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Author Topic: Mark Baker  (Read 3231 times)

Offline Terry_Green

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Mark Baker
« on: January 23, 2007, 07:02:00 PM »
Real Name: Mark Baker
TG handle: Mark Baker
Age: 46
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 220
Home State: Montana
TradGang member number: #391

(TG)- Tell us about yourself.  

(Mark Baker)- I was born in 1960, in Mt. Clemens, MI…my dad was in the navy so I’m a navy brat, I guess. We lived in new England when I was very young, on a couple different navy bases, in a couple states.  

I have been heavily involved in organized bowhunting…being a board member and then two-term President of the Montana Bowhunters Association.   I was fortunate to have a great board of directors when I was in that position, and am very proud of the things we were able to do, such as enact equipment restrictions, some trophy poaching legislation, worked to outlaw high-fence hunting and additional game farms, proactively head off crossbows by passing a “modified archers permit” for disabled bowhunters…and a bunch more.   It was all a team effort that took advantage of timing and circumstances to accomplish much.  

I am also serving my second term as President of the Traditional Bowhunters of Montana, trying to bring this long-time fraternal organization into the political realm so that Traditional Bowhunters here will have a voice in the future.  

I have also been a bowhunting education instructor since 1989.  

(TG)- What do you do for a living?  

(Mark Baker)- I’m self employed in the construction business.   Over the years it’s been “Anything for a buck, Construction”…but after nearly 30 years I’ve been able to refine the things I do now.   Anymore I mostly do interiors, remodels, and build cabinets and furniture, preferably in the rustic style.  I have’nt any employees….so I’m pretty small potatoes.   But then again, it’s easy for me to take time off to do what I like to do….bowhunt!   I’ve always worked to live…and not the other way around.   My dad died when he was 40, and it really changed my outlook on life.   Any of us can “go” at any time.   Live every day like it’s your last, cause one day it will be.   I don’t have time to sweat a lot of the little details that most folks do…one of my faults, I guess.   But I’m not losing any sleep or years of life “stressing out” either.

I’m going through a bit of a mid-life crisis right now.  I’d like to do something different, but it’s hard to leave behind what is paying the bills.   Still, I’m trying to open some other doors…hence the writing, the music, etc.   Who knows where life will take me?

(TG)- How long have you been bow hunting with traditional gear?  

(Mark Baker)- I started hunting with my recurve in 1978 for big game.   Did some small game hunting before that.

(TG)- Any heroes? Any role models?  

(Mark Baker)- Of course, my Dad.  He could do anything that he put his mind to, and he passed that credo on to me, I guess.   As far as bowhunting….I’d say first there was Fred Bear.   My dad and I would watch him on TV whenever he was on, and Dad liked to talk about him a lot.   Dad had a bow that Fred delivered to his doorstep personally back in 1960, it was a Kodial Special Deluxe, 70#’s.  It was a custom order, but a bit heavy for my Dad and he never shot it much.   Dad also jaded me a bit towards compounds…he did’nt like them newfangled contraptions that were coming out in the late 60’s, early 70’s…he couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to carry one of those heavy, limb-snagging things into the words.  Funny the things that stick with you as a kid.   (Be careful what you say to your kids!)

As I mentioned, Bart Schleyer was the only bowhunter I knew in college.  My dad had died a week after I graduated High School.  I later met and befriended Rocky Miller, a custom bowyer in Bozeman, who showed me quite a bit, and set me on the longbow path.   Nobody was shooting longbows much in the early 80’s…it was quite a jump for me to give up recurves, but I wanted utter simplicity.   After that first longbow, I never looked back, although I own many recurves, I almost never shoot them anymore.  

Other role models I guess influenced me through their writings and deeds.   Montana at the time was a hotbed of traditional influence.   Dick Robertson, Gene and Barry, Paul Schafer, and some others.   Fred Asbell was a big source of reading material early on…as was Jay Massey, whom I credit with planting the selfbow bug in me.

(TG)- Which eye is your dominant eye?  

(Mark Baker)- I’m right eye dominant.

(TG)- Do you shoot right handed or left handed?  

