All posts by “Mark Smither

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Christmas Wish List: Essential Outdoor Gear

My first hunting knife was a Christmas gift from my father. I was only ten years old at the time, which according to my dad is the age when boys should start owning and caring for their own hunting gear. It had a 4-inch fixed blade and was sheathed in an embossed leather carrying case—perfect for any future deer I may need to field dress. Read More

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Predictions for the 2015 Pheasant Season

Two late season pheasants near Volga, SD. Photo credit: Derek Baune

Two late season pheasants near Volga, SD. Photo credit: Derek Baune

The 2015 pheasant season is under way. Corn fields are freshly combined and cast in a golden glow. Sloughs, thick with cattails, are waiting to be conquered. Hunters of every age are filled with hope and anticipation. Even the dogs know something is going on.

The excitement of a new season is built upon all the pheasant seasons that have come before it. We are eager because we know what to expect. We will hunt with the same friends. We will walk the same proven paths through the CRP. We will sit on a truck tailgate and eat ham and cheese sandwiches. With very little variance, this is how the season will unfold. Read More

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Never too late to learn something new

Comedian Henny Youngman once said, “A self-taught man usually has a poor teacher and worse student.” After fly-fishing with a local guide, I would have to agree.

I have always described myself as self-taught fly fisherman. It was through trial and error that I learned how to tie a blood knot, cast a line and convince a trout to take my fly. Somehow, I managed to catch my fair share of fish over the years.

As it turns out, I have been doing a lot of things wrong. Read More

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Life is a book with many chapters.

A long, long time ago, I was an avid skier. As a teenager living in the Black Hills, I spent my winters racing down Deer Mountain pretending to be Franz Klammer in the ‘76 Winter Olympics.

It was what I did and who I was.

At the time, I didn’t understand that life is a book comprised of many chapters. I thought I would always be a skier and that my obituary would include the words, “80 years old” and “tragic ski jumping accident.” Read More

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Evening on the White River, South Dakota

Sunset on the White River near Kennebec, SD

Sunset on the White River near Kennebec, SD

Wide skies. Spectacular sunsets. Miles away from somewhere and right next to nowhere. From a bluff overlooking the White River, you can hear the hum of life—insects, birds, and animals thriving in a diverse prairie ecosystem. This is what it’s like to live in South Dakota. There is no place I would rather be.

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Why bait shops are better than the Internet

In today’s hyper-connected world, it is comforting to know the Internet will never be as reliable as the local bait shop.

Sure, the Internet is a great place to find out where the fish are biting, in a general sense. But you are not going to get the kind of specific, practical advice bait shops dispense on a daily basis. Read More