As athletes, we wear a lot of hats. First and foremost, we are asked to be the practical tools for species conservation.
When the state’s wildlife biologists and land managers set goals for a particular species of wildlife, they will request us in the form of licenses and markings to help them achieve their management goal.
As a group that is dedicated to their favorite pastime, hunting and fishing, we are happy to jump in and help when and where this is requested.
In addition, we are asked to support the cost of the wildlife management system by simply purchasing licenses, hunting and shooting equipment that includes an excise tax, and being good stewards of the public and private land and the living things that call these countries their home.
We are also called to return the passion, lifestyle and traditions of living in a state so blessed that much of its history and culture is based on the arts of outdoor activities – hunting and fishing.
Many give back by introducing young or new participants to the sporty lifestyle, donating time and money to conservation organizations, or just being practical participants and carefully observing how the conservation model is handled on the many levels from national to local.
We forego all of these things without fuss or even thinking – we love the hunting and fishing, the lifestyle, wild places, the traditions and maintaining our part of the conservation model, no matter how shallow or deep we want to dive into the process.
A prime example of how athletes give back are generous hunters who donate deer to the Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) program, which provides thousands of pounds of venison to families in need across the state.
According to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources HHH landing page, hunters, funders, and participating processors have enabled 27,066 deer to be processed since the program began.
With her generosity and the support of two local food banks, 1,026,593 pounds of highly nutritious meat have been delivered to families and individuals in need across West Virginia.
Hunters who choose to participate in the program bring their deer to a participating meat processor, where the processor grinds, packs and freezes the game.
Mountaineer Food Bank (Gassaway) and Facing Hunger Foodbank (Huntington), both members of Feeding America, collect the game and distribute it to the needy centers through their nationwide network of 600 charitable pantries, soup kitchens, senior centers, animal shelters and communities, Orphanages, missions and churches.
Two of the biggest sources of funding are the annual Governor’s One-Shot Hunt and the annual Share the Harvest Sunday fundraiser.
The Governor’s One-Shot Hunt, an antlerless deer hunt launched in 2007, provides a source of game and funding for the program. The West Virginia Council of Churches hosts an annual Share the Harvest Sunday on the first Sunday of November. On that day, approximately 3,000 participating churches ask their congregations to donate $ 1, $ 5, or whatever they can afford to donate to the HHH program.
For more information on the HHH program, please contact WVDNR to find more ways to simply help or get more involved.