The taste of success: venison for hunters and non-hunters

Another hunting season is winding down and I hope you have some venison in your freezer.

In my previous blog I emphasized how the late season can be one of the best times of the year – and it was for our crew. We killed five Adirondack bucks between Thanksgiving Day and the last day of the Northern Zone big-game season, and nearly got a black bear on the final weekend. It was an exciting finish to say the least, and some muzzleloading hunting still lies ahead.

Once a deer is on the ground, the work begins, and that includes butchering and processing. The policy of our family hunting party has always been to share venison among the households of the group, and we gather for “cutting” parties where we butcher the deer. Sometimes we have as much fun cutting up deer as we do hunting them.

My wife and I are thankful if we put half a deer in our freezer each fall. Many years, including this one, we eclipse that mark and find ourselves with a freezer full of venison. We eat our share of it and always like to save some for our summer camping trips. However, if we find that we have more than we need, we’re happy to give some away.

One thing I have found is that there are a lot of non-hunters out there who enjoy venison. We have relatives, co-workers and old friends who really like a taste of our hunting success just as much as we do. So I make it a point to deliver these folks a package or two of the cuts they like.

One of my wife’s family members no longer hunts due to health reasons but loves it each year on Christmas when I hand him a few packages of venison steaks. Another buddy likes to make a venison stew on a cold winter day, so I make sure he gets a package of stew meat at some point. Other times, we’ll make a venison dish like stew or chili and bring it into the office or to a holiday party.

Sharing venison with non-hunters is good for hunting. With such a small percentage of the population participating in hunting, these people tend to take our side when a debate about the merits of hunting pops up.

Then, there’s always programs like the Venison Donation Coalition of New York, which channels processed venison to the needy. Hunters and non-hunters alike can participate in this program, with hunters donating deer and non-hunters providing funding through donations. A hunter simply provides a deer carcass or venison to a meat processor where it’s ground into venison burger and packaged for distribution.

There are parts of New York where there are more processors than others. In fact, we need some in the North Country around the Adirondacks. But there are plenty scattered across the southern tier of the state. This is a great program and an opportunity for hunters to do something positive and rewarding. Learn more at http://venisondonation.com.

There’s still some hunting time left and, if you find yourself with a full freezer, consider sharing your success with someone else this holiday season.

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