Retired Navy SEAL Master Chief Ron Bellan. Author image.
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Yesterday morning I learned of the passing of retired Navy SEAL Master Chief Ron Bellan, a cherished friend and a man whose Pursuit Channel show, Reaper Outdoors: Survive the Hunt was one of the increasingly rare ones I actually enjoyed. Losing Ron is a blow to the industry at large not because of his successful show but because he is – was – one of those unusually open, honest guys who stuck to his guns and stood by his friends.

(l-r) Ron Bellan, Outdoor Writer Brian McCombie, the author, and Jeff Axelson.. Author image.

I spent two hours trying to decide how to write this. Truth be told, I still don’t know how to do Ron proud. I’ve known Ron for years and consider him a good friend…learning of his death was a blow to my heart I did not see coming. Later this month Ron would’ve been 50 years old, making him a young 49 at the time of his death from a heart attack; twenty-five of those years were spent in military service. He left behind a girlfriend, sister, brother, kids, grandkids, and his mother. No mother should have to outlive their child.

photo courtesy Matt Perry

There are many words that accurately describe Ron: patriot, hero, hunter, outdoorsman, badass. Mostly, he was a friend. A loyal friend. Ron had your back through the good and the bad.

Ron Bellan and Roy Hill from Brownells.

On one hand, we should mourn him; on the other, we should simply remember him. There was the time I ran an ACOG on a mountain lion hunt and, thanks to my astigmatism, saw nothing but a red halo. After a few frustrating minutes at the range Ron turned to me and asked why I was trying to save the bull’s eye. After all, he only had one eye and was doing just fine. Then there was the time we were gathered at Jeff Axelson’s for a video shoot, debating what to do about dinner. Always a problem solver, Ron stepped outside, shot a couple rabbits, and made what remains the best rabbit stew I’ve ever had.

Oh, and Ron gave the best hugs. At 6’4” he had seven inches on me – he had height over most people – and was basically a human grizzly bear.

Ron making rabbit stew (after walking outside and shooting the rabbits). Author image.

In the firearms industry Ron was known not only for Reaper Outdoors: Survive the Hunt, but for his work with SOWW – Special Operations Wounded Warriors. SOWW is a 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to providing therapeutic retreats and hunts to both active duty and veteran U.S. Military Special Operations Force who have been wounded whether visibly or not. In seven years SOWW has made great strides helping wounded military members and their hunts are a bit of a legend. Ron played a vital role with the charity and the loss of his guiding hands and kind spirit will be keenly felt for some time to come.

Ron Bellan holding the Axelson Tactical Reaper rifle. Author image.

Hunting with Ron wasn’t just about finding and shooting game or predators, it was about the experience. Ron was all about learning as you went. He taught me how to tie paracord to my rifle as an attachment point for a sling, demonstrated proper shelter creation in the mountains, and had laser-like focus for finding the best spots for natural camouflage during a hunt.

His television show taught both basic and advanced survival skills, weaving teaching moments into the hunt. Reaper Outdoors wasn’t about the kill it was about the fields, woods, and mountains. And unlike many outdoor shows, Ron aired more than one show where he and his team got skunked. It was about cherishing the moments; it was about reaping the beauty of nature. That was, after all, why Ron was known as Reaper01: he spoke frequently of his desire to reap the rewards of the outdoors, to reap God’s gifts. To Ron, reaping was about being blessed and the outdoors were that blessing.

photo courtesy Matt Perry

“I love the name of honor more than I fear death.” – Julius Caeser

As for Ron’s time in the military, he served valiantly. When he retired, he was a Navy SEAL Master Chief. He was a Master Chief during Operation Red Wings, something that sometimes seemed to haunt him. The men many of you know through Mark Wahlberg and Emile Hirsch’s renditions in Lone Survivor were Ron’s friends and teammates. Ron was no stranger to horrific loss and pain. He was also no stranger to back-breaking, dangerous work and the kind of missions most of us could not even begin to imagine. Ron had heart.

He was a Navy SEAL, a part of the brotherhood. He was an honest, ethical, hard-working man.

Ron Bellan and the author. Author image.

