The former Army general in charge of West Point once killed a deer with his bare hands

Mandatory Fun

Gen. Robert L. Caslen (Ret.) and a deer

(DoD/Public domain)

There's a legend about Robert L. Caslen.

One day, while deer hunting, Caslen, a three-star general and former Superintendent of U.S. Military Academy at West Point, wrestled a deer into a lake and drowned it with his bare hands.

It's true.


The story of how Caslen killed a deer with his bare hands has been a legend in the Army for years, though it is unclear when exactly it happened.

"It's only a matter of time till someone at UofSC digs up the whole deer drowning story," Caslen's son Nick wrote in an open letter posted to Twitter. "Reach out to any West Point grad since 1981 and they'll tell you the story."

Caslen, armed with a .30-30 rifle, was deer hunting near Lake Frederick in New York State, just about 10 miles from West Point when he spotted a buck about 100 yards away, he told The Leadership Podcast for an April 2019 episode.

The deer was 100 yards out, well in range of his iron-sighted .30-30 rifle. The deer had its back to Caslen, and all he could see was the deer's horns and its rear end.

Then something strange happened. Caslen — who served as a special forces soldier in the Army Rangers — missed.

"It's because I was a bad shot," Caslen told The Leadership Podcast.

The buck didn't run, giving Caslen a chance to fire again. This time, the bullet found its mark.

"I knew I hit him because he jumped straight up," Caslen said.

The deer ran and Caslen began tracking it, taking the high ground, and he noticed the deer was sprinting for the lake.

"I was ready to shoot him, but unfortunately, on the other side of the lake there was a guy on a tractor mowing the grass out there," Caslen said on the podcast. "He was down-range of where I was going to shoot so I didn't shoot."

The deer then jumped in the lake and tried to swim across, but stopped halfway and returned to the shore. Caslen resumed tracking the deer and got within 10 feet of it, where it was lying on the river bank. Caslen took another shot and missed.

Then, "he came flying out of the lake right at me, similar to a bull in a bull run," Caslen said on the podcast. "As he came flying at me, I couldn't even shoot or anything. I just dropped my gun. I kind of stepped to the side like a bullfighter and I grabbed him around his neck. I had him in a choke hold, so I wrestled him to the ground."

Caslen dragged the bucking deer to the nearby Lake Frederick and wrestled with it, jamming its head into the water but it kept fighting. After bucking Caslen three or four times, the deer finally stopped fighting.

When a host from the Leadership Podcast asked Caslen what lesson he learned from the experience, he said it was being persistent and persevering even in the "cruicible of combat."

"This combat was wrestling a deer, but it could have been anything," Caslen said.

Caslen's first day as president of the University of South Carolina will be Aug. 1.

———

©2019 The State (Columbia, S.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Friday that no U.S. troops will take part in enforcing the so-called safe zone in northern Syria and the United States "is continuing our deliberate withdrawal from northeastern Syria."

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan earlier on Friday said Turkey will set up a dozen observation posts across northeast Syria, insisting that a planned "safe zone" will extend much further than U.S. officials said was covered under a fragile ceasefire deal.

Read More Show Less

On Tuesday at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual conference, Army families had the opportunity to tell senior leaders exactly what was going on in their worlds — an opportunity that is, unfortunately, all too rare.

Read More Show Less

The fog of war, just kills, and war crimes are the focus of a new documentary series coming to STARZ. Titled Leavenworth, the six-part series profiles 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, the Army infantry officer who was convicted on murder charges for ordering his soldiers to fire on three unarmed Afghan men on a motorcycle, killing two and wounding the third, while deployed to the Zhari district in Kandahar province, on July 2, 2012.

Read More Show Less

A big stereotype surrounding U.S. service members and veterans is that they are defined only by their military service, from buying "Dysfunctional Veteran" t-shirts to playing hard-boiled, high-octane first-person shooters like Battlefield and Call of Duty (we honestly have no idea where anyone could get that impression).

But the folks at OSD (formerly called Operation Supply Drop), a non-profit veteran service organization that aims to help troops and vets connect with each other through free video games, service programs and other activities, recently found that most of the gamers they've served actually prefer less military-centric fare like sports games and fantasy RPGs.

Read More Show Less

CEYLANPINAR, Turkey (Reuters) - Shelling could be heard at the Syrian-Turkish border on Friday morning despite a five-day ceasefire agreed between Turkey and the United States, and Washington said the deal covered only a small part of the territory Ankara aims to seize.

Reuters journalists at the border heard machine-gun fire and shelling and saw smoke rising from the Syrian border battlefield city of Ras al Ain, although the sounds of fighting had subsided by mid-morning.

The truce, announced on Thursday by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence after talks in Ankara with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, sets out a five-day pause to let the Kurdish-led SDF militia withdraw from an area controlled by Turkish forces.

The SDF said air and artillery attacks continued to target its positions and civilian targets in Ral al Ain.

"Turkey is violating the ceasefire agreement by continuing to attack the town since last night," SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali tweeted.

The Kurdish-led administration in the area said Turkish truce violations in Ras al Ain had caused casualties, without giving details.

Read More Show Less