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  1. #1
    Senior Member Swamp Fox's Avatar
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    Feedbag

    Something Bob Peck said about personal venison consumption vs. donations made me wonder:


    In reality (or in your imagination) what do you shoot for (pardon the pun--or not! ) to put in the freezer?

    I can easily take care of (eat) four deer a year by myself. If I were more consistently more successful, I'm sure I could handle it. Back in the day when I was a lot more social than lately, I used to figure on two more deer for guests/potlucks. So my formula used to be 4+2.

    I don't think I've ever killed more than seven or eight deer in a year, but that's not for lack of trying. I only remember one wasted deer in my career, but let's just say two for faulty memory. It/those would have been completely my fault, rather than something like a freezer failing or a thousand-year flood, etc. I have forced myself to finish rank deer that might have gotten rank on my watch, but since I couldn't help the circumstances, I sucked it up. Meat grinders, A1, woo-woo, Texas Pete. Lawry's and Cackalacky were invented for a reason ....

    I've never made a formal venison donation. I've given gifts or done favors or handed some off to people I knew could use it or who were down on their luck and asked me, but other than that I like venison too much to give it away. I also like processing it (assuming I have the time) so dropping it off somewhere so it can be given away just because I don't have time for it isn't my thing. (To each his own, though.)

    If I had more time: ""I think we're gonna need a bigger freezer."




    What say you?

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Swamp Fox View Post
    I've never made a formal venison donation.
    Me either. Nothing "formal" about dropping a deer off at a processor instead of my garage. Easy peasy.

    Besides, the same guy who might process my deer for my personal consumption is conveniently the same guy who is going to process the deer into ground venison, shape it into 1/4 pound packs, freeze it and get paid his/her going rate.

    The difference is the Blue Ridge Food Bank shows up with their refrigerator truck and distributes to Catholic Charities, Salvation Army and several other church sponsored/community sponsored food banks around the state. Last year, 355,000 lbs of venison were distributed in Virginia.

    I've helped set and/or fund raised for three different states, NY, MI and VA.


    Quote Originally Posted by Swamp Fox View Post
    I've given gifts or done favors or handed some off to people I knew could use it or who were down on their luck and asked me
    During the recession word got around in my church that I put in the time and donated venison through Virginia's Hunters for the Hungry. More than one grown man with tears in his eyes confidentially and with some shame written on his face asked politely if I could spare any meat until they got back on their feet and found a job. This direct donation was highly personal and satisfying. It gave new meaning to helping out a brother or sister. I continue to see many of these men in my community and there is an unspoken bond none of us will forget.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swamp Fox View Post
    I like venison too much to give it away.
    As do I but I couldn't single-handedly eat 4 deer in a year if I tried.

    I don't look at it as giving anything away because that would devalue the effort expended by the hunter and commoditize the animal that is the by-product of the hunt. Sanitized, a natural resource becomes part of the supply chain and helps to manage deer populations." Simple and something non-hunters and hunters can wrap their heads around.

    The turning point for me was serving many a meal to children, single Mom's abandoned by their husbands and unemployed people caught in a financial death spiral. The stereotype homeless person these days is definitely not the psycho drunk, drug addict, mentally challenged person although obviously they exist. Staring into the eyes of a hungry kid so totally dependent on a ladle of venison chili does something to you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swamp Fox View Post
    I also like processing it (assuming I have the time)
    I enjoy processing too but after the 2nd or 3rd deer it becomes drudgery and legit work. With a standard VA hunting license the bag limit is 2 bucks, 3 does + over-the-counter additional doe permits. If you add in organized legal management programs I participate in, DMAP tags (deer management assistance program), DCAP tags (damage control assistance program) and DPOP tags (deer population reduction program) the number of deer that could be taken here is crazy. Granted, not every hunter can receive the DMAP, DCAP and DPOP tags but if you're into hunting and want to expand your options it's all available.

