You have to admit that the biggest thrill of deer hunting is spotting them and getting a successful shot. But donating all or a portion of your venison can also bring great satisfaction – to yourself and real thanks-giving by those benefiting from your successful hunt.
And there are plentiful opportunities. Pennsylvania, for instance, has a Hunters Sharing the Harvest program, which channels donations of venison to local food banks, soup kitchens and needy families.
"Using a network of local volunteer area coordinators and cooperating meat processors to process and distribute venison donated by hunters, HSH has really makes a difference for countless needy families and individuals in our state," says Carl Roe, Pennsylvania Game Commission executive director.
Each year, Hunters Sharing the Harvest helps to deliver almost 200,000 meals to food banks, churches and social services feeding programs. "This program is all about the generosity of hunters and their desire to help make a difference," he adds. "What's more gratifying than helping others in need?"
How it works
You can take a deer to a participating meat processor and identify how much of the meat – from an entire deer to several pounds – is to be donated to HSH. If you donate an entire deer, you may be asked to make a $15 tax-deductible co-pay with HSH covering the remaining processing fees.
Or you can cover the entire cost of processing, which is tax-deductible as well. HSH established a statewide toll-free telephone number: 1-866-474-2141 for answering questions about where participating meat processors can be found or other general inquiries about the program. Or go to the HSH website, www.sharedeer.org.
Other venison donation options
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. 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.
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.
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.