Shooting a deer in Ohio's annual hunt can help a family that's less fortunate in the holiday season.
Local hunters who already have a freezer full of meat can drop off a deer they don't need at an Erie County meatpacking and butcher business.
Kelble Brothers Inc., 9111 Reiger Road in Berlin Heights, is part of a network of butchers across Ohio that cooperates with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, a ministry that provides venison for charity.
Formerly, hunters who wanted to donate a deer had to pay the processing fee themselves to turn the animal into food, said Bill Fox, vice president at Kelble Brothers. Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry pays the processing fee, and Kelble Brothers accepts about half of its normal fee to cover costs, Fox said.
Fox said Kelble Brothers processed about five deer last year to aid Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry and have processed about 10 this year. Local agencies getting meat from the program include Second Harvest Food Bank and Victory Kitchen, Fox said.
The program deserves to become better known, said Fox, himself a deer hunter.
"You try not to let any of the meat go to waste," he said.
Many deer were taken in Ohio this year as part of the state's weeklong deer-gun season, which ran from Nov. 30 through Dec. 6, although few were killed in north-central Ohio.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources released statistics Monday showing Ohio hunters nabbed 114,633 white-tailed deer, compared to 116,798 in the like period of 2008.
Tuscarawas County recorded the largest number of deer taken to Ohio check stations during the week, a total of 5,901.
By contrast, 332 were taken in Erie County. There were 1,142 in Huron County and 65 in Ottawa County.
Hunters have one weekend left for hunting deer with guns, Dec. 19-20. Archery season remains open until Feb. 7. The muzzleloader season will be Jan. 9-12.
When the seasons for various weapons are combined, a total of 178,397 deer have been recorded as being taken in Ohio in 2009.
Information about Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, including contact information for local officials, is available at fhfh.org.