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Not much is know about Rick's hatchet before the apocalypse. It is known that the hatchet was used by the family who owned that farm where Rick found it.
Rick used his hatchet during his trip to Atlanta. After Rick is swarmed by a group of zombies, he drives his hatchet into the skull of an oncoming zombie. He decapitates another zombie before he is saved by Glenn. Rick uses his hatchet once again to hack up a zombie and use it for camouflage before raiding a firearms store. He uses the hatchet to hack down the store's door and to kill attacking zombies on his way back to the camp.
Rick sticks with the hatchet as his main weapon. Before arriving at The Greene Family Farm, Rick uses his hatchet to kill frozen and unfrozen zombies. Rick uses it to clear out some houses and to escape Wiltshire Estates.
The Greene Family Farm
Rick does not use his hatchet at The Farm. It is only seen holstered in Rick's baton holster during the farm story arc. It is used to kill zombies after leaving the farm and is holstered upon the discovery of The Prison.
Rick uses his hatchet to clear out the prison with Tyreese and Andrea. Rick uses it to clear the inside of The Prison and to amputate Allen's leg after he is bit. Rick uses his hatchet to kill zombies when he travels to Woodbury. Upon arriving at Woodbury, Rick's HK Mark 23 and hatchet are confiscated. When Rick escapes he retrieves his weapons.
Rick continues to his hatchet after The Governor's raid on The Prison. He attempts to kill a zombie in a convenience store but fails to drive the blade deep enough into the skull. Carl ends up shooting the zombie to safe his father. Rick doesn't use his hatchet until after leaving The Farm.
The Road to D.C.
After the arrival of Abraham's group, Rick leaves for D.C. Rick uses his hatchet during the trip to D.C to kill a group of zombies after the arrival of Gabriel. Rick doesn't use it again until he mutilates and kills The Hunters.
The Alexandria Safe Zone
Rick doesn't use his hatchet when he arrives to Alexandria. Much to his dismay, he hands it over along with his HK Mark 23. He retrieves it after Douglas Monroe allows him to retrieve his weapons. Rick keeps his hatchet in an rucksack in his house for the majority of his time at Alexandria. Rick finally uses his hatchet once more during the "No Way Out" story arc. He uses it to create zombie camouflage after a herd knocks down the walls and invades Alexandria. Rick is forced to use his hatchet to save Carl and to defend the Safe Zone. When things get settled, Rick carries his hatchet while scavenges in a group. Rick doesn't Use his hatchet for quite some time.
A New Beginning
After the two year time skip, Rick has taken on the appearance of a younger Douglas Monroe. Rick now walks with a cane and uses a prosthetic hand. Rick doesn't leave Alexandria too much but heads to The Hilltop with Carl when Carl decides to be Earl Sutton's apprentice. While on the road, Rick encounters a few zombies. Rick pulls out his hatchet and kills the zombies, but is almost killed due to his injuries and being unacclimatized to the outside world.
Rick obtains a Cold Steel Axe Gang Hatchet at Jessie's House when the Alexandria Safe Zone's wall falls. Rick uses his hatchet to clear walkers out of the safe zone during No Way Out. Rick continues to use his hatchet when finding a walker head to pose as a dead Gregory. Rick's hatchet is used on Last Day On Earth to clear the walker road block. The hatchet is confiscated by the Saviors when Rick and the group are ambushed. Then given back to him in season 7.