GREAT FALLS — With hunting season in Montana right around the corner, it’s time for hunters to start getting prepared. But what about the meat processing companies?
For about five weeks at the end of every year, meat processing companies see their business skyrocket. To make sure that everything is ready for the start of the season, preparation begins in the summertime.
“You know, throughout the summer we label all our bags and everything, so it just speeds up the process,” said Donny Volk, Owner of Sportsmans Wild Game Processing. “All our vac-packed bags, we vacuum pack all of our stuff and we have all of that stuff prepped and ready to go. Then a couple weeks before the season starts, we get all our pork and all that ready for our sausage, so it just speeds everything up.”
While the exact dates for hunting season in Montana vary based on the animal and the type of hunting, most starting dates land around September to October, with end dates falling in December to January.
“Well it gets really busy starting October 26th, that is Opening Day, and then we’ll work through the first week in December. We try getting it cleaned up after that but it’s usually about five weeks of very fast pace,” Volk said. “The first week is usually very good, and then as soon as the animals start going into rut and everything, the third and fourth week get extremely busy. It’s basically the five weeks are very, very busy.”
Companies like Sportsmans may hire up to 20 seasonal employees just for that five-week period. In the offseason, Volk, his wife, and his daughter continue to operate the coffee shop that is attached to their processing building.
Despite the busy time of year, Volk and his staff make sure to keep their emphasis on quality, even if it means losing out on potential customers.
“We’ve been here 18 years and we really haven’t advertised that much, it’s pretty much word of mouth,” he explained. “Our main focus is quality over quantity. Two years ago, we had a shop close the prior year, so it was extremely busy. We actually turned away a lot of customers that year. We only take what we can handle.”
Sportsmans will begin operating on hunting season hours, 8 A.M. – 7 P.M., seven days a week, on October 26th.
For more information on hunting dates, licenses and permits, click here to visit the FWP website.