Texas Game Warden Explains Huge Uptick in Hunters Ahead of Final Week of Deer Hunting Season

by Josh Lanier

It’s been a very busy deer hunting season. In fact, it’s been one of the busiest in recent memory for most states. One Texas game warden has a theory why: Covid-19.

Yes, the bane of 2020 that has upended life across the planet has actually been good for hunters and the hunting industry, Smith County game warden Chris Webb said.

“We’ve seen a tremendous amount of hunters. I think a lot of that has to do with the COVID. People not working and a lot of kids not in school,” Webb told KLTV.

KLTV spoke with processors and taxidermists who’ve struggled to keep up with the amount of business this year. Some processors closed their doors multiple times during this season just to catch up with the backlog. It wasn’t just Texas either. States across the country saw spikes in the amount of deer that hunters brought back for processing.

“I would say the season is a blessing in disguise,” Courtney Long of Daddy D Taxidermy in Texas told the station. “We took in more deer than we’ve ever expected.”

People stuck at home want an escape, she said. And many people turn to their hobbies and what they enjoy most to get through these tough times.

“Seemed like more people were in the woods because of (COVID-19), because they can’t go out and do everything else they want,” Long told KLTV.

Hunting Regained Popularity, Grew in 2020

Sales of hunting licenses were up 12 percent nationwide, meaning 1 million new hunters joined in the sport this year. That’s according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms trade group. Gun sales were also up this year.

Lodges in North Dakota discussed how normally, hunters head into Canada to look for game. But Canada is closed to Americans right now. So, they stayed close to the border and hunted here.

“We were booked full with return customers,” Virginia Schumacher, owner of Prairie Pothole Lodge said. “We got a lot of phone calls. It definitely made some people consider North Dakota for their hunting.”

The reasons for the spike are varied. Game warden Webb said one of those may be more practical than recreational. Especially for anyone struggling financially during the pandemic.

“If you can go out and take this meat, you don’t have to buy it at the store,” he said.