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Science and the Environment

Charitable Meat Program is a Win-Win, Official Says

Photo Credit: Missouri Department of Conservation

For many Missourians, hunting is an enjoyable pastime. But what do hunters do when they harvest more deer than they need or want? Since 1992, the Missouri Department of Conservation and Conservation Federation have partnered to sponsor the Share the Harvest program, where hunters can donate their deer meet and help those less fortunate. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann has the story .

Some hunters like the thrill of the hunt more than eating the harvested venison.  Others hunt so successfully that they harvest more than they can use.  Jason Dickey is a conservation agent district manager in southwest Missouri.  He says that the charitable Share the Harvest program is a “win-win” for everyone involved.

“Hunting is a very important management tool for managing our state’s white-tail deer herd.  And lots of folks enjoy hunting, and in a way a lot of people just want to be charitable and share their harvest.   We like to see that that harvest gets shared with those who can utilize that meat during this time,” Dickey says.

Dickey says hunters wishing to donate a portion of their deer meat, or the whole deer, can take the deer to a participating meat processor.  Although processing typically is the hunter’s own expense, when donating a whole deer, Dickey says there are funds from local donors to cover that expense.  Dickey says this program lasts throughout all of deer season.

“There are several opportunities out there for hunting from now through the middle part of January.  And during that time frame, those that want to donate deer, whether it’s a pound or two or the whole deer [can do so],” says Dickey.

Dickey says even though open season is over, antlerless season and archery season began this week.  Antlerless season will continue through December 2ndand archery will last until January 15th.

Once processed, the donated venison is sent to participating charitable organizations that distribute the meat to those in need.

“Last year we had 317,000 pounds of venison [donated]. You know, one pound of meat can feed a family of four, so that 317,000 pounds can go a long way.  Of course that’s state-wide totals, but even here in the southwest region I know in past years we’ve received anywhere from 25,000 to 30,000 pounds of venison,” Dickey says.

Dickey reminds us that this program really can make a difference to families during the holiday season.  You can find a link to more information below.

Click here for details about Share the Harvest