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Meat processors anticipate busier hunting season

Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 9:05 PM CST
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GRAND CHUTE, Wis. (WBAY) - On the eve of the gun-deer season, while hunters were stocking up on last-minute items, meat processors were also preparing for what might be a busier weekend than recent years.

As soon as the sun rises, hunters across the state will begin this year’s deer harvest. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, participation is likely to be a lot higher.

It was a busy Friday night at stores like Niemuth’s Southside Market in Appleton.

“A lot of people shopping, both Thanksgiving and deer hunting. Food is going out great. We got some good Wagyu steaks, a lot of good steaks going out for deer camp. The hot pickles for the Bloody Mary’s,” Richard Niemuth said.

Local meat processors wanted to make sure they’re ready for the crowds this weekend.

John Haen, co-owner of Haen Meats, says he already saw a surge in business during the recent bow hunt.

“COVID, I think a lot more people are spending time outdoors enjoying nature and taking part in the hunt that maybe that didn’t in past years, so something to do.”

In the back parking lot of Haen Meats, trailers are set aside for the harvest. They’re expected to fill up.

“During the gun season we do process a large amount of deer, but we do get to a point where we do get full, so we’ll cut as many as we can until we get to that point and then after that we just accept boneless venison because that’s something we can keep frozen,” Haen said.

Last year’s harvest was down by about 50,000 deer, but hunting license sales were up this year and it’s more likely we will see a spike.

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