And so I find myself faced with saying farewell to a man who was an amazing, big-hearted friend, a hardcore hunter, and an all-around badass. I’ve taken more than a day to find the right words and am still falling short, so I will simply say, fair winds and following seas. He earned his trident every day.

Ron Bellan. Author image.

“Lo, there do I see my father; lo, there do I see my mother and my sisters and my brothers. Lo, there do I see the line of my people, back to the beginning. Lo, they do call to me, they bid me take my place among them, in the halls of Valhalla, where the brave may live forever.” – Michael Alexander

Friends of Ron have contributed some photos to remember him by:

Ron “helping” the author take photos for an article on coyote hunting. Author image.
The story of the kilt… photo courtesy of Tina Sturlaugson.
Ron and Rob Carson of Beck Defense. Photo courtesy Jeremy Litka.
Ron and George Ford of Gnat Warfare. Photo courtesy George Ford.
Photo courtesy Jenn Jacques
Ron Bellan, the author, Jeremy Litka, Darren Daniels, and others doing video work in Nevada. Photo courtesy Kurt Coste.
Ron and Outdoor Writer Brian McCombie. Photo courtesy Brian McCombie.
Ron, the author, and Jeff Axelson of Axelson Tactical and an article featuring both Ron and Jeff’s company. Author image.
Ron taping an episode for Reaper Outdoors: Survive the Hunt with Matt Perry. Photo courtesy Brian McCombie.
Ron stretching his rifle out past 1,000 yards. Author image.
Ron going over scenes and lighting with videographer Kurt Coste. Author image.
The Ron from the Black Lagoon. Photo courtesy Jeremy Litka.
Ron and Ryan Edgerly. Photo courtesy Ryan Edgerly.
Photo courtesy Ryan Edgerly.
(l-r) Doug Datish, Ron Bellan, Jeff Axelson, Brad Holland, and Craig Sword. Photo courtesy of Brad Holland.
Ron Bellan. Photo courtesy Brad Holland.


The early days of Ron Bellan’s career in the Navy.

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  1. I didn’t know he was on a show, I only met him once or twice through some friends years ago. I did not know he had passed. Thank you for the fine obit, Kat.
    FWFS, MC

    • How?

      Or did I miss it?

      Not that it matters. But it does provide context as we appreciate the magnitude of our loss.

        • Yep, big guy with multiple recent surgeries. High-risk category right there. Hell of a thing. Sorry for your loss, Kat.

        • Thanks for sharing about this great man. It is good to know because heart issues kill more people then almost anything, and can hit you much younger then it seems.

        • Kat – Please edit and add to top paragraphs – with the number of veteran suicides and the way you wrote about your loss people will assume he died that way as well. Heart disease is so overlook by many ‘young’ men and women but when you have gone through the damage to body that many SEALS/Veterans endure it should be pointed out so others take heed of their heart.

  2. Never heard of the man but he certainly seems like a person who’s company I would have enjoyed. Anyone who can smile like that after an I jury such as his has an admirable character.

  3. His feelings of the outdoors match mine. Sometimes I come home empty handed. But the experience is always worth the effort.

    I mean this with nothing but respect. He would have been an awesome pirate.

    • He was awesome. On one hunt he found a golf ball – totally random in the mountains – put it in a tree and started a competition to see who could shoot it out with the fewest shots fired.

  4. Take heart in your temporary loss. We are all tourists passing through. I believe we will meet again. He has just run ahead……probably checking out what lies ahead to be your guide once again. Rest in peace ’til we meet again.
    I can identify with the loss you are feeling. In less than 24 months, I’ve supported 5 family members through their transitional Hospice journey. It’s tough on the ones staying behind. But, I have faith and certainty of meeting again. How we live this life DOES MATTER.

  5. We have lost another warrior and great Man….Prayers to all who know him and feel the void of his passing. In the name of the FATHER the SON and the HOLY SPIRIT…..De Oppressor Libre

    • We seem to be losing them at a faster rate. It breaks my heart. Losing Ron, specifically, is a rough one.

    • You know, it really has been. The outpouring of memories and photos has been fantastic. Some great stories.

