As archery season begins, Wyoming native Mike Serbin wants hunters to think about how much deer meat they will need for themselves, and to consider donating the rest to someone in need.
Serbin, 59, serves as the Luzerne County coordinator for Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH), a venison donation program that butchers and distributes deer donated by hunters to the less fortunate through regional food banks.
The program is a nonprofit 501c3 that began in 1991 and is operated in 33 states across the country, and 87 counties in Pennsylvania.
Serbin said up to 100,000 pounds of venison are donated every year and the program has made great strides since he first became the Luzerne County coordinator eight years ago.
“When I first started, we were getting about 14 deer donated through the program,” he said. “Eventually we started getting over 30 deer donated, so we’ve doubled the amount since I started.”
Serbin’s job is to coordinate donations between butchers and hunters.
Local butchers to whom people can bring their donated harvests include the Country Butcher Shop in Drums, Naugle’s Deer Processing in Hunlock Township and Dave’s Custom Deer Processing in Shavertown.
When a deer is donated, the butcher will grind the meat into five-pound bags. The meat is then donated through the Weinberg Regional Food Bank to organizations such as a soup kitchens, Salvation Army sites, churches and individual families.
“I always tell hunters, ‘Once you get one tag, you should donate that second deer,’” said Serbin. “This is a good opportunity to help feed a family that needs it. You get a lot of guys who will shoot a deer but they don’t know what to do with it.”
While hunting is not for everyone, there are ways to donate through the HSH to help those less fortunate by going to the program’s website, www.sharedeer.org.
A $10 donation will help provide 40 meals, while a $25 donation will help provide 100 meals.
Serbin, owner of Serbin’s Golf Shop in Exeter, is an avid deer hunter and said he donates two or three deer every year to the HSH.
“I just love to hunt and, when hunting time comes, I get excited,” he said. “Usually I’ll get up in the morning and first light is 6:30 a.m., and you have to be up in your stand at 5:30 a.m. so I get up at 4 a.m. to shower, eat breakfast and I hang there till 10 a.m. I get out of the woods and I’m at the shop at 11 a.m., close it up at 3:30 p.m. and then I go back to the stand until dark. Sometimes I get lucky my first day, and other times, not so much.”
Archery season begins Saturday and runs until Nov. 14, and rifle season begins Nov. 30 and runs until Dec. 12.
Serbin said those wanting to learn more or donate to the HSH can contact him at 570-654-2306.