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Hunters turn out for first Saturday opener; Monday hunting slower

RALPH WILSON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Jake Hollenbach and his son Luke, of Watsontown, head into the woods for Luke’s first year of hunting at Pa. State Game Lands 252 in Union County on Monday. A fresh coating of snow and moderate temperatures made ideal conditions on a day that many schools and some businesses close for what was traditionally the first day of deer season.

David Gross and Dale Holcomb were taking a break from deer processing late Monday afternoon when a hunter pulled up in front of Gross’s business in a pickup truck with a buck.

Wade Morehart had brought the deer to Gross’s Custom Butchering, 1060 Upper Powy’s Road, Cogan Station, following a successful hunt in western Lycoming County.

The seven-point buck was his first deer in six years.

“I just got out of the Army,” he explained. “I missed it (hunting).”

Gross and Holcomb spent much of the afternoon butchering deer for hunters eager for bologna, sausage, beef jerky and mini-steaks.

The deer sizes seem to be about the same as in recent years, according to Holcomb.

“Hunters say the deer are out there,” Gross said.

The harvested deer, he noted, began coming in around 8 a.m., he said.

Monday marked the second day of deer rifle season in the state.

“It’s actually starting out a little slow,” he said. “The tell-tale will be about dinner time. That’s when it gets real busy.”

Gross said the relatively fewer hunters showing up with bucks on what is traditionally the first day of the season likely could be attributed to the Saturday opening this year.

“We probably had a little bit more on Saturday,” he said.

Just four harvested deer had arrived at Hollenbach Custom Butchering in Watsontown by late morning Monday.

“Today is slow,” John Hollenbach said.

Saturday, he said, was the big day when the business saw 75 deer come through the door.

Lauren Zimmerman, of Zimmerman’s Custom Butchering, Winfleld, said Saturday was a busy day for his business as well.

Monday, however, was slow up till noon time.

He said he wasn’t surprised to see the deer kills down on Monday.

Gross said the opening of doe season Saturday, Dec. 7 can be expected to bring many more deer to the business for processing.

“That’s usually a big kill day,” he said.

Some people are donating their kills, Gross added.

Organizations such as Hunters Sharing The Harvest is a donation program for hunters to share extra venison through a statewide network of participating butchers. Food banks redistribute the venison to food assistance organizations.

Meanwhile, hunters reportedly harvested 1,601 bears across the state during last week’s four-day firearms season. Unofficially, Lycoming County topped all counties for bear kills with 261, followed by Clinton, 257 and Tioga, 237.

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