Big bucks in the Northwoods

One business in Crivitz compares the start of hunting season to holiday tourism
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 5:43 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2022 at 10:01 PM CST
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CRIVITZ, Wis. (WBAY) - The excitement for deer hunting season isn’t just for the hunters. Business owners in the Northwoods are getting that happy feeling, too.

First Alert Weather meteorologist David Ernst says there are going to be below-freezing wind chills Saturday morning, and the snow that recently fell will still be on the ground for tracking deer. That’s good news for the hunters that hope to capitalize and the business owners in Crivitz and communities like it that hope to cash in.

In Crivitz, Witt’s Piggly Wiggly gets its share of foot traffic in the Northwoods. During deer hunting season, that traffic escalates. New groups of people from all over the country descend on the small town to stock up for deer camp.

”Up here in Marinette County, tourism is huge,” Garett Witt, manager and part owner of Witt’s Piggly Wiggly said. “And, for us, it’s usually Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. Those are the big ones. We got a lot of great campgrounds, rivers, ATVing. You know, you name it, we got it up here in Marinette County. And this is like the fourth major holiday.”

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says the deer population is “robust” and that should help accommodate hunters coming to the area.

The DNR expects over half a million hunters in the state’s woods and fields over the next 9 days. For businesses, that can bring a cash windfall.

We are already seeing a lot of blaze orange around Crivitz. Business owners are welcoming those hunters so they can see another color: green.

Up the road is Gateway Bar & Grill. The local watering hole gets a slightly different clientele when deer hunting season is near.

A Friday fish fry helps to bring the hunters in, but the manager of Gateway, Brandon Schmidt, says it’s busy no matter what was served.

“It has been. It started yesterday. Full dining room, full bar. We open daily at 8 a.m., and they’ve been in here ever since,” Schmidt said.

Back at Witt’s Piggly Wiggly, the Crivitz High School band uses the entryway to sell brats, hot dogs, sodas and water. It’s an annual fundraiser, always held the Friday before deer hunting season begins. The sale began at 7 a.m. and they left at 5 p.m. Here’s what volunteer Brooke Deschane said at our last update on how well it went:

“We’ve definitely made enough money this year to probably get us some new band equipment and help with the choir and band trip in the springtime. I don’t think they know where they’re going yet, so it’s a surprise,” Deschane said, laughing.

Even when they were gone there was still a steady stream of people getting groceries. One group from South Milwaukee told us they have a deer camp and a beer camp.

The number of hunters heading to the Northwoods gave a high school band a financial boost Friday