Powers Processing offers a local option for deer hunters
When Ralph Powers retired in 2004 after 30 years as a meat cutter, he thought a small deer processing operation might help keep him busy during the winter months.
Little did he realize the demand for deer processing in the New Richmond area.
In the first winter that Powers Wild Game Processing was open, Powers estimated that he handled 50 deer carcasses. Last winter the family business handled 410 deer and early indications are the number will be even higher this winter.
The offerings Powers Processing gives its customers has grown each year to meet its demand. Ralph and his wife, Jill, can make 40 different kinds of sausage, all the way to venison bacon.
Word has spread about the quality of Powers' work. They now have customers from St. Croix, Polk, Pierce and Dunn counties in Wisconsin and Washington County in Minnesota.
When the Wisconsin gun season opens on Saturday, it will start the peak season for deer processing businesses. The Powers said they start working at sunrise during the gun season and work straight through until 8 or 9 p.m. each night.
"Usually the weekend of Thanksgiving is our busiest because everyone is coming back from up north," Jill said. Ralph estimated that on their busiest day, they had more than 50 deer brought in.
The demand for sausage has grown so much that the Powers had to triple the size of their smokehouse. In their first year they made 500 pounds of sausage. Last year, that number grew to 8,500 pounds.
To make the sausage, the Powers buy spice base packages. They add different spices to each for their own recipe.
Last year, venison bacon was the new addition to the sausage options. Ralph worked for a year on different recipes until he found a bacon taste combination he liked.
The Powers also process other animals. They have done 12 bear this year, more than they had done in all the previous years combined. They have processed geese, pheasants, buffalo and elk.
The different animals have led them to try different sausage combinations. They've made bratwurst out of goose meet and bacon out of bear meat. They've also smoked pheasants.
Summer sausage, sticks and jerky are some of their most popular varieties of sausage.
By Nov. 12 the business had already processed more than 100 deer from the bow season. Among those deer, 23 hunters donated the meat to area foodshelves. The Powers said this is an option that continues to grow in popularity.
Powers Wild Game Processing is located on Highway 65, a mile outside New Richmond. Phone numbers are 246-4209 and 377-3291.