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Tuesday, September 24, 2013
"What's the catch?" That's the question being voiced by many hunters in response to a bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York.
The legislation sounds attractive. It would create a tax deduction for a hunter who pays to process venison donated to help feed the needy. It also would offer a tax break for meat processors involved in feeding programs. The hope is that this would encourage more donations.
Many agencies that collect deer from hunters and distribute the meat to food banks, churches and rescue missions are in dire need of financial assistance and deer contributions. They are low-profile, under-staffed, overworked, non-profit organizations that operate on a shoestring budget. They need our help.
Virginia's Hunters for the Hungry, one of the oldest and the largest of the venison-feeding programs, constantly has struggled to meet its financial needs since its founding in 1991. Add to that, last year donations of deer fell by 28 percent. Funding for this organization comes from pass-the-hat type donations, raffles, banquets, golf tournaments, churches, Ruritan clubs, merchandise sales, pledges, hunts (see next item) and generous individuals. Major donators are few.
These programs not only provide food for the hungry, they also give hunting and hunters a good name and they play an important role in keeping the deer herd at healthy levels.
Many sportsmen are skeptical of any bill with Schumer's name on it. They view him as the most outspoken liberal, anti-gun member of the U.S. Senate. But of late, Schumer has been lauding the benefits of hunting and its $1.5 billion contribution to the New York economy. He even went hunting in Nebraska and killed three pheasants.
Schumer has bipartisan cosponsors, mostly from the West. They include Senators Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Mark Begich, D-Alaska; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Mark Pryor, D-Arkansas and Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming.
Big doe contest benefits Hunters for the Hungry
It costs $45 for Hunters for the Hungry to process a deer, no matter if it is a 40-pound fawn or 200-pound buck. That's why the program prefers the big stuff, and has latched onto a "Big Doe Contest" in Central Virginia.
"It is something we are trying in select counties. If it works, we might expand it," said Gary Arrington, special projects director for Hunters for the Hungry.
Here's how the contest works: Participants pay a $25 entry fee by October 1. Of that, $10 goes toward a T-shirt and decal; $8 is donated to Hunters for the Hungry; the rest goes into a pot that will be presented the participant who kills the biggest doe.
Weigh-in locations can be found in three counties:
All these businesses are Hunters for the Hungry processors.
Organizers of the contest are Edward Coleman, III, 434-942-1513, and Josh Hall, 434-426-2843. They held their first doe contest on a small scale last year. Charlie Carter was the winner with a 105-pound doe.
Deer can be entered from anywhere in the state, but Hall believes the contest mostly will attract sportsmen in the area of the participating processors.
"Hopefully we will continue to grow and spread throughout the state," he said. "We are getting good response from people about the contest, just not seeing the amount of participation we'd hoped for as we near the deadline for entries. We really wanted to at least double our total of 55 entries from last year."
Participants are being told to make a check available to Big Doe Contest and send it to 1150 Clubridge Road, Lynchburg, VA 24503. Include your T-shirt size. Remember, Oct. 1 is the deadline. The contest begins with the Oct. 5 bow season and runs through Jan. 4, embracing the bow, muzzleloading and modern gun seasons. Deer entered must be taken fully dressed to one of the weigh stations along with the check card or check-in confirmation number. The winner will be announced Jan. 5.
Dedication of new wildlife area a bit clandestine
Some people wondered why all the secrecy last Friday when the Department of Game and Inland fisheries dedicated a new 447-acre Wildlife Management Area called Doe Creek on the bay side of Virginia's Eastern Shore.
The ceremony involved a number of wildlife organizations, but the local newspaper said it was unaware of the event, and some prominent outdoorsmen also said they were left out. A news release was dispatched the day before the ceremony.
One writer/naturalists who lives near the site and heard about the dedication the next day, had this to say: "Getting a 450-acre tract of public land on the Shore is a big deal. There are tens of thousands of acres in the mountains, but until fairly recently the only public land here was accessible only by boat."
David Whitehurst, director of the DGIF Bureau of Wildlife Resources, said the intent was not to leave anyone out. He said it was a matter of poor communications.
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