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Area hunters donate more than 100 deer to help feed the hungry

In addition to sponsoring the local North Carolina Hunters for the Hungry Program, the Ashe
County Wildlife Club made a recent donation to Ashe Services for Aging’s fuel assistance
program. Club members Bill Burkett, second from left, and Truett Weaver present a check for
more than $1,700 to Ashe Services for Aging staff members, from left, Angelia Burkett, Amanda
Calloway and Lisa Osborne.

Originally published: Feb. 6, 2013
Last modified: Feb. 6, 2013

Heather Canter

In the three years that the Ashe County Wildlife Club has been sponsoring the North Carolina Hunters for the Hungry program in Ashe County, more than 130 deer have been donated to local organizations to feed local families.

ACWC has been working to implement the program in Ashe County for more than 10 years, and all their hard work has paid off as they saw 12,000 venison meals given to needy families in Ashe County during the recent deer season.

“We started trying to get it set up, but there have been lots of obstacles,” said ACWC President Truett Weaver. “We began urging the state to relax laws restricting that only hunters who had taken the deer could consume the harvest meat. Then, we had to help our local processor, Joe Gentry of Joe’s Place on Friendship Church Road, upgrade his facilities to meet state standards. All that was accomplished and the program has been working well for the past three years.”

NCHFTH offers deer hunters the opportunity to reach out to the hungry in the area by “bringing legally harvested deer to Joe’s Place, either field dressed or freshly killed, and tell Joe he wants to donate it to Hunters for the Hungry,” Weaver explained. “Joe will tag it and process it.”

Four organizations in the county receive the venison meals, including Ashe Really Cares, Freedom Farms, Camp New Hope and Ashe Outreach Ministries.

Weaver said he would like to see more organizations on the list of recipients this year as he expects the 2013 hunting season to produce more deer for NCHFTH as more hunters become aware that they can donate their harvests when they have full freezers at home.

It costs $40 to process a field-dressed deer and $50 for the whole deer, but the hunters do not incur any costs by making this donation, said Weaver. ACWC uses their own funds in addition to financial donations made to them on behalf of the NCHFTH program to pay the processing costs.

Weaver said that all the money raised in Ashe County to process the deer, stays in the county.

“Right now, Ashe County has the only approved North Carolina Hunters for the Hungry processing facility in Northwest North Carolina,” Weaver said. “What we would like in 2013 would be hunters from Wilkes and Watauga counties to drive just over the county line into Ashe to bring their harvested deer to Joe’s Place.

“If hunters in those counties would like to set up their own programs, we can tell them how we did it in Ashe,” Weaver continued.

During the course of the program, ACWC has paid $5,000 for the deer processing. In the past season alone, ACWC contributed $2,000 toward processing the venison and used $1,500 in other donations from outside sources to assist.

In the most recent season, the ACWC paid for over 67 deer to be processed and still have credit in the bank for the next season to arrive.

ACWC has been a non-profit group participating in several aspects of the community.

“We wanted to help our communities and that’s why we are involved with this program,” Weaver said. “We’re steadily working to be more civic-minded.”

ACWC sponsors the 4-H Hunter Safety Program, the Boy Scouts and raised $1,710 for the Ashe Senior Center’s fuel assistance program.

The group’s wildlife facility, located at 3260 Big Peak Creek Road in Laurel Springs, is used by area police officers and highway patrol officers to qualify with their fire arms.

The facility also offers recreational shooting with shotgun, pistol and rifle shooting. Classes are taught on firearm safety, firearm responsibility and wildlife conservation.

ACWC also has a trout pond, stocked by the Wildlife Resources Commission, which is accessible to handicap people and to young children. Trout Lake, as it is known, is governed by the N.C. Fisheries Law and is open to the public.

“We have a great facility that offers an arena for skeet, rifle, pistol and clay shooting of all kinds,” Weaver said. “And we’re open to memberships.”

Membership in the ACWC is a $125 initial fee and is $100 for each annual renewal.

To make a donation to the Hunters for the Hungry program, mail checks to ACWC, PO Box 1229, West Jefferson, NC 28694, and mark “Hunters for Hungry” on the subject line.

For more information about the club, visit their website http://www.acwlc.org or call Truett Weaver at (336) 977-2490. More information about NCHFTH, visit http://www.nchuntersforthehungry.org. 

For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.