  6. Fair winds and following seas, Master Chief.
    Although I never knew you, nor watched your show, your title alone, SEAL, means more than anything. You guys do more in one day than most people do in a month. Youve spent your time in hell, others now have the watch. Rest peacefully, and know your passing will be mourned by many.

  7. He was my friend, my brother from another mother and my hero.
    I cannot see a path where, without him, will ever be the same again.
    He hunts now in Valhalla where those who were already there will stand in awe of him. I miss you brother.

  8. Had the pleasure of guiding Ron on a bear hunt. He was a great man and I’m grateful I got to know him.
    SEMPER FI my brother.

    • He was a lot of fun to hunt with. Hard on the trucks, though. Never met a branch he didn’t like. 🙂

  9. He was my friend, my brother from another mother, my hero. I can see no path before me that will ever be the same without him.
    He hunts now in Valhalla where those who came before him will stand in awe of him.
    I miss you brother.

  10. Seems to be a man that was a warrior , a patriot, and lived life to the fullest. Shame we loose men like this while trash like the antifa punks continue on.

  11. I didn’t know him, but I have known others like him. Men and women who served there country for many years, then shortly after they retire they pass away and don’t get to enjoy the retirement they earned. Fair winds and following seas Master Chief.

    The following is usually reserved for Navy retirements, but the words still ring true when we leave this world.

    Aye mates, for many years; This sailor stood the watch.

    While some of us lay about our bunks at night; This sailor stood the watch.

    While others of us were attending schools; This sailor stood the watch.

    And, yes, even before many of us were born; This sailor stood the watch.

    As our families watched the storm clouds of war, brewing on the horizons of history; This sailor stood the watch.

    This sailor looked ashore and saw his family often need his guidance, but knew he must stay because he had the watch.

    For many years, he stood the watch, so that our countrymen and we could sleep soundly, in safety, knowing that a sailor would stand the watch.

    Today we are here to say the watch stands relieved; relieved by those he has led, guided and trained. Sailor, you sir stand relieved.

    We have the watch.

      • You are welcome, I spent 24 years in the Navy and have seen many people get emotional at the reading of “The Watch”. I retired 10 years ago and every time I read it I think about absent friends and shipmates.

      • Though I never met him I knew him, he was a brother. Men of honor and character recognize others who are the same. It has always struck me how you can feel the pain of losing someone although you’ve never met them. What is worse of all is fewer and fewer are able to step up with the same character. He touched my life and his legacy will never be forgotten. I’ll see you one day my brother so till then rest easy.

  12. Master Chief Bellan…….
    Master Chief Ron Bellan….
    Master Chief Ronald Bellan…..
    RIP Patriot.

  13. “This sailor stood the watch
    While some of us were in our bunks at night
    This sailor stood the watch
    While some of us were in school learning our trade
    This shipmate stood the watch
    Yes, even before some of us were born into this world
    This shipmate stood the watch
    In those years when the storm cloud of war were seen
    Brewing on the horizon of history
    This shipmate stood the watch
    Many times he would cast an eye ashore and see
    His family standing there
    Needing his guidance and help
    Needing that hand to hold during those hard times
    But he still stood the watch
    He stood the watch for twenty five years
    He stood the watch so that we, our families and our fellow countrymen
    Could sleep soundly in safety, each and every night
    Knowing that a sailor stood the watch
    Today we are here to say,
    “Shipmate…the watch stands relieved
    Relieved by those you have trained, guided and lead
    Shipmate you stand relieved…we have the watch
    Boatswain…standby to pipe the side…
    Shipmate’s going ashore.”

  14. Ron was one of a kind, amazing boss and friend to me. I am so saddened by the news of his passing. I started working for Ron’s business partner in June 2015 and help out as Reaper Outdoors Merchandise and Ammunition Supply Chain and Logistics Manager. Ron had the biggest heart and came into my life shortly after my Dad passed away. They would have been great friends too as they had so much in common from size and build to Harley’s and guns. Two weeks ago Ron stopped by my office in Baton Rouge. We talked about his upcoming surgery some and he told me not to worry. When it was time for him to head on, we shared the best grizzly bear hug ever in my life. Words can not describe what a great man we have lost. He will be greatly missed.

