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Hunters Should Share the Harvest this Season

Darren Haverstick, chairman of CFM Share the Harvest Committee, with a doe he donated to the program.

Darren Haverstick, chairman of CFM Share the Harvest Committee, with a doe he donated to the program.

Share the Harvest allows deer hunters the opportunity to donate a deer or a portion of a deer to Missourians in need. Doing so provides healthy, nutritious meat to individuals or families that otherwise may do without. It’s a program I am very proud to help administer, and one I am even more proud to participate in.

Each year, I try to find new ways to encourage hunters to participate by donating a whole deer or a portion of their deer to the program. Hunger is a real issue for too many Missourians. Food pantries across the state do their best to help those in need, but sometimes there just isn’t enough supply to satisfy the demand. Especially in terms of meat. Grains, starches, cereals and other non-perishables are more readily available, but protein rich red meat is much harder to obtain. Share the Harvest is a major source of meat for the food pantries, but they could easily use twice as much as the program currently produces.

I host a podcast for the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM). It’s simply called Conservation Federation and is available on the CFM website (www.confedmo.org) and on iTunes. In the most recent episode (Episode 20), I discuss the Share the Harvest program in-depth with a number of key players in the management of the program. Darren Haverstick is the chairman of CFM Share the Harvest Committee, Travis McLain is a conservation agent and a protection programs specialist, Scott Baker is the state director of Feeding Missouri, and Tyler Schwartze is the CFM Events Manager. All of these fellas are involved in running Share the Harvest. Collectively, we share an hour-long conversation covering important information on how to participate and discuss our personal feelings about all the good Share the Harvest does for our fellow citizens.

Scott Baker talks about a 7-year old boy who was rationing food, so he could make what little he had last over Christmas Break. I discuss an experience I had with a few waitresses in Sikeston when they asked me how they could get meat from the program, because they are laid off in the winter and times are tough. It was a moment I’ll never forget, because this is when I realized hunger is not isolated to the homeless or most indigent people among us. Hardworking Missourians sometimes can’t make ends meet. Single mothers working two jobs still need a little help. As a hunter, I am proud to support my community. I hope all hunters would feel the same way.

“To know I am representing hunters in a good way while helping my neighbors is a great feeling. The meat you donate is likely going to go back to somebody living just a few miles down the road from you,” said Darren Haverstick.

Thousands of Missouri deer hunters donated more than 289,200 pounds of venison to the program last deer season — including nearly 5,600 whole white-tailed deer. Since the program was started in 1992, Share the Harvest has provided nearly 4-million pounds of venison. That equates to millions and millions of meals served on plates of fellow Missourians. We can still do better. Much better.

I am asking you to lead an effort to increase donations this year. Be a leader amongst your friends at deer camp, your church or any other community you’re part of. See if you can set a goal of deer donations and strive to reach it. Could the hunters in your church collectively donate 20 deer? I bet they could, and would, if you organized and managed the effort. If we could increase the number of deer donated annually to Share the Harvest from 5,000 to 10,000, then over 500,000 pounds of meat would be distributed in our state. This would equate to approximately 2-million meals on the plates of Missourians who may otherwise go without. That’s powerful.

Hunters have traditionally been providers for their community. Through Share the Harvest, this continues. Hunters are able to share the bounty of wild game with those who might go hungry otherwise. It’s an incredible opportunity to make a positive impact on society. I hope you will join me and donate to Share the Harvest this fall.

For much more information in Share the Harvest and great conversation about what the program means to both hunters and recipients of the meat, check out this episode of the podcast. To learn where you may donate a deer, visit https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/species/deer/deer-share-harvest.

See you down the trail…
Brandon Butler

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