Hunters for the Hungry offers a chance to manage, help

 

There is an outdoor television show called Jim Shockey's Uncharted. Through the show Shockey not only shows outdoor adventures, but he also attempts to show the positive impact hunting has on others.

While Shockey's adventures are worldwide it is not necessary to travel to make an impact. It can be done right here in East Texas through participation in Hunters for the Hungry.

Now in its 18th year, Hunters for the Hungry in Texas has provided enough quality protein for more than 10 million individual meals. Put another way that is enough meat to feed more than 27,000 Texans a meat at one meal a day for an entire year.

Participation in the program is simple. Hunters take fresh-killed deer to a designated processor. In most cases they are asked to pay a fee to underwrite the cost. The processor grinds and packs it, then distributes it through an organization designated by its regional food bank.

For Tyler area hunters there is a slight difference. For several years East Texas Woods and Waters Foundation has teamed with Lynch's Food Store to make the program free for hunters. The result last year was about 1,800 pounds of venison, enough for 7,200 individual meal.

The two are partnering again this year with the hope that even more hunters participate.

The program provides benefits for both the hunter and those who need the meat.

Texas hunters kill about 600,000 deer annually. Last season they killed an estimated 325,000 bucks and 265,000 does. The number of antlerless deer taken could be higher in most places to maintain herd numbers. That is going to be especially true this year with fawn survival rates going through the roof.

However, as much as hunters enjoy hunting and practice management, the truth is few have freezer space for more than one or two deer a year.

Feeding Texas, an association of food banks across the state, has been coordinating the Hunters for the Hungry program since 2013.

"Last year approximately 100,000 pounds of venison were donated. It is a small portion of the poundage our food banks are distributing, but it's growing," said Betsy Edwards, assistant director of communications for Feeding Texas.

Edwards explained that one in six Texas households typically don't have enough food.

"Our network of 21 food banks works with 3,000 agencies across the state to serve families in need, in every county in Texas. On the average year our network distributes well over 350 million pounds of food. Hunters for the Hungry is part of our overall strategy of connecting low-income families to healthy food," she explained.

There is plenty of room for the program to expand going forward. Feeding Texas hopes to make the program more hunter friendly in the future. With the beginning of hunting license sales next summer, hunters will have an option to donate financially directly to Hunters for the Hungry.

To donate deer to the program through Lynch's, the deer must be skinned and quartered. Lynch's Food Store is located at 3400 E. Fifth Street.

For those wanting to donate closer to their deer lease, a list of participating processors is available at www.Texashuntersforthehungry.org.

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