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Increased deer hunting numbers bode well for Share the Harvest

   

KAHOKA, Mo. – Gov. Jay Nixon is encouraging Missourian hunters to help the cause of Share the Harvest in donating venisons to families in need.

The governor visited the food pantry at Crossline Ministries in Lebanon on Nov. 25 and promoted the donation, which is a partnership between the Conservation Federation of Missouri, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), regional food banks, local food pantries and meat processors.

“I was very proud to once again donate my deer to Share the Harvest this year, and encourage all Missouri hunters to get involved as we fight hunger and foster hope for families all across the Show-Me State,” Gov. Nixon said. “Share the Harvest is a successful partnership that combines two strong Missouri traditions: hunting and helping families in need.”

Hunters can take their deer to an approved processor and decide on the amount of venison they desire to give to Share the Harvest. Subsidizing a portion of the cost to butcher and package whole deer donated by Missouri hunters, Share the Harvest does not work alone but also receives help from local communities covering parts of the processing costs.

Now in its 24th season, Share the Harvest has donated more than 1,588,000 pounds of venison to local food banks and pantries, which eventually provide for hungry families. Last year, 3,967 hunters donated 213,443 pounds of venison.

During opening weekend of firearms deer season, Nixon shot an eight-point buck while deer hunting in Clark County. The governor took the buck to Kahoka Meat Processing in Kahoka, Mo. where the venison was packaged for distribution to a local food bank, shelter or feeding center.

Nixon was not the only good shot this season: deer harvest in Missouri saw a 14.1 percent increase during the first phase of the season from last year and hunters across the state have already harvested over 250,000 deer, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).

MDC deer biologist Jason Sumners said “Good weather and plenty of deer activity likely are the reasons why there was an increase in deer harvest during the November portion of the firearms deer season this year.”

Recognized as one of the top states in the country to hunt deer with just over eight hunters per square mile, Missouri rakes in around $1 billion in economic impacts from deer hunting alone. With less than one percent of the state’s budget contributing to deer hunting facilities and maintenance, Missouri hunters contribute largely to state and local businesses.   

The increases in deer harvest within the state come after restrictions were lifted in some areas where officials previously tried to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease. Moreover, the 20th Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri made a ruling earlier this year that blocked the enforcement of new regulations set forth by the Missouri Conservation Commission (MCC) and the MDC that would have prevented the importation of privately owned deer and other cervids into Missouri. The judge in this case held that deer are not “natural resources of the state” as claimed by the MCC. The debate of whether captive deer populations are primarily responsible for spreading chronic wasting disease (CWD) among the state’s wild deer population has been a polarized topic between state lawmakers and business owners.

The November firearms deer season ended last week, but there are several opportunities for hunters to participate, including antlerless season, which starts today and runs until early December, the muzzleloader season in December, and archery season that runs until January 15.

To learn more about the Share the Harvest Program and to find a complete list of participating meat processors, please visit MO.gov.