Wisconsin’s white-tailed deer can serve more than a recreational outlet for nearly 600,000 hunters, including some from 33 foreign countries.
As is common, hunters came from every state to hunt this year, too.
Deer are food to hunters and can be used by food pantries and giving non-hunters a taste for hunting.
Enter John and Sarah Ramthun and 6:8 of Sauk City and Sauk Prairie Area Food Pantry.
Earlier this year, the Ramthuns moved on their dream of having 6:8, their organization, help individuals help themselves.
The name 6:8 came from four bible chapters and verses in Mark, 1 Timothy, Isaiah, and Micah.
The organization is more than a food pantry. It’s a facility where individuals can receive meals, help learn to cook, help with job applications, and making clothes. It’s not a church and has no affiliation with any congregation.
A trial run on venison skinning, cutting and grinding will take place during the Dec. 24 to Jan. 1 holiday hunt in Wisconsin. Wayne Whitemarsh at McFarlanes’ Retail and Service Center in Sauk City, is coordinating the effort, finding volunteers and arranging for equipment.
Permits were being applied for so some of the meat can go to the food pantry.
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Donated carcasses will be tested for chronic wasting disease prior to processing and distributing.
A similar effort is planned using fish as the staple beginning with checking out fishing gear to families.
The 6,800-square-foot building housing this operation is located in the Sauk City Industrial Park.
Donations, volunteers and fundraising have been, and are, paying the bill.
Tom Hauge, retired Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources administrative biologist, is helping to walk the venison handling through the food permit process.
“We want to make sure we have everything covered before deer carcasses are donated so we aren’t overrun with meat,” Hauge said.
One could imagine an individual learning about venison preparation, deer hunting, and eventually putting some meat, fish and vegetables on the table.
The Sauk County community has been and continues to be very supportive of 6:8, focusing on conservation and placing a positive light on the gathering aspect.
While selling the idea is not part of the volunteers’ duties or aspirations, one may imagine it being studied by other communities.