The Lake News Online
  • Hunters Can Share the Harvest

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  • ELDON, MO --  Hunters can help feed those in need, thanks to the Share the Harvest program.  The statewide Share the Harvest program is a cooperative effort among the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Conservation Federation, Missouri food banks and meat processors, as well as the hunters themselves.  The program provides food to those in need through the donated venison. 
    “Hunting is an economical and effective way to limit the size of the deer herd,” said Miller County Conservation Agent Eric Swainston.  “While some hunters like to hunt to put meat in the freezer, there are some who enjoy hunting for only the trophy buck.  Most people tend to agree it’s wasteful to kill deer that won’t be eaten, so what can they do with the venison?”
    Well, hunters can choose to give part or all of any deer they take to the Share the Harvest program, Swainston said.  They take their deer to an approved meat processor (listed in the 2013 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations) to process the meat, where it is then packaged for distribution.  A family or individual needing assistance only has to contact the participating charitable agencies.
    Since the program’s inception in 1992, more than two million pounds of venison have been distributed.  In 2012, 6,244 hunters donated 318,115 pounds of meat, Swainston said.
    “It’s easy to donate.  Hunters just need to take their deer to an approved processor and tell them how much they’d like to donate,” Swainston said.  “Hunters have the option of donating a few pounds or the whole deer.  If you donate a whole deer, the Conservation Federation of Missouri administers a statewide program that directly reimburses the processor a set amount for each whole deer donated.  This in turn allows the processor to reduce his processing fee for those participating in the Share the Harvest program.”
    If the program hits 10,000 deer, 2.4 million individual servings of venison would be available, Swainston said.  However, this depends on the generosity of hunters.
    Local deer hunters may take their donated meat to The Butcher Shop in Camdenton, Tom’s Slaughter & Meat Processing in Montreal and Russellville Locker in Russellville.  Other participating processors throughout the state are listed in the 2013 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations found at permit vendors.
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