Processors good barometer of hunting season

If you want a real idea of how the hunting season went, it doesn’t hurt to talk to a meat processor.

Packing plants that deal in wild game can offer a business-eye view of hunter success in the fall season, and long-time readers know two of my favorites are Old World Meat & Marketplace in Grand Junction and the Purkey Packing Plant in Meeker.

“Just about everybody I see is nonresident,” said Jason Purkey, at 26 the fourth generation of Purkeys to work in the plant founded by his great-grandfather in 1928.

He said his overall business was down this year and he blamed the falloff on several reasons.

“I think the game numbers are down, for one, and I think the way a lot of guys hunt is another,” he said. “Too many guys drive around on four-wheelers and refuse to get off and hunt.”

Cyndi Anderegg at Old World Meat & Marketplace in Grand Junction said her business was good this year, with a welcome increase in the number of nonresident hunters bringing in deer and elk.

“Oh, yeah, we’ve been busy,” said Anderegg, whose husband, Matt, is the second generation of that family to oversee the 46-year-old business. “But it wasn’t steady. The first and third seasons were a bust because of the weather but overall we did well.”

When the weather stays cool, hunters stay longer in camp, waiting until season’s end to bring their game to the processor.

That can mean some unexpected crowds at the meat locker door.

“We’re used to some pretty late nights,” said Anderegg with a laugh. “We’re not going to turn anyone away if we’re here, and on those days we just work until there’s nobody at the door.”


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