Crisp weather has arrived, which means deer season is upon us. The Missouri Department of Conservation and the Conservation Federation of Missouri are encouraging “Share the Harvest”. It’s a program which allows hunters to feed hungry Missourians with deer meat. Lindsey Grojean spoke with Russell Duckworth, the Protection Regional Supervisor at MDC about how people can hunt to help.
So tell me about the "Share the Harvest" program.
The "Share the Harvest" program was set up several years ago as a way to provide good healthy lean meat to needy folks, and it allows the hunters who are actively hunting to provide that opportunity to people who may not otherwise have the ability or opportunity to go out and get the deer themselves.
So we have a lot of hunters in southeast Missouri. What do they need to know about how to participate in the program?
Well, the first thing that I would suggest that they do is pick up a copy of our deer and hunting brochure for 2017. And when they get in that brochure, if they get into pages 64 and 65, it will give them a list of "Share the Harvest" processors. Not every meat processor out there is going to be set up with the "Share the Harvest" program, so they have to go to one of the "Share the Harvest" processors to be able to participate in the program. So that’s a first step. Secondly, we want people to understand that this opportunity is there through all of the deer hunting seasons, whether that is archery season, the youth firearm season, the regular portion of deer season in November [and] the alternative methods season. All of those seasons are all open with this opportunity to participate in "Share the Harvest". So we want people to know those donations can be taken into these processors at any point through there. If you give the entire deer, you make a whole deer donation to the program. Part of the cost to process that deer is going to be covered. In some areas, it’s completely covered. In some areas, it’s only partially covered. The program is mostly administered by the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Conservation Department, but there are also other companies throughout the state that also will sponsor the cost of processing that deer in areas. So there will be a charge to have a deer processed for the program. But most, if not all of that cost, is going to be covered when you go in there, so it’s not going to cost you anything if you make a whole deer donation.
And so is the program only limited to deer meat?
Only open to deer meat, yes.
So the program started back in 1992. What outcomes have you all seen with this program in southeast Missouri?
I don’t have an exact number, but I’ll tell you that we have food pantries and charitable organizations throughout southeast Missouri that take advantage of this opportunity to provide that meat to their local folks who need that good lean meat. This program has been going on for 25 years now, and in that time it has affected a lot of people.
So I don’t want to scare anyone from utilizing the "Share the Harvest" program, but chronic wasting disease, also known as CWD, might be a concern in a few Missouri counties with deer meat. How can people stay safe with the program?
All of the deer that are taken in from those counties that have had chronic wasting disease occur there are going to be tested before it goes into the "Share the Harvest" program. So we want people to know that we’re doing everything we can to ensure the safety of the meat that goes through that program. So again, all of those deer that are taken in for Share the Harvest are going to be tested for chronic wasting disease before they are processed to ensure that it is disease free.
Alright, is there anything else that hunters might need to know?
Well, we just want folks to be careful, have a safe season this year. There’s going to be lots of people afield deer hunting through the other seasons that are opening up. So we want people to know that hunting is a safe sport, and we want folks to be safe while they’re afield.
Thank you so much.
Thank you! Have a good day.
Hunting Season Dates:
Archery, Deer and Turkey Hunting Season: Sept. 15 - Nov. 10, Reopens Nov. 22 - Jan. 15, 2018
Firearms, Deer Hunting Season, Early Youth Portion: Oct. 28 & 29
Firearms, Regular Deer Hunting Season: Nov. 11-21
Firearms, Deer Hunting Season, Late Youth Portion: Nov. 24-26
Firearms, Deer Hunting Season, Antlerless Portion: Dec. 1-3 *Only in certain counties
Alternative Methods, Deer Hunting Season: Dec. 23 - Jan. 2, 2018