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How Arkansas hunters are helping feed those in need this deer season

An Arkansas group of hunters has been treating deer hunting season as an opportunity to help feed their neighbors that are in need.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Soon the woods of the Natural State will be filled with orange and camo as hunters take to their stand.

Ronnie Ritter is the executive director for Hunters Feeding the Hungry. He said that deer season is an incredible opportunity to provide food for those who need it in Arkansas.

“You know there’s estimates that there’s a million deer in Arkansas. Hard to know exactly, we can’t count them all but we kill about 200,000 and we need to do that every year," he said.

However, we were well short of that number in 2021. 

“We didn’t shoot enough deer last year; we were about 25,000 lower,” Ritter said.

As Ritter learned a few years ago, that number makes a difference. 

“Several years ago I kept getting several calls from hunters saying I’ve got left over deer, duck, or wild game. So I would connect them with a local food pantry so they’d drop it off or I’d go pick it up.

Ritter has worked closely with Arkansas Game and Fish Spokesperson Trey Reid, who echoed the point of the type of food that hunters provide.

"Cereal, canned goods, or those type of things. Those nonperishables have a long shelf-life. But protein is hard to get. We have an abundant resource in white tail deer in Arkansas. So, it’s really a win-win for everybody," Reid said.

The program uses a unique way to distribute that protein known as their “Snack Stick Program. 

”[There's] Almost 300,000 packages of these snack sticks sent to schools are across the state," Ritter said. 

An amazing source of protein for kids who could potentially need it.

“We talk to teachers and councilors across the state who tell us that protein is really beneficial,” Ritter said.

Saturday, Sept. 24th is Freezer Clean Out Day for Hunters Feeding the Hungry, where you can bring in your professionally processed deer meet to help feed needy Arkansans. The event takes place at Bass Pro Shop from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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