    My worst year in the last twelve years was 4, my best year was 12.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swamp Fox View Post
    so dropping it off somewhere so it can be given away just because I don't have time for it isn't my thing. (To each his own, though.)
    I enjoy processing too but after the 2nd or 3rd deer it becomes drudgery for me. Again, we have different perspectives. I'm not giving anything away because I don't have the time to process. I am playing the role of predator so those humans in my local tribe who are hungry can eat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swamp Fox View Post
    What say you?
    Donate. Pay it forward.
    Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

    Ephesians 5:11

  3. #3
    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
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    I absolutely LOVE hunting and when you hunt, sometimes you actually kill something. The honor of harvesting one of nature's beasts comes with some responsibility. I cannot eat more than 1 deer a year and since the kids are gone and the wife isn't a fan, I'll only keep one deer for myself.
    I can't stop hunting just because I've killed what I can eat, the deer numbers are out of control here and, well, I have tons of tags and a LONG season!
    This state also has a Hunters feeding the hungry program, you can donate the deer through your butcher. He/she grinds the deer into 1lb packages of ground venison and a reefer truck picks it up and delivers it around the state. The butcher gets $40 a pop and the hungry folks eat like kings/queens.
    Between the 2 states I hunt (Maryland and Delaware), I can kill pretty much as many deer as I want to. Delaware gives 2 buck tags and 4 doe tags with the license and then extra doe tags are $15 a piece. In Maryland, you can kill 2 bucks and a 3rd with the bonus buck tag and unlimited does (actually, I think it's 27 total).
    I truly enjoy the time in the field and over the past 20 years, I average @50+/- days in the deer woods a season and have harvested an average of 6 a year a year. I've never killed more than 10 and less than 4.
    Bow, Shotgun, Muzzleloader, Pistol, Rifle and Crossbow are what I use but there seems to be an uptick in Alatl hunting and maybe I'll try that!
    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

  4. #4
    Senior Member Swamp Fox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swamp Fox View Post

    I can easily take care of (eat) four deer a year by myself. If I were more consistently more successful, I'm sure I could handle it. Back in the day when I was a lot more social than lately, I used to figure on two more deer for guests/potlucks. So my formula used to be 4+2.

    [...]

    I like venison too much to give it away.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Peck View Post

    As do I but I couldn't single-handedly eat 4 deer in a year if I tried.


    You could ... I know you could. Especially if all you shot were the little ones, LOL.



    "Anyway, like I was sayin', shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. There's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that's about it."


    And nowadays there's shrimp tacos, shrimp enchiladas, shrimp fahitos, shrimp kay-sa-dillas, shrimp chiminichangas ...


    Four is easy ... LOL

    (too lazy to edit for "deer" or "venison")






    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Peck View Post
    I don't look at it as giving anything away because that would devalue the effort expended by the hunter and commoditize the animal that is the by-product of the hunt. Sanitized, a natural resource becomes part of the supply chain and helps to manage deer populations." Simple and something non-hunters and hunters can wrap their heads around.

    [...]

    I enjoy processing too but after the 2nd or 3rd deer it becomes drudgery for me. Again, we have different perspectives. I'm not giving anything away because I don't have the time to process. I am playing the role of predator so those humans in my local tribe who are hungry can eat.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Swamp Fox's Avatar
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    I think when our donation programs started around here there were some issues getting the processors paid, and I know of a couple of processors I wouldn't just drop off to and expect good results if a paying customer weren't going to hold them accountable.


    Hopefully the first issue is in the past (?) but I don't know about the second. Doesn't seem like there are enough processors participating, good, bad or indifferent. I'll have to look into it more.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Swamp Fox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon View Post
    I absolutely LOVE hunting and when you hunt, sometimes you actually kill something. The honor of harvesting one of nature's beasts comes with some responsibility. I cannot eat more than 1 deer a year and since the kids are gone and the wife isn't a fan, I'll only keep one deer for myself.
    I can't stop hunting just because I've killed what I can eat, the deer numbers are out of control here and, well, I have tons of tags and a LONG season!

    The donation programs are genius for these reasons, when you think about it. Plus, the longer I'm on the earth the more people I meet who enjoy hunting but don't care for the meat (or know what to do with it). This seems weird to me, especially in the case of venison, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Swamp Fox View Post
    I think when our donation programs started around here there were some issues getting the processors paid, and I know of a couple of processors I wouldn't just drop off to and expect good results if a paying customer weren't going to hold them accountable.
    Although there are many variations the only model I've seen work goes like this:

    1.
    The processor has to conform to and be licensed by the state to process meat often periodically being inspected by health authorities and game wardens.

