Jerry Davis: Whitetails lure ex-Wisconsin resident back from Alaska
BARNEVELD — Kim Meier, 62, ended his career in the Army while in Alaska and then went to work at the U.S. Postal Service there in Wasilla.
One might imagine all the hunting opportunities in the 49th state would satisfy his quest for wild meat.
“Everyone in the family loves Wisconsin venison,” said Meier, who grew up near Blue Mounds. “So I come here about every other year and take back about 100 pounds of ground and cut up venison. I spend the entire nine days hunting and visiting relatives.”
Josh Meier, Kim’s 37-year-old son, was along on this nine-day trip to participate in the season running from Nov. 17-25.
He’s been here before, but not recently.
“My license cost $70 because I haven’t been hunting here for many years,” Josh Meier said. “My dad’s license cost $160, because he’s been coming regularly since 1975.”
Kim Meier recalls seeing a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources television clip that explained new, out-of-state hunters get a break because once they’ve experienced hunting here they want to come back again and again.
It’s like getting someone hooked and then they’re willing to pay the full non-resident fee.
Kim Meier understands that.
Moose is one of the main wild-meat animals the Meiers hunt in Alaska.
“You can get gamy moose just as you can get a gamy Wisconsin deer,” Kim Meier said. “Some of the moose are collared, like your deer, but those collars weigh about 30 pounds.”
The quest for venison is the same every time. Hunt hard until the tags are filled and then take the deer to Uncle Jimmy’s in Blue Mounds to be cut, ground, wrapped and frozen for the 3,500-mile trip back to Alaska.
“The two, fifty-pound boxes of venison are part of our luggage. An expensive part,” Kim Meier said.
The Meiers’ clothes and guns take up two full luggage items and venison takes up a third, at a cost of about $150 for that third item.
Together, the trip will cost them about $2,000. The thrill of hunting here is the craftiness of these white-tailed deer.
“I like hunting here because the deer are so smart,” Josh Meier said. “It’s a real challenge to hunt them.”
Weather is about the same here during deer season as it is in Alaska. But ...
“Our first snowfall this winter was 15 inches and in January it can be 20 or 30 below zero,” Kim Meier said. “We go right from summer to winter it seems. Fall is usually about a week.”
The Meiers are enamored with the other wildlife, too. Two years ago a bobcat walked up to Kim Meier; this year it was a coyote, and a chipmunk that came calling two consecutive days.
The most recent time Kim Meier thought the chipmunk was being overly noisy, but when he turned around it was a deer doing all the leaf-rustling.
The Meiers make up part of the crowd of hunters, often representing every state in the nation, as well as several foreign countries.