COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. — It was a day many people consider to be a holiday in the state of Michigan — opening day for the firearm deer hunting season. While many hunters have this day marked on their calendars, it's also a special one for deer processors.
Barb's Deer Processing in Comstock Park was one of the several shops in West Michigan that had its hands full Monday. For them, the overwhelming business is a good problem to have.
“They come in with their deer, they’re so happy!" Owner Barbara Haveman told FOX 17 Monday. "I’m so happy to see them. So it works good.”
Barbara opened up her butcher shop more than 60 years ago.
“I started it. This is where I end upright, I’m still in it," she joked.
Barbara — or Barb, as her business would indicate — even lives on the property, along with her daughter. It's a true, local family business that spans four generations.
Even at 86, Barb still plays a big part in the process. Maybe even a little too big, according to her family.
“They’ll say, ‘Grandma, get out of here. Go up there and rest. You don’t need to be out here. We’ll take care of it,'" she said.
The family definitely needed her help Monday, with the firearm deer hunting season officially underway.
It's a day Barb has seen plenty of times, but one she still looks forward to every year.
"It is just like a holiday," she said. "It is to us anyhow.”
In Barb's Deer Processing's first year in operation, only seven deer were brought in.
That's a big difference from the 50 deer they saw on Monday alone.
"That’s a lot," Barb said. "That’s a very good opening as far as I’m concerned.”
That meant it was a good day of hunting too.
“We heard a lot of gunshots going off today," said Mason Kelbel, a hunter who was dropping off his deer Monday night. "I was ecstatic."
The game that gets brought in either gets processed for meat, saved as a shoulder mount, or donated.
If the customers decide to keep the meet, they're usually set for several months.
But for Barb's Deer Processing, the work has only just begun.