Hunters helping others

Advocate file photo by PATRICK DENNISCleve Carpenter, right, from Baton Rouge, hands over venison taken from his freezer during a recent Hunters for the Hungry collection at the CCA-Louisiana state office in Baton Rouge.  Volunteers at the CCA site, Hamp Grunewald weighs Carpenter's donation and his wife, Julie, logs the donation in the Clean Out Your Freezer Day held annually on the Sunday prior the Saturday opening of Louisiana's squirrel and rabbit seasons. In its first 19 years, the drive has collected more than 170,000 pounds of frozen game, most of which has gone to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. Show caption
Advocate file photo by PATRICK DENNISCleve Carpenter, right, from Baton Rouge, hands over venison taken from his freezer during a recent Hunters for the Hungry collection at the CCA-Louisiana state office in Baton Rouge. Volunteers at the CCA site, Hamp Grunewald weighs Carpenter's donation and his wife, Julie, logs the donation in the Clean Out Your Freezer Day held annually on the Sunday prior the Saturday opening of Louisiana's squirrel and rabbit seasons. In its first 19 years, the drive has collected more than 170,000 pounds of frozen game, most of which has gone to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.

BR group’s annual collection program expands over 20 years

Since 1994, Baton Rouge-based Hunters for the Hungry’s two programs have collected: 170,000-plus pounds of frozen game and meat in its annual Clean Out Your Freezer Day on the last Sunday in September 119,221 pounds of venison through area processors through its program that collects freshly taken deer from hunters willing to donate meat from their hunts. Source: Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank

If success is measured by production, then the local Hunters for the Hungry group should have more crystal balls in their trophy case than the 14 Southeastern Conference schools.

There have been bumps in the road, like earlier this year when a Department of Health and Hospitals employee reacted to a complaint from a woman in Shreveport that a soup kitchen was serving her deer meat.

The employee responded by pouring chlorine bleach on 1,800 pounds of venison supplied by the Hunters for the Hungry campaign that accepts donations of freshly taken deer through local meat processors.

That February incident sparked enough outrage from the hunting and community outreach communities that the Legislature passed two bills to protect such donations.

Working with state agencies such as the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, DHH and the Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Hunters for the Hungry ensured the wholesomeness of their donations of wild game for food pantries across the state. Gov. Bobby Jindal signed both bills into law.

The collection of freshly taken deer is the second of programs for the area’s H4H crew: 20 years ago, a handful of hunters, led by Richard and Judy Campbell, organized a Clean Out Your Freezer Day.

That donations day was set, and continues today, to be held the Sunday before the first major hunting weekend of the year. Squirrel and rabbit seasons open the first Saturday in October. The Oct. 1 archery-for-deer opener triggers movement to field and forest for most of the state’s bow hunters.

That means September’s last Sunday is Clean Out Your Freezer Day, and from that first 2,200 pounds at three locations in 1994, through 21012’s 8,000 pounds from as many as 18 spots in seven parishes. There have been years when 20,000 pounds of frozen game, meat and fish came from Baton Rougearea outdoorsmen.

Sunday, Sept. 29, from 1 p.m.-4 p.m., 17 locations will accept donations.

“We want everyone to know that we accept all frozen meat, game and store-bought meats and poultry, along with fish,” Campbell said.

The Baton Rouge St. Vincent de Paul soup kitchen benefited from that first year’s donations.

The next year, the program swelled past St. Vincent’s ability to store the donations. Since then, the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank distributes the collections to more than 100 soup kitchens and community centers in the 12-parish area the GBRFB serves.

Through the Campbells leadership, the H4H committee has expanded to include Clean Out Your Freezer Day activities in Lafayette and Shreveport this year.

Auto dealer Bob Giles is spearheading the effort in the Acadiana area.

He’s rounded up volunteers to man six sites beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 29.

It’s also the first collection day in Shreveport, Bossier City and Minden.

All donations are weighed and noted, and donors are given a receipt. In some cases, the donations are tax deductible.

Amy Sellers, the project’s coordinator for the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, asked donors to take a few minutes to identify their donations.

She said it helps food bank workers to sort the meats and group the donations into portions for better distribution in the communities’ shelters and soup kitchens.

More from up north

LDWF fisheries managers will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 30 to outline the results of what the agency is calling, “a comprehensive study of largemouth bass in Cross Lake in Caddo Parish.”

The meeting is at the LDWF’s Minden Office at 9961 Hwy. 80.

Wetland workshops

Landowners needing information on how to manage lands in the Red River Valley areas of the state have two Wetland Management workshops on improving shallow water impoundments for waterfowl and wetland birds. They are

  • Tuesday at the Arts Center on Second Street in Natchitoches
  • Oct. 1 at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters on Eagle Bend Point in Bossier City.

Both run 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

Department of Wildlife and Fisheries manager David Hayden said workshops are targeted to drawdowns, plants that benefit and are detrimental to migrating birds, maintenance practices and timber management.

Call Hayden (318) 487-5885 for information.