One local business is doing its part to not only to help deer hunters, but to help feed the hungry as well.
Jack's Fine Foods, 117 E. National Ave., is one of 30 business in Indiana participating in the Safari Club International Foundation and Department of Natural Resources "Sportsmen Against Hunger" program, which began nationally in 1989.
"We have been a part of the program for six or seven years," Jack's Fine Foods Owner Chris Styleburg said. "It is a great program, and hopefully it is an initiative for hunters not to shoot deer and leave them."
The "Sportsmen Against Hunger" program provides hunters the opportunity to donate deer they may not want or need to local businesses, which is then processed and given to local food pantries and charitable organizations.
"We trim and clean everything out to make sure the meat is good and so far this year, we have processed 1,572 pounds of deer meat," Styleburg told The Brazil Times. "We will probably break our record of 2,300 pounds, which we did last year."
Styleburg said his business turns all of the donated deer into ground meat because it goes farther than turning the meat into steaks.
"It also makes things more fair for the food pantries as they are all receiving the same product rather than one getting steaks and another one not," he said. "The important part of the program is that we just try to help those who are in need."
While Jack's Fine Foods charges a fee to process deer for personal consumption, there is no charge for someone who donates.
"The hunters are already putting money out there to pay for the tags," Styleburg said. "But we do have some instances where people also donate money in appreciation for the service."
Currently, there are no special tags for hunters to shoot over the limit with the specific purpose of donating deer, but Styleburg said if one were available, it would help in multiple areas.
"There is an overpopulation of deer in Indiana, and some counties have a limit of eight or more," he said. "Additional tags would not only help cut down on the overpopulation, but it would also provide more meat for the food pantries."
He added the program also allows hunters who love the sport, but have no need for the meat, to continue hunting while helping put food on the tables of the needy.
"There are some hunters whose families no longer eat deer, so they stopped hunting," Styleburg said. "With this program, it gives them the opportunity to keep doing what they enjoy with the advantage of helping out a great cause."
Styleburg said his business accepts deer donation from the beginning of early archery season (Oct. 1 this year) through the end of late archery season, which is Jan. 3, 2010.
"The hunters who donate really need to be thanked for making all the donations they have since we joined the program," he said. "There are times when I will get a call late in the evening with someone wanting to drop off a deer, and I will come open the shop for them because it is for a good cause."
However, hunters were not the only individuals Styleburg felt the need to thank.
"The farmers play an important role because they allow people to hunt on their land," he said. "Also, I do have some farmers, like Gary Bunch and Dave Barr, who bring in deer themselves as well."
Some of the organizations Jack's Fine Foods donates deer meat to include the Clay County Emergency Food Pantry, Lighthouse Mission, Staunton Food Pantry, Curd and Whey Food Pantry, as well as the Clay County and Greencastle Senior Citizens.
"We go down the list we have each time we process a deer so that each organization receives some because people all over are in need," Styleburg said. "It's our way of giving back to the community and trying to make sure everyone has something to eat, especially during the holiday season."
Pin down hunger
Residents have an additional chance to help out those in need.
The cost is $5, and proceeds from each pin go directly to deer processors who receive donated deer. The resulting venison is donated to provide much-needed meat to food banks across the state.
For more information about ordering the pin, log on to www.in.gov/dnr/lawenfor/3987.htm.