ALKOL — For some coalfield residents, hunting presents an opportunity to give to people in need.
Derrick Bragg, of Alkol, saw it as an opportunity to teach his son about their family’s tradition and Christian value of feeding those less fortunate in their state.
“We have been blessed by God to have this large farm in our family for generations and I want to make sure my son learns the blessing of giving to others and helping the hungry,” Bragg said.
Bragg told his 12-yer-old son Jacob about the Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) program.
“We talked about it and he wanted to help the program by donating his deer harvest,” Bragg said.
Thanks to the Bragg family, hunters are not the only West Virginians who benefit from deer harvested in the state. Over the past two decades, the DNR has sponsored the Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) program.
Since its inception in 1992, generous hunters and financial contributors have enabled the processing of this highly nutritious meat which has provided more than 1.1 million meals for needy West Virginia families.
So after Jacob killed a deer on the first day of an October three-day firearm antlerless deer season on private land than ran only from Oct. 22-24, 2015, he donated the deer to the HHH program. His donation was a welcome gesture in a state where statistics show that around 20 percent of residents are “food insecure.”
“Hunters are very generous people,” said Bragg. “If they know they can help somebody, they will.”
“From a deer management perspective, every antlerless deer harvested early in the October season means there will be more food,” according to Paul Johansen, chief of the Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section (DNR).
“The harvest of antlerless deer is the key to healthier, heavier and more productive deer herds,” Johansen said. “To manage West Virginia’s deer herd, hunters and landowners must continually assess their expectations of the proper number of deer sightings versus the impacts deer have on vegetation.
“Hunters and landowners should encourage antlerless deer hunting where needed to benefit the deer herd and other wildlife dependent on our state’s woodland habitat. Conversely, antlerless deer harvests can be reduced to stabilize or increase deer populations. The early opening date for antlerless deer hunting with a firearm is a good opportunity for hunters and landowners to accomplish their antlerless deer harvest objectives,” according to Johansen.
Johansen said hunters are reminded that recording their harvest is an integral part of the DNR’s ability to manage deer in West Virginia.
Donations of harvested deer and financial donations are being accepted for the West Virginia Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) program, sponsored by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR). HHH provides low-fat, low-cholesterol meat to needy families around the state through the Mountaineer Food Bank and the Facing Hunger Food Bank.
Hunters can donate legally harvested deer by delivering the deer to the nearest participating meat processor. A list of processors is available at www.wvdnr.gov/Hunting/HHH.shtm. Venison is deboned, ground and frozen in two-pound packages. The food banks pick up the venison and distribute it to more than 500 food programs throughout West Virginia.
“We need donations of not only deer, but also money,” said Tyler Evans of the DNR Wildlife Resources Section. “Federal law prevents the use of hunting license fees to offset the processing and distribution costs, so DNR requires financial assistance to manage this charitable program.”
The West Virginia Council of Churches has established “Share the Harvest Sunday” to raise awareness of the program.
As West Virginia’s hunters take to the field, they gain more than just an enjoyable day with family and friends. Many will successfully harvest a deer and fill their freezer with an ample amount of “heart-healthy” venison (deer meat).
“Venison is an excellent alternative to beef for those concerned with healthier choices in their diet,” said Paul Johansen, chief of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section (DNR). “Venison is a good source of protein for many West Virginia families and has fewer calories and less fat than an equivalent serving of beef.”
Thanks to the Bragg family and others, hunters are not the only West Virginians who benefit from deer harvested in the state.
Over the past two decades, the DNR has sponsored the Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) program. Since its inception in 1992, generous hunters and financial contributors have enabled the processing of this highly nutritious meat which has provided more than 1.1 million meals for needy West Virginia families.
Visit www.wvdnr.gov/Hunting/HHH.shtm for information about Hunters Helping the Hungry.
For more information about the HHH program or West Virginia’s various deer hunting seasons and regulations, consult the 2015-2016 West Virginia Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary available at all DNR offices and license agents or visit the DNR website at www.wvdnr.gov.
and funds to support it. Sunday, Nov. 1, has been designated as the day when members of each participating church will be asked to donate $1, $5, or whatever they can, to HHH.
Each tax-deductible donation, whether direct or through church, will help feed someone less fortunate. Checks should be made out to: Hunters Helping the Hungry, 163 Wildlife Road, French Creek, WV 26218.
Since its inception in 1992, HHH has provided 892,637 pounds of venison for more than 1.2 million family-style meals at a total cost of $1,225,974. Processing costs are $1.45 per pound, with the average deer producing 35.5 pounds of ground venison.
For information about HHH, Share the Harvest Sunday, or general questions about the program, please contact Tyler Evans or Judy Channell with DNR at 304-924-6211 or 304-924-6211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Reminder: Hunters should get their permanent DNR ID number prior to the hunting seasons at wvhunt.com, a DNR office or at any license agent, so they will be ready to check in their animal with the new electronic game checking system.
Fred Pace is an editor for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-369-1165, ext. 1661, in Madison; at 304-752-6950, ext. 1729 in Logan; by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or @fcpace62 on Twitter.