Michael Pearce

King’s, popular wild game processor near Halstead, closes

Bill King, who processed wild game for Kansas deer and elk hunters with his family for many years, has closed the business in rural Halstead.

A woman who answered the phone at the family home said they’d called many past customers to notify them of the closure, and hoped word would spread so hunters could make other plans.

King and his workers were known for being meticulous when processing deer.

“If I wouldn’t feed it to my family, I won’t send it home with someone else,” King said last winter. The facility was one of the few in Kansas that would not mix the venison of other hunters when making burger or specialty items like jerky, sausage or meat sticks.

It’s the second prominent area wild game processor to close in as many years. Just prior to the 2014 hunting seasons John Parsons announced he was closing his taxidermy and wild game processing business in Derby. Like King, Parsons didn’t mix venison with that of other hunters.

Mark’s Meats, located in downtown Halstead, remains open and accepting deer during the on-going firearms deer season.

More updates

Last week’s ice storm left most of Kansas well coated, but most outdoorsmen don’t think it had a hugely detrimental impact on quail and pheasant populations. Hunters out afterwards report finding good numbers of birds. Most who got birds said they found plenty of fat on the pheasants and quail they cleaned.

Heavy cover from last summer’s heavy rains surely provided important protection from the elements, and probably left places on the ground ice-free so food could be found. That the ice came early in the fall, after weeks of warm weather, surely helped, too.

It’s too early to judge the firearms deer season that opened Wednesday morning, but reports from afield indicate there’s no shortage of mud and some rural roads are largely impassible. Many areas received up to four inches of moisture between the rains on Thanksgiving and subsequent freezing rain and drizzle the following three days.

Upcoming coverage

Sunday’s Outdoors page feature will be on a local deer hunter who is one of the most enjoyable that I’ve met since coming to The Eagle more than 15 years ago. Khoua Thao is a mechanical engineer at Textron, and took advantage of a large section of jet fuselage that was being discarded and has turned it into his dream hunting blind.

What adds interest to the story is that the blind is larger, and much nicer, than the tent where a young Thao and his family lived for a year-and-half in a refugee camp in Thailand in the mid-1970s. Laotian farmers, they’d been forced to leave their homeland when communists took over the area at the end of the Vietnam war.

I’ll also have an update on how the firearms deer season is going from interviews with wild game processors, taxidermists and game wardens.

Down the road I’ll have a story about a day hunting with Lee Queal, of Pratt. As well as an avid deer hunter at 82, Queal is actually the architect for the framework for Kansas’ first deer season in 1965. Most of what he started back then is still in use by today’s Wildlife and Parks biologists. In some ways, Queal was way ahead of his time in terms of deer management.

I’m also planning to run letter I send to Santa, asking for something that’s very important to me. There will probably be the annual round-up of the best outdoors stories and photos from 2015, too.

Michael’s world

We had a great Thanksgiving weekend, despite the weather. For that day’s dinner we hosted longtime friends Ray and Barbara Adee. Ray’s currently on Hospice and getting him in and out of a car, and then up the few steps in to our house, wasn’t easy but it was worth it. We’ll help them celebrate their 69th wedding anniversary later this month. Even with bone cancer, Ray’s still one of the sharpest 92-year-old men I’ve ever met. His wife, Barbara, is amazing as well.

Jerrod and Carilyn made it from Overland Park to Newton on Saturday, getting here just before the highways started to freeze. They brought both of their dogs, Peyton and Theo. Both are mid-sized dogs from shelters. Theo is only about five months old so he and Cade, our wing nut Lab, had a great time.

We lost power at about 11:30 Saturday night, which wasn’t surprising. What was, was that it seemed like our block was one of the few places in Newton without electricity.

While having breakfast at a local cafe/truck stop, we noticed a Westar crew at a nearby table. The guys had been working non-stop since 7 p.m. and looked beat. We struck up a casual conversation, asking how things were progressing.

We told them where we lived and how long we’d been without power. They said they were headed to Peabody where there were many more houses lacking electricity. We wished them well and asked that the guys be careful, no matter how upset powerless customers might get. If needed, I also told them they could certainly pull a utility truck into our backyard, through a big gate in our fence.

Lo and behold, about 20 minutes later the crew showed up on our street. Twenty minutes after that we had power. They thanked us for letting them pull a truck with a raised bucket in to our front yard. Their only other option would have been to climb the ice-coated power pole with spikes on their feet.

“That makes things so much faster and easier,” one guy said. “We don’t get permission for that very often. Some people don’t even want us walking across their yards when we’re trying to get the power back on.”

The truck left a few dents in our yard which will eventually raise back up. That’s a small price to pay, seems to me.


Michael Pearce