In an area with empty bellies and much venison on the hoof, hunters and nonprofit organizations got together to find a solution.
Hunters donated 19 deer to N.C. Hunters for the Hungry on Saturday during the Chocowinity Community Doe Drive. The approximately 3,000 servings of venison will be distributed through food pantries in the eastern N.C. community.
“It takes two problems in the East – we have too many deer and too many people hungry – and we put two problems together and come up with a good solution,” said Kevin Keyzer, a Hunters for the Hungry board member from Grimesland.
The event also raised $650 toward discounted processing fees of about $50 per deer. Acre Station Meat Farm in Pinetown will be process the lean meat.
“We have found an incredible partner in the N.C. Wildlife Federation and their Farmers Manage Deer program, which is of course made possible by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission,” Keyzer said. “They have put that money to good use in trying to create a program that offers help to the hungry and to farmers. Uncontrolled deer populations have a very negative impact on the production for certain crops.”
Sometimes Pate Howell sees up to 50 deer on the Howell Farms property in Beaufort County where he, his father, two uncles, his grandfather and a cousin grow beans, corn and wheat.
Howell said coyotes and red wolves do a good job of managing the deer population, and he helps out when he has time. Saturday, he took two does to the mobile walk-in cooler parked at Chocowinity Fire Department, including one that weighed 119 pounds and won the heaviest doe contest. Cousin Chris Howell also donated a doe.
“We don’t hunt them like we could, but when we get an opportunity to hunt and donate like this, we know it’s going for a good cause,” Pate Howell said.
Deer, which average about 160 servings of protein, may be donated at Acre Station Meat Farm or a drop-off station at Old Ford Ruritan Club in Washington this season.
Donate deer Oct. 24-Nov. 3 at Country Boy Outfitters in Whiteville and Nov. 7 and Nov. 28-30 at Springhill Outfitters in Selma. Find events, processors and drop-off sites or donate toward processing fees at www.nchuntersforthehungry.org.