JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) encourage deer hunters around the state to share their harvests through the state’s Share the Harvest program. Deer season in Missouri started Sept. 15 and runs through Jan. 15, 2020. CFM is also holding a photo contest for those who share their harvests.
Administered by MDC and CFM, Share the Harvest coordinates the efforts of thousands of deer hunters, numerous participating meat processors, many local supporting organizations, and statewide sponsors to help feed hungry Missourians.
The program works by deer hunters donating their extra venison -- from several pounds to whole deer -- to participating meat processors throughout the state who grind and package the deer meat. The packaged venison is then given to local food banks and food pantries for distribution to Missourians in need of food assistance.
The National Institutes of Health states that children need protein in their diets for proper growth and development, and adults need it to maintain good health. Yet many Missourians can't afford or don’t have access to good sources of protein. Through Share the Harvest, Missouri hunters can help provide those in need with high-quality protein in the form of naturally lean, locally harvested deer meat.
Thousands of Missouri deer hunters donated more than 259,400 pounds of venison to the state’s Share the Harvest program last deer season, including 4,855 whole deer. Since the program began in 1992, Share the Harvest has provided more than 4 million pounds of lean, healthy venison to help feed hungry Missourians.
Processing fees are covered entirely or in part by numerous local sponsors, along with statewide sponsors that include: MDC, Shelter Insurance, Bass Pro Shops, Missouri Chapter Safari Club International, Missouri Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation, Midway USA Inc., Missouri Food Banks Association and United Bowhunters of Missouri.
Hunters should contact individual processors to determine what funds are available. The cost of processing is the hunter’s responsibility when funds to help cover the full cost of processing are not available.
Find participating Share the Harvest processors online at mdc.mo.gov/share.
To get Share the Harvest venison, contact local food banks or food pantries.
New this year, CFM is holding a Share Your Harvest photo contest for those who share their harvests. Before donating a deer to Share the Harvest, take a picture and upload it to CFM’s website at confedmo.org/programs/outreach/share-the-harvest/ to be automatically entered into a contest for various prizes. The prize drawing will be held Jan. 27, 2020.
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a deadly illness of white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family. There have been no known cases of CWD infecting people, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommends having deer tested for CWD if harvested in an area known to have cases of the disease. The CDC also recommends not eating meat from animals that test positive for CWD.
MDC has found 116 cases of CWD in Missouri since 2012 out of more than 100,000 deer sampled so the disease remains relatively rare in the state.
MDC has a CWD Management Zone consisting of counties within 10 miles of where CWD has been found. The 29 counties of the CWD Management Zone for this season are: Adair, Barry, Cedar, Chariton, Christian, Crawford, Franklin, Gasconade, Hickory, Howell, Jefferson, Knox, Linn, Macon, Mercer, Oregon, Ozark, Perry, Polk, Putnam, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren, and Washington.
Deer harvested within the CWD Management Zone may only be donated to approved processors participating in the Share the Harvest CWD Testing Program located within or directly adjacent to the CWD Management Zone. Find processors participating in the Share the Harvest CWD Testing Program online at mdc.mo.gov/cwd under “Share the Harvest.”
When donating deer harvested in the CWD Management Zone that have been sampled for CWD before being taken to an approved processor for donation, present the CWD barcode number provided at the sampling station to the processor as proof of sampling. If a sample has not been collected before donation, the processor will collect the sample or remove the head and submit it to MDC for sampling.
Deer harvested outside of the CWD Management Zone may be donated to any Share the Harvest processor.