As a young boy I learned how to hunt from my father, other family and friends. When I harvested my first pronghorn at age 14, it was a life-changing day. Even when I was a kid, I knew hunting meant …
As a young boy I learned how to hunt from my father, other family and friends. When I harvested my first pronghorn at age 14, it was a life-changing day. Even when I was a kid, I knew hunting meant more than bringing back a trophy for the wall and a story to tell my friends; my harvest was food.
Learning to care for the meat was a skill and an opportunity. I was taught how to butcher many species of wild game and was rewarded with the bounty of meat on the table. I was fortunate as a child and still am today. My family’s hunting background frequently enables us to enjoy healthy, lean wild game on our plates. But, not everyone in Wyoming has this access to wild game — nor food. One in six kids in our state struggle with food insecurity; that is about 24,000 children. In the words of first lady Jennie Gordon, “That is not OK.” As hunters, we can help change this.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department, together with the first lady’s Wyoming Hunger Initiative, Wyoming Department of Agriculture, Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies and meat processors throughout the state, is launching Food from the Field. This new initiative will accept meat donations from hunters to feed hungry Wyoming families.
Food from the Field is an innovative project for the Cowboy State, but it encompasses our hunting heritage and Wyoming values. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, the basis of wildlife management in the United States, specifies one of the uses for harvested wildlife is for food and also to make reasonable use of the resource. There is no more reasonable use than donating this nutritious meat to those in need.
Resident and nonresident hunters will be able to donate meat from elk, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, pronghorn, bison or moose. We will be asking hunters who provide meat for this program to also make a donation to help with processing. Further, donated game will be tested for chronic wasting disease. Hunters can learn more about making a donation by visiting: www.nohungerwyo.org/field.
In Wyoming we take care of our own, and I am proud our state’s hunters will have a significant role feeding our neighbors who need help. We can share our good fortune with others, and this is the time to lend a hand to someone in need. As you plan your fall hunts, consider a full or partial donation of your harvest to Food from the Field.
(Brian Nesvik is the director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, based in Cheyenne.)