Wess grew up in rural Hanover County, Virginia where as a young boy he roamed the woods learning to hunt, fish and trap. He took an early interest in colonial American frontier history where he was greatly influenced by pioneers such as Daniel Boone, Davey Crockett, Jim Bridger, Kit Carson and Jim Bowie. After graduating high school, Wess joined the United States Army where he served in the infantry during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He also served in the 101st airborne with the Long Range Surveillance Detachment. After getting out of the military, Wess became a farrier and also rode saddle bronc horses in rodeos. Throughout this time, he continued to research and become even more interested in Colonial history. He then started to build flintlock rifles, hunting bags and scrimshaw powder horns. Being passionate about building a time period rifle, he apprenticed with a master gunsmith who taught him how to wood carve and engrave metal. This naturally led him to making knives and tomahawks. Wanting to better himself as a knifemaker, he took classes at both GRS Engraving and the American Bladesmith Society. He then spent the next several years learning the art of knifemaking. Wess has earned his journeyman smith from the American Bladesmith Society and he won the prestigious George Peck award in June, 2015.