Despite hunting challenges, deer processing steady
YATES, SCHUYLER COUNTIES--Regular season for deer hunting is normally one of the busiest hunting days of the year. After opening Nov. 21 this year, area butchers and processors were ready to help hunters turn their deer into various meat products. While the business of processing the deer has remained somewhat steady, two area processors have noted the hunters they serve have not indicated much luck in the woods this year.
Glen Sensenig of Log City Meats in Dundee said his opening day numbers were actually up from last year on opening day with 60 deer. Last year, Sensenig said they had 52 deer in their shop brought in by area hunters for processing. Of the deer brought in, he estimates around a third of them were bucks.
"So far we are up to 375 deer, which is about 50 ahead of last year," Sensenig said of the entire season. "Our numbers are up as a whole."
He previously said depending on where the shot is placed and the skill of the butcher, the average deer can yield anywhere between 30 to 50 pounds of meat. This meat is then turned into a variety of cuts or processed products for the hunter. Sensenig attributes this rise in business to the word of mouth spread by hunters, but he noted the hunters themselves said it has been a rougher year than usual.
"I have been hearing more negative stuff about success in the woods," Sensenig said.
The story is similar in Schuyler County, where Cooley's Butcher Bay in Alpine has seen steady business despite reports of less success by area hunters. Owner Steve Coolican said his numbers are down to around 120 deer on opening day from some 146 last year. However, Coolican said this range is normal for the season. He said throughout the season, they have processed some 350 deer in total.
"We are about normal just because we cover such a large area," Coolican said. "We are the only processor in the area."
However, Cooolican also noted the deer numbers are lower this year, adding "10 years ago you could drive down the road and see 25 deer during the summer. Today you will see four." He said it is hit and miss depending on where a person hunts, adding finding a place to hunt can also pose a challenge to hunters.
"The deer are definitely lower in the area," Coolican said. "[...] There is no doubt the numbers are definitely low. There are many factors, as far as deer properly being called in, which [the state] is now gaining control on and writing tickets on this stuff. Control of tags is another factor and also the coyotes are a big hurdle for the deer, especially with the young."
One of the things Coolican noted was the start of the Venison Donation Coalition some 10 years ago, noting the donations have dropped off from around 1,000 pounds years ago to only 250 last year. He said they are trying to encourage hunters to donate just a few pounds of their kill to the program and have gathered around 500 pounds so far this year for the food bank. Coolican noted people do not kill a deer just to donate anymore.
"Two pounds feeds a family of four for a day," Coolican said. "That is our big goal for this year."