Kenneth Kieser: Please consider sharing your harvest
Fall is primetime when hunting and fishing are in full swing and you can enjoy fish and wild game dinners. Can you imagine someday getting older and not being able to go out to gather this delicious cuisine?
Do you know an elderly couple or person who can no longer fish or hunt? Call them to ask if they would like some fish or game. Many will accept gratefully.
Before you take your wild game to these folks, find out more about their situation. Make sure they eat the type of entrees you prepared. Some are no longer allowed to eat fried food. Baked fish is delicious too, especially over rice.
Check in advance if they can cook the meat. I once delivered a bag of crappie fillets to an old sportsman in a wheelchair. We sadly discovered that he was too weak to cook. His meals were premade by an organization and he only had to heat each plate. He had a microwave, so we fried the fillets at his home.
He missed having fresh fish dinners and gratefully accepted the fillets with fried potatoes with a few onions mixed in. We prepared enough to make him several meals. I added a dish of my fish dip: horseradish sauce, mayo, ketchup and pickle relish mixed together. He had always loved that concoction.
Later we grilled him a plate of deer back strap with lemon pepper. We pre-cooked him a pot of green beans adorned by small potatoes to complete his feast. He talked about those meals the rest of his life. How important is that?
Years before I took an older man several squirrels shot on a bright October day. He treasured the meat for its flavor and through some memories of feeding his family fried squirrel during the Depression when most meat was welcome. I was shocked by his reaction to my simple gift, but have always cherished the memory.
Several of us take an old duck hunter mallard’s breast annually. He is always happy to bake the duck in a rice casserole and describes times of cooking this very dish for his deceased wife – tough but good memories.
Many of you have surplus fish or wild game in your freezers taken over the past year. Sadly, some of this valuable meat might go to waste. Have you thought about sharing?
Some individuals would gratefully accept a frozen package of fillets or deer steaks. Again, before you take elderly folks these valuable packages, make sure they can still cook. Those who can no longer cook will likely enjoy a pre-cooked wildlife dinner. Many of these folks have boring diets and will welcome something different.
Pick a day that allows sitting and visiting. Tell your stories, but make sure you give the elderly angler or hunter the chance to tell their stories. You would be surprised how interesting their tales of old outdoor lore can be. Take a few photos to show them your big deer or fish. Some may not miss returning to the outdoors, but I have learned most do.
Sporting clubs or churches: Outdoor groups, especially churches, have older members that will benefit from wild game meals. This, too, is a great way for youth to learn sharing and the value of sharing and visiting with the elderly. I would encourage groups like Boy Scout Troops to consider this program and many probably already do.
Share the Harvest programs: Different states have shared harvest programs that you can find on the internet. Here are two:
• Missouri's Share the Harvest program helps deer hunters donate surplus venison to the needy. This program is administered by the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Donating is easy. Simply take your deer to an approved meat processor and let the processor know how much venison you wish to donate.
If you wish to donate a deer that was harvested in a county within the CWD Management Zone, the deer must be tested for CWD, and it can only be donated to an approved processor that is participating in the Share the Harvest CWD-Testing Program.
Learn more under the “Share the Harvest” tab at https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/species/deer.
• Kansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry (KSHFH) invites you to donate any legally harvested deer or elk to our participating meat processors. There is no cost to donate your deer or elk as long as the KSHFH organization has sufficient funding to cover the processing expense. Donated game must be field dressed and legally tagged. If you would like, you may also donate a portion of the meat you are having processed for yourself to a participating processor. Check the “Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry” website at kshfh.org.
There are many ways to share your harvested wildlife. You might just give joy to a person that has none. I can’t imagine anything more important.
– Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer and member of the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com.