Share the Harvest

In the early 1990s, archery hunters around Columbia, Mo., came up with the outstanding idea of “sharing” some of the deer meat they harvested with needy families in the area. This was the start of what became the Share the Harvest Program in Missouri.

The first year, Share the Harvest resulted in the charitable donation of about 3,000 pounds of venison. Last year, the amount was more than 260,000 pounds of mostly ground venison.

That is a lot of burger!

We had to overcome a lot of obstacles to develop the state-wide program that now involves 118 deer processors, as well as thousands of hunters and volunteers. The Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) took a strong leadership role in working with the departments of Conservation and Agriculture, as well as charitable organizations and food pantries, sportsman’s groups and private individuals, to efficiently put the donations of hunters into the hands of the needy.

How It Works

The Share the Harvest Program now makes it easy for hunters to donate venison to charity. A hunter harvests a deer and takes it to one of the participating processors listed in the Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting pamphlet. These are available where permits are sold or at any Conservation Department office or online at www.mdc.mo.gov/cgi-bin/share/harvest.cgi.

The hunter may then make a partial donation by simply telling the processor to take a certain amount of meat (2 pounds, for example) from his deer for Share the Harvest. The processor sets aside that meat and combines it with other donations before grinding it up and placing it into 1-pound packages for freezing. When the hunter picks up his deer meat, he pays the standard processing costs.

If the hunter elects to donate the entire deer, $35 of the processing fees are provided by a statewide fund administered by the CFM. Originally this fund was supplied solely by Shelter Insurance. As the demands for this fund grew, the CFM, the Missouri Department of Conservation, Shelter Insurance, Bass Pro Shop, and Whitetails Unlimited became statewide sponsors.

In addition, many processors offer a reduction from their normal processing rate when a whole deer is donated to Share the Harvest as their way of contributing to area people in need.

Money from local funds may be available to further reduce the processing fee. Safari Club International, Wal-Mart, White River Electrical Co-Op and others also have raised funds to support their specific local programs.

The result is that in many locations