Imprinting On To A Boy With An Axe

By Major Van Harl USAF Ret

Trucker’s Friend
Trucker’s Friend
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

Wisconsin –-(  My father, the Navy Master Chief, was stationed along with his family on the east coast, the west coast, Alaska and Scotland.

Few of our extended family in Iowa made the long treks to visit us during my dad’s Naval career. My uncle Dwight Schaper, the Iowa farmer, however loved to travel and was willing to undertake extended drives, half way across the country to visit us. We were stationed in Idaho in the early 1960s when my Uncle packed up his family and drove out to see us.

Both families then went camping in Yellowstone National Park. We had a camp fire and a pile of wood sitting in our camp site. There was a hand axe next to the wood. I was six years old back then and duly pick up the hatchet and started whacking on the wood. My father told me to put the axe down before I hurt myself.

My Uncle Dwight, however, came over and showed me how to correctly use the hatchet. How to make a proper “v” shaped cut in the log with the hand axe. He showed me how to split some small sticks into tinder for starting a fire. He then stood there and supervised me as I chopped on those logs with all my might. Being six, I got tired of the chopping rather quickly having figured out it was hard work, but I never forgot my first lesson on how to use a hand axe.

The term imprinting implies a person learns the characteristics of some stimulus which is suppose to stick in that person’s mind and this usually happens at a critical period in the newly imprinted human’s life. The axe thing has always stuck with me.

When I became a Boy Scout I insisted I had to have a hatchet as one of my first field-craft tools. In fact that was more important to me than a knife. I also remember getting that hand axe taken away on a Scout camping trip for being unsafe. That event was an ego bruiser for me. In the disciplining process my hand axe was lost in the shuffle and I was given some old used one that my Scout Troop owned as a replacement. I never bonded with that substitute hatchet and got rid of it early in my life.

When I started earning my own money I bought more axes and hatchets. My Uncle Dwight died a couple of weeks ago and I spoke at his funeral. I told the story of the axe handling lesson I got at Yellowstone and advised as an adult you needed to be careful how you speak and inter-act with small children. Children imprint very quickly on both the good and the bad stimuli. I told the folks at the funeral that because of my Uncle’s early affect on my life I have an axe or hatchet in almost every room in my home.

There were no less than two axes in the vehicle I drove to Iowa to attend the funeral, this of course I could naturally blamed on my Uncle.

To this day my wife and daughter do not want to go to a hardware store with me because I head to the hand tool section and fondle the axes; however they each have a hand axe in their vehicle courtesy of me. My Uncle also drove school buses for over forty years. I recently got my hands on a new type of hand axe; the Trucker’s Friend ( This axe was designed with the professional truck driver in mind.

It has a rounded chopping blade that very effectively splits wood. There is a pry-bar on the top of the axe head. A hammer head with nail puller is at the back of the axe head. There is also a hook on the head to help the trucker or bus driver with the task of fitting chains onto their vehicle tires. I really like the balance and the life time guarantee. You can do a lot of chopping and pounding with the Trucker’s Friend and if you somehow manage to break it, they will replace it no questions asked.

I will admit I found a picture on-line of someone using their Trucker’s Friend to stop an attacking “walker,” (read fake zombies) must be that balance thing because the nineteen inch long axe swings very well. Sometimes you have to hide things in plain sight. “Yes officer this is my vehicle emergency rescue tool and no sir I do not have any weapons in my truck.” Imprinting on small children can be good, thank you Uncle Dwight.

Major Van Harl USAF Ret. / [email protected]

Editors Note: Order your own Trucker’s Friend online at Amazon:

About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School.  A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI.  His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training.  He believes “evil hates organization.”  [email protected]

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