    In other words, the processor must meet the same USDA standards as the larger slaughter houses and meat distributors.

    This one point eliminates many seasonal processors working out of their garages. I've interviewed and set up many a processor. While not an inspector it doesn't take much for me to say to myself "Nope. I wouldn't bring my deer here!"

    Some processors do not want to participate in venison programs if they already have successful businesses processing beef, pork, poultry, etc. They reason, perhaps justly, for the number of deer they might potentially process that breaking down the equipment and sanitizing in between the various species isn't worth the effort.

    On the other hand if the processor is in an area of great demand for processing venison it is often financially worthwhile to temporarily suspend processing other species whether or not they are interested in participating in a donation program. The excellent processors understand there is more to the program than a steady stream of referrals and actually provide discounted rates.

    2.
    For this processing collaboration to work, the processor must get paid the going market rate.

    If the hunter and/or the processor has to pay even a dime the success is immediately in doubt and most programs like that fail.

    In NY and Virginia, it took years but we negotiated a "general fund" legislative allocation to keep the programs up and running as well as voluntary "check box" contributions from hunters purchasing hunting licenses, money coming from corporate donors/sponsors and believe it or not the food banks themselves. The food banks would rather not pay for the venison directly (i.e. per pound at a discounted rate). It works better and looks better for them to participate in "sponsorship" with the silent assumption that their sponsorship somehow comes with preferred access to the distribution chain. After-all, the food banks have customers too. There is never enough free or discounted meat in circulation.

    In almost all the programs I've worked or consulted with (TX, MI, NY, VA) when the money runs out, the processing stops and everything grinds to a halt.
    Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

    Ephesians 5:11

  8. #8
    Senior Member Swamp Fox's Avatar
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    Years ago when I first looked into this, hunters were paying a fee up front here, either the whole regular price tag or a discounted rate. That seemed to dampen enthusiasm and I don't think it's the case now, at least with the most popular programs.

    The other thing that seems up for grabs is whether deer can be accepted hide-on. In SC there is at least one processor I know who will take hide-on deer for donation, and this is very popular, particularly with dog-drivers. He's deer only, I think --at least in the fall-- so that might have something to do with it.

    Then I know when I took a deer to a processor just to be put in a cooler on an extended hunt in NC, they didn't want it hide-on. They were a multi-species processor that advertised deer services, but I guess there was some fine print, LOL. I'm gonna guess you can't have filthy deer hair in the same cooler with nice clean hogs, or something like that, lol.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Swamp Fox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Peck View Post
    ...when the money runs out, the processing stops and everything grinds to a halt.

    I see what you did there ...

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Swamp Fox View Post
    Years ago when I first looked into this, hunters were paying a fee up front here, either the whole regular price tag or a discounted rate. That seemed to dampen enthusiasm and I don't think it's the case now, at least with the most popular programs.
    25 processors in SC participating in with SC Hunters for the Hungry based in Spartansburg, SC (aka South Carolina Hunters and Landowners for the Hungry (HLFH) http://www.schuntersforthehungry.com/processors/

    Distribution is mostly through churches which is pretty typical but I can't tell if it's just Upstate or the whole state

    Last year, 26,000 pounds of wild game meat was distributed to families. The group has set a goal of 35,000 pounds this year.

    Hunters for the Hungry covers the processing fee. Much of the group’s funding to pay for meat processing comes from the United Way of the Piedmont. Hunters who donate meat can help by donating part of the processing fee, which can average around $65 per deer.

    There are also two (2) SC Chapters of FHFH (Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry) covering Calhoun, Richland and Charleston counties. FHFH typically fills in gaps where other programs are not represented in an effort to covers as many locales as possible.

    There aren't any FHFH chapters in VA or NY as the venison donation programs already in place cover all counties in each state and both have general funds available for operations.

    So, SC has some semblance of a venison donation program with no mention anywhere of whether or not the hide needs to be on or off. I will say that beyond market rate payment to the processors in most states, processors also reap the incremental revenue from hides that come from skinning, salted and shipped to tanners who buy them by the pallet & tractor trailer load.
    Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

    Ephesians 5:11

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