Lancaster County hunters will be venturing into the woods this weekend as Pennsylvania firearms hunting season begins in hopes of stocking their freezers with venison.
But for some, it’s a chance to give their harvest to those in need.
Hunters Sharing the Harvest is a statewide program that allows hunters to give their deer to butchers who process the meat and donate it to food banks. The panels then distribute the meat to more than 5,000 pantries, missions, homeless shelters, Salvation Army facilities and churches across the state. In addition to the pantries, 100 butchers and 60 coordinators support the donation process.
Eight butchers in Lancaster County participate in the program, according to the HSH website. The Factory Ministries in Paradise Township is the Lancaster County pantry that distributes the venison.
Since 1991, HSH has distributed nearly 2 million pounds of meat and delivered 10 million servings to those in need, according to its website. For the 2021-22 deer season, hunters across the state donated 4,691 deer — just over 187,000 pounds of meat and about a million servings of food — even though the statewide deer harvest fell 13%. The organization’s annual goal is 100,000 pounds of meat.
The 2022 Pennsylvania firearms deer season runs through December 10th. Hunters may shoot antlered and/or antlered deer throughout the season if they have the appropriate licenses. There are no longer separate seasons for buck and deer.
Barry Buhay, 65, is a lifelong hunter and Lancaster County HSH coordinator since 2002.
“It helps solve two problems,” he said, referring to hunters who have too much meat and others who need food. “Everyone wins.”
Although HSH is a statewide program, Buhay said meat donated in Lancaster County goes to those who live in the county.
“When you’re in Lancaster, it’s going to Lancaster,” he said. “Local engagement.”
HSH How to Donate by Travis Kellar on Scribd
How to donate
To donate your harvest, bring your field butchered and legally marked deer to one of eight participating butchers in Lancaster County. There is no fee for the donation, but hunters are asked to sign a donation receipt from the butcher to be reimbursed for processing the donated venison.
The HSH also accepts monetary donations via its website, which help to cover the costs of the butcher shop. 200 meals will be provided for every deer donated, and 100 meals will be served for every $25 donation, according to the HSH website.
Here is a list of butchers in Lancaster County that participate in Hunters Sharing the Harvest. HSH recommends hunters call ahead before accepting their deer, as some processors have different operating hours or specific time slots for accepting deer.