He might be the Clark Kent of bow hunters. Nome resident Mark
Smith, who has spent the last 10 years working as a custodian for the
Nome Public School System, is as genial and unassuming a man as one
will find in the City of Golden Beaches. Not everyone knows that
when they meet Smith, they are actually in the presence of someone who is
considered world-class at his sport.
Last weekend Smith and his wife Lesli flew to the Super Slam
Convention in Reno, Nevada where Smith was honored for some of his
accomplishments. According to measurement criteria used by Safari
Club International, Smith has successfully hunted three Greenland
musk ox by bow and arrow that have been registered, and accepted as,
World Record top five animals. This includes the number one and two
Greenland musk ox. He has also recorded a grizzly bear that is one
of the top five ever taken.
At the convention Smith got to meet Tom Miranda (below right), one of the
biggest names in bow hunting. The television celebrity, whose
adventures have appeared on ESPN and the Outdoor Channel, referred to
Smith as “the Musk Ox Man.” Miranda, along with Super Slam
president Dennis Campbell, presented Smith (below left) with four impressive
plaques, including a golden one for the top musk ox.
The convention was a new event, explained Smith. The organizer's
goal was to invite as many hunters as possible that currently appear
on the top five world record lists. The convention was sponsored by
a club named The Super Slam of North American Big Game, or just Super Slam
for short. This organization is aimed at promoting the goal of
hunting the continent's 29 recognized big game animals.
The goal of hunting that many animals can take a lifetime
explains Smith, and will cost in the hundreds of thousands of
dollars, so Super Slam has created the Super Ten entry level
category. Many of the people trying to complete the Super Slam are
professional hunters. The Super Ten is designed for
conventional enthusiasts like himself.
To date, Smith has successfully recorded hunts of six of the ten
major North American animal species categories - caribou, moose,
bear, bison/musk ox, deer and cat. His next goal is a seventh try
at a member of the goat family. Smith will return to Kodiak in
August for the third attempt in that region. If he accomplishes this
goal, Smith will only need hunts from the elk, antelope and sheep
categories to complete his Super Ten.
Smith, who was raised in Utah and moved to Alaska at the age of
19, explains that there is a great thrill in bow hunting. He was
given his first bow as a seven year old, and remembers that the bow
was taller than he was. He says his parents have told him that when
he was in first grade the teacher mentioned that he liked to talk
about hunting deer. “This is our lifestyle,” says Smith.
Several years ago, Smith switched from using a compound bow, to
the much more challenging recurve bow. Consequently, says Smith,
this cut down on his success rate, which he says is presently about
one in 10 hunts. Since the recurve lacks mechanical pulleys, this
method of hunting means that Smith must be much closer to his
objectives. When he got his grizzly bear, Smith estimates he was
within 20 yards.
Smith loves the added challenge of the recurve and is still
learning every year. His approach to the sport is methodical. He
loves tinkering with his equipment, and he practices often. He is
currently fashioning what he calls a “goat hat” and is working to
perfect the camouflage for his upcoming hunt.
Smith's father taught him one of the most important things about
hunting. “He used to say, 'you have to think like the
animal'.” Smith has become keenly aware of animal movements and
knows that it is important to be able to read their body language.
“It was cool talking to the people at the convention,” said
Smith. “It was very humbling to be apart of that.”
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