The director of a program that collects donated protein-rich venison to feed the needy is counting on the benevolence of Mississippi sportsmen to offset reductions in antlerless deer limits.

So much so that Paul Davis set a goal of 25,000 pounds during the 2017-18 season.

“What drives this program is the good-natured spirit of Mississippians,” said Davis, who oversees the Mississippi Wildlife Federation program. “They will donate no matter the limit. This program exists because of the good-natured spirit of deer hunters in Mississippi that use our abundant resource of deer to give back to those less fortunate.”

Hunter’s Harvest has collected 60,000 pounds of venison since 2011, producing 245,000 meals for families, over its history. It enters the 2017-18 deer season with a long list of participating processors scattered throughout the state, as well as a lot of hungry stomachs to fill.

“Mississippi is blessed with a lot of deer, but at the same time it is a poor state with a lot of people without a good, steady supply of healthy protein,” Davis said. “It is estimated that 400,000 Mississippians live below the poverty level, including 93,000 children.

“Hunter’s Harvest was founded to put the two together, venison from deer hunters, distributed by the Mississippi Food Network, to the people who need it.”

Davis’ list of processors included 28 at the time of this writing, and offers good statewide coverage. An updated list is always available at the Mississippi Wildlife Federation website mswildlife.org/hunters-harvest/.

Hunters can contribute in several ways: 

Pitch in a pound: Hunters can choose to donate a pound or two of ground venison at the time of pick-up. Participating processors will take donations and store them until distributed by the Mississippi Food Network.

Hunter Pays: A field dressed or quartered deer may be donated by a hunter with the hunter agreeing to pay the venison processing fee. 

Hunter’s Harvest Pays: A deer may be donated and the processing fee can be paid through the Hunter’s Harvest program. Funding for this method of donation is raised through grants, businesses, and personal contributions. Some processors require deer to be skinned and quartered.

Financial Donation: Those who wish to make a financial donation to (or seek more information on) the Hunter’s Harvest Program may call (601) 605-1790, or send the donation to: Mississippi Hunter’s Harvest, 517 Cobblestone Court, Suite 2, Madison, MS 39110.