When my grandfather would return from one of his amazing hunting trips, there were several things I could count on.

Of course, there would be great stories. Pictures and 8-millimeter movies would be seen and played. And lastly, there would be meat.

I am a picky eater, and mainly a meat and potatoes type. But if there was red meat, I would jump at the chance to try it. I was fortunate in that I was able to sample everything from deer, moose, elk and caribou to wild sheep and African game.

Several years back, after a successful dove hunt, I showed my son Turner how to clean the birds. My wife Susan began looking up different recipes as we planned to grill the breasts the next day. That Sunday evening, after marinating the birds the previous night, it seemed the entire neighborhood arrived during the grilling. Out of all the birds, I was only able to grab one piece of bacon that was previously wrapped around one of the dove. The food was devoured by kids and adults alike.

I was also known for making unusual dishes for work Christmas parties. The platter was quickly cleaned. One of my coworkers, Deborah, came up to me afterwards in a hushed tone asking, “What was in there?” She knew I favored wild game and never hesitated to share it with others. We did get a good laugh out of it.

Outdoorsmen are responsible for an enormous amount of care for our communities, wildlife and natural resources. It is well-known how hunting and fishing keep wildlife populations in balance with the land and each other. The sales of hunting and fishing licenses are used to procure new land, introduce, establish and maintain various wildlife species, protect endangered wildlife and land and educate the public. One aspect that is not as well-known is how outdoorsmen help other people.

Wildlife, especially deer, provides a significant addition to food supplies. Many hunters for instance will not only go after the trophy buck, but also take several does to “fill the freezer.”

There have been many organizations formed allowing hunters to donate meat after the freezer was full to be used for needy families and group homes. North Carolina Hunters for the Hungry (NCHFTH), Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH), Sportsmen Against Hunger and the North Carolina Bowhunters Association’s Deer Donation Registry are all examples.

Basically, each of these programs offers the same things. The goal is to get food to those who could use it most. While there are different avenues toward the process, generally it involves a hunter taking the game and field dressing it. From there, it either goes straight to the recipient or to a meat processor. If a processor is used, the meat will go to individuals or groups such as churches and shelters in order to distribute the food.

This is but another example of how hunting provides much more than just an opportunity to pull the trigger.

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