By Doc Watson
Special to the Herald Times
MEEKER | Marie Haskett, owner/operator of JML Outfitters, was voted by other Colorado outfitters as the 2016 Outfitter of the Year, awarded by the Colorado Outfitters Association. “It was quite an honor to have my peers vote me in,” Haskett said.
While she did not specify the criteria on which this award is based, a quick look at the COA’s “Code of Ethics” on their website offers several clues. Just a few points include: abiding by all state and federal laws and regulations concerning wildlife and natural resources; representing services completely, honestly and fairly; maintaining serviceable and safe equipment; maintaining the highest safety in conducting outfitting and guiding activities; and respecting other outfitter’s and guide’s rights.
Haskett was also awarded, for the second time, the President’s Award, which is given for “service above and beyond,” said Jennifer Burbey, who is part of COA’s office personnel. “It signifies the upholding of the ethics and professionalism of our organization to the highest degree.”
To call JML Outfitters a family business is an understatement. Located 30 miles east of Meeker on Papoose Creek, it was originally started by Haskett’s grandfather Glynn “Doc” Frasier in 1961, continued by her mother Maggie Haskett and now belongs to the third generation. Haskett’s own experience now totals 30 years.
In addition to the many drop camps she operates on eight different sites during hunting season, she does trail rides and fishing and camping trips during the summer and works on training horses during the winter, preferring the imprinting method. Since she raises most of her own stock, she “starts working with them the day they hit the ground.” While she needs some help during hunting season, she does all this mostly on her own.
Just as Haskett is the third generation of JML, she has clients who are also third generation. “I’ve had people who worked or hunted with my grandfather and then their kids and grandkids,” she said. “I’m fortunate that much of my business is repeat business.”
A very special part of JML is what Haskett calls their Horse Crazy Camp (thankfully not Crazy Horse Camp). Starting at age 10, kids come to learn to ride and be responsible for all aspects of their horse for six days, including feeding, grooming, saddling and exercising.
Horse Crazy Camp has actually been a part of JML since the 1970s. “My mother did this when I was child,” Haskett recalled. “I just continued it on and made it grow.” Many of the kids return for four or five years and some even come back to help Haskett during hunting season or even a week of camp.
When the kids get a little older, Haskett takes them on a “cross-country” trip. “We start out at Trappers Lake, Big Fish, or South Fork and ride all the way back to my house,” she said. “It’s four days and three nights, and we move camp every day. It’s a great experience for the kids. There’s no TV, no cell phones, no anything, and they actually love it.”
Of all the memories she could recall and stories she could tell, Haskett expressed the bottom line: “Most of it’s just making friends, some who become almost family. I love teaching kids, helping people get their animal, and just helping them all enjoy the great outdoors. It’s a fun and rewarding job.”
By Doc Watson