(Mark Baker)- Right handed.

(TG)- What got you started bowhunting?  

(Mark Baker)- My Dad, although I never hunted with him.   He started me shooting when I was seven, and gave me an old cast aluminum recurve, 45#’s, that I shot for a few years…then he bought me a Bear Hunter recurve…I still have that bow.  I tagged along with my Dad on his hunts…but he never took me bowhunting myself.   After he died, I began to hunt while in college…to eat!   I got fed up with hunting with a bunch of guys that really just did it as an excuse to party, so I took up bowhunting on my own, knowing I could shoot either sex deer with it, and killed a doe first year out.   Of course none of those other guys bowhunted, so I pretty much was on my own for a long time.

(TG)- Who first helped you get involved in traditional bowhunting?  

(Mark Baker)- There was no “Traditional” when I started shooting bows, that was simply what everyone shot…so that was really all I knew by the time I started hunting with my bow.  

(TG)- Do you remember the first animal you took with a traditional bow? Tell us about it!  

(Mark Baker)- As I said, I decided to bowhunt because I could shoot does or bucks, and needed meat.  So I grabbed my Bear recurve and set out to shoot a deer with it.  I had scouted out a trail, about a mile from our house in Paradise Valley, along the Yellowstone River, that the deer were using between bedding and feeding.   A big blowdown cottonwood lay alongside the trail.  It was probably 4 feet thick.  I climbed up on this log, my back against another large tree, and waited till the deer came out.   I shot the last muley doe in the line of seven that filed past at very close range.  She expired a short distance – maybe 50 yards away – after the shot, as the other deer simply continued feeding, oblivious to my presence.  The whole incident was so up-close, and so personal…that I was taking this animals life, and it made me really examine my motives.   I liked that.  The whole introspection of it, the quietness of the deed itself, the way the other deer went on with their feeding …I was an instantly hooked bowhunter from that moment.  

(TG)- Do you prefer a glove or tab?  

(Mark Baker)- I prefer a Damascus glove.

(TG)- Do you have any favorite memories or kills that stand out? Tell us about it!  

(Mark Baker)- My favorite, hands down, is the hunt that I shared with Traditional Bowhunter readers that took place last year in which my sons both killed elk.  What a memory!   Besides that, I guess, the two that stand out for me are the moose I killed in Alaska, and the cow elk I took on a late hunt in January.  

The Alaskan hunt was an unguided affair with three good friends.   A float hunt, so adventure was assured whether we took game or not.  I built a selfbow named “Bowinkle” just for the trip.  Anyway, to get to the point, I called in and took a 60” bull moose with it at seven yards!  Way cool.  

The cow elk was the culmination of seven years effort, blown stalks, sub-zero temps, and ultra-spooky elk.  I finally took her, the last of the herd that filed by me, with a hickory- backed maple board bow that I’d built. I guess all that effort made the accomplishment that much sweeter.   It was a difficult hunt, in difficult conditions.  Later, I made a big elk stew that I shared with my son’s class when he was in 6th grade.   They had a special two-day program in Yellowstone Park where they stayed overnight.  The chaperones, of which I was one, helped provide meals, hence the stew.  I got to relate the tale of the hunt, a late-hunt for migrating park elk, and put it all into perspective for the kids, the teachers, the Park personel, and then share the meal with them all.  Pretty neat.

(TG)- Can you tell us a bit about your preferred hunting combo?  

(Mark Baker)- These days, I prefer a 64 inch selfbow, un-backed, around 65 #’s draw weight for me, of my own make.   I shoot wood arrows, that I build, with fairly heavy points…190 grain grizzly’s, or ribtecks, or weighted Wensel woodsmans.  I also like to shoot trade points and am playing with stone a bit.  Of course,
I like to use my “Quiver Caddy”, to carry my arrows.  

(TG)- What is the one piece of advice you would give a new hunter to aid him on his hunting ventures?  

(Mark Baker)- My advice to any new hunter would be to respect the game you hunt.  Everything should stem from that.  My advice to any new traditional bowhunter would be to do it for the right reason…the challenge.   Embrace the challenges of traditional bowhunting, whatever that embodies for you and wherever it takes you in the future.   And have patience.  I guess that’s two things.

