Deer season begins tomorrow — The Conservation Federation and the Missouri Food Banks are urging hunters to donate their extra venison.
Regular firearms season begins early tomorrow morning — and for many hunters, the thrill is in the kill, not so much the dressing and processing. And, Conservation Department spokesman Jim Low says some hunters simply kill more than they can eat. Low urges hunters to donate their extra venison to the Share the Harvest program, which helps feed the needy.
Last year, Missouri hunters bagged almost a quarter million deer — 247,489 — during firearms season. Almost a quarter of a million pounds of venison was donated to Share the Harvest.
Low says that number pushed the all time total for the program 2.1 million pounds of venison since the program began in 1992.
Since 1992, Share the Harvest has coordinated the donation of venison to local food banks and pantries, but a significant portion of processing costs were the responsibility of the hunter. Thanks to this new agreement with the Conservation Federation, more money has been made available to subsidize processing. The result is little or no cost to hunters and a doubling of capacity.
“I think most people would be surprised to learn how many organizations and individuals have contributed to Share the Harvest’s success during its 18 year history,” says Gary Van De Velde, chair of the Conservation Federation of Missouri’s Share the Harvest committee. “This program is a testament to the power of partnerships, and we are thrilled by this incredible commitment from the Missouri Food Bank Association. Thanks to MFBA and the Department of Economic Development, we’ve set a goal of processing 10,000 deer this year, more than doubling the 4,200 processed last year.”
“One of the greatest ongoing needs in the fight against hunger is protein,” said MFBA state director Scott Baker. “This new partnership will provide lean protein to the hungry Missourians who need it the most. We are very excited about the possibilities of this new opportunity.”
Hunters will still be responsible for getting deer to a participating Share the Harvest processor. A link to a list of participating processors can be found at www.feedingmissouri.org. A phone call to an authorized processor can verify prices.
Firearms deer season is Nov. 13 through 23.
Share the Harvest is administered by the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Last year, Missouri’s food banks distributed over 84 million pounds of food to hungry Missourians through a network of over 1,500 pantries, shelters, and kitchens.