Donate extra venison to feed hungry Missourians; use special processors for deer harvested from CWD-positive counties.

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 runs from Sept. 15 through Jan. 15, 2019.

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 National Institutes of Health state 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 can't get 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 289,200 pounds of venison to the program last deer season — including nearly 5,600 whole white-tailed deer. Since the program was started in 1992, Share the Harvest has provided nearly 4 million pounds of lean, healthy venison 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.

To get Share the Harvest venison, contact local food banks or food pantries.

“Hunters started Share the Harvest because they saw a need in their communities,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “And hunters remain the driving force behind this popular program that helps feed our fellow Missourians who are in need. We sincerely thank the thousands of deer hunters who support Share the Harvest, along with the many participating meat processors and sponsors.”

Processing fees are covered entirely or in part by numerous local sponsors, along with statewide sponsors that include: MDC, CFM, Shelter Insurance, Bass Pro Shops, Missouri Chapter Whitetails Unlimited, Missouri Chapter Safari Club International, Missouri Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation, Drury Hotels, Midway USA Inc., Missouri Deer Hunters Association and Missouri Food Banks Association.

“Share the Harvest is a partnership of citizens, agencies, organizations, and corporations working together to provide healthy, protein-rich meat to those who may otherwise go without,” said CFM Executive Director Brandon Butler. “Hunters across Missouri should be proud of this outstanding program.”

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 processors in MDC’s “2018 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information” booklet, online at huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/species/deer/deer-share-harvest, or by calling MDC at 573-751-4115 or CFM at 573-634-2322.

Donating deer from a CWD-positive county?

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a deadly illness for white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family, called cervids. 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. Cases of CWD are relatively rare in Missouri with 75 confirmed in free-ranging deer since 2012.

Deer donated to Share the Harvest must be tested for CWD if harvested from any of these 11 counties where CWD has been found: Adair, Cedar, Cole, Franklin, Jefferson, Linn, Macon, Perry, Polk, St. Clair, and Ste. Genevieve.

These deer can only be donated through processors participating in the Share the Harvest CWD Testing Program and located in or near any of the 11 CWD-positive counties. Find participating processors at mdc.mo.gov/cwd under “Sharing the Harvest.”

Hunters can have their deer sampled for CWD before donating the animals. They must present the CWD barcode number provided at the sampling location to the participating processor as proof of sampling. Hunters may also present their unsampled deer for donation to participating processors in or near any of the 11 counties and the processor will collect a sample for testing.

Hunters wishing to donate their deer from CWD-positive counties to Share the Harvest and preserve the cape of their deer for taxidermy are reminded that deer with the head removed are not eligible for donation unless a sample was collected and a sample number is provided.

Deer harvested outside of the 11 CWD-positive counties do not need to be tested for donation to Share the Harvest and may be taken to any Share the Harvest processor.