Deer season: sharing the bounty - BlueStone Press
December 10, 2018
Local connections

Deer season: sharing the bounty

Bruck’s Bucks and the venison donation program

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A wonderful local fall tradition, not so well known as pumpkin pie or Thanksgiving turkey, is the venison donation program. This connects hunters who have way more meat than they can use, with folks who could use more than they can afford. Although it’s funded by the state, the only place where hunters can donate meat in Ulster County is Bruck’s Bucks, owned by Tim and Susan Bruck.

Tim, who works as a meat supervisor at Hannaford’s Market in West Hurley, does the venison processing in a shop in back of the Bruck family residence in Accord. “You have to pull into our driveway to find our shop,” Susan advised. “We’re the first house on the left when you turn onto Main St. from Route 209.”

Susan, who runs the Rondout Valley Food Pantry, explained how the donation program works.

“Hunters can donate two or more pounds from each deer that they bring to us for processing. They can keep whatever they choose. Many who hunt a lot prefer to keep choice cuts like the back straps and tenderloins and donate the rest.

“In previous years the meat had to be ground and put into one pound packages. Now we can also do steak cuts in 1-2 pound packages as well. No seasonings or additives are allowed and all packages must be clearly labeled with tracking information.” Every part of the deer is returned to the hunter and is processed one at a time, so the hunter knows he/she is getting their deer back and not someone else’s.

“We receive a per pound reimbursement at the end of the season from the state Venison Donation Program, which we choose to donate to the pantry. Tim has been cutting deer since he was 14 and over the years has chosen not to charge neighbors who have limited resources, so this is a carryover of that philosophy.”

Deer season only lasts a few weeks each fall, but a surprising amount of venison gets donated. “Last year, I think the venison lasted into February,” said Susan. “Over 150 pounds were donated. This year pantry guests are already looking for it! The first batch has already been delivered. All the meat goes to RVFP.

Being able to directly donate it to the RVFP cuts out the steps of arranging for the Northeast Regional Food Bank to pick it up and then have the pantry buy it. This saves money, time, resources, and is more environmentally friendly.”

(Guests of the Rochester and Rosendale food pantries can go to the RVFP if they are interested in receiving some venison.)

“When a hunter brings their deer in for processing, we ask them if they would like to donate any. If they would, we fill out the necessary paperwork, process their deer and separate out their donation, labeling it and delivering it to the pantry.

This is our second year being an active processor with the NYS Venison Donation Program. Three years ago when we first learned about it, we spent that year upgrading our shop so that it meets the requirements of the program. The renovations were extensive, but worth it. Becoming involved with the program seems like a natural fit for the work that we do both as professionals and volunteers. We have family, friends, and fellow meat cutters who come to help out when it gets busy and we always have fun working together. It is no surprise that the hunting community is filled with wonderful people and storytellers. Not only are they generous, but they share their excitement and respect for their sport with us, adding to the enjoyment of what we do.”


Bruck’s Bucks

8 Main Street, Accord

845-626-7567

For information about the statewide Venison Donation Coalition, visit www.venisondonation.com


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