Deer season: Big bucks, big impact - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Deer season: Big bucks, big impact

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Deer season is big business in Texoma. (KTEN) Deer season is big business in Texoma. (KTEN)
Big bucks mean big bucks for Texoma retailers. (KTEN) Big bucks mean big bucks for Texoma retailers. (KTEN)
The trophies on display at Cabela's inspire customers of the outdoors superstore. (KTEN) The trophies on display at Cabela's inspire customers of the outdoors superstore. (KTEN)
Texas taxidermist Roy McCraw at work. (KTEN) Texas taxidermist Roy McCraw at work. (KTEN)
Carter Womack says his deer-hunting sanctuary is a labor of love. (KTEN) Carter Womack says his deer-hunting sanctuary is a labor of love. (KTEN)

November means deer season in Texoma.

Archery season for white tails started in October in both Texas and Oklahoma. Rifle season started in Texas the first Saturday in November; it's the third Saturday north of the Red River.

But for retailers, you could call it "Christmas in November" when it comes to the sheer dollar amount this season generates.

"I just enjoy watchin' the sun come up... watchin' the woods come alive every morning," one hunter told us. "To me, it's more about the hunt than anything."

"It's not just about the kill," another hunter said. "There's a lot lost with that."

To countless numbers of hunters across Texoma, this is church. And before sitting in their deer blind "sanctuaries," plenty of bell-ringing goes on at retailers to attract the congregation.

That's the hunt for the right camo, blind, feeders, firearms, archery equipment; an almost endless wish list. For many of the faithful, the road to the wish list ends here at places like Cabela's.

"This store is a destination store for a lot of folks," said Matt Beasley at Cabela's Allen, Texas, superstore. "They come in and look around the walls at the animals, and the inside of this store is an outdoorsman's dream."

It's a dream that translates into billions of dollars in retail sales. Communities and states across the nation have done their math, and this arithmetic is essential in the annual economic ebb and flow.

Numbers from both sides of the Red River in Texoma reveal that without the annual activity of hunters, anglers and outdoorsmen, revenue would drop by the billions.

So how does a billion-dollar business go unnoticed? Maybe it's the camo. Hunters, anglers and outdoorsmen prowl the backwater bayous, the sloughs, and deer leases that are off the beaten path.

Any way you slice it, deer-hunting is big business in Texas and Oklahoma. In Oklahoma alone,  annual economic activity is estimated to be more than $136 million; in Texas, the figure is $1.2 billion.

A sliver of all that cash goes to preserving the trophies of the hunt.

"You know, your thousand-dollar bow or thousand-dollar rifle; the mount itself, is actually a small portion of hunting," said Roy McCraw of Resurrection Taxidermy in Bonham, Texas.

McCraw says his "small portion" has done well during his short time in the business.

"It's actually doubled every year. It went from a hobby to a full-time job," he said. 

A standard wall mount starts around $550. 

Some of those hunting dollars go to people like Carter Womack and his high-fence white tail haven in Honey Grove, Texas, known as The Range.

Hunters lay down thousands for a trophy buck. But to Womack and others like him, growing mature, trophy white tails from young bucks is more of a labor of love and dedication to conservation.

"You carry that all year long," he said. "The meat we take off this ranch, and we're able to share it with friends and family and sit down over the table and remember the hunt and remember the people and enjoy it 365 days a year."

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, money spent and invested by sportsmen like these helps create more than 680,000 jobs across the country.

And the agency reflects the passing down of hunting heritage with a rise in the number of hunters between 2006 and 2011.

And now that November has arrived, deer stands will hold more of the faithful watching, waiting, and ready to do it all over again next year -- trophy or not.

"I really think it's key to be able to show people they can get away from the technology and actually listen to nature," Womack said.

"I think first and foremost, it's just being outside," Matt said.

"Hanging out, cooking, talking, telling stories... to me, that's what it's all about," Roy added.

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