Farmers need to minimize damage to their crops by hungry deer, and Hunters for the Hungry needs venison to donate to homeless shelters and food pantries.
“We can help each other,” said Gary Arrington, the Bedford County-based nonprofit’s special projects coordinator.
Farmers who are issued kill permits by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries are required to properly dispose of deer they kill, and many don’t have the means to do so, Arrington said.
“We will work to try and get a refrigerated trailer to them, possibly help with volunteers to field dress the deer, and then work with them directly or through volunteers to get the deer transported to a participating processor. And the meat will come back to feed those in need in their communities,” he said. “We want to make it convenient for the farmers.”
When spring-planted crops are tender and green in their early stages, deer are drawn to them in greater numbers, Arrington said.
According to the game department, over the past three years, an average of 3,004 kill permits has been issued and an average of 13,804 deer taken each year. The majority of deer kill permits issued to farmers go to corn and soybean growers.
“If we could just get a couple thousand of those deer donated to us, that would be great,” Arrington said. A mature deer will average about 50 pounds of meat.
The organization donated 279,279 pounds of venison in 2012. “It was another good year, although our total pounds processed and distributed was down over 100,000 pounds from the year before,” Arrington said. The number of deer killed statewide with permits was also down, by about 2,000.
Hunters for the Hungry has been donating venison to food banks and shelters since 1991, and Arrington said the need increases each year. Between 1991 and 2012, the organization donated more than 5.2 million pounds.
“We want to encourage farmers from all across the state who receive kill permits to call us and let us work with them,” he said.
Interested farmers can call (800) 352-4868 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.