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As sportsmen and women, we wear many hats. First and foremost, we are asked to be the hands-on tools for wildlife conservation.

If the state’s wildlife biologist and land managers determine goals for a particular species of game animal, they will call on us in the form of licenses and tags to assist them in meeting their management goal.

As a group that is dedicated to and passionate about their favorite pastime of hunting and fishing, we will gladly jump in and assist when and where asked to do so.

In addition, we are asked to assist in the costs of the wildlife management system by simply purchasing licenses, hunting and shooting equipment, which includes an excise tax, as well as to be good stewards of the lands both public and private, and the critters who call those lands home.

We are also called to give back to the passion, lifestyle and traditions of living in a state that is so blessed to have a major part of its history and culture based around the arts of outdoor pursuits — hunting and fishing.

Many give back by mentoring young or new participants to the sporting lifestyle, donating time and money to conservation organizations, or simply being a hands-on participant and by keeping a careful watch on how the wildlife conservation model is being handled at the many levels from national to local.

All these items listed we do without much fanfare or even giving it much thought — we love to hunt and fish, the lifestyle, wild places, the traditions, and the taking care of our part of the wildlife conservation model no matter how shallow or deep we want to dive into the process.

A prime example of sportsmen and women giving back is by generous hunters donating deer to the Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) Program, which provides thousands of pounds of venison to needy families across the state.

According to the WVDNR HHH landing page, since the inception of the program, hunters, financial contributors and participating processors have enabled the processing of 27,066 deer.

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With their generosity and the assistance of two area food banks, 1,026,593 pounds of highly nutritious meat has been provided to needy families and individuals throughout West Virginia.

Hunters who decide to participate in the program take their deer to a participating meat processor, where the processor grinds, packages and freezes the venison.

The Mountaineer Food Bank (Gassaway) and Facing Hunger Foodbank (Huntington), both members of Feeding America, pick up the venison and distribute it to the needy through their statewide network of 600 charitable food pantries, soup kitchens, senior centers, shelters, community centers, orphanages, missions and churches.

Two of the largest sources of fundraising include the annual Governor’s One-Shot Hunt and the annual Share the Harvest Sunday.

The Governor’s One-Shot Hunt, an antlerless deer hunt that began in 2007, provides a source of venison and funding to the program.

The West Virginia Council of Churches holds an annual Share the Harvest Sunday during the first Sunday in November.

On that day, approximately 3,000 participating churches ask their congregations to donate $1, $5, or any amount they can afford to the HHH program.

For more information regarding the HHH program, contact WVDNR for more ways to simply help or to become more involved.

Chris Ellis is a veteran of the outdoors industry. He is a lifelong outdoorsman who has pursued his passion all over the world; however, he prefers to hunt on his hillside farm in West Virginia. Contact him at chris@elliscom.net.

Chris Ellis is a veteran of the outdoors industry. His book “Hunting, Fishing and Family from The Hills of West Virginia” is available at www.wvbookco.com. Contact him at chris@elliscom.net.

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