Hundreds of Deer Donated

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Hunters from across the state of Georgia donated 488 harvested deer to the Hunters for the Hungry (HFTH) program through the first collection weekend (Nov. 10-11), according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division (WRD). The venison from the deer will provide warm, nutritious meals for hundreds of less fortunate Georgians during the holidays. Donations from this first of two collection weekends already exceeded last year's grand total of 455 deer. WRD reminds sportsmen and women about a second opportunity to donate harvested deer Nov. 24-25, the weekend after Thanksgiving.

"The Division is extremely pleased with the increase in donations of harvested deer this year," says WRD Director David Waller. "This is by far the most successful year the program has ever experienced and we hope that in the spirit of the Thanksgiving Holiday that sportsmen and women again will share their bounty during the second collection weekend."

The HFTH program is an annual event, now in its ninth year, that occurs over two weekends in November. Hunters donate harvested deer at designated collection sites. The deer are processed into ground venison that is distributed to food banks statewide by the Atlanta Community Food Bank (representing the Georgia State Association of Food Banks). Hunters interested in participating should bring field-dressed deer to any of the designated drop-off locations. Collection sites are marked with a blaze orange HFTH banner. The following locations, unless otherwise noted, will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 24-25:

· Social Circle - WRD Fish Hatchery on Hwy 278 (1.5 miles north of Exit 101 off I-20).

· Lexington - Oglethorpe County Farmer's Market on U.S. Hwy 78.

· Newnan - Ga. Hwy 34 bypass (north of Newnan, east of intersection with Ga. Hwy 16).

· Cedar Creek Wildlife Management Area Check Station - Saturdays only.

· B.F. Grant Wildlife Management Area Check Station - Saturdays only.

· Gainesville - Jesse Jewel Parkway at I-985.

· NEW SITE! Jefferson - Sealey's Deer Cooler, 5675 S. Apple Valley Road. Note that donated deer will be accepted for the entire deer season at this location. Call 706-335-9304 for more information.

· NEW SITE! Rome - Berry College Wildlife Management Area Check Station.

Hunters who donate a deer during these weekends will receive a free HFTH t-shirt or hat and will have their name entered into a drawing for a deer rifle, sponsored by the Georgia Wildlife Federation. The winner of the rifle will be drawn on Nov. 26 at the Governor's Quail Hunt, an annual fundraiser for the HFTH program.

Sponsors of HFTH include WRD, Georgia Wildlife Federation, Georgia Department of Agriculture, Georgia Department of Corrections, Georgia Outdoors News and the Atlanta Community Food Bank (representing the Georgia State Association of Food Banks). For more information on donating game to those in need during other times of the year, call the Atlanta Community Food Bank at (404) 892-FEED.