RUSSELLVILLE Hunter and Chase Crissup, 15-year-old twins of Russellville, each harvested a deer as part of the annual youth hunt held recently.
Having filled the home freezer to capacity, the young men plan to share the bounty with the less fortunate in Pope County through the Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry campaign, which, to date, has fed 1 million meals to residents in need.
The boys only recently became aware of the organization’s effort, but educating hunters when they’re just starting out is a main objective of the program, local processor Gordon Miller of Arkansas Quality Processing in Centerville said. He has participated in the state-wide effort to stamp out hunger since the program’s inception in 2000.
The way the operation works is that local hunters donate deer and other wild game to the meat processors who, in turn, gift the ground meat to local food pantries and soup kitchens.
The meat stays in the county where it is processed.
Manna From Heaven in Morrilton and Main Street Mission in Russellville are two food relief agencies approved to retrieve the processed meat.
In fact, Main Street Mission cooks up deer chili meals to feed clients wandering in for a helping hand.
Miller, his wife, Dianna, and son James are in their 10th year in the meat business.
They pride themselves on the laborious methods they undertake in their processing.
“We muscle deer out,” Gordon Miller said. “The meat is never cut by saw; it’s all done by hand and run through the tenderizer. It’s the Cadillac cut.”
Admittedly, it’s more time consuming, but Gordon Miller is convinced the extra attention to detail eliminates much of the wild taste of the venison.
“We rotate our deer when they come in, and there’s a lot of mornings we have to move 200 deer to keep them fresh before we ever start cutting,” he said. “It’s a hard business because you do it all at once.”
During the hunting season, the shop processes four deer in the morning and 10 at night.
“That’s seven days a week for three and a half months,” Gordon Miller said. “When the last deer is processed we take off for two weeks.”
“A lot of good that did us last year, we spent the two weeks sick in bed,” Dianna Miller said.
The sport of hunting has changed a lot in recent years, she said.
“We’ve seen an increase in the number of younger hunters and especially girls hunting with their dads,” Dianna Miller said. “The youth hunt weekends are very big for us.”
One girl killed her first deer with a bow.
“She was so proud,” Gordon Miller said. “I couldn’t get the work order because she was calling so many people on her cell phone.”
The Crissups, sons of Kristi and Shane Crissup, hunt with their grandfather Jim McKenzie.
“They were thrilled with the results of their weekend,” Kristi Crissup said, “particularly because this is their last year eligible to hunt as youth.”
The young men have learned a valuable lesson this hunting season.
By sharing the bounty of their future hunts, they are ensuring that many needy folks in Pope County will not go to bed hungry.
Try your hand at cooking venison with the following recipes. Don’t forget to donate part of your harvest to the Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry.
For more infor mat ion about the program or to find the nearest participating processor log on to: www.arkansashunters.org.
Participating AHFH processors
Lonnie’s Meat Market
1141 Arkansas 25B N
> Mayflower Taxidermy
693 Arkansas 365
> Lonnie’s Meat market
705 Club Lane., Suite 104
> Ferguson’s Slaughter
13451 E. U.S. 64
> Clinton Meat Processor
3288 U.S. 65N
> Arkansas Quality
23753 Arkansas 154
River Valley Ozark, Pages 65 on 11/19/2009
Print Headline: flavor Hunters feeding the hungry