By Josh Ellerbrock
Sentinel Correspondent
LEIPSIC - Out of the 29 huntable big game North American species, Leipsic resident Mark Buehrer has harvested 23. Only six more to go. And he has the means to do so.
Buehrer is the current owner of Bowhunting Safari Consultants, a business he runs out of his home located outside of Leipsic. Hunting is a hobby that became a job for Buehrer. Yet he keeps his passion for the hunt.
"It defines who I am. It's a part of my fiber," Buehrer said.
Inside his home, many mounted and stuffed animals from caribous to cougars pay testament to his bowhunting experiences. He has traveled the world for his harvests, spending time throughout the Canadian provinces including the Yukon. He has hunted in Alaska 20 times in the last 14 years.
"I got a lot of frequent flyer miles," Buehrer said.
And through his job, he helps other bowhunters go to many of the same locales both exotic and domestic. In a nutshell, Buehrer's job consists of working as a travel agent for some of the most serious bowhunters on the planet. Out of the 21 hunters who completed the North American bowhunting super slam (harvesting the 29 huntable big game animals), 14 have booked sometime with his agency including hunting star Tom Miranda. Recently, the prince of Malaysia, Tunku Ismail Idris, booked with Buehrer.
To plan successful hunts, Buehrer has to use his extensive hunting knowledge and experience. Buehrer must maintain relations with outfitters across the world. He takes into account the best areas for certain animals, as well as the best times. Sometimes, hunts need to be planned two to three years into advance to make sure everything works out well.
Buehrer also looks at the experience and knowledge of the hunter he's planning for. Some hunts require higher degrees of physical ability as well as bigger cash flows - such as a $40,000 price tag for a polar bear expedition.
And if a hunter doesn't have the needed knowledge, Buehrer can help fill in the gaps. For example, local bowhunters, who only have white-tailed deer as big prey ignore the need of some of bowhunting's other talents, such as spotting and stalking.
"If a guy wants to hunt grizzley bears, how are you going to help him unless you've done it yourself," Buehrer said.
Buehrer took over the Bowhunting Safari Consultants 14 years ago from Neil Summers who originally started the business. Before that, Buehrer worked as the director of operations at Whirlpool. Since he took over the business, the hunting business has kept growing in parallel with the growth of bowhunting as a sport.
Buehrer's own experiences with a bow began at the age of six when his neighbor gave one to him. His first targets were fish in Riley Creek. Since then, bowhunting has become more widespread as bow technology improves and bowhunting knowledge expands.
And in terms of accepting the sport, Putnam County has its own fair share of hunters. So many in fact, that every hunting season any bucks working to make it past four years of age are rarely left alive. Out of the 88 counties in Ohio, Putnam County is dead last when it comes to harvesting the largest racks during the bowhunting season, Buehrer said.
Landscape also plays a factor. The large farming fields that make up much of the local landscape leaves little room or cover for any deer hoping to hide from the season's hunters.
As for those hoping to get into the sport, Buehrer recommends finding a mentor or joining a local gun club such as the Leipsic Rod & Gun Club. Another good start is to visit pro shops and talk to experts there about hunting and gear. However you start, Buehrer said, you need practice, patience and persistence to make your first harvest.
"Your eyes are in front of your face for a reason. You are a predator," Beuhrer said. "It comes very naturally if you have someone to help you."