Governor Jay Nixon is encouraging Missouri deer hunters to help reach the goal of contributing 10,000 deer to families in need through the Share the Harvest program this year.
Share the Harvest is a partnership between the Conservation Federation of Missouri, the Missouri Department of Conservation, regional food banks, local food pantries and meat processors to provide venison donated by hunters and processors to Missouri families in need.
"Hunting is a time-honored tradition here in Missouri, as is sharing with those in need," Nixon said. "For more than two decades, Missouri's hunters have helped thousands of struggling families put food on the table through the Share the Harvest program. Again this year, I encourage all Missouri hunters to join me by helping us reach the goal of donating 10,000 deer to feed Missouri families in need."
The Governor said the upcoming urban hunt is an ideal time for Missouri hunters to contribute to Share the Harvest. During Missouri's urban deer hunt, the cost of processing a whole deer for donation to Share the Harvest is completely covered by the Missouri Conservation Federation and its local partners. Missouri's 2012 urban deer hunt was Oct. 5-8.
Throughout archery and the November Firearms deer season, the Share the Harvest program subsidizes a portion of the cost of butchering and packaging whole deer donated by Missouri hunters; in many communities, local partners cover the remainder of the processing costs. To participate, hunters simply take their deer to an approved processor and indicate how much venison they wish to contribute, ranging from a few pounds to a whole deer.
"For Missouri hunters, there is a proud legacy of giving back to our communities through the Share the Harvest program," said Dave Murphy, executive director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri. "Thanks to Gov. Nixon's leadership and the support of our private sponsors, we have continued to see an increase in donations to our food banks of healthy, nutritious venison for Missouri families."
Now in its 21st season, the Share the Harvest program is able to process up to 10,000 deer this season and provide that venison to families in need. During the 2011 hunting season, nearly 6,200 whole deer were processed through Share the Harvest, resulting in more than 370,000 pounds of venison for families in need. That was an increase over the 5,390 whole deer donated in 2010, and the 4,200 whole deer donated in 2009. During each of the past three hunting seasons, Gov. Nixon has donated a whole deer he successfully hunted to Share the Harvest.
The 2012 Missouri firearms deer season opens Nov. 10, and runs through Nov. 20. Archery season for deer began Sept. 15 and runs through Nov. 9, and then will resume on Nov. 21 through Jan. 15. There also are hunting seasons for youth, for hunters using muzzleloaders and other approved alternative hunting methods, and for harvesting antlerless deer.
In addition to the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Department of Conservation, statewide sponsors of the cost-reduction program include Bass Pro Shops, Shelter Insurance, Missouri Chapter Whitetails Unlimited, Missouri Chapter Safari Club International, Missouri Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation, Drury Hotels, Enterprise Holdings Inc., Midway USA Inc., the Missouri Deer Hunters Association, Pyramid Home Health Services and Wells Fargo Bank.
To learn more about the Share the Harvest Program and to find a complete list of participating meat processors, please visit MO.gov.