With more than 200,000 deer taken during the November portion, the  deer processing plants across the state are keeping busy, including the Lockwood Packing Company in Lockwood.

With more than 200,000 deer taken during the November portion, the  deer processing plants across the state are keeping busy, including the Lockwood Packing Company in Lockwood.

The Frickenschmidt family, owners of the company, have been processing deer for successful hunters for 25 years, and this season has been a good one for business, according to Allen Frickenschmidt and son Thomas. With good hunting weather for the opening weekend of the firearms season, hunters were lined up all day at the packing company’s door.

With more than 20 employees year round, the deer season means added workload as the venison is turned into summer sausage, steaks, jerky and burgers.

“We add several employees during the deer season to keep up with all the deer brought in by area hunters,” Thomas said. “We have customers from all parts of the southwest part of the state, as well as other places in Missouri. We had one hunter from Florida last week.

“The record number of deer we have processed during the firearms season was 741, and we average another couple hundred deer during the other parts of the deer season, including archery. As of Sunday, there were more than 600 deer processed at the plant.”

During the rest of the year, the processing plant keeps busy processing other animals, including some elk and buffalo, and the Frickenschmidts make jerky that they service to convenience stores. They also do some caping for taxidermists.

Lockwood Packing is one of the more than 100 deer processors that are involved in the Share the Harvest Program and have 21 whole deer donated by hunters as of Monday. The program provides a way for hunters to donate venison to the state’s hungry and is administered by the Conservation Federation and the Missouri Conservation Department,

Last year, during the deer seasons, 4,540 hunters donated 213,000 pounds of venison to the program.

Over the years, Frickenschmidt said he has heard a lot of stories from hunters and said, “The conservation agents have some of the best deer stories.”

Jack Logan of Springfield was with his friend who had taken a nice buck and brought it to Lockwood for processing.

“I had heard about the good job the Lockwood Processing does and after seeing them in action, I was impressed,” Logan said. “Being there to see all the deer brought in reminded me of the checking stations where hunters would bring their deer to be checked. It was more than that, it was a social gathering with hunters telling their stories about how they got their deer. It was about the same here as I heard many stories of how they bagged the big buck.”

With the antlerless firearms season running through Dec. 5, the Frickenschmidts will keep busy.

On a recent visit to Lockwood, we saw hundreds of pounds of summer sausage and jerky packaged for hunters.

Business like the Lockwood plant is doing shows the economic impact hunters have. Like baseball and apple pie, hunting is a tradition shared by young and old, rich and poor. Hunting is not Democrat or Republican, it knows no congressional boundaries.

Yes, it is a big business that generates billions in retail sales, wages and employs many people who create sales, state and federal income tax revenues, but hunting is a strong, wholesome influence on our society. It is a healthy activity, steeped in heritage that touches the most important aspects of our lives like family and friends and a sense of stewardship for all things wild.