If you don't like venison, then donate it.


Mar 11, 2001
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If you don't like venison, then donate it.

By Tim Renken, St. Louis Post Dispatch.


For some people, the worst thing about deer hunting is having to deal with the venison after the hunt.

What should they do with it? The spouse refuses to eat, or even cook, the meat. Neighbors? Forget it. Relatives? Not a chance.

For hunters who like the challenge and the thrill of deer hunting but don't like the venison, a perfect solution exists: Donate all or part of it to needy families.

There's no need to go looking for needy people - that's already taken care of in a program called Share the Harvest in Missouri and Sportsmen Against Hunger in Illinois. Both programs work this way:

The hunter takes his deer to a participating processor/locker. If the hunter donates part of the meat, he tells the processor how much. The hunter pays the fee for processing - $45-$65 for standard processing - and the processor takes care of the rest.

The donated meat is processed, frozen and then picked up by a sponsoring agency that delivers it to participating food banks, pantries, churches, charities, etc.

In Missouri, hunters who donate the whole deer can get help with the processing fee. Shelter Insurance Company will pay $20 of the cost. The hunter gets a coupon from the processor. That coupon and a receipt are mailed to Shelter to get the $20.

In Illinois, hunters who donate a whole deer also can get help with the processing fee from the Illinois Conservation Foundation. The foundation, which receives no tax money, raises funds from activities such as fishing tournaments, shoots, etc. How much the foundation raises determines how much it can provide for processing.

Most hunters who donate a whole deer, though, also donate the processing fee. Last year in Missouri's Share the Harvest program, which is sponsored by the Department of Conservation and the 86 participating meat processors, donated about 49,000 pounds of venison.

In Illinois, nearly 20,000 pounds were donated through 84 approved processors in the program, which is sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources and the Conservation Foundation.

Not all commercial meat processors participate in these programs. Hunters can get the names of participants from conservation agents or from regional conservation department offices.

Safari Club International provides a list of participating processors at www.safariclub.org/resource1.

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