to follow the orders of the fuhrer. “If for the first time I had disobeyed, it was because I knew that Hitler was insane.” Choltitz risked the lives of his family and himself by lying to the chief of staff, informing him that the destruction of Paris had begun.
According to both Choltitz and his son, these events played out as he said. The French have never accepted these claims and have instead insisted that over 2,000 French Resistance fighters liberated the city. Even though the French insist that it was the Parisians themselves who saved the city, it is apparent that Choltitz was both ordered to destroy the City of Lights and had an opportunity to do so. He may have chosen to disregard the order from Hitler for his own reasons, but the fact remains that the orders were never carried out, and Paris remains a center for art and culture to this day.
The president will award the Medal of Honor on June 25 to a soldier who fought through a nest of insurgents during the second Battle of Fallujah in 2004, the White House officially announced Monday.
Then-Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia originally received the Silver Star for his actions, but his citation was revisited as part of a review of valor awards and determined worthy of the nation’s highest combat award.
The award will give Bellavia one of now seven Operation Iraqi Freedom Medals of Honor, and make him the only living recipient from the Iraq War.
During the battle, Bellavia single-handedly killed multiple insurgents, including one during hand-to-hand combat.
A squad leader at the time, Bellavia, now 43, was clearing a block of buildings when his platoon was pinned down on Nov. 10, 2004, in Fallujah, Iraq.
The first nine buildings were found to be unoccupied, but were filled with rockets, grenade launchers and other weapons. When Bellavia and four others entered the 10th building, they came under fire from insurgents in the house, according to his Silver Star citation.
The ensuing gun battle injured several soldiers. Bellavia switched out his M16 rifle for an M249 SAW gun and entered one room where the insurgents were located to spray it with gunfire, forcing the Jihadists to take cover and allowing the squad to move out into the street.
Other insurgents on the rooftop of the building began firing on his squad below, forcing them to seek cover in a nearby building. Bellavia then went back to the street and called in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle to shell the houses before re-entering the building to assess the scene.
Upon entering, Bellavia gunned down one insurgent who was loading an RPG launcher. A second enemy fighter began firing as he ran toward the kitchen and Bellavia fired back, wounding him in the shoulder. A third insurgent then began yelling from the second floor.
Cache of weapons confiscated in Fallujah by Staff Sgt. David Bellavia and his unit. (Army)
Bellavia then entered the uncleared master bedroom and emptied gunfire into all the corners, at which point the wounded insurgent entered the room, yelling and firing his weapon, the citation reads. Bellavia fired back, killing the man. Bellavia was then shot at by another insurgent upstairs and the staff sergeant returned the fire, killing him as well.
“At that point, a Jihadist hiding in a wardrobe in a bedroom jumped out, firing wildly around the room and knocking over the wardrobe. As the man leaped over the bed he tripped and Sergeant Bellavia shot him several times, wounding but not killing him,” the citation reads. “Another insurgent was yelling from upstairs, and the wounded Jihadist escaped the bedroom and ran upstairs. Sergeant Bellavia pursued, but slipped on the blood-soaked stairs.”
Bellavia followed the bloody tracks of the insurgent up the stairs to a room on his left. Hearing the wounded insurgent inside, he threw a fragmentary grenade into the room, which caused the insurgent to flee to the roof. Two more insurgents began yelling from the third story of the building.
Staff Sgt. David Bellavia, who originally received a Silver Star, will receive his upgraded award this month.
By: Meghann Myers
Bellavia grabbed the wounded insurgent and put him in a choke hold to keep him from giving away their position.
“The wounded Jihadist then bit Sergeant Bellavia on the arm and smacked him in the face with the butt of his AK-47. In the wild scuffle that followed, Sergeant Bellavia took out his knife and slit the Jihadist’s throat,” the Silver Star citation reads. “Two other insurgents who were trying to come to their comrade’s rescue, fired at Bellavia, but he had slipped out of the room, which was now full of smoke and fire.”
A final insurgent dropped from the third story to the second-story roof. Bellavia saw the fleeing man and fired at him, hitting him in the back and the legs and causing him to fall off the roof and die.
By this point, five members of the platoon had entered the house and took control of the first floor. Before they would finish off the remaining insurgent fighters, however, they were ordered to move out of the area because close air support had been called in by a nearby unit.
The White House release said that Bellavia’s actions that day rescued an entire squad, cleared an insurgent strongpoint, and saved many members of his platoon from possible death.
Bellavia originally enlisted in the Army in 1999 and served in Kosovo, before deploying to Iraq in 2004 with Company A, Task Force 2-2, 1st Infantry Division. After leaving the service on Aug. 16, 2005, he has engaged in New York state politics and continued to serve the military and veteran communities through various advocacy groups.