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Art Lander’s Outdoors: Ky. Hunters for the Hungry provides venison to feed the hungry across State

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, second from right, helped promote Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry (KHFH) at a recent Kentucky State Fair with, from left: KHFH Executive Director Roger LaPointe; Karen Waldrop, a former KDFWR employee, and KHFH Founder Mike Ohlmann. (Photo from Kentucky Department of Agriculture)

With Kentucky’s modern gun season for deer just a week away, now is the time to finalize preparation for the statewide 16-day season.

Make plans now to donate a deer to Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry (KHFH), a statewide hunger relief program that provides a healthy source of protein to needy Kentuckians.

Harvesting antlerless deer in counties where herds are above management goals helps control herd growth, curtailing crop damage on farms, and damage to vegetable gardens, flower beds, and landscaping in rural subdivisions.

These are tough times financially for many Kentuckians, especially the thousands of families who are still trying to recover from recent natural disasters — a tornado outbreak in western and central Kentucky, and flooding in eastern Kentucky.

Donating a deer to KHFH provides an opportunity for hunters to help battle hunger while playing an active role in environmental stewardship through wildlife management.

KHFH pays for the processing of deer carcasses and helps distribute the donated venison to those in need through a network of more than 60 food banks/charities.

The list includes Feeding America Heartland, Dare To Care, Freestore Food Bank, God’s Pantry Food Bank, TriState Foodbank, Purchase Area District Development, High Point Ministries in LaGrange, Christ’s Pantry of Morgan County, Holy Name Food Pantry and Catholic Charities in Louisville.

How to Donate a Harvested Deer

At present, there are 54 participating deer processors in 45 Kentucky counties.

Hunters are urged to call the nearest participating processor to where they will be hunting, to be sure of their shop hours, and if they are accepting deer since some processors only accept deer during certain seasons.

Art Lander Jr. is outdoors editor for the Northern Kentucky Tribune. He is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Western Kentucky University and a life-long hunter, angler, gardener and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and author and is a former staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-writer of the Kentucky Afield Outdoors newspaper column.

Hunters field dress the deer they harvest, check in their kill on KDFWR’s Telecheck and take the carcass to a processor enrolled in the program. It’s that simple.

During the 2021-2022 seasons hunters donated a total of 1,911 deer to the program resulting in 73,651 pounds of ground venison, which equates to about 294,604 meal servings of much-needed protein for struggling Kentuckians. KHFH’s best year overall was during the 2019-2020 seasons when a total of 2,108 deer were donated.

The charitable, volunteer-run organization is funded by cash donations from individuals and various conservation groups, state agencies and businesses.

There are 30 sponsors and supporters of KHFH, including the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Kentucky Farm Bureau, Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Kentucky Colonels, Friends of NRA, Cabela’s, and the Kroger Company’s Zero Hunger Zero Waste Foundation.

KHFH was founded by Mike Ohlmann, who had a taxidermy business in Louisville for 34 years.

In a 2015 news article he remembered the day in 1984 when the idea of Kentucky hunters donating venison to the less fortunate came to fruition.

“A guy was in my shop. He had taken a second deer and didn’t have the freezer space for it,” said Ohlmann. “He asked if there was a way he could put the deer to good use feeding a family.”

Ohlmann made some phone calls and started looking into how to make it happen. The formal organization of Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry, Inc. into a charitable 501(c)(3) organization came in July 2000.

Individuals and groups that want to donate funds or view the list of enrolled processors can do so by visiting kyhuntersforthehungry.info

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