Share the Harvest

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Published on: Oct. 2, 2008

Last revision: Dec. 9, 2010

whole deer donations can be processed at no cost to hunters. Find out what level of funding is available in your area by calling local processors listed in the Deer and Turkey Hunting pamphlet.

A Program of Cooperation

Although Share the Harvest simplifies the process of hunters donating meat to the needy, the program’s underpinnings require multiple organizations working in concert with the program’s cosponsors, the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Conservation Federation of Missouri.

Each local program requires three cooperating components: a processor, a coordinating organization and a distributing organization. Deer processors must be licensed and must be inspected by health department officials to determine that the deer meat is being handled in a sanitary manner.

The charitable organization, which may be a local service club or other community oriented group, promotes the program locally, keeps records of deer donations and transfers venison from the processor to the distributing organization. The latter actually gives the finished frozen packages of venison to needy families and individuals. Good examples of distributing organizations are food pantries, the St. Vincent DePaul society and church groups.

The Wildlife Code of Missouri allows only the taker of wildlife to give it away. However, an exception has been created to allow that commercially processed deer meat may be donated to not-for-profit charitable organizations under guidelines established by the director of the Missouri Department of Conservation.

In addition, all organizations helping with the program must be approved annually by the local conservation agent to assure accountability.

Management Tool

The Share the Harvest Program is extremely useful in the Conservation Department’s management of Missouri’s deer population.

The Department works with the Conservation Federation to target areas with high deer numbers by increasing local processing-cost incentives and Share the Harvest promotional campaigns. This results in an increased harvest in areas where deer populations are high.

Urban parts of the state are an excellent example. A special hunt for antlerless deer only is held early in the fall before the regular firearms deer season in selected counties where deer numbers need to be reduced. Thanks to the help of local sponsors, all processing costs for deer taken during the Urban Counties Portion of the Firearms Deer season are covered. Hunters pay only for permits and equipment.

Help Share the Harvest

If you are a charitable organization and would like to be involved as a coordinating organization or a distributing organization, or would like to help raise funds locally for the program, please contact your local conservation agent for approval and details. Conservation agents also are the contact for deer processors that would like to participate in the program.

Deer hunters who would like to donate a portion of their take or an entire deer can refer to the Share the Harvest listing in the Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting pamphlet to find participating processors. Outdoor clubs or organizations, businesses, or individuals who wish to help fund the program locally or statewide can contact their conservation agent or contact the Conservation Federation of Missouri at (573) 634-2322, or online.

Venision Donations
Year Number of Hunters Pounds Donated
1994 Unkown 3,200
1995 Unkown 8,200
1996 1,679 20,497
1997 1,467 29,323
1998 1,370 42,509
1999 1,712 46,090
2000 1,338 49,260
2001 1,623 76,171
2002 1,826 96,595
2003 3,675 177,435
2004 5,161 275,374
2005 5,091 267,541
2006 6,584 322,469
2007 5,569 260,908

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