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With deer season comes the holiday season, when food banks and pantries around the state have greater demands for meat and that often comes from deer harvested by local hunters.
Department of Natural Resources Director Brett McMillion said the state needs more meat processors to work with the Hunters Helping the Hungry program, and make a profit in the process.
“We just don’t have enough processors,” McMillion said. “I personally would love to see one, maybe two in every county. We’re going to look at a couple of different ways to try to encourage more. I’ve heard concerns about the regulations and process and we are certainly working on that.”
McMillion said food banks and pantries need the nutritious protein venison offers to distribute among 600 charitable outlets throughout the state. He said a benefit not often advertised or talked about is how it actually helps to manage West Virginia’s deer herds.
“Especially when you’re talking about the antlerless population as a whole,” he said. “We really need to keep those numbers in check. This program gives hunters who may not want that deer meat the opportunity to actually get out and help us manage that herd and then utilize this program for such an excellent benefit.”
McMillion said during the 2022 hunting season, hunters donated more than 680 deer, providing nearly 25,000 pounds of venison for those in need.
Processors need government certification.
For details on the entire deer meat processing process, contact Trevor Moore with the WVDNR at 304-924-6211, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Processors are reimbursed at $3 per pound.