East Texas meat processors confident despite slow start to deer season

East Texas meat processors confident despite slow start to deer season
Source: KTRE staff
Source: KTRE staff

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The weekend saw hunters hit the deer stands all over East Texas for the official start of this year's deer season. While the hunters where in the stands, deer processors were eagerly waiting for their customers to return with a lot of meat, but the results varied across the region.

At Massingill's Meat Market in central, a slow start meant time for workers to get a head on other jobs before the real rush begins.

"Usually we have a whole lot more of the orders ready, but it's slowing down but it will pick up," said owner Chris Ward.

Ward said despite only having about 100 deer brought in during the first weekend, he expects a busy couple of months.

"Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years; that's about the only three days we get off until we get caught up," Ward said. "My season is done when I am in Mexico on vacation. That will be in March."

An empty processing table is rare at Wild Meat Processing in Etoile, but co-owner Lisa May and her family have been hard at work.

"We're up," May said. "From last year to the year before, every year has been a little more."

Both processors agree that weather and lunar patterns played a role over the weekend.

"They weren't coming out at first, with a three quarter moon and they were feeding at night," Ward said.

"Some of our hunters say they got their deer 15 minutes after being on the stand," May said. "Some didn't see any and some saw them real quick."

By the beginning of January, Ward and May said they should see good results.

"We're expecting a lot of big deer," May said.

"Every five or six years, it has a big spike and I think that might have been last year," Ward said. "It may be down a little bit, but I don't think it is going to be a big hurt."

Shawn Phillips, a captain with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Wardens, said his officers did not have any major issues over the weekend and that even though the number of deer killed over the weekend was lower than most opening weekends, they did see good quality in the deer that were killed.

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