Deer hunting

Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry shares the state's abundant deer harvest with the less fortunate.

With hunting season in progress across South Arkansas, it is time to remind hunters of a way to share their bounty with the needy and less fortunate.

Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry (AHFH) is a community-minded program that provides venison and other wild game to those in need. According to the AHFH website, organizations, businesses, and churches of many denominations have joined hunters to transform an abundant white-tailed deer population into a renewable food source for the hungry.

With the growing number of deer in Arkansas and very liberal bag limits, hunters can make a real difference in helping feeding agencies across the state. Feeding agencies have a difficult time obtaining meat or protein and that’s where hunters can help.

AHFH provides the venison at no cost to the agencies, but does have to raise money to pay for processing costs. The organization needs to raise about $100,000 to fund the program annually. Individuals, hunting clubs, businesses, churches, and other groups are encouraged to donate funds.

The AHFH website states "this is a highly successful program that has provided approximately three million served meals to the state’s most needy citizens. The success of the program depends upon the generosity of hunters to donate venison and other wild game, cooperation from meat processors throughout the state, support from local food distribution organizations, and the financial contributions of businesses and other citizens."

According to the website, AHFH was established to:

-- Share the harvest of an abundant resource with Arkansans who are hungry.

-- Provide a much needed free, low fat, high protein food source to the many feeding agencies and organizations across Arkansas.

-- Create a “Provider Purpose” for hunters who participate, allowing them to give back and share their blessings with others.

-- Partner with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in order to provide a solution for a healthy, balanced deer herd.

Donations may be made several ways. Sportsmen may donate to AHFH when purchasing a hunting or fishing license. Individuals may donate $1, $5 or $10 to AHFH when purchasing a license. According to the AHFH website, "every dollar will provide four servings of high protein low fat meat to needy Arkansans." This donation may be made at the time of hunting/fishing license purchase. Simply tell the clerk you wish to donate $1, $5 or $10 and it will be added to the cost of the license or if purchasing online, check the box before checking out.

Donations may be mailed to Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry, P.O. Box 55303; Little Rock, AR 72215-5303. For more information, call 501-282-0006.

Hunters may donate a portion of a processed deer to a participating processor. They may leave a couple of packs or pounds of ground venison burger with the processor and tell them they want to donate the meat to AHFH. The processor must be on the AHFH registered list.

An entire deer may be donated to AHFH by dropping off a field dressed or ice chest quartered deer to a participating processor.

The website stresses that AHFH cannot pay the fee for field dressing or skinning. Anyone wishing to have the processor dress or skin the deer, should make sure they check with the processor on whether or not they provide this service and be ready to pay charges.

This program is sponsored by a number of agencies and organizations, including the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. AHFH officials wish to thank the Commission and the State Legislature for their work in making this a reality.

Ronnie Ritter serves as executive director of the AHFH.

Participating South Arkansas processors include:

Columbia County, Christie's Processing, 1944 Columbia 5, Magnolia, 870-696-5015.

Hempstead County, C&A Processing, 476 Hempstead 5, Hope, 870-379-3363.

Lafayette County, C&C Packing Company, 1197 Hwy. 82, Stamps, 870-533-2251.

Nevada County, Tim's Custom Meat, 494 Nevada 51, Prescott, 870-887-3362.

Ouachita County, Starr's Deer & Pork Processing, 135 Ouachita County Road 216, Bearden, 870-818-6954.

Union County, The Choppin' Block, 2509 Parnell Road, El Dorado, 870-862-0776.

Union County, Strong Meat Processing, 366 Camp Road, Strong, 870-797-2001.

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