White-tailed deer hunters shared a record amount of their venison last year, helping families in need.
Bob Frye/Everybody Adventures
Even John Plowman was surprised.
Executive director of Pennsylvania’s Hunters Sharing the Harvest program, he’s relentlessly bullish on the effort to get donated venison into the hands of food banks around the state.
Those pantries in turn provide fresh meat to hungry families. One average-sized deer, ground into hamburger, can provide 200 meals, Plowman said.
Meat is what food banks are always most desperate to get, he said. So that provided by hunters is important.
They outdid themselves in 2015, donating more than 3,000 deer that accounted for 109,000 pounds of venison.
Or so he thought.
Hunters broke that record this past hunting season. In 2016, Plowman said, they donated more than 3,200 deer amounting to 113,887 pounds of meat.
“That total took our program over the top to reach the one million pounds delivered milestone since 1991,” Plowman said. “It’s conceivable that the final 2016 totals will yield at least 6,000 to 7,000 meals, all thanks to hunters who care and sound game management.”
The southwest corner of the state accounted for more donations than any other, he said, but all regions contributed and the venison was spread around the state.
He credited hunters with making all that possible.
“Anybody who hunts, it’s their program,” Plowman said. “It’s the hunters who make it happen.”
Hunters Sharing the Harvest will enter its 26th year with this fall’s hunting seasons.
But there’s still room to grow, Plowman added. The program is seeking butchers to handle deer in some areas of the state he called underserved.
To get involved
If you want to support the Hunters Sharing the Harvest program, there are ways to do so.
The program is always looking for butcher shops willing to process donations. Some counties need coordinators to link hunters with butchers, too.
Of course, individuals can donate deer. Monetary donations are always welcome, too, to help offset costs.
For more information, visit www.sharedeer.org.