HOWARD, Wis. (WFRV) – Gun deer season doesn’t even start until Nov. 20, but meat processors say they’re already busy processing hunters’ orders.

“[I] Brought in some venison, I was in Michigan hunting,” Greg Plamann said. “I was fortunate enough to get a deer and have them process the deer here. I’ve never had this done before, so it’s a new experience for me.”

Plamann was one of many hunters dropping off venison at Maplewood Meats to process Wednesday afternoon.

“We’ve seen great numbers for bow season already, coming very, very steadily in,” Brad Van Hemelryk, a Plant Manager at Maplewood Meats said, “nice weather and also we see a lot of early harvest with corn getting off fields, both are playing into a great bow season already.”

According to Van Hemelryk, it’s a busy season for the meat market.

“Everything kind of flows into each other this time of year, we go with bow [deer season], and then we have Thanksgiving on top of gun [deer season],” he explained.

Busy times like this can be a balancing act.

“Now until Christmas is really dedicated on our retail store,” Van Hemelryk added, “but as soon as after the first of the year, we process wild game pretty much five days a week.”

Last year, Van Hemelryk says the coronavirus pandemic seemed to drive more hunters out into the woods.

“People really wanted to be outside,” he explained, “and that’s a great activity for people to get outside and stay safe while social distancing so we actually saw an uptick last year and we’re kind of seeing some of the similar last effects this year as well.”

Hunters will have to wait until they get their meat back, “not ’til the first of the year or later, so a little bit of a wait,” Plamann said, but he expects the wait to be worth it, just like the hunt was: “It was nice getting out there again and experiencing it.”