The Monday after Thanksgiving traditionally marks the beginning of gun season for deer and many sportsmen and women will be heading out to the woods dreaming of bagging a twelve-point buck or larger. Today through Sunday, sportsmen and women will be out in force, hunting for the big prize, a deer. The official gun season for deer started a half hour before sunrise Monday morning and will run through Sunday at sunset. On December 18th and 19th there will be another opportunity for hunters to use a gun to hunt deer. On January 8th -11th is the statewide muzzleloader season and if you’re an archer then you have already been out in the woods for some time now hoping to bag a deer the old fashioned way, with a bow and arrow.

In Ohio there are three hunting zones A, B, and C. We live in zone “B” and during the hunting season you are allowed four deer, two on an antlerless permit and two on a deer permit with only one antlered deer permitted. In zone “A” one is allowed to take two deer while in zone “C” one is permitted six deer. Once a hunter has shot or arrowed a deer he must tag the deer where it fell and field dress it there as well. Then he will take the deer to a local deer check- in station before having the meat processed.

Now let’s say you have had a great season and have bagged the limit of four deer, what does one do with all that meat? Some process it for themselves and friends while others look for worthy places to donate it.

The national group Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH) have an easy donation process for those who wish to help out their community and donate their harvested deer to the local food bank. In our area there are two licensed processors for FHFH, one in Portage County and one in Geauga County. Portage County’s processor is Portage Frosted Foods in Ravenna; they are also a deer check-in station which makes them a one-stop shop. In Geauga County there is Geauga Farms Country Meats in Troy Township. Both places will process your deer free of charge if you’re donating it to FHFH who will make sure your donation reaches the local food bank. FHFH only accepts legally harvested deer; they do not accept road kill. More information can be found at www.fhfh.org on donating meat to food banks.

So regardless of what your weapon of choice is for hunting you still need to be a responsible hunter. Wear the appropriate visible clothing, get written permission if hunting on private property, know the laws and follow them, and please be considerate and dispose of deer innards properly, no one enjoys seeing the “fruits” of your labors along the sides of the road. Have a happy safe hunting season!