Hunters Donate Venison to Needy Families

Hunters Donate Venison to Needy Families
By: Carly O'Keefe

JACKSON COUNTY, Ill. - Folks who grew up with a hunter can probably tell you, when Dad brings home that big buck, after a while the rest of the family gets pretty tired of eating venison.
"A lot of people would take the meat home and the next year throws it out and it'd go to the land fill because they couldn't eat it all," said Whitetails deer processor Zach Hill.
In Illinois, hunters have a way to guarantee that meat will be eaten before freezer burn sets in.  The Sportsmen Against Hunger program insures that if hunters don't want it, it won't be wasted.
Participating meat processors package the venison and give it to local food pantries.  In 2006, Whitetails Deer Processing in Jackson County donated more than 800 pounds to southern Illinois food pantries.
"It's never wasted.  As soon as the food pantries get it, people come and get it.  They know it's there and they're very glad to get it," said Hill.
It's also helped conservation police conserve.  Before the program started, when Conservation Police confiscated a poached deer, the meat would either go to waste or officers could find a needy family to give it to; but the family had to process the meat themselves.
"It makes it much more accessible to many more people, and it comes nicely wrapped now in packages.  It's just a good program," said Conservation Police Officer Chris Mohrman.
And every year, the program grows as more hunters learn they can help.
"We do get bow hunters and shotgun hunters who donate.  So we got some that'll be going to the food pantry this next week," said Hill.

Participating Deer Processors:
John's Venison Processing (Jefferson)
Rt. 2 Box 302 22972 E Rush Rd.
Blueford, IL 62814
contact: Doreen (618)732-8570

Mike's Market (Clay)
P.O. Box 42 133 North Church St.
Louisville, IL 62858
contact: Mike Frost (618)665-3151

Pearson's Meat Processing (Jackson)
994 S. Mudline Rd.
Murphysboro, IL 62966
contact: Todd (618)684-2014

R&R Processing (Johnson)
301 N. 11th St.
Vienna, IL 62995
contact: Gail (618)658-8561

Shirley Farms (Jackson)
1713 Hwy 149
DeSoto, IL 62924
contact: Mark Shirley (618)987-2706

Miles Brothers Deer Processing (Franklin)
1000 S Jefferson St
West Frankfort, IL 62896
contact: (618) 937-4115

Whitetails Deer Processing (Jackson)
3600 Chautaqua
Carbondale, IL 62901
contact: Zach Hill (618)549-2290