Nature Notes: Hunters harvest deer for the hungry

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

I don't write at all about hunting, and on an outdoors blog, the practice is conspicuous in its absence. I grew up doing a lot of things outside; hunting was just never one of them. I don't know many people who hunt, and I haven't had many opportunities to get started. Like skydiving or ice fishing, it's not something you just go out and try. But, like most sportsmen, I fully support regulated hunting and the right to own as many firearms as you want.

I also support service work and helping the homeless. I recently got a release from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources about the amount of venison donated to homeless shelters by hunters statewide.

By the middle of December, Ohio deer hunters had donated more than 33,550 pounds of venison to local food banks, which means approximately 134,000 meals for needy Ohioans. One deer can feed 200 hungry people, and venison donations can help combat a poverty problem that affects Buckeyes every day.

The program, sponsored by Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, is one I can get behind.

[Full ODNR release] [FHFH homepage]

Ohio deer hunters have donated more than 33,550 pounds of venison to local food banks so far this deer season, according to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

The 33,550 pounds equals approximately 134,000 meals for needy Ohioans. Last year FHFH collected 20,902 pounds of venison through the entire year. With 17 of the 27 FHFH chapters reporting, 671 deer have been donated so far with plenty of deer hunting opportunity left in the 2008-09 season.

“The confluence of economic events over the past year have stressed charities to keep up as more people in crisis turn to our network for help. This partnership means our food pantries will receive the nutritious meat they so desperately need to feed their needy neighbors,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks.

Hunters still have a weekend of deer-gun hunting, December 20-21, and six weeks of archery hunting in Ohio. Archery season remains open until February 1. The statewide muzzleloader deer-hunting season will be held December 27-30. The Division of Wildlife has collaborated with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry in an effort to assist with the processing costs associated with donating venison to a food bank. A $100,000 subsidy grant was provided in two $50,000 allotments that are to be matched with funds generated or collected by FHFH. The Division is subsidizing this year's FHFH operation as an additional deer management tool, helping wildlife managers encourage hunters to kill more does. Venison that is donated to food banks must be processed by a state inspected and insured meat processor that is participating with FHFH. Hunters wishing to donate their deer to a food bank are not required to pay for the processing of the venison as long as the program has funds available to cover the cost. There are currently 43 meat processors across the state participating. A list is provided at Since last year, FHFH has more than doubled the number of chapters from 12 to 27, with the need for more. Anyone interested in becoming a local FHFH coordinator or a participating meat processor should visit the "Local FHFH" page at The current list of coordinators along with their program names and the counties they are serving can be found there.