Share the Harvest program allows Missouri deer hunters to donate venison to those in need

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SOUTHWEST MISSOURI — “Not too many times do you have an opportunity to help other people with something you enjoy doing,” said Tim Smith, Administrative Specialist, Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center.

And for deer hunters, the Share the Harvest program gives them an opportunity to do just that. Since 1992, hunters throughout Missouri have been able to donate surplus venison to Share the Harvest to help feed those in need.

It all starts by bringing the deer to an approved processor like Cloud’s Meats in Carthage.

“We only accept the best. In other words, the deer have to be very clean. We want to skin them. We want to take care of them,” said Mike Cloud, owner of Cloud’s Meats.

From there, different local organizations distribute the venison.

“We had thousands of pounds last year. Fairview Church takes care of it here and it just goes out in several directions. I know some organizations like Teen Challenge down in Neosho — they’ll pick up directly from here,” said Cloud.

Typically, over 250,000 pounds of venison is donated each year. Cloud’s Meats has already seen nine of the 50 deer brought to them this season designated for Share the Harvest.

At Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center, they work to get the information out about approved processors.

“If somebody needs to find out who the approved vendors are, we have a list of those here that we can give out… You figure 250,000 pounds of venison — it’s going to touch a number of needy people throughout the state of Missouri,” said Smith.

Processing fees are paid by the hunters — and many have found it to be a worthy cause.

“It feels great just to be able to know that you’re doing something you love — hunting — and being able to help other people who need it,” said Smith.

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