Field-dressed and tagged, hundreds of deer will be brought this week to Piper’s Meat Processing in Andover and Smoking T’s in Jefferson during hunters’ gun season.
Skilled butchers will then check, skin, cut, grind, wrap and season the animals to produce venison steaks, chops, roasts and processed meats, such as bologna and smokies.
Throughout the years, the two businesses have enjoyed close relationships with generations of hunters.
“You hear some stories — it can be entertaining,” said Elaine Piper Ora, whose family has been processing meat for 60 years. “Most of our customers are repeats.”
Todd Neczeporenko, owner of Smoking T’s, said he and his staff always listen to the hunters’ deer stories.
“That’s how you build relationships with your customers,” he said. “We have served many of the same customers for more than 20 years.”
Smoking T’s opened in 1994, he said.
Both butcher shops said they expect the hours to be long all week.
“We start at 5 a.m. and usually work until 7 or 8 p.m.,” Neczeporenko said.
“I have a staff of really good guys who wait until it looks like all the deer have come in [for the day].”
The number of deer that come in depends on the weather, Neczeporenko said.
“If it rains, it’s going to be a crummy week,” he said. “If it’s warm, we will be busy.”
He expects to take in 200 to 300 deer this week.
Piper said the majority of deer that come in are does, but it depends on the year.
Deer gun season is today through Sunday, with an additional weekend of hunting Dec. 21-22. The statewide bag limit is six deer and only one deer can be antlered. Gun hunters can’t exceed Ashtabula County’s individual bag limit of three deer, but only one buck, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division.
Hunters harvested more than 60,500 deer during last year’s weeklong gun season and more than 9,600 during the weekend hunt, according to the ODNRWD.
“Hunting remains the most effective management tool for maintaining Ohio’s healthy deer population,” according to the ODNRWD website.
Legal hunting equipment includes certain shotguns, muzzleloaders, handguns, straight-walled cartridge rifles and archery equipment. More information is available at wildohio.gov.