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Art Lander’s Outdoors: State’s abundant deer population helping KHFH feed the needy


Mike Ohlmann remembers the day in 1984 when the idea of Kentucky hunters donating venison to the less fortunate came to fruition.

“A guy was in my shop. He had taken a second deer and didn’t have the freezer space for it,” said Ohlmann, founder and Chairman of the Board of the Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry (KHFH). “He asked if there was a way he could put the deer to good use feeding a family.”

Ohlmann, who had a taxidermy business in Louisville for 34 years, made some phone calls and started looking into how to make it happen.

By the late 1980s Kentucky’s deer herd was rapidly expanding.

KHFH_Logo

“Some counties had herds that had grown to the point that state deer biologists were asking hunters to start taking does (to control herd size),” said Ohlmann.

The premise was clear.

“There was a huge need for protein and a lot of hungry people across Kentucky,” said Ohlmann. “We had to find a way for hunters to share their harvest.”

Formal organization of Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry, Inc. into a charitable 501(c)(3) organization came in July, 2000. Through the years the donations of venison to the needy grew with funding available for deer processing. Ohlmann said he believes the total has far surpassed one million pounds of venison, since the program’s inception.

“Last year we paid for the processing of 1,300 deer and 52,000 pounds of ground venison was distributed to food banks across Kentucky,” said Karen Cash, KHFH coordinator. “We partner with the Kentucky Association of Food Banks, which includes Dare to Care, Freestore, Tri-State, God’s Pantry and others.”

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources gives Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry 25,000 each year, and that includes $2 voluntary donations from persons renewing their car or truck registration (Photo Provided)

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources gives Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry 25,000 each year, and that includes $2 voluntary donations from persons renewing their car or truck registration (Photo Provided)

Hunters donate a deer they bagged by taking the field-dressed carcasses to a processor enrolled in the program. KHFH pays for the processing.

KHFH’s revenue stream varies and has included donations from individuals and various conservation groups, state agencies and Kentucky businesses through the years.

“The number of deer that we can pay to have processed depends on our funding (for the season),” said Ohlmann. “The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources gives us $25,000 each year, and that includes $2 voluntary donations from persons renewing their car or truck registration.”

Individuals and groups that want to donate funds for deer processing can do so with credit card, check or Paypal.

The deer processors that partner with KHFH are posted on: www.kyhuntersforthehungry.info.

The list on their website currently includes 56 processors in 44 Kentucky counties, along with their address and telephone number.

For more outdoors news and information, see Art Lander’s Outdoors on KyForward.

“We are actively soliciting processors,” said Ohlmann. “We depend on hunters to tell us about local processors who may want to become involved.”

It’s important that hunters check with deer processors to see if they can take a deer.

“Processors can’t always physically handle big numbers of deer. They may not have the cooler space,” said Ohlmann.

Crunch time comes during November’s modern gun season, when a majority of deer are taken.

“We need hunters to continue to bring in deer, so we can spend the funding we get, to ensure that we get funding next year,” said Ohlmann. “But be sure to call the processor before taking your deer to him.”

1Art Lander Jr.Art Lander Jr. is outdoors editor for KyForward. He is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Western Kentucky University and a life-long hunter, angler, gardener and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and author and is a former staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-writer of the Kentucky Afield Outdoors newspaper column.


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