HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – It’s deer season once again, and whether you’re bringing home a doe or a buck, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is asking hunters to donate any excess meat.

The program is called “Hunters Helping the Hungry,” and along with the donations from hunters, they’re also seeking local meat processors interested in getting the meat ready for the food banks.

According to the WVDNR, 681 deer were donated last year with a total of around 24,000 pounds of meat. A little more than 32,000 meals were prepared with those donations.

However, that meat has to be processed first and that’s where companies like Mauk’s Custom Meats LLC come in.

13 News spoke with Natasha Mauk Friday afternoon and she says she and her husband Stephen along with their children run the business together and have been volunteering with the program for nearly three years.

“I think that anytime you can help someone that’s in need you should do your very best to be a part of that. It does take a little bit of extra work but it’s worth it,” Mauk says explaining her family has been participating since they started their business in 2020.

The Mauk family is encouraging others to join them. The requirements include being certified with either the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.

Once you’re approved, you can start processing, freezing, and storing meat.

The Mountaineer Food Bank in Gassaway and Facing Hunger Foodbank in Huntington will then pick up donated meat from processors and distribute it to individuals and families in need through a statewide network of 600 charitable food pantries, soup kitchens, senior centers, shelters, community centers, orphanages, missions, and churches.

According to the Cornell University Cooperative Extension Service, wild game meat is often healthier than many commercially available proteins.

The study indicates that a three-ounce serving of venison has 102 calories, 19.5 grams of protein, and just 2.06 grams of fat, while a 3-ounce serving of lean ground beef has 114 calories, 15.41 grams of protein, and 5.36 grams of fat.

For those interested in signing up, click here.