(TG)- What is your favorite animal to hunt?

(Mark Baker)- While I’m pretty fortunate to be able to chase a variety of game, I’d have to say that if I could pick one and only one to hunt, it would be whitetails.   They can challenge a guy so many ways….it never gets boring.  And it is also an animal that I can still have a hope of hunting my whole life, regardless of age, level of fitness, or geographic circumstances.

(TG)- Do you have or prefer a certain method of hunting?  

(Mark Baker)- Well, to me the ultimate is to take any animal one on one, from the ground…his level.  It is so challenging to close down the distance that way.   Having said that I will use treestands, and ground blinds, as well as mini-pushes.   I love to “force the issue” by calling and rattling, and at time being aggressive.   I don’t use decoys for whitetails….my personal thing.  I don’t care to bait, or get involved with dog chases.   Having said that, I’ve chased cats with friends who have hounds…it is a sport all of it’s own.   Also, I’ve walked the corned senderos of Texas brush country looking to shoot a pig.  Who knows, I might sit a bear bait someday too.  So, I’m a bit of a hypocrite at times.

(TG)- Does any of your family hunt or fish?

(Mark Baker)- My wife grew up in a hunting/fishing family, and she fishes some.   Both my boys love the outdoors, and hunt with longbows, and fly fish the rivers around here.   I have three younger brothers in Montana, and they all hunt and fish….no bowhunters though.

(TG)- Do you have any bowhunting goals or plans for the immediate future?  

(Mark Baker)- I’d love a return trip to Alaska or Canada.   I’ve always dreamed of hunting anything and everything this continent has to offer, and I’ll take whatever opportunities I can.  Someday, maybe, Africa, but there is so much here yet to experience.   Right now, I just want to enjoy hunting with my boys as much as possible….who knows where life will take them in the future.

(TG)- Do you make any of your own gear?  

(Mark Baker)- I can and have made all of it…and really, that’s just an extension of the hunt for me.

(TG)- Where is the one place you would really just love to hunt?  

(Mark Baker)- As I said, North America has so much to offer.  I’m dreaming again of Alaska.

(TG)- Do you primarily hunt private or public ground?

(Mark Baker)- Both

(TG)- Do you prefer evening, mid day or morning hunts?

(Mark Baker)- Yes

(TG)- What is your favorite type of camo?  

(Mark Baker)- Most of the commercial stuff is pretty dark for our western environs…so I tend to like the large pattern, lighter colored stuff.  Predator, ASAT, and the “Blowdown” that KOM makes, is great for most of what I do.  I wear a lot of plaids and “regular guy” clothes when I hunt too.  It’s all in how you use it.

(TG)- Do you normally use anything like scent covers or attractants, camo, or calls?  

(Mark Baker)- I love to call…rattle, bugle, etc.   The only cover scent I use is to add some sage or Juniper to my box of hunting clothing, well besides just staying clean and avoiding obvious odors.   I’ve played with some attractants, the sex or urine type, out of curiosity mostly.   Never really had any positive results to speak of, except with the James Valley stuff.

(TG)- Do you do any small game hunting?  

(Mark Baker)- As much as I can.   Mostly for rabbits, gophers (ground squirrels), of course grouse when the opportunities arise during the season.

(TG)- Tell us what your dream hunt would be.  

(Mark Baker)- I guess right now, my dream hunt would be another float or extended hunt in Alaska, with my boys, and a couple good hunting partners.   We’d not be constrained by time, or weather…it would be perpetually late September.   The mountains would have a cloak of white, the birch in flaming yellows.   We’d be calling and stalking moose, sheep, caribou, whatever fancied us during the days, meeting up at camp each nite, reliving our tales.   Grayling would take our flies during midday breaks, the northern lights would dance each nite.   We’d overcome small obstacles, but of no great consequence when all was said and done.  And we’d all bring home magnificent trophies to grace our dens and remind us what a great adventure we had.  And we’d all grow old without losing that memory.   That would be great.

(TG)- How important is it that we all get involved in local bowhunting organizations?

