Buddy, can you spare a deer?

Avid hunters in N.B. fight for the right to donate deer meat

Sussex, N.B.’s Mike and Caroline Trueman love to shoot deer. They usually bag a pair every season. But a few years ago, with their five kids grown and out of the home, the avid hunters had a problem: what were they supposed to do with all that meat?

Their answer: give it to the needy. In 2008, the Truemans called local food banks and soup kitchens to ask, “Can you take our deer?” The meat, they figured, would be a good change from the mac and cheese that fills most food hampers. But they couldn’t find any takers. “Everybody kept saying, nope, you can’t do that in Canada. It’s not available. It’s not legal,” Caroline Trueman says.

But the Truemans didn’t give up. They went to Fredericton, hired a lawyer, and in 2009 had their hunted-meat-for-the-hungry scheme declared legal. That year, the Truemans launched Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry Canada, an offshoot of an American organization. In the 2010 season alone, Caroline says, the group fed nutritious and, depending on your tastes, delicious venison to 1,600 needy New Brunswickers. Now the Truemans are hoping to expand. Their website already lists volunteer coordinators in B.C., Ontario and Quebec. They’re hoping more come on board soon.

The program works like this: the organization provides a list of participating, provincially licensed butchers. All the hunters have to do is hunt, then drop the meat off. (“Do what you love to do,” Caroline says.) The organization pays for cleaning and butchering costs with donations.

Since local media first reported on the program, Caroline has been swamped with offers and advice on how to expand the operation. But she says it’s all a bit beyond her. “I don’t know how to do a marketing plan,” she says. “All I know how to do is feed the hungry and hunt.”

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