Area sees fewer hunters, dollars

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Hunting season usually brings good fortune to businesses around Craig in the form of people in orange who spend a lot of green. Business owners say this year the number of hunters visiting Craig is down and the effect is hitting local business owners in the pockets.

Karol Janigo, owner of the Black Nugget Hotel, believes the number of hunters is way down compared to years past.

"First hunting season occupancy rates were at 40 percent," said Janigo. "Second season we booked 50 percent of the rooms. We usually over book throughout October, but this year I lost $10,000."

Janigo believes the number of hunters is dropping due to changes in state hunting regulations. Specifically, he blames the low occupancy rates on the cut in number of deer license issued.

Gary Baysinger, owner of Mountain Meat packing, said first season numbers were just as stable as years past but second season numbers of people bringing animals to be processed is down. Baysinger believes the cut in the number of deer license issued may have something to do with it, but said the real reason is economic.

"People just can't afford a hunting trip anymore," said Baysinger. "When they have to pay around $1,500 for an outfitter, $300 for a license and spend more money to process the animal and make the trip out here, people who make $30,000 a year are spending 10 or 15 percent of their income to go on a hunting trip. A lot of people won't do that."

Baysinger said that older people still hunt, but young people are growing disinterested in the sport.

Kelly Stauffer who works at T-K's Truck Stop restaurant has seen the same decrease in the number of hunters this fall but thinks that it is due to a combination of factors.

"Our numbers our way down," said Stauffer. "We're seeing it in dollars and normally you can't find a seat in here, the hunters are lined up outside the door at five in the morning, now we're lucky if we have 10 tables."

Stauffer believes hunters have decided to hunt in other areas because they can't get over-the-counter deer licenses. She also said there was a low success rate last year and the weather has been to warm.

Whatever the reason, the effects of less hunters are being felt by the business.

Whether it is the change in regulations, the economic strain to hunters or the weather, businesses are seeing a lower number of hunters this year. The trend concerns residents because hunting season means the difference between being in the black or in the red for many of the local businesses. Stauffer may have spoken for all of Craig's business owners when she said: "We're praying for a better third season."

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