- News -

Be Proactive: Include Hunters Sharing the Harvest in Your 2021-22 Deer Hunting Plans!

Weekly Bargain Bulletin

Edition 2570

July 23, 2021

Outdoor Opportunities

By COL(Ret.) Grey D. Berrier II

Be Proactive: Include Hunters Sharing the Harvest in Your 2021-22 Deer Hunting Plans!

Looking back, I can think of numerous times when I’ve lent a “helping hand” while out deer hunting. Cooperation afield just seems to be part of most hunters’ DNA. Little things come to mind in no particular order, like: (1) sharing my knife with another successful deer hunter who forgot theirs, (2) helping numerous other hunters drag their deer out of the woods, (3) pushing another stuck hunter’s car out of a PA state game lands parking lot after 8-inches of snow came down between when they parked before daylight and when they came back in the late afternoon, and (4) field-dressing a deer for a young man who downed his first deer and wasn’t sure how to go about the necessary task of eviscerating it. The interesting thing is, I’m not the exception with the things I’ve done over the years and most other deer hunters can probably think of a time or two when they’ve spontaneously pitched in when they’ve come across a situation afield, where helping out was the right thing to do for someone else.

While the examples I shared were spur-of-the-moment, I want to tell you about an opportunity to really help others during the upcoming PA 2021-22 deer hunting seasons and this one you can plan for well in-advance, since we’re still ten weeks out from our PA statewide archery deer season opener on Oct. 2, 2021. I’m talking about Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH), Pennsylvania’s venison donation program, which helps feed hungry people all across the Commonwealth. Started back in 1991, HSH is the preeminent venison donation program in the entire United States and has provided nearly 2-million pounds of fresh ground venison to help feed those in need over its 30-year existence. The average-sized deer yields 50 lbs. of venison and provides 200 much-needed meals. Protein sources tend to be one of the greatest expenses, least donated, and hardest things to acquire for food banks, food panties, soup kitchens, and other organizations providing free meals to those in need. Donated venison fills a verifiable shortage at a time when almost 2-million Pennsylvanians (roughly 16% of our state population) is food insecure and sadly over 30% of those in need, close to 631,000, are children. Generous PA deer hunters helped HSH set an all-time PA state record in 2020 with a total of 187,528 lbs. of venison donated to help feed those in need. This was a significant 17% increase over the 2019 total of 160,000+ lbs. and the 2020 donation total translated into over 750,000 nutritious meals. Talk about doing a lot of good while doing what you love to do! That’s why I’m imploring you to purchase an additional antlerless tag or two this year and make plans to fill those tags in order to help feed someone who otherwise might go hungry.

How can you get involved? HSH has an informative full-page ad on Page 60 of the 2021-22 PA Hunting & Trapping Digest. Highlighted in the four photos accompanying the ad is John Plowman, the founder of HSH and the dynamic force behind its ongoing success and growth over the past 30-years as HSH’s executive director. John is pictured with three nice bucks he’s harvested over the years and also with one of HSH’s participating meat processors. In March 2021, the mantle of leadership passed to Randy Ferguson, the new HSH executive director, who resides in neighboring Mercer County in the Greenville area. Randy is off to a strong start in his new position and has already recruited me and fellow veteran, Nicholas Lutes, as Area Coordinators for Lawrence County. (Previously, there was no one and now there are two of us available.) HSH has an awesome website: sharedeer.org, which should answer any questions you might have about participating, and both Nick’s and my contact information (cell phone # for calls or text/email address) are readily available there. If your rod & gun club, conservation club, or other organization (church, fraternal, etc.) has hunters who would like additional info on HSH, feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to come speak and answer questions at an upcoming meeting.

Over 100 licensed and inspected PA meat processors participate in HSH’s statewide network. For those of us in Lawrence County, the two closest are Doug Peffer’s Deer Processing and Smokehouse in Ellwood City, just inside Beaver County (a regular WBB Advertiser!), and Minor Acres Packing Co. in Jackson Center (possibly closer to some in northern Lawrence County). It costs nothing to donate all or a portion of your deer at a participating HSH meat processor (several years ago there was minimal co-pay). Tax deductible monetary donations are always welcome to help cover butcher expenses, so even if you don’t hunt, you can still “give a buck to the pot” to help this great cause. Hunters Sharing the Harvest = deer hunting + helping others. That’s a winning combination! God Bless, Be Safe, and Great Outdoors!