(Mark Baker)- Well, now you’ve put me on my soapbox.  I’ll try and keep it short.  The real war to keeping our bowhunting opportunities is fought on the local level.  The big national organizations are great, and do a lot for bowhunting, but when it comes down to keeping your neck of the woods accessible, your opportunities in those woods ample, the quality of your experience high, the game numbers and herd make-up acceptable, the constant continuing intrusion by outfitters or game ranchers, or equipment manufacturers, off-road vehicle users, anti-hunting elements…the list goes on….it all boils down to local involvement.   The big national organizations will not be there for you.  They simply cannot.  You must have local watchdog and politically saavy folks on the constant vigil ready to act at a moments notice.   The ranks of our state organizations is filled with less than 5% of the total amount of bowhunters…. everywhere!   That to me is appalling, when you figure that all of us benefit from their hard work.  Most bowhunters have no idea of the workload done by these groups on their behalf, all the time.   For the cost of less than a tank of gas, a bowhunter can become a member, and support their efforts in the most minimal of ways…we all owe them that.   From there they can, if they choose, step up their involvement.   These groups need help, the burnout level is real and it’s high, and we expect and ask a lot from them.   Many that I know, work at this voluntarily with as much effort as they do their own jobs.   The work is mostly thankless, except from those of us who have done it ourselves and know the commitment.   But there is room for all of us to “give back” and help out.   The world is run by those who “show up”…words of truth.  Now, after all that,  I will say this. Traditional bowhunters, percentage wise, do more by far, than other bowhunters.   That is because we care more for those issues.  I won’t pussy-foot around it.   I know this will PO some folks here, but our level of commitment is greater by the very nature of our reasons for being bowhunters, and we tend to give back to a greater degree.    This is true across the country.   So I’m probably preaching to the choir here….

(TG)- What is one thing we can do to help get our kids involved in hunting?

(Mark Baker)- Start them young, and start with your own.   Young, because you have such an opportunity to influence them, before they get filled up with societal ideas of what hunting is.   Start teaching them from the beginning.   They may not all grow up as hunters themselves, but they will grow up, and vote, and influence other adults.  Validation of hunting is really the goal, as the stats show us that few will really take it up as we have.  

Start with your own, because that is the one thing we can do, for sure.   Lofty goals and programs have a way of losing momentum…but you are always enthusiastic for your kids.   So at least see that through.   Start simply, and keep it fun!

(TG)- Where can people get ahold of your music?

(Mark Baker)- I dropped my merchant account late last year for my website, so if folks want CD’s, they simply have to write to me and ask for them.   The address is still on the website, and an order form is there that can be printed off.   If they have questions, they can call.    Also, I’m getting a few out to dealers now….3-Rivers carry’s them, as does Wingnut.  

(TG)- What caused you to create the quiver caddy?

(Mark Baker)- Like everybody, I tried every kind of quiver out there in my quest for the “holy grail” of quivers.  I now know, it does’nt exist.   I borrowed the best ideas from among the “failures”  and put them together, with some of my own….the result was the quiver caddy.    Quickly put, I liked the angle of the arrows as they rode on my waist, the high riding position, the solid stability of the use of the Kwickee Kwiver and it’s ability to take on/off, the easy hang on feature that is really the “cats meow” in hunting situations, the fact that I did’nt have additional belts or straps to worry about, the ease of use with packs, I could go on.   I did’nt make this thing to sell commercially, just made it for me.   Then a hunting buddy wanted one, then another.   They said I was a fool not to try to do something with it….but heck, I’m a carpenter, not a salesman.    It is catching on though, as I’ve sold quite a few this past year.   It is thoroughly field tested for nearly 20 years now, and it is very affordable.    Every bowhunter should try one.

(TG)- What is one thing I haven't asked that you would like for people to know about you?

(Mark Baker)- I guess that I’m just an average guy, with an average job and income, just like everyone else, except that I’ve probably got a bigger than average love for the outdoors and bowhunting, and along for God and my family, it fills my life up with adventure, relaxation, creativity, and accomplishment.   I am so thankful, and so blessed that way.  


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