beverly hills polo club cologne Fairbanks trapper Marty Meierotto makes the cover of Field Stream
FAIRBANKS The cover shot says it all.
There’s wild eyed Marty Meierotto, his head of wavy hair corralled by a bandana just like it always is, standing in what looks to be the stark Alaska wilderness but which is really the field next to his house in Two Rivers that doubles as his runway.
He’s wearing his ratty green parka, of course, along with his ratty black and blue snowpants and his ratty bunny boots. He’s hoisting a .358 caliber rifle with the butt end resting on his hip in one hand, and there is a pile of lynx furs draped over his other arm.
In big bold letters, the main headline reads, “The Ultimate Survivor.” A smaller headline underneath the main head states, “Life in the Wild With Alaska’s Toughest Trapper.”
He isn’t quite sure how he landed on the cover of the February issue of Field and Stream Magazine, but the Fairbanks trapper knows what will happen now that he did.
“It’s flattering, but at the same time, it’s a little embarrassing,” Meierotto said. “I’m going to get a lot of ribbing over it.
“A lot of Alaska trappers will look at it and go, ‘Oh man, Marty, what did you do.'”
The picture is a teaser for a story by Field and Stream columnist Bill Heavey, who spent a week last February with Meierotto on his trapline in the wilderness 200 miles north of Fairbanks. The story is the centerpiece for the magazine’s annual survival issue that went on sale Tuesday.
It wasn’t until last week, when he flew back into town with some fur, that Meierotto found out he was going to be featured on the cover.
“I don’t want to sound like I don’t think it’s cool, but nobody said ‘We’ll put you on the cover,'” he said, somewhat taken aback by the whole thing. “Nobody said this was for the survival issue. The whole survival thing was new to me. It makes it sound like I’m a survivalist or something.”
Don’t get Meierotto wrong. He does think it’s cool, especially since the article by Heavey portrays trapping in what he feels is a positive light. But being billed as “Alaska’s toughest trapper” splashed on the cover of a leading national outdoor magazine with a circulation of 1.5 million was never part of the plan.
“Heck no,” Meierotto said. “I’m just a trapper like all the rest of the trappers.”
Truth be told, Meierotto is more than just any trapper. While he might not be Alaska’s toughest trapper, he ranks right up there, said Randy Zarnke, president of the Alaska Trappers Association.
After checking Heavey’s credentials “I did check him out to make sure he wasn’t working for PETA” Zarnke made a list of possible candidates, and Meierotto’s name was near the top.
“He didn’t jump off the stool at the chance to do it, but Marty was the first one that said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do that,'” Zarnke said.
The 49 year old Meierotto is the quintessential Alaska Bush trapper,
Zarnke said, both in terms of attitude, appearance and application. Things that most people perceive as hardships, such as living in tiny cabins without electricity in the middle of the Alaska wilderness at 40 and 50 below, are things Meierotto relishes.
“He’s doing what he loves and is willing to extend the extra effort to do it,” Zarnke said. “The physical challenge of trapping in a remote location like that is something he looks forward to and is something most other people would run away from.”
A smoke jumper for the Alaska Fire Service in the summer, Meierotto spends his winters trapping on the Black River 200 miles north of Fairbanks. He commutes back and forth to town in his 1937 Supercub. He used to spend the whole winter living on the trapline, but that was before 3 year old daughter Noah Jane came along. These days, he spends a week or two at a time on the trapline before coming back for a day or two.
The area in which he traps is some of the most remote country in Alaska.
“I’ve never seen another human being in there that I didn’t haul in there,” Meierotto said.
In addition to the trapping and outdoor savvy he has accumulated throughout the past 25 years, Meierotto is a bona fide, larger than life Alaska character with a quick wit and upbeat, down home demeanor. Meierotto wasn’t born in Alaska, but he belongs here.
“That was the whole plan, to come up here and live in the woods,” said Meierotto, who drove to Alaska with his brother, Jeff, from Wisconsin in 1985. “I didn’t quite make it.”
As the 54 year old Heavey quickly found out, Meierotto spends more time in the woods than most people. The article chronicles Heavey’s tumultuous week with Meierotto on the trapline in a humorous, self deprecating way.
To make a long story short the magazine article covers 12 pages including pictures Heavey had a rough go of it trying to keep up with Meierotto, whom he describes in the story as a “an unusually hardy member of the species.”
Meierotto, who runs about 120 miles of trapline with one main cabin and three smaller ones built at different points along the line, uses a snowmachine to travel his line. With Heavey along, he said he was trying to keep distances short.
“I’d cover 20 or 30 miles with him and get him to a cabin, and then I’d go run spur lines while he waited at the cabin,” Meierotto said.
On the third day, Heavey got lost when he took a wrong turn while following a map Meierotto had drawn for him.
“He had never ridden a snowmachine, and we were covering many, many miles,” Meierotto said. “He didn’t want to run a section of line with me and said, ‘How about you draw me a map back to the main cabin, and I’ll meet you there?'”