Tim Rake knows there are few things that can match the stress military personnel experience on a daily basis.

But he also knows there is nothing that can match the peace and serenity of being outdoors hunting or fishing.

“Getting away from hassles, work or whatever else is going on,” Rake said. “Just being out there in nature.”

The 38-year-old 1st Cavalry Division master sergeant dedicated more than 20 years as a Reserve and active-duty member of the military and most of his life hunting and fishing. The Danville, Pa., native has been hunting and fishing with relatives since he could walk and loved the activities immediately.

“I just remember walking along the woods with my dad, I was probably just 5 or 6 years old,” Rake said, “just walking through the woods squirrel hunting in Pennsylvania. Same thing, I was probably 4 or 5 years old fishing for bluegills in some of the farm ponds back home when I was a kid.”

Rake took a few days off this week to go down to Matagorda Bay in South Texas for some shark fishing, but you can find him on many Tuesday nights this summer participating in tournaments at Belton Lake.

For him, the weekly event has a balance of competitiveness and fun.

“It’s just time to get out and compete once a week,” Rake said. “It’s a really good group of guys, everybody gets along together. It’s something fun to do that’s competitive, and anytime you do something competitive, it makes it a little bit more interesting, a little more fun.”

Belton Lake is where Rake had his most memorable catch three years ago when he lined in an 11 pound, 12 ounce bass.

And his best trophy hunt came in 2005 when he got a 140-class buck the day before heading to Iraq for a deployment.

“It was real foggy that morning and it was right around then he came in to see what was going on and I was able to harvest him,” Rake said.

With an increased awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder among soldiers in recent years, Rake said hunting and fishing is his outlet.

“For me, it’s really relaxing and soothing to get away from everything,” he said.

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