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March 17, 2008

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A Hunter’s Story

Scott In June 1995, Captain Scott O’Grady, piloting an F-16 as a member of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Bosnia, was hit by enemy fire while on patrol over the “No-Fly Zone.” His plane went down, setting the stage for an extraordinary story of courage and faith. For six terrifying days and nights, O'Grady eluded an array of Serbian patrols who desperately wanted to find him. Relying on his survival training and his deep religious faith, and fighting hypothermia, immersion foot (trench foot) and exhaustion, O'Grady hid from his would-be captors. He was finally able to make contact with U.S. forces and was rescued by an elite U.S. Marine expeditionary unit. To this day, O'Grady credits his "brothers in arms" with saving his life.

Since his dramatic rescue and return to the United States, O'Grady has authored a best-selling book entitled Return with Honor and has become a leading inspirational speaker and media spokesperson. O'Grady has appeared on numerous network cable television news programs and has utilized his celebrity to benefit a number of charities (especially children's groups such as St. Jude's Children's Hospital, the Special Olympics and the Make a Wish Foundation). He has just received his Master of Theology degree from the Dallas Theological Seminary.

He was in New York City recently, where is has joined the “We Are Ellis island” campaign to rehabilitate the famous island’s buildings and grounds. As a lifelong outdoorsman, he wanted to see the offices of Outdoor Life.

O’Grady was born in Brooklyn, New York. But from age nine he lived in Spokane, Washington, where he hunted pheasants, chukars, grouse, duck and geese as well as varmints.

He credits his military training, as well as the collective experiences growing up hunting and camping, for helping survive his ordeal in Bosnia.

“It wasn’t like I had never been in the outdoors before,” he says. “I had grown up hunting and camping so I was used to being outdoors.”

To avoid detection, O’Grady moved only at night. He had a compass and a GPS unit, but was worried that the illuminated faces on each could give him away. “In this case, using the compasses or GPS was a no-go,” he said.

What did he do?

“Well, I just looked up at the night sky. I was an outdoorsman; I knew where to find Polaris. That was my big compass in a war zone!”

Hunting also taught him another valuable survival skill. “Think of it this way. When we hunt, an animal gives its presence away through movement and noise. In my case, the tables were turned. I was now the hunted. I knew movement and noise were my enemies. I was in a situation where I could have been captured or killed. You know how a big buck can simply outwait you? How it can sit still and make no noise? That’s what I did to evade detection.”

O’Grady now lives in Dallas, Texas, where one of his favorite pursuits, besides whitetail deer, is the classic Texas dove hunt.
“September 1 is the dove opener,” he says. “It’s like Christmas; it’s a big holiday in Texas.” His favorite way to eat dove is to grill the breast with jalapeno and bacon and then smother cream cheese on bread and eat it as a sandwich.

Later this year, he’ll head off to Tanzania for his first safari.

“”I’m looking for lion, leopard and cape buffalo,” he says.

The trip, naturally, calls for a new rifle. He’s thinking of a classic big-bore double gun.

“One of my favorite guns is a Smith & Wesson .460 from the Performance Center.” O’Grady, who spent a term on the board of the National Rifle Association, is a passionate believer in the Second Amendment. “More hunters should belong to the NRA,” he says. “The NRA fights for us all.”

—Slaton White

Comments

Blue Ox

Damn...this guy has balls that clank.

Rush M. Jones

in other words, I agree.

deepwoods

God Bless him and all our Boys (and Girls) for all they have done and are still doing, he can hunt from my blind anyday.

deepwoods

God Bless him and all our Boys (and Girls) for all they have done and are still doing, he can hunt from my blind anyday.

deepwoods

God Bless him and all our Boys (and Girls) for all they have done and are still doing, he can hunt from my blind anyday.

Sherrill Philip Neese

Definitely Glorious Victorious!

Bubba

Just another day at the office!

The human spirit and resolve reigns supreme!

Other than that, just; "WOW!"

Bubba

Ray

I wish all of us had the commitment to do what he had done for our country and quit using excuses for not doing it.