As Pa. deer season begins, hunters to share venison with the needy

    A decades-old program for donating venison to the hungry is ramping up as Pennsylvania’s deer season begins Monday.

    Since 1991, the Hunters Sharing the Harvest group has asked deer hunters to leave some venison for Pennsylvania food banks.

    The largest expense is reimbursing deer butchers who accept donated meat, said John Plowman, the longtime executive director.

    “They cannot do deer for us for free,” he said. “We have to pay the deer processers, who are independent businessmen.”

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    A combination of state funding, donations, and corporate sponsorships pays the bill.

    This year, a number of energy companies have come on board as sponsors, including many in the natural gas drilling industry.

    Such companies have been polishing their image with similarly high-profile sponsorships, including at Penn State football games.

    Their visibility among sportsmen groups is on the rise, Plowman said.

    “If they can help a sportsmen’s program, which Hunters Sharing the Harvest is, that brings them closer to being appreciated for some of their other work,” he said.

    The group is aiming to collect 100,000 pounds of venison for food banks. Last year, it distributed about 92,000 pounds.

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