Northwest Region Protection District Supervisor Ken Polley said the Share the Harvest program started in 1992 as a way to encourage hunters to share their harvest with people in need.
“Over the years, over four million pounds of lean, healthy venison have been donated to various food pantries and food banks across the state of Missouri and then they’re dispersed to people to use it,” Polley said. “Last year, 289,200 pounds of venison was donated and we work with food banks across the state to disperse this meat. They are very appreciative when the food banks receive this meat because the people that come to the food banks to get food, the venison is very popular and it goes very quickly when they receive the supply.”
Polley said if a hunter would like to donate a deer to Share the Harvest, after they harvest and check their animal in, they can take it to one of the approved Share the Harvest processors. Approved processors in the area include Clark’s Custom Meat in Buchanan County at 8411 SW 59 Hwy in St. Joseph and Brendle’s Butcher Block in Clinton County at 90 1/2 South 4th in Gower.
“Hunters can either donate… five or 10 pounds of their deer that they harvest and then take to get processed or… if they do a whole deer donation, all or at least part of the processing fee is covered through a statewide program administered by the Conservation Federation of Missouri to help encourage hunters to donate their deer,” Polley said.
Archery deer season opens up on Saturday in Missouri.
“We always remind archery hunters, in particular, or anyone that hunts from a deer stand, be sure they’re wearing a proper safety harness to keep them safe in their deer stand while they’re on their deer hunt,” Polley said. “We’re (also) encouraging hunters to… properly dispose of your deer carcass. If you harvest a deer and are going to process it yourself, it’s important to dispose of the carcass to minimize any chance of disease spread.”
CWD or Chronic Wasting Disease has been found in 11 counties in Missouri: Adair, Cedar, Cole, Franklin, Jefferson, Linn, Macon, Perry, Polk, St. Clair, and Ste. Genevieve. Deer donated to Share the Harvest must be tested for CWD if harvested from any of those counties. Find a list of participating processors online.
For more information about hunting season or the Share the Harvest program, go to mdc.mo.gov or contact a district or regional MDC office or local conservation agent.