Deer hunters its time to Share the Harvest

The Share the Harvest program in Missouri provides a way for deer hunters to donate venison to the needy. The program, administered by the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Missouri Department of Conservation, gives hunters a way to donate a portion of the meat from their deer hunting trips to food pantries and other programs.

During the 2011 deer seasons, 6,191 hunters donated a total 317,882 pounds of venison and donating is easy.

Hunters who want to participate in Share the Harvest simply take their deer to an approved meat processor and let the processor know how much venison they want to donate. The processor packages the meat, which is then picked up by the local sponsoring organization and taken to a participating charitable agency for distribution.

The cost of processing the deer is the responsibility of the hunter. However, there are funds available to help with processing cost when a whole deer is donated. In that instance, the Conservation Federation of Missouri and local sponsors pay the entire processing cost during the urban zones portion of the firearms season for whole deer donations. Call your regional MDC office for a list of participating processors.

During all other portions and seasons, the Conservation Federation of Missouri administers a statewide program that directly reimburses the processor a predetermined amount for each whole deer donated. That allows the processor to reduce the processing fee to the hunter at the time of donation. In addition, many processors have local money available that allows the deer to be donated free or at greatly reduced cost. Be sure to contact individual processors to determine what funds are available at that particular location.

Statewide sponsors of the cost-reduction program include the Conservation Department, Shelter Insurance, Bass Pro Shops, the Conservation Federation of Missouri, Missouri Chapter Whitetails Unlimited, Missouri Chapter Safari Club International, Missouri Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation, Drury Hotels, Enterprise Holdings Inc., Midway USA Inc., Missouri Deer Hunters Assoc., Pyramid Home Health Services and Wells Fargo Bank. To learn more about the program or to find out how your organization can become involved, contact the Conservation Department at 573-522-4115 or the Conservation Federation of Missouri at 573-634-2322.

Why Share the Harvest?

Many families and individuals have no dependable source of protein in their diets. Red meat can provide that important component. Deer is a valuable source of protein; but, unlike most red meat, it is unusually low in fat. Through Share the Harvest, Missouri hunters can help provide this part of the daily diet.

Who can get the meat?

Many people in Missouri can benefit from this program. Families or individuals simply have to contact a participating distributing agency; the agency will allocate the venison according to its supply.

How do hunters donate venison to the program?

It's easy to donate. Hunters take their deer to an approved processing plant and simply tell the processor how much venison they wish to donate. The hunter has the option of donating a few pounds or the whole deer. There is no price reduction for partial donations. The processor then packages and stores the meat until it’s transported to a distributing agency by the coordinator. Agencies receiving venison will distribute it to ensure that all venison is used and it goes to where it serves the greatest need.

Participating meat processors in the Lake Area include:

• Larry’s Meat Market, 14027 N. State Highway 5, Sunrise Beach, Mo. 65079 573-374-8350.

• The Butcher Shop, 50 Illinois Street. S. E., Camdenton, Mo. 65020 – 573-346-6665

• Tom’s Slaughter & Meat Processing, 2179 State Road A, Montreal, Mo. 65591 – 573-346-5233.

To learn more about the Share the Harvest program log onto the MDC website at www.mdc.mo.gov.

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