Thomasville, Georgia-- Thousands of hunters across South Georgia are ending deer season this week on a high note. The final figures aren't in yet, but if one Thomasville processor is any indicator, this season will be among the busiest recently.
Debbie Dollar is one of Hubbard Deer Processing's veteran employees. She's also the customers' most important. "I wrap and keep everything organized in the freezer," says Dollar.
That's a non-stop job since deer season started on October 15th. Ending on Sunday, this harvest is among Hubbard's busiest. "In the last 14 years I've been in business, this is probably, probably one of the four top years," says owner, Gerry Hubbard.
Hubbard says this harvest, like others recently, has been so plentiful because the weather has been more favorable over the past several years. "We normally cut around 120, 125 deer a week. We clean the majority of those deer also," he says.
There have been times this year Hubbard has been so busy, there hasn't been room for another deer in his two 40 foot coolers. "We get quite a few deer from about a 70 mile radius, several counties. We do a lot of deer out of North Florida also," says Hubbard.
Hubbard alone has processed about 1,500 deer this season, a good indicator it will be another stellar harvest like the previous three. The Department of Natural Resources says 410,000 deer were harvested in the 2002 to 2003 season. 484,000 were killed in '03 to '04. And 348,760 were harvested last season.
"I love it. I've been here, this is my fourth year. We stay busy," says Dollar. Just like the more than 300,000 estimated hunters in Georgia.
The average deer processing fee is about $70. That can jump, though, if special cuts, such as sausage, are requested.