COLEMAN, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Nearly 1,500 hunters and their families hit the streets of Downtown Coleman last Friday, waiting to get into the deer blinds before the sun rose Saturday morning.
If you drive through any small town across the Lone Star State, around this time of year, there is a good chance you’ll see a “Welcome Hunters” banner. Deer season is a massive economic draw for rural towns. In fact in 2021, it was a $4.6 billion industry in Texas.
For Coleman County, hunting season helps ignite its economic growth right before the holidays, helping local businesses see massive upticks in purchases.
The 100-year-old Owl Drug Store, Fountain and Grill (312 South Commercial Avenue) has a lot to offer as is, but when November rolls around, it is jam-packed with camouflage clothes and bright hunter orange jackets.
Amanda Lowery talked with KTAB/KRBC and said she’s worked as a waitress at the grill for nearly two years. Profits typically go up at least 30-40% when hunters arrive compared to the rest of the year, she said.
While it remains the busiest time of the year for the grill’s staff, Lowery said it’s those hunters who come from all corners of the United States who make it enjoyable.
“It’s great, you know, you get to hear all their hunting stories and sometimes they’ll show off their pictures,” Lowery listed. “Then you get the kids that come in with their parents and they’re hunting, too. That is that’s my favorite part.”
Executive Director of the Coleman County Chamber of Commerce, Agriculture and Visitor’s Bureau, Becky Slayton said Coleman makes “in the millions” in economic revenue from hunting season alone.
“We’ve been a very blessed community, and again, if it weren’t for these people coming in and appreciating our community, it wouldn’t be where it’s at today,” Slayton gushed.
11 new businesses have set up shop in Downtown Coleman in the last year, according to Slayton, with three more on the way. She said hunting season isn’t the primary reason they’ve come, but it definitely helps – especially for those wives who don’t want to be in the deer blind.
“It helps us women when your husband comes, you know. We can go shopping, enjoy a day and we spend the money, and y’all go have fun,” Slayton chuckled.
However, as you round the corner from the Chamber of Commerce and Owl Drug Store, the biggest draw for hunters is the lone grocery store in Coleman.
As you walk through the sliding doors of the Shoppin’ Baskit, you’ll see to your right, a shelf full of ammunition. To your left, deer calls and other blind necessities.
The Shoppin’ Baskit also hosts its annual Big Buck contest, rewarding the top three largest, legal bucks for adults and youth with cash prizes or hunting equipment.
$1,000 goes to the first-place buck in the adult division, while the youth win a new pair of binoculars for the top finisher.