KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A bagged buck can last a family for a whole winter, giving enough meat to help them get through several cold months. The Tennessee Wildlife Federation wants to feed more than just one family, though.
They want to feed hungry families across Tennessee, and they hope hunters will help them reach that goal.
The Hunters for the Hungry program collects donations from hunters who may bag more than they can handle. When hunters harvest a deer, they can donate either part of it or the whole thing a processing center. There are over 75 processors collecting donations across Tennessee.
“Hunters for the Hungry had its second-best year in 2018 — providing more than 581,000 meals to families in need,” Matt Simcox said in a press release, manager of Hunters for the Hungry. “We are looking to keep that momentum going during the holidays and into the New Year. Knox County hunters can play a big part.”
There are three processing centers collecting donations in Knox County: Broken Wing Meat Processing, Adam's Taxidermy and Processing and Aull's Popular Creek Ranch.
The centers process the meat before delivering it to local hunger relief organizations, which then distribute it to people in need. A major part of what processing centers do is testing deer meat for Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD.
This prionic disease causes deer, or other animals, to exhibit severe neurological symptoms including drastically losing weight or stumbling when walking. The disease causes animals to literally waste away, hence its name.
There is no evidence that CWD can transmit to humans, but the Center for Disease Control still recommends against eating meat that tests positive for CWD. So, Hunters for the Hungry are taking steps to make sure it only gives clean meat to relief organizations.
Any meat that tests positive for CWD will be discarded. Only whole deer donations from Region 1 will be collected as well since the areas have a higher population of deer with CWD. They include deer bagged in Morgan, Cumberland and Roane counties.
Hunters will be able to donate portions of their harvest in the rest of Tennessee.
Hunters will also be able to donate deer for free at any processing center. The program covers the processing costs associated with each donation, as long as funds last. If the program collects more donations than it has funds available, hunters will be able to pay a reduced fee of $50 to process their harvest.
People who donate $50 to the Hunters for the Hungry program can also receive a deer coin. They can then redeem the coin at any processing center to donate their harvest for free.