BGC Member Spotlight-Mike Marsh
By Tami Hahn
BGC member since 1978.
If you spend a little time talking to Mike Marsh chances are you are going to learn something about the outdoors. You can bring up any range of topics, from the best fishing holes in the state to the secrets to being a better wing shot and you will find this man has either experienced it, written about, or photographed it-usually all 3. A professional outdoor writer since 1990, in a typical year Mike produces around 400 published articles and 600+ published images for magazines and newspapers across the U.S.
Mike first joined Buccaneer in 1978 when it was made up of about 25 men who shot on a range on Military Cutoff Road in Wilmington. He remained a part of the group even after they lost those ranges due to owner disputes and development. He then tried to help establish a new range just south of Pilot’s Ridge, but that too was soon lost to new county ordinances restricting shooting ranges. For 2 years, he and other die-hard members continued to pay dues even when they had no where to shoot, as they looked toward a future permanent home for the club. He fondly recalls when Steve Long found the first 25 acre tract of land in Winnabow for what would be the foundation of today’s club. Steve and Don Sloop negotiated the purchase using those early dues and the sale of promissory notes for $100 each, of which Mike bought 3.
Mike worked with Mike Williams and other founding members to lay out the first ranges with bush axes and a compass where the 50 and 100 yard rifle ranges now sit. He had the honor of firing the first shots to open the new range by tossing some cherry tomatoes in the sand and shooting them with a .22 caliber Smith & Wesson Model 18 revolver. Within a year, they had built berms, bench rest positions, rifle sheds, skeet ranges and a trap house. The first BGC All Around Club Shoot was held in 1981 and Mike took first place. In those days, he was shooting 5 days a week and excelled in the shotgun sports. In 1990 he left a civil engineering job and moved toward becoming a professional writer. This brought opportunities to travel the country while still enjoying his passion for shooting and fishing at writer’s conventions and invitational shoots. He got to shoot and fish with some of the true greats, including the shooting editor of Outdoor Life who once called him “the greatest wing shooter I have ever seen”.
Marsh has passed on his skills and love for the shooting sports to two other BGC members, his son Justin and his nephew, Jeff DeSantis. Mike will tell you that without Buccaneer, neither his writing career nor his shooting skills would have ever reached the heights they have. In the past 30 years he has written over 10,000 published articles, had thousands of photographs used in newspapers, magazines and online articles, and written 4 books on the outdoors. He has also received 10 Excellence In Craft writing industry awards and in 2008 he founded the North Carolina Public Access Foundation, Inc. in an effort to give back to the sporting community. His goal as its Director is to increase and preserve all types of public access to hunting, fishing and shooting facilities across the state of North Carolina. In reflecting on where he is today, Mike said “It all goes back to Buccaneer. The shooting skills I was able to hone at the Club enabled me to pursue my writing career. I can’t say enough good things about how much the shooters and the club have brought joy to my hobby, career and life”.
Author’s note: Mike’s books entitled “Fishing North Carolina”; “Quest For the Limit: Carolina Hunting Adventures”; “Inshore Angler: Coastal Carolina’s Small Boat Fishing Guide” and “Offshore Angler: Carolina’s Mackerel Boat Fishing Guide” can be found on his website at mikemarshoutdoors.com.