Some lucky hunters have more than enough bucks, or doe – white-tailed, that is. When that happens, there are several nationwide networks set up for local venison sharing. All you need to do is make arrangements to timely deliver free kills to participating butcher/processors.
During 2009, the latest year of record, the National Rifle Association reported that farmers and hunters in eight Northeast states donated more than 306,000 pounds of venison. Maryland ranked sixth in the nation with more than 144,350 pounds of donated venison, following Wisconsin, Virginia, Iowa, Missouri and Texas.
The National Rifle Association supports state-level efforts via its Hunters for the Hungry Information Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse puts you in touch with local programs and works with state agencies conducting evisceration and meat processing preparation of whitetail deer to be distributed to food banks, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and needy families..
One such nationwide venison-sharing program is Maryland-based Farmers and Hunters for the Hungry. State program names may vary. But in general, they're all cooperative efforts among hunters, sportsmen's associations, meat processors, state meat inspectors and hunger relief organizations to help feed those in need.
In Pennsylvania, for instance, Hunters Sharing the Harvest program, reportedly, channels about 100,000 pounds of processed venison through the state's 21 regional food banks. Then the meat is redistributed to more than 4,000 local food pantries, missions, homeless shelters, Salvation Army facilities and churches and families. For details, click on www.sharedeer.org
More than meat needed
Over the past three years, such programs have brought in hundreds of thousands of pounds of venison, according to NRA officials. But while venison donations have multiplied, some programs now turn away thousands of pounds of meat simply because they cannot cover the costs of processing, packaging, storing and distributing the meat.
That's why national and local sponsorships have become increasingly important. National sponsors for Farmers and Hunters Feeding The Hungry, for instance, include Henry Repeating Arms, Mathews, Mossy Oak, North American Hunting Club and the Quality Deer Management Association, plus many state and local sponsors. For more on this group, visit the website: www.fhfh.org.