CCOYA recently held the annual Youth Doe Hunt for the opening week of youth rifle season in Cameron County. The group was happy to host a director of Hunters Sharing the Harvest to witness the hunters in action. There were 7 youth that participated in this years event. All seven youth were successful in harvesting at least one deer. Prior to the hunt, the youth were provided DMAP tags allowing them to harvest up to two deer.
Throughout the 3 day event, 9 deer were harvested. Each evening after the hunt, the hunters and their mentors returned to the Andrews and were provided a warm meal provided by CCOYA. Don Bickford of CCOYA commented “This has been a very successful few days for this hunt. I am really proud of all of our youth hunters.” He goes on to say “It has been an extremely fun and exciting group and I am thrilled that a few of our hunters harvested deer for the first time.” At the Andrews Farm, the hunters learned how to properly field dress and skin the deer that were delivered to Valley Meats, an approved Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH) processing facility.
Since 1991, the HSH venison donation program has coordinated the processing and distribution of donated wild game from hunters to hungry people throughout Pennsylvania. An average-sized deer will provide enough highly-nutritious, low-cholesterol meat for 200 meals. The meat will be ground into hamburger and then donated to the Cameron County Community Food Pantry where it will be distributed throughout Cameron County to those in need.
In 2017, HSH coordinated the delivery of 120,515 pounds of venison from 2,947 donated deer that helped to feed those in need. Bickford added “This record amount was reached because people got involved and helped. All 7 of our hunters were excited to donate their harvest to the HSH program”. For many hunters, this venison is an important part of providing their families and friends with a highly nutritious source of protein. However, many hunters today purchase multiple tags and find they are able to harvest more deer than their family can use. That’s where Hunters Sharing the Harvest program comes in.
Hunters can continue hunting knowing that additional deer harvested will provide meals for needy individuals and families in their local communities. There is no cost to the hunter when donating a deer. A donor receipt is filled out by the hunter, which is turned in for reimbursement by the HSH program at an agreed to rate determined at registration and inspection. The processed, bagged, and frozen meat is taken to the nearest food bank or assistance center for distribution to be distributed to those who need it.
From the field to the foodbank, all donated deer meat is tracked, bagged, safely stored and distributed allowing for total transparency of the food supply chain. At the end of each season, total pounds and number of deer are calculated. The generosity of both adult and youth hunters is greatly appreciated as are financial donations to the programs which help to offset the cost of processing and storing the deer meat.