Have you ever been asked to stand up and say a few words at a meeting or function, and it catches you off guard? You scramble to your feet, mind racing as to what to say or what to add to the conversation. Butterflies churn in your stomach. Yet, you draw in a deep breath, pull it together, and give your two cents.
Well here I am, asked to be a part of something that is very dear to me, something that has consumed my life for many years: the Super Slam of North American Big Game. Being asked to speak with pen and paper to an audience of adventure hunters is not new to me. Actually, I always have something to say, some story to tell, of a past hunt or happening. Yet, this is the big league.
When it comes to hunting achievements in North America, the Super Slam stands alone. Rifle, muzzleloader, bow or broadheads, it doesn’t matter. The sheer scope of taking the recognized 29 big game animals becomes a daunting task of hard work, travel and expense. It starts as a pipe dream, and each successful hunt brings you one species closer. Just like there are jet pilots and fighter pilots, mountain climbers and those who have summited Everest, football players and Super Bowl champions, there are big game hunters and those who have reached the Super Slam.
Super Slammers are the elite: dedicated hunters who have put in the miles, done the research, glassed, spotted, stalked, hiked, climbed on the most grueling hunts that this continent can dish out. The perspective is simple. It’s a 30-year goal if you can take one species a year, a mere decade if you can take three a year. A typical sheep or brown bear hunt often takes two or more weeks, which can add up to the total allotment of vacation time from work. Add in that the odds of success on these type hunts is generally less than 50 percent, and it means that half of you will have to do it again… and again… and again. Success is so sweet because failure is so bitter.
I have been on many bowhunts where the Delta flight home was a long and torturous mind game of “would of,” “should of,” “could of.” My first moose took five… yes, five… separate hunts. The outfitters were all great, it was just circumstances. The Roosevelt elk took four trips, brown bear three trips, and then of course there is the Stone sheep, which some say is the hardest animal of the Super Slam. I shot mine on the first day.... go figure.
Of course I am a bowhunter and my heroes are the bowmen. Guys like Jack Frost, Tom Hoffman, Archie Nesbitt, Darren Collins, Ricardo Longoria... hunters who grace the pages of the very magazine for which I have been asked to pen my story. Looking at the bowmen photos, having watched these guys in the pages of OVIS, GRAND SLAM, SCI and Pope & Young magazines for years, I am thinking that every hunt these pro’s travel on ends in a “grip and grin” photo opportunity. These guys are the elite, the real deal, the benchmark of what I have set my goals to mimic... all that I have been striving to accomplish. To share pages in a book with these top hunters and so many more dedicated outdoorsmen is a privilege indeed.
In my mind, the Super Ten milestone that the Super Slam program has put into place is “spot on.” Trophy hunting is a lonely game, and often the miles and hardships wear on a person. Setting short-term goals to reach a long-term goal is a strategy used by most successful people, and reaching the goal of a Super Ten is no small feat. To harvest one animal in each of the 10 categories gives these hunters a real taste of the diversity of hunting North America, and a slice of what it will take to “make a run” at the Super Slam. The Super Slam raffle is one way to shoot for your dreams of a Super Ten, and it’s an incredible deal. If you aren’t participating, you really should look at it closer. Here’s my point…
For 15 years I have been sending well over $1,000 to a licensing service to attempt to gain preference points and draw “special season” tags in several western states. In the entire 15 years, I have drawn three tags and been able to hunt on two of them. With both of these tags, I also ended up with outfitter fees and license fees. The Super Slam raffle is $100 a month and gets a participant into two drawings every month (24 chances in a year). Okay, you may never win, but I can tell you that by adding up the 15 years of service fees plus the outfitter costs on my two drawn tags, my Shiras moose hunt cost about $18,000 and my Utah mountain lion tallied up an additional $18,000. There’s no easy road to the Super Ten or the Super Slam. The Super Slam Drawing gives a hunter a great opportunity to draw an expensive sheep or brown bear hunt, and the cost just might be tax deductible.
As I look through the pages of SUPER SLAM, many of the hunters I recognize and some I don’t, but looking at the hero photos, I know the miles and work that went into the smiles and the joy of that moment when you are gripping antler or horn, excited in the fact that the goal has been reached... the satisfaction of adding another check mark in the win column.
As you strive for your goals, don’t forget to enjoy each step. Savor every aspect of every trip, from booking the hunt to planning the trip to the challenges of each adventure. The life of a Super Slam hunter is one that very few people will ever get to experience. Remember that we are all living the dream, and this magazine is filled with the success stories of hunters who dream BIG.
GSCO’s convention is a great place to gather with fellow hunters and the “Best of the Best” outfitters from North America and around the world.
Hope to see you there!
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