6:00: Morning News

Morgantown Urban Deer Archery program observes milestone, helps the hungry

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The City of Morgantown’s Urban Archery Deer Hunt Program surpassed the 10,000-pound mark of ground venison donated to local food pantries.

On WAJR’s Talk of the Town volunteer bow hunter Rick Bebout said this season they have harvested more then 50 deer and the season will extend into January.

Rick Bebout and a buck killed in 2020.

“The 1st of October we surpassed the 10,000 pound mark of donated meat,” Bebout said. “We’re currently sitting at 10,078 pounds.”

The program started unofficially in 2010 when city leaders realized the deer population was growing very large. Following widespread incidents throughout the city, a study in 2011 determined there were 600 deer in city limits, or about 60 deer per square mile.

Following the 2011 study the program was instituted and has been in operation since.

“We knew that there was a deer population problem and that there wasn’t a solution,” according to Bebout. “We thought that we could turn that around and create a resource for the citizens of Morgantown. Our program has helped numerous non-profit organizations and we hope to help more in the future.”

Among the pantries that receive venison are Pantry Plus More, the Community Kitchen and the Trinity Episcopal Church.

“That’s a lot of hamburgers, that’s a lot of sloppy Joes, that’s a lot of tacos and it’s what we’re most proud of,” Bebout said. ” Being able to help the community in such a direct manner.”

One recipient of donated meat is the Community Kitchen, Inc. located at 247 Willey Street. Established in 1984, the organization has made it a mission to provide well-balanced, hot meals five days a week while providing a safe and clean environment.

“It kind of goes in a cycle throughout the year,” Bebout said. “We have a set of contacts we touch base with and we like to spread the wealth.”

“While most residents may not realize it, the Urban Archery Deer Hunt has been a huge benefit to the Morgantown area,” said volunteer cook and board member of the Community Kitchen Richard Dumas. “Much of the meat harvested is processed and donated to local agencies that help alleviate some of the food insecurity that exists in our community. The recent donation of over 500 pounds of meat will enable us to continue to serve hot entrees to those in need.”

Studies since 2011 have shown the program has helped control the population and reduce some of the previously reported incidents.

” WVU Extension did an on-the-ground thermal count in 2014 and what they found was our hunting activity has reduced and is keeping the population stable and that’s what our goal is,” Bebout said.

The season is open from the first Saturday in September through Dec. 31 and the last two weeks of January.

“It’s not about people going out and trying to shoot the biggest buck or brag on Facebook,” Bebout said. “It’s about people that are generally concerned about the environment and the well-being of the critters and certainly giving back.”

For more information about how to participate in the Urban Deer Hunt or to learn more click here or contact the Volunteer Coordinator, Paul Crumrine via email at pecrumrine@gmail.com.

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