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Hunters Provide Millions of Meals

Brian McCombie

Recently, Mossy Oak and the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) announced that Mossy Oak is now the official camouflage of QDMA, with Mossy Oak Break-Up Country® as QDMA’s official camouflage pattern.  At the same time, QDMA was designated as an Official Conservation Partner of Mossy Oak, and Mossy Oak will help promote QDMA’s mission of ensuring the future of our white-tailed deer, wildlife habitat and our hunting heritage.

Most hunters know that QDMA is among the nation’s premier conservation organizations, working every day to improve America’s deer hunting.  What these same hunters might not realize, though, is that QDMA and its members have provided millions of nutritious meals to those Americans most in need. QDMA helps facilitate this effort through several initiatives that encourage its members to donate hunter-harvested venison to local food banks.

“Earlier this year, we completed a survey of QDMA members,” said Lindsay Thomas, QDMA communications director. “Based on the results, we know that 44-percent of QDMA members--approximately 26,000 of them--donate bulk venison annually to charities or to people who do not reside in their household. We also asked about quantity donated. In total, it is estimated QDMA members donate 1.73 million pounds of venison or 6.9 million meals annually.”

And QDMA is just getting started!   

One of QDMA’s new five-year mission goals, Thomas noted, is to increase the number of meals donated by QDMA members by 270,000 meals per year over the next five years.  That would put the total number of annual meals provided at over 36 million meals for the five-year period. 

Why is QDMA involved in this effort?

“One in seven U.S. households is currently ‘food insecure,’” said Thomas. “We think QDMA and its member hunters can make a measurable impact on the dietary quality of those Americans in need through venison donations.”

In addition, QDMA is working to connect hunters with non-hunters…at the dinner table! QDMA is asking members to donate 20 million additional meals - also over the next five years - to friends and family outside their homes who are not needy.

“Recent research has revealed that the best way for hunters to connect with non-hunters is through the sharing of wild game,” Thomas added. “With the growing interest in food safety and healthy living, there has never been a better time to introduce non-hunters to the quality and taste of wild venison through a shared meal.”

Once these non-hunters find out how delicious and nutritious venison is, the hope is that at least some of them will try hunting themselves. Even those who never hunt will come away from the dinner table with a more positive view of hunting and its benefits. 

Mossy Oak is behind efforts to feed hungry Americans 100-percent. Through its sponsorship of the non-profit organization Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH), Mossy Oak has promoted venison donations by hunters for many years. In addition to being a national sponsor of FHFH, Mossy Oak featured FHFH in the January 2016 episode “Helping Hands” on Mossy Oak’s Hunting the Country television show.

Established in 1997, FHFH enables hunters and farmers to provide nutritious meat to feed those most in need in their local communities. To date, FHFH has provided an impressive 18.7 million servings of meat.   

In fact, every year American hunters donate millions upon millions of pounds of venison to help the needy. Deer donation programs exist in nearly every state, with some of these programs run by state game agencies.  

In Wisconsin for example, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) operates a deer donation effort that, since it was founded in 2000, has taken in some 90,000 hunter-harvested deer which were processed into over 3.6 million pounds of ground venison.  The DNR oversees a statewide network of venison donation partners that include county conservation departments, food pantries, charitable organizations, and participating meat processors.

Many deer donation programs are run independently, often by hunter volunteers and their sponsors, like Virginia Hunters Who Care. Founded by a deer hunter in 1991, this group raises funds to cover the costs of having professional meat processors accept, cut, wrap, and freeze deer donated by hunters in Virginia. Distribution is handled through community foodbanks and other charities.  So far, Virginia Hunters Who Care has provided over 22 million servings of venison to people in need.

Hunters helping those in need.  It’s what we do.

Harvesting Does in Early Season Benefits the Herd and the Hunter
If you don’t remove a portion of the reproductive segment of your herd, once the herd reaches the carrying capacity of the land, your bucks and does can’t grow to their full potential each year. That’s the reason we encourage people to take does during bow season. Harvesting does at the beginning of bow season also helps the archer get more comfortable with having deer in close and making accurate shots.

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