Hunters help the hungry

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Feeding the hungry and the less-fortunate was obviously on the mind of Jeffery Ard, owner and operator of Brantley Deer Processing, whenever he decided to participate in the &uot;Hunters Helping the Hungry&uot; program during this deer hunting season.

The program is a joint project among Gov. Bob Riley’s office, the Alabama Conservation and Natural Resources Foundation, Inc., the National Rifle Association and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to provide venison for Alabama food banks.

Brantley Deer Processing is the only one in Crenshaw County to participate.

&uot;A lot of people just hunt for sport, and they don’t want the meat,&uot; Ard said. &uot;Some people will cut off the horns and just leave the carcass. I’d rather see it go where it’s needed.&uot;

After 500 pounds of venison are processed, the conservation department would come pick it up. The meat would then be given to the local food banks, which would then distribute it wherever it was needed. At this time, Ard said that he had over 200 pounds of meat from the five deer that had been donated so far.

&uot;This meat can’t be sold,&uot; he said. &uot;The meat for this program must be made up of ground venison only. No fat can be added whatsoever, so it’s really healthy.&uot;

One main requirement that seems to have posed a big problem is for the deer to be field dressed by the hunters. Ard said that since the field dressing must be done within a two-hour period after the deer has been killed, many hunters don’t want to take the time to do it.

&uot;If the hunters don’t want to fool with field dressing the deer, that will keep them from donating,&uot; he said. &uot;I can only do one customer at a time, so I may not be able to clean it right then. That’s been a big hindrance.&uot;

Another requirement is for donors to take the time to fill out an information tag. Ard said that some hunters seem hesitant about filling out an information tag, but they shouldn’t be.

&uot;Also, I do not charge to skin any donated deer,&uot; he said. &uot;I think some of the hunters think that I’ll charge for that, but I don’t.&uot;

The closest food banks for Crenshaw County are located in Montgomery and in Dothan.

&uot;I think that this is a great program, and I want to see it work,&uot; Ard said. &uot;Next year, I really hope to see a lot more deer getting donated because we are going to participate in this program again.&uot;

Brantley Deer Processing is located just across the Conecuh River Bridge immediately on the left, just south of Brantley on the Opp Highway. For more information, contact Jeffery Ard at 334-527-0085.