“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