Hunters start the hunt for bargains

They’re on the hunt for last-minute supplies, including apparel, hunting equipment, heaters and snacks
It looked like Black Friday as lines of hunters waited outside a store overnight to shop for supplies
Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 7:34 AM CST
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HOWARD, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin’s nine-day gun deer season starts Saturday. The Wisconsin DNR expects more than a half-million people to hunt across the state, but Friday they were hunting for bargains.

A line of shoppers stretched down the sidewalk at the Fleet Farm’s Green Bay West store for its annual Orange Friday sale. It’s the hunter’s version of Black Friday at Fleet Farm. The store opened at 6 a.m. and hunters flocked inside to stock up.

They were looking for last-minute supplies including apparel, hunting equipment, heaters and snacks. The Fleet Farm store also gave orange hats to the first 500 people in the store. It ran out in just 8 minutes.

”We just come down and save a few things that we need for today so that we have reason to come down and get our hats, our collection we have just sitting up at home, and just get everything we need,” Tom Wilson from Oconto said as he waited in his folding camping chair.

”I need a box of ammo for my 808. I’m a bit low. And I get the orange hat every year. I call it a tradition,” Maleki Pizinkski, also from Oconto, said.

DNR deer specialist Jeff Pritzl said, “I think a big part of the hunt is the tradition and the routine as part of that tradition. So a lot of folks are like ‘We always stop here for gas on Friday. We’re always stopping here at this restaurant Friday evening on the way up to camp,’ or ‘We’re purchasing the same meal we had last year.’”

Hunting has a huge financial impact, contributing $2 billion to the economy statewide, including those gas stations and restaurants, grocery stores and taverns, and of course sporting goods stores and other retailers.

The DNR is lowering expectations for this season’s hunt compared to last year, since there’s no tracking snow on opening weekend this year.

But for hunters, it’s about the journey as much as it is the destination.

“Through that collective mass of people all doing this together is part of what that cultural experience is,” Pritzl said. “We recognize we’ve all got this shared desire and goal to participate, but in amongst all those people there’s a lot of different individual goals and values and things that people are seeking for it. So that’s what makes it really interesting too is that everybody’s looking for their own experience of fulfillment and it’s not the same for everybody.”

Hunters do their last-minute shopping for gear, clothes, and snacks