The final numbers are in and, thanks to the generosity of Tennessee hunters, Hunters for the Hungry had its second best season on record.
Hunters donated 145,259 pounds of venison that were processed and provided to hunger relief organizations. That’s enough to provide more than 581,000 meals, while also better managing the deer population.
This year’s total nears the record set during the 2016 season, despite overall harvests being down 12 percent from the 10-year average.
“Year after year, I am amazed at just how community-minded and generous Tennessee deer hunters and processors are,” said Matt Simcox, Hunters for the Hungry manager. “Three out of the last five years have broken donation records. That’s thanks to the time thousands of hunters spend harvesting for the program.”
Through the kindness of hunters over 20 years, Hunters for the Hungry has provided more than 6.5 million meals worth of lean, much-needed protein to hunger relief organizations across the state.
“It was a tough season,” said Simcox. “Populations are still rebounding in East Tennessee after epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) hit hard last year. The weather was warm across the state, especially on a few key weekends. And, of course, we all learned that Tennessee is CWD positive.”
Following the discovery of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in southwest Tennessee, Hunters for the Hungry worked with hunger relief organizations in the area to dispose of approximately 5,600 pounds of untested venison, in an abundance of caution.
There’s no evidence CWD is transmitted to humans but the CDC still recommends against eating CWD-positive meat.
For the rest of the season, every new donation harvested in the CWD Zone was tested before being processed.
Hunters for the Hungry is implementing expanded testing for next season.