    • I am so sorry, Cathryn. Ron was an amazing man. He had a way of making people feel they mattered. Always had time for you. He is deeply missed.

  15. My condolences to you on the loss of a good man and great friend. We are a bit poorer without him. May God watch over him now.

    • We absolutely are, Sparky. It doesn’t feel quite real yet but he is already missed by many.

    • We did, James. I think the only people who have any idea of the full breadth of his heroism are the men who served with and under him. He was quite a patriot.

  16. What an awesome guy. He had so many friends. I’m so sorry he is gone and I never knew him. I sure would have liked knowing him and his friends/family. You are in Gods hands know.

    • He really was great, Kerry. Ron always made you feel welcome and loved…and that extended to people there might have been issues with. Once he was your friend, he was your friend. End of story.

  17. I met Ron at SOWW a few years back and had many of those Bear Hugs .We had a few hunts that never seemed to have the same weather Rain/Ice/Heat- REPETE but he was always ready to take our VIP Hunter on an adventure. Even when he was fighting a bad cold he was there and would never let you down. He was a Brother Friend and Hero to me and I will always cherish the time we had with Ron. Fair Winds And Following Seas Mate

    • I am sorry for your loss, Bert. I imagine his death has left a gaping hole in SOWW. No one can take his place.

  18. I knew Ron for 25 years, I worked with him and for him. I know the whole family. I have to many stories to tell. He taught me how to build shelters. As well as what bars to go to in the French Quarter. The one thing I can say is he is the only person that I know that can shoot a duck from a moving boat, with a 1911, in the head. He will be missed.

    • Now that sounds about right, Henry. He could shoot. I don’t know if his mom knows this but he talked about her all the time on trips and at events, saying how strong and amazing she is and how much he owed her. Maybe you could pass that on for me. He loved his family like crazy. I am deeply sorry for your loss. There are a lot of us grieving him.

  19. Ron “Bear” Bellan, thanks for the mentorship, the kind words, and for keeping us all safe on that roof. Rest easy my friend, we have it from here.

  20. I’ve only known Ron for a couple years, but it feels like a lifetime. What an all around great human being! My kids, my family, and myself loved him and looked up to him, he was a real American hero! When he was passing through he made it a point to stop for a quick visit and see us and the kids. Where ever the event was taking place, he was always one of the brothers I looked forward to seeing! He will be dearly missed by so many. Fair winds and following seas, Master Chief. RIP Brother…

    • That was Ron, Rey. He always made time for people. Gave endlessly. He is missed. I am very sorry for your loss, Rey, and for the hurt it must be causing your kids.

  21. I never knew of this man or ever met him. He sounds like the kind of man I would have greatly enjoyed knowing, breaking bread with, and it is my loss, our loss, the country’s loss, that he was taken so young.

  22. Fair Winds and Following Seas, Shipmate, Master Chief.
    I was never privileged to meet this man but, from what I read in the obit, he was quite the man, Patriot and Hero.
    I was not privileged to serve long enough to retire. I loved my time in the Navy and working as a Hospital Corpsman. I was able to attain PO2. I was career oriented but, with children the Navy has other ideas.
    Dear Master Chief, I am sure that you are gravely missed by those whose lives you have touched. Rest quietly for eternity.

  23. And Uncle Suger smiles because that’s just one check less they will have to write. Yup yup,. ,,,,Giving you the snappiest salute these old bones can snap. Valhalla

  24. Non Sibi Sed Patraie, being a Seal Master Chief you exemplified this! Fair Winds and Following Seas may I meet you on the other side Hooyah!

  25. I watched his show often he seemed like a well educated man on outdoor life. Sorry for ur Loss Kat & prayers 2U & his Family !!! God Speed Reaper !

  26. Do not stand at my grave and weep
    I am not there; I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow,
    I am the diamond glints on snow,
    I am the sun on ripened grain,
    I am the gentle autumn rain.
    When you awaken in the morning’s hush
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    Of quiet birds in circled flight.
    I am the soft stars that shine at night.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry,
    I am not there; I did not die.

