Paul Hobel didn’t drink beer, but he was “the most interesting man in the world”, at least in my world. With all due respect to the guy on the Dos Equis commercial, he wasn't even in the same league as Paul. Yes, Hobel did interesting things. He was a Marine Corps Ranger during the height of the Vietnam War; he was a Phoenix fire firefighter; captain and arson investigator; houndsman; husband; Hunter Safety instructor; firearms and self-defense instructor; hunting guide, etc.
However, being “interesting” is far more than just a sum of one’s life experiences. Personality, sense of humor, tact (or the appropriate lack of), storytelling ability - all are major contributors to an interesting resume, and this is where Hobel separated himself from the rest of the world.
Whenever you heard Paul open a statement with the words “Here’s the deal”, you knew you were about to be blessed with a sarcastic piece of wisdom that we affectionately dubbed a “Hobelism”. You then had five seconds to swallow that mouthful of food or drink, because you were about to start laughing uncontrollably. His sense of humor came from a place deep within what he would call “his goofy little brain”. Hilarious things rolled off his tongue with such frequency that it was hard for him to finish a story.
In July 2012, the world lost Paul Hobel to a long battle with cancer, but his legacy won’t be forgotten. Every young student from one of his Hunter Safety classes, the hundreds of newbies he mentored at the fire department, and all of us who shared a campfire with him will cherish our time with him. We will spew out a Hobelism at just the right/wrong time, allowing us to educate a new generation on the real most interesting man in the world.
Though Paul loved serving his community as a firefighter, what he like most about the job was the vacation policy. If it wasn’t hunting season, then Hobel would work every shift he could and save it all for hunting season. I’m not just talking about a few extra days; I’m talking about months of time!
Like most Arizona hunters, Paul was lucky to draw one tag a year. He rarely hunted out of state, so the vast majority of this time was spent helping friends and relatives. If your “second cousin’s third kid from a previous marriage” was a new hunter and needed help, then Hobel would be the first to volunteer to mentor them.With this type of passion, it wasn’t long before Paul was bitten by the hound-hunting bug. So, when Hobel met Floyd Green, it was the perfect match. The two became lifelong friends, hunting partners, guiding partners, and all-around co-conspirators.
Paul was a relentless researcher, always looking for that “next-level” product. When Floyd opened the Outdoorsmans, a gun store that specialized in hunting gear, it gave Hobel the perfect conduit to obtain new products.
While in the hospital, suffering through cancer treatments, he discovered and embraced the ballistic potential of the .338 Lapua. Though he nearly died during that particular hospital stay, the first thing he did when he was released was to march down to the Outdoorsmans and order a Model 700 .338 Lapua from the Remington Custom Shop.
Months later, the rifle finally arrived, but Paul was back in the hospital fighting his battle. Sadly, Paul didn’t make it through that battle, nor did he ever have the opportunity to shoot his new rifle.
I probably knew Paul for two years before I ever knew he had served in the Marine Corps doing long-range surveillance during the Vietnam War. Though he was immensely proud of his service and the Corps, it just wasn’t as interesting as what he was doing that very day. Hobel did tell me that he rarely carried a gun during missions, because he would go in so deep into enemy territory that there was no way he could shoot his way out, so he didn’t want to pack the extra weight!
After the pain of Paul’s passing began to subside, his widow Kelly decided that she needed to do something special with Paul’s last rifle, his .338 Lapua. Floyd mentioned that Western Hunter and the Outdoorsman’s had been working with Wounded Warrior Outdoors and told her the story of the amazing work WWO is doing for our wounded heroes. Kelly knew in her heart that this was an organization that Paul would be proud to support, so the planning began.
We told our friends at Swarovski about our plan, and without hesitation they agreed that WWO was a great cause, and given Paul’s passion for Swarovski optics, it was mandatory that the rifle be dressed with a Z6 5-30x with a ballistic turret.
Next, the rifle was sent over to Magnum Mike’s Custom Guns to have the rings and bases lapped and centered and have the scope mounted. The rifle already had an excellent trigger and a factory muzzle brake so it’s ready to hunt or bang steel!
Tickets for this amazing and special rifle will be available online (go to www.woundedwarriorsoutdoors.com for more info), and at the WWO booth at the Wild Sheep Foundation show next February. A full 100% of the proceeds will go to WWO to support the work they’re doing and the services they provide. Paul impacted literally thousands of lives and your donation will help ensure that our wounded warriors will be equipped and able to inspire a new generation of service members, firefighters, husbands, brothers, uncles to keep smiling, never give up, and be interesting.