Heartland hunters can help the hungry

Heartland hunters can help the hungry
By: Carly O'keefe

MURPHYSBORO, IL --Hunters are gearing up for Illinois firearm deer season that starts November 17.  Many folks who hunt for sport will be looking for their trophy, but many don't know what to do with the leftover meat.

Todd Pierson owns a meat processing business in Jackson County this time of year he sees plenty of hunters bringing in deer for their own consumption, this season he also hopes to see those who don't want the venison.
"They can bring it here and instead of letting that meat go to waste, it'll help feed people in the community," said Pierson.
Every month, local food pantries have a tough time supplying meat to heartland families.
"Without the government commodity meat, which is basically just chicken, we have no meat to give. And we ran out of chicken in October and by the time you give rain checks for the people from October, once November comes, already our November allocation is gone," said Jane Williams, a volunteer with the Murphysboro Food Pantry.
Pierson processes deer for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Sportsmen Against Hunger program. Hunters donate their deer to Pierson, and he then donates the venison to local food pantries.
"We've got Murphysboro requesting donations, Ava requesting donations, Du Quoin,"
In past years, Pierson hasn't had enough hunters donating deer to fill those requests.
"We only had a few pounds, in one-pound packages, and literally five months later, families would come back monthly to get their food and they'd ask, ‘do you have any more of that venison? We really enjoyed that.' So it's a real treat for them, as well as helping their budget obviously."
So, while for many hunters the most important part of a buck is its rack, to families in need, the venison is the true trophy.

For more information about the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program check out http://dnr.state.il.us/legislation/isah/index.htm

There are several meat processing businesses in southern Illinois that will process your dear for free through the Sportsmen Against Hunger program:
Franklin County
  • West Frankfort Packing
    1000 S Jefferson St.
    West Frankfort, IL 62896
    Contact: Mike or Chris King (618) 937-4115
Jackson County
  • Pierson's Meat Processing
    994 S. Mudline Rd.
    Murphysboro, IL 62966
    Contact: Todd Pierson (618) 684-2014
  • Shirley Farms
    1713 Hwy 149
    DeSoto, IL 62924
    Contact: Mark Shirley (618) 987-2706
  • Whitetails Deer Processing (Jackson County)
    3600 Chautauqua
    Carbondale, IL 62901
    Contact: Zach Hill (618)549-2290
Jefferson County
  • John's Venison Processing (Jefferson County)
    Rt. 2 Box 302 22972 E Rush Rd.
    Blueford, IL 62814
    Contact: Doreen (618) 732-8570


Hamilton County
  • Birkner Processing
    Rte. 3 County Rd. 1225E
    McLeansboro, IL 62859
    Contact: Danny Birkner (618) 658-8561


Randolph County
  • Millers' Meat Market
    1524 S. Main
    Red Bud, IL 62278
    Contact: Kevin Miller (618) 282-3334