With our North Carolina whitetail deer season open in most areas many hunters are starting to harvest some of our abundant deer. Our state has a very liberal bag limit of six deer per hunter per day and the hunting season lasts for nearly four months (archery, black powder and full gun seasons combined). In addition to these season limits per hunter, many deer are killed by farmers trying to protect their crops from the many deer that now inhabit our state.
This harvesting of a very abundant natural resource results in a lot of very good red meat that is frequently more than the hunters who killed the deer can readily use. An organization called Hunters For The Hungry is working to see to it that this meat is properly cleaned, butchered and packaged for distribution to the needy across the state. It’s a win-win situation for all concerned and answers the increasing need for people facing what seems to be a deteriorating economic situation across the entire country.
Some might ask why we need to kill the whitetail deer that seem to be about everywhere in our state. With the rut in full gear across the state the roadways are becoming littered with deer cases that tangle with vehicles. Damage to vehicles is a major concern to the insurance companies and this doesn’t consider the actual injury to the passengers of the collisions with deer.
Consider these things: America’s deer population, which numbered 20 million in 1990, has increased to 34 million in 2000. (1.25 million in N.C.) Crop damage sustained by farmers and deer-auto collisions has risen dramatically. The NC and other state Wildlife Resources Commissions have increased the harvest limits.
To answer the complaints of the People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals (PETA), hunting was found to be the only cost effective method of controlling and maintaining a stable deer population.
These factors have resulted in a surplus of nutritious venison that can be utilized to help feed the hungry in North Carolina.
By using a surplus of organically grown red meat and supplying to the needy looks like a simple solution to a big problem. It doesn’t work that way. The process of getting this food to the people that want it is actually complicated in that there are certain bureaucratic processes that must be followed in order to convert the deer carcasses into clean, healthy food.
The website for the North Carolina Hunters For The Hungry list the steps that need to be gone through with in order to supply this fresh meat to the organizations that eventually supply the meet to the consumers.
The North Carolina Hunters for the Hungry, Inc (NCHFTH) is a voluntary, nonprofit corporation which exists for the following purposes: 1) To provide venison from North Carolina licensed meat processors to food relief organizations for the purpose of feeding the hungry people of North Carolina. 2) To compensate North Carolina licensed meat processors for processing legally harvested deer into venison burger. 3) To encourage North Carolina hunters to donate legally harvested deer to NC. Licensed meat processors. 4) To seek resources of revenue to compensate NC licensed meat processors. And 5) to encourage the formation of individual chapters throughout North Carolina.
After a hunter kills their deer the carcass must be handled properly in order to even have it processed. The deer should be quickly field dressed and delivered to the processor in excellent condition. North Carolina public health regulations are quite stringent in making sure that the meat that’s being delivered to the needy isn’t contaminated (the present e-coli sickness at one of our County Fairs is a good example). This means that in order to contribute a deer carcass to the processor it must be gutted, skinned with head and feet removed.
The NCHFTH states “1) All deer donated must be harvested and reported in accordance with the appropriate rules and regulations of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. 2). Deer must be delivered to a NCHFTH designated processing facility, with inspection approval from the NC Department of Agriculture. 3) Deer must be received by processors, in an acceptable condition. 4) A donor card must be completed to authorize the processor to possess the deer and identify the successful hunter. 5) Deer delivered to most processors must be cleaned and dressed, including removal of hide and hooves before they can be accepted by the processor. Some processors can accept whole deer and will provide skinning and dressing services. Please contact the processor prior to delivery to determine the requirements for the specific facility. 6) Hunters may donate whole, half or part of a deer to the program. The venison is ground into “burger” for ease of cooking. Packages of frozen venison are distributed to the shelters, soup kitchens and other agencies. 7) NCHFTH will reimburse program participation processors at an agreed upon rate for their labor, services and supplies.
The NC Hunters For The Hungry needs Your Help!
Your contributions to this effort are not only welcome, but also needed. The costs of processing and delivery continue to increase. Your generous contributions will help provide wholesome, nutritional food for hungry and malnourished individuals. The demand is always greater than our capacity to provide Your help is appreciated. Please see our “Donate” page for information about financial support.
The processors are professional butchers who must (by law) keep the meat they process completely clean. These small businessmen must be compensated for their equipment and services and this means that money to pay for the processing most be found somewhere. Most of this money comes from organizations such as the Wake County Wildlife Club, the N.C. Bow Hunters Association, The N.C. Bear Hunters Association, the N.C. Wildlife Federation and many other outdoor sportsmen’s groups and, of course, individual outdoorsmen.
The program depends on corporations, organizations and individuals who donate financially as well as hunters who donate deer. These donations are used to reimburse meat processors for their expenses. It costs about a $1.00 per pound to produce approximately 45 pounds of deer burger, which provides the protein for about 180 meals.