Hunters spike restaurant business

REED CITY – Breakfast diners boomed with business during the early hours of Saturday.

Hunters flocked toward restaurants to grab a bite to eat before heading out to their hideaways on Opening Day, leaving area restaurant employees scurrying on their feet.

“The early morning was incredibly busy,” said Becky Raines, first shift manager at Cranker’s Coney Island. “I got here at 5:50 a.m. and the whole restaurant was full. Third shift had their whole staff working all night, which isn’t normal. We usually cut some staff members off the floor at night.”

Cranker’s “Big Breakfast” was the most popular meal choice of the morning, Raines said. For $7.89, the “Big Breakfast” includes two or three eggs with pit-style ham, two sausage links, two strips of bacon, hash browns, toast and jelly.

“We have more hunters coming in this year than last year,” Raines said.

In Reed City, Seven Slot Grille welcomed a similar herd of hungry hunters.

“The beginning of the morning was pretty slow, but by 10 a.m., we were hit with customers,” said Summer Borton, waitress at Seven Slot Grille.

“A lot of hunters ordered biscuits and gravy, and country omelets,” Borton said. “We’ve been selling those hardy meals that hunters stereotypically enjoy.”

Although the Seven Slot Grille was expecting a heavy influx on customers, the restaurant scheduled a normal number of staff members, said Christy Wallace, owner.

About 2.5 miles away, H&D Chuckwagon also had a busy morning in Reed City.

“We’ve had a fairly decent morning,” said Hal Clementshaw, owner of H&D Chuckwagon. “It’s definitely busier than a normal day.”

The restaurant sprawled out a large breakfast buffet, which was the most popular meal of the morning, Clementshaw said. The restaurant opened early and had extra staff members to compensate for the large number of guests.

Michigan attracts more than 750,000 hunters every year, according to the Department of Natural Resources. Hunters bring in more than $2.3 billion to Michigan’s economy.

This deer-hunting season, more than 950,000 deer tags have been sold, according to the DNR. This has generated an additional $15.7 million for the state. Aside from tags, each hunter spends an average of $885 on equipment and travel each year.

In the northern lower peninsula, “deer populations are at or near Department of Natural Resources and Environment goals in many of the current deer management units,” according to the DNR’s Final Deer Management Plan. “However, when harsh winter conditions occur, herd size can be noticeably reduced by high winter mortality rates and low fawn recruitment.”

In the southern lower peninsula, current deer populations are over DNRE popular goals in nearly every deer management unit, also according to the plan.