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Venison processing ramps up as gun deer season wraps up

Posted at 5:07 PM, Nov 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-24 18:07:07-05
  • Video shows people lining up with raw venison to have it processed at Maplewood Meats in Howard
  • The plant manager touches on how this gun deer season has impacted business
  • One customer makes the trip from Door County

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Maplewood Meats has been around since the 1980s and it began processing wild game shortly after the business was established.

"They've got some of the best sausage in Wisconsin," customer Sam Nelson said.

Nelson made the trip from Baileys Harbor in Door County to Howard with deer meat he hunted on gun season opening day.

This is his fourth year hunting and second time bringing his wild game to Maplewood Meats in Howard.

"I just started four years ago, because my partner's family has always been hunting and they invited me to come along and I said yes," he said. "I think the thing that I really like about it is just the community aspect to it. It's a lot of hanging out with family that week."

Plant manager Brad Van Hemelryk said he loves being part of the tradition for hunters.

"They get to have a nice finished product [and] they make a lot of memories harvesting it, but we provide a lot of memories on the back end with a finished product that they can share with family and friends," he said. "We set another record for bow season this year and we'll see what gun brings. But, our business continues to grow even though kill numbers can fluctuate from year to year."

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, hunters registered a little more than 92,000 deer during gun hunt opening weekend. They report this is 16% less than 2022 and 10% below the five-year average.

But, things aren't slowing down at Maplewood Meats.

"Now until Christmas we'll see a large influx," Van Hemelryk said.

He said wild game processing can take up to two months, but Maplewood Meats accepts it all year round.