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Calhoun County, Iowa
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What if you could enjoy some fresh air and exercise, leave the stress of schedules and deadlines behind, and experience nature at its own pace? Hunters enjoy it all in Calhoun County.  

“Pheasant and deer populations are doing great in Calhoun County, so getting your limit is very possible,” said Jacob Lauver, a park ranger for Calhoun County Conservation and an avid hunter. “There are many public hunting areas maintained by Calhoun County Conservation that are available for all to enjoy.”

Not only does hunting offer a unique opportunity to interact with the natural world and enjoy the camaraderie of family and friends, but it helps drive the local economy. As one of the top two states in the United States for pheasant hunting, Iowa attracts hunters from across the nation and beyond. Iowa also consistently ranks in the top 10 states in America for deer hunting.

Communities across Calhoun County reap the benefits. Hunters purchase ammunition, archery gear and other supplies. If they travel to Calhoun County to hunt, they purchase fuel, meals, lodging and more. Hunting also provides funding for conservation and wildlife management.

Yearly spending by hunters in Iowa is $449 million, according to Hunting Works for Iowa (HWFI), a grassroots partnership of organizations focused on hunting, shooting and the economics derived from these activities. Add in the salaries and wages of jobs related to hunting, along with the state and federal tax revenues which hunting generates, and the total ripple effect from Iowa hunting, the revenue is $674 million, HWFI reports. 

Janis Miller, who owns and operates J&J Candles near Manson, enjoys deer hunting in the local area. “I like being close to home and having a meat locker that’s close by where we can have the meat processed.”

Miller and her husband share the meat with friends and family. “We usually have hamburger, summer sausage, ring bologna, jerky sticks and a few steaks made from deer. For the last two years, we’ve donated some of the deer to friends who can no longer get out and hunt but love the meat.”

Have an extra deer at the end of the hunt? Consider donating to Iowa’s HUSH (Help Us Stop Hunger) program. HUSH works with participating lockers across Iowa, including the Yetter Locker, to provide high quality meat to needy Iowans. The program is funded by hunters, who pay a dollar surcharge with each deer tag they purchase.

“There are a lot of hunters in the area,” said Jason Ludwig, who owns and operates the Yetter Locker. “We process about 40 to 50 deer a year through HUSH.”

Ludwig makes jerky, summer sausage and meat sticks from the HUSH deer. He distributes the meat in Calhoun County and Sac County through organizations such as New Opportunities, which serves people in need.

From the time bow hunting season opens October 1, Ludwig stays busy processing deer, in addition to handling his other work. He processes deer meat for local hunters, from Storm Lake to Audubon to Harlan, plus he serves out-of-state hunters who come to Iowa. “I can process ground deer meat, deer loin, deer roast and more,” Ludwig said. “One of my customers is from North Carolina, and I freeze the meat and ship it to him.”

Just as the hunting season has specific time frames, so does Ludwig’s work load. “My goal is to have my deer meat done before the Iowa Meat Processors Association’s annual convention in February.”  

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