The only thing meek about Meeker when it comes to hunting is that it’s quietly off the radar. But once people get a taste of what it offers in small-town friendliness and access to big game, they come back again and again.
“We get a lot of repeat customers,” says Stan Wyatt, owner of Wyatt’s Sports Center, now entering its 20th year as a hunting supply company. “Most of our business is non-residents. We see so many people year after year that it’s hard to remember them all.”
Wyatt estimates he’s had a customer from every state in the country and beyond. “We’ve had them from Alaska, Hawaii and Canada, and even England,” he says. “People always say how beautiful it is around here, what a great little town it is and how friendly the people are. It has a great reputation.”
This reputation — as well as the bountiful filling of hunting tags — is what has led to so much repeat business, both for local guides and outfitters as well as area lodges and hotels. “It’s usually the same groups coming back year after year, and it’s always nice to see them,” says Blue Spruce Hotel manager Beckey Dowker, who also hunts every fall. “It’s like family coming back every year. Most people like that we’re just a quiet little mountain town.”
Further illustrating Meeker’s charm is the fact that many of its well-traveled residents are more than happy to call it home. Just ask Bill Wille, the owner of Antlers Taxidermy who has hunted around the globe. Wille first came to town decades ago for the hunting and has operated his service out of Meeker for the past 35 years. “The hunting is why I came out here, and that’s what I still love about it,” says Wille, whose workshop is a veritable menagerie with more than 200 mounts of large cats, bears, rodents, fowl and other animals from all over the world— including a rare ibex from Turkey.
Despite his world travels, Meeker always will remain close to Wille’s heart. And it’s those same reasons that keep visiting hunters coming back for more year after year.
— Andy Bockelman