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Busy opening day of rifle deer season

Saturday was the first day of rifle deer season in Pennsylvania and places like Smokin' Joes were bustling.

LACKAWANNA COUNTY, Pa. — For some lucky hunters, opening day of rifle deer season in northeastern Pennsylvania is like a holiday.

"Oh, it's better than Christmas, well, for me anyway. Opening day is the best. I like it," said Robert Julian, Archbald.

"It was pretty cold, but I saw a bunch of doe, and I was about to take a doe, and then I heard one more behind me, so I turned around, and it was a nice buck," said Jeff Smicherko, Pittston Township.

It was just before noon when Newswatch 16 stopped by Smokin' Joes near Mount Cobb to see the harvest so far in Lackawanna County. 

The owner says in his more than 35 years of deer processing, this is one for the record books.

"I could honestly tell you this is the busiest we've ever been on opening day. We probably doubled what we would normally take in around this time," said Joe Dombrowski, owner, Smokin' Joes.

Hunters were surprised, too, when they brought in their does and bucks seeing all of the other deer coming in to get processed.

"Yeah, I was shocked. It was still pretty early, so I figured there wouldn't be many people here, but we got in, and we were standing in line for a while, so it's good. A lot of hunters out," said Jake McGovern, Scranton.

"Usually, they're always busy, but I'm surprised so many guys got a lot of nice bucks today," said Smicherko.

For people like Robert Julian of Archbald, opening day is a tradition. He bagged an 8-point buck.

"I had a feeling yesterday that something good was going to happen today because I couldn't sleep last night; I couldn't wait to get out into the woods," said Julian.

With so much more of the season left to go, Dombrowski reminds hunters to plan ahead on where to take the deer.

"We get to a certain point, and we have to stop taking them. My advice to hunters is to make sure you have a processor or two or three that you can try to get a hold of to get your deer processed," said Dombrowski.

The last day of rifle deer season is Saturday, December 10.

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