Is Deer Hunting OK If You Give the Meat to the Needy?

Controversy over deer hunting in Pennsylvania.

The Inquirer reports that the beginning of deer-hunting season is upon us, and with it renewal of a controversy: Is hunting inhumane? What about when the meat from the hunt is donated to otherwise hungry and needy people?

Annually in Pennsylvania, as many as 5,000 deer – each providing enough ground meat for about 200 meals – are donated by governments and hunters, according to Hunters for the Harvest, or HSH, the statewide group that coordinates the donations.

(Hunting) has stirred controversy and drawn pickets from the group Compassion for Animals, Respect for the Environment.

The group’s vice president, Lee Hall, questioned the motive for the meat giveaway.

“I think this is something that is done to win public acceptance,” she said. “Just because it is charitable doesn’t make it OK to kill loads of deer.”

I’ve never hunted, never killed a deer. But I grew up in rural Kansas; there have been times in my life when my freezer was stocked with roasts and steaks and other select bits of deer, along with other animals. It certainly tasted different from most of the processed meat I’ve ever eaten. But I’m also a big believer in the Circle of Life—everything gets eaten by something, sooner or later, even if it’s just worms getting us humans after we’re dead. We shouldn’t treat the process cavalierly, but we shouldn’t turn our backs on good, honestly earned food for the poor, either.