Hunters for the Hungry spreads

Founder pushing to get program running throughout Louisiana

“If we can show other folks how it’s done, then we know it will become a part of the hunting community across Louisiana.” Richard campbell,   Hunters for the Hungry

Richard Campbell has never revealed his motive that’s driven him for the past 20 years, a burning passion that’s infected his family and a growing network of hunters has led to an expansion of the Capitol City area-based Hunters for the Hungry Program.

Hunters in the Baton Rouge area know well HFH’s Clean Out Your Freezer Day campaign that’s brought in more than 160,000 pounds of frozen game and fish in the past 18 years. Collection day is the Sunday before to the opening of the bulk of the hunting seasons. Most of the collections in a seven-parish area have gone to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank for distribution to more than 100 soup kitchens and shelters.

A lesser-known HFH push encourages hunters to donate freshly taken game during the hunting seasons. For the first 14 years, this campaign focused on a hunter’s take of deer and finding processors to take that deer and turn it into venison for the Food Bank’s programs.

During the last year, Campbell, his family and friends have worked to spread that campaign throughout the eastern half of the state and into Adams County, Miss.

“It was the matter of asking friends to help put a network together that would help finance a program to help the needy in a wider area,” Campbell said.

Since 2000, seven processors in the Baton Rouge area have been handling the donated deer.

Today, processors in 11 parishes and that one Mississippi county will accept the donations.

New for this hunting season are signs posted along highways along the Mississippi River, in Acadiana, in central Louisiana and U.S. 61 in Mississippi identifying locations of the processors.

Campbell said the processors agree to butcher deer at a reduced cost, most of which is financed by local banks. The venison remains in the community for distribution to shelters and other need-based organizations.

“The object is to get this program going statewide,” Campbell said. “If we can show other folks how it’s done, then we know it will become a part of the hunting community across Louisiana.”

The program has the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ blessing.

“The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries recognizes that fostering such a program for donation and economic processing of surplus game meat advances objectives of the North American model of Conservation by helping maintain a strong base of hunters for game harvesting management and facilitating effective hunter compliance with existing regulation that prohibits the wasting of edible portions of game,” LDWF assistant secretary Jimmy Anthony said.

During the last three years, the freshly taken game program has expanded to take deer and hogs.

Here’s how it works: A hunter can taken deer and/or hog to a processor at no cost to the hunter.

The animal must be field dressed, or, if the hunter prefers, he or she can keep the tenderloins and the backstrap from the animal and donate the rest. Hunters donating game get a receipt for their tax-deductable donation.

As part of the agreement with the LDWF, Campbell said any wild-game processor who wants to participate in the program can contact the Private Lands biologist in any LDWF field office to sign up.

The list of processors includes: Tramonte’s on Old Jefferson Highway and Kelly’s Food Mart on Plank Road in Baton Rouge; Roucher’s on West Belleview in Plaquemine; Caitoir’s Whitetail Smokehouse, Be Be Lane, French Settlement; Kelly’s Cajun Specialties, Hospital Road, New Roads; LeBlanc’s Processing, La. 1, Morganza; Feliciana Seafood & Deli, U.S. 61, St. Francisville; Juneau’s Meat, La. 1, Mansura; Poole’s Processing, Poole Road, Monterrey; Rayley Processing, Lee Street, Ferriday; G&M Processing, Domingues Street, Jeanerette; 2 Bucks Meat Processing, Highway 80W, Tallulah; Power’s Processing, U.S. 65 North, Tallulah; Martin’s Meats, Lee Street, Alexandria; Laurel Oak Smokehouse, Lee Road, Waterproof; and, Natchez Deer Processors, Liberty Road and Dunn’s Processing, Cloverdale Road in Natchez, Miss.

Nominations due

The Louisiana Wildlife Federation has set a Jan. 21 deadline for nominations for the 49th Governor’s State Conservation Achievement Awards.

There are eight categories, professional, volunteer, business, educator, youth, elected official, communications and organization under the criteria that individuals and/or groups have made what the LWF outlines as “contributions to the natural resource welfare and environmental quality of the community, parish and state.”

The awards banquet set Feb. 23 at the Embassy Suites in Baton Rouge is part of the LWF’s 74th annual convention that weekend.

For more information, call the LWF office (225) 344-6707 or Email: lwf@lawildlifefed.org.