Brian Eikmeier is a self-proclaimed jack of all trades.
He’s a cook, a dad, a student, a plumber, a one-time truck driver and, most importantly, a hunter.
Eikmeier credits his interest in hunting to his aunt and uncle.
“They showed me Minnesota and everything it has to offer,” he said. Eikmeier is a hunter of all game, but has grown partial to turkey hunting.
Eikmeier discovered turkey hunting a few years ago when he started noticing more wild turkeys in Minnesota. Intrigued he started researching, buying videos and paying more attention to the turkey hunting specials on the Outdoors Channel— or as he calls it his “soap opera channel.”
Eikmeier said he learned to turkey call from a informational DVD. “I drove my fiancé crazy,” he said. “Then I taught my kids how to do it, so even when I was gone she never got a break.”
Eikmeier said he remembers well the first time he went turkey hunting.
“The first year I went out with my bow, I made my turkey call and 20 turkeys came to the call,” Eikmeier said. “When they shuffle their feathers it sounds like a tractor. It’s really loud. It was incredible.”
Eikmeier said the growing turkey population in Minnesota, and the subsequent turkey hunting season, is due largely to the help of National Wild Turkey Federation.
“They’ve done a lot for the turkey population here,” he said.
The Wild Turkey Federation has also helped Eikmeier with another project— teaching youth to hunt. It was a Wild Turkey Federation banquet at Gander Mountain that Eikmeier met youth hunting guide, Steve Merlin. Eikmeier said the two clicked immediately and he got involved with Mertin’s youth hunting expeditions as mentor.
Eikmeier said after the first trip he was hooked. The guides made a bet on who’s youth hunter would get the first bird. “My kid won,” Eikmeier said. “I think I enjoyed the hunt more with him shooting than myself. That was when I knew it was something I loved doing.”
Over the last three years, Eikmeier has dedicated much of his free time in late winter and early spring to providing opportunities for kids to experience hunting; kids who may not have the opportunity otherwise, including kids with special needs or are wheelchair bound.
Eikmeier said the youth hunts wouldn’t be possible without the Wild Turkey Federation.
“We have lots of backing, lots of gear and lots of volunteers to take the kids out,” he said. “The biggest thing is getting kids out there and doing it.”
Eikmeier, originally from St. Cloud, relocated his family to the Brainerd area to get away from the hustle of city life.
“We have a nice place out on Crookneck Lake,” Eikmeier said. “We used to hear sirens every day. Now we hear loons.”
In addition to organizing and facilitating youth hunts, Eikmeier is a manager and shift leader at Buffalo Wild Wings in Baxter.
“I love what I do there,” he said. “I work with a lot of amazing people who have amazing talents.”
Eikmeier said his work in the food and beverage industry started after his career in plumbing and heating took a downturn with the economy. “I got sick of getting laid off,” he said. “Every time I got laid off I’d get a job at a restaurant and cook.”
Eikmeier is also a nursing student at St. Cloud State University and St. Cloud Technical College.
“I’m going to school for something I’ve wanted to do my entire life, he said. “I’m hoping I’ll be a flight nurse by the time I’m 30.”
SARAH NELSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5879.