LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – East Texas hunters are seeing a fantastic season and its backing up area meat processors.
One month into deer season and Angelina County Game Warden Timothy Walker hasn't had much time to relax.
"This time of year is busier. Of course, we're on call 24 hours a day," said Walker.
With only the occasional trespassing complaint or minor violations, Walker says it's a hunters paradise.
"We've had an increase in deer harvest this year, so it seems," said Walker.
However, to make sure he checks out area meat processors since its the last stop for hunters coming back from their deer stands.
"We go and check the meat processors and their numbers are up. They're way ahead of where they were this time last year," said Walker.
It's been such a successful season, in fact, that many area meat processing businesses are having to turn customers away.
"We've had to stop taking them this week, and we very seldomly have to do that. Usually it's just for a couple of days," said Chris Ward, manager Massingill's Meat Market.
Ward manages Massingill's which has been an East Texas institution for hunters since 1954.
"Generations. 'what do you do?' 'you kill it, you field dress it. You take it to Massingills," said Ward.
For now, that stop will just have to wait... five to seven days.
"They do exactly what we ask. They keep it on ice, keep the water drained off of it," said Ward.
Officer Walker believes state antler restrictions are behind the busy season.
"What that has done is move younger bucks into a upper age class and so generally when a white-tail buck gets older his antlers get larger," said Walker.
Which Walker says hunters seem to like, and its keeping the meat processors struggling to keep up.
"It's not just us, its other places. From what I understand everyone is having an exceptional year this year. They're all getting blocked out," said Ward.
Since this is only the second year for the restrictions, the game warden says it'll only get better with time. So hunters should have a lot of good hunting to look forward to.