    (By Mary Elizabeth Frye)

    Praying for Piece beyond our understanding for Ron’s family…

    Godspeed Master Chief… See you on the other side…

  27. I meet Ron several years ago at Shot Show 2017 while working at the SEAL 1 booth. It was a great pleasure as he was a constant provider of entertainment. The number of active duty personnel and veterans that came by to see him was amazing. It seemed like he knew everyone. Each visitor was greeted as a long lost friend and brother/sister. His enjoyment of life was infectious. The more time I spent with him the more enjoyable it became. Ron was a dynamic individual that loved life and his friends. He served his country with honor and he will be greatly missed by all that knew him. RIP Master Chief. I extend my condolences to his family and friends. Thank you Kat. You have done him a great honor with your words.

  28. I have several family members that serve, and have served. I didn’t know Master Chief Ron, but felt I knew him personally from watching his Reaper Outdoors show, absolutely LUVED it! Thank you for ALL, especially your service for all Americans. My deepest condolences to family, and friends. Until we meet again in Valhalla my man,.where you can lead, teach, and show me how to be a better person, by example, RIP to a true leader, and a better man!!

  29. Thank you. What a tribute to a wonderful man. The mark of a man is made by the which are said after he is gone. One can only hope that such kind words may be spoken about them when the time comes. So again. Thank you. Farewell Master Chief.

  30. Never meet the man but loved his outdoors show. Knew he was a veteran and thank God we have men and women like him. He will be missed! God Speed.

  31. I ran in to Ron during just before a S.O.W.W. hunt scheduled. He was the person in charge of getting everyone set up for their hunt. I sat back and listened and watched. He was gathering hunting clothes 1 day gathering many items the S.O.W.W. hunters would need to make a memorable hunting week. As I watched more in depth he was devoted to giving each person a memory they will always remember. Each year I went I gave a small donation for the next week S.O.W.W. hunters and asked that he put it toward what they would need most. I know Ron the “REAPER” set out to do just that. He worked addimetly on that. Peace be with you and your family Ron “REAPER” Bellan
    Deepest sympathy
    Fellow Maine Bear hunter

  32. I was fortunate to know Ron personally. As a Marine, our paths did not cross. I met him when I was retired and he had horses on his ranch. Yes, I knew him while he was at his residence; I would say home, but Ron’s home was with the people he loved and served, SOWW, and Reaper Outdoors.
    He is a giant of a man and I will remember his laugh, smile, and straight forward opinions. I will also miss him.

  33. My son-in-law senior chief brought Ron to my house a while back. I shook his hand, got him a beer, and at that moment felt like I had known him all my life. Great man and a great loss to all.

    Lost Harbor
    by Leslie Nelson Jennings
    There is a port of no return, where ships
    May ride at anchor for a little space
    And then, some starless night, the cable slips,
    Leaving an eddy at the mooring place . . .
    Gulls, veer no longer. Sailor, rest your oar.
    No tangled wreckage will be washed ashore.

  34. I met Ron when I went to Guam to teach a building climbing class. Never saw a big man move so well in the air. He invited me to New Orleans where he was stationed at SBU 22 to teach a survival class with another friend. When the teams were out in the field hungry and tired we would walk them in there areas to show them the food sources they had missed. Ron would eat half of a Baby Ruth candy bar and form some of the mud from the Pearl River into a look alike and place it back in the wrapper. He would “accidentally ” drop it and someone would always sweep in and eat it before discovering the taste of delta mud. It never stopped being funny as did he. A professional anyone would be proud to go in the field with. Gary Kibbee class 61

  35. Miss him a lot. Simple text or a phone call. Would love to talk to him about the current state of the world. Miss the hunting stories and his live feeds.

  36. I knew Ron. Amazing guy and an imposing human. At the time at SBU 22 he was 6’4″, 275 with a washboard stomach. I’ve never seen a human being that large move like him. He moved so easily, it was like a dance; but a lethal one. He was kind; always ready to share his skills with his teammates, and did. Taught the guys SCARS, never held back. Once I was giving him some shit…I was a Lt, he was an HM2, and he said Sir, just sit there for a minute and relax. He put me in a choke hold and when I came to, like a good Doc, had that little paper cup ready for me with an 800 mg Motrin(which he called vitamin M). I loved this guy; he taught me so much. I remember every minute with that guy; as should we all.

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