Kerry Tucker, owner of KT’s Wild Game, was recently named Hunters for the Hungry Processor of the Year at the 48th Annual TWF Conservation Achievement Awards in Nashville.
Since opening his business six years ago, Tucker has been processing deer for the Hunters for the Hungry program. He estimates that he has processed more than 600 pounds of donated venison for the cause alone.
TWRA Officer Leith Konyndyk encouraged Tucker to participate in the program.
“It’s a worthwhile program,” he says, noting the food “stays right here in Lincoln County”.
Four distributors, Good Samaritan Association, First Methodist Church, Howell Church of Christ and Provision Port, distribute the venison.
“They either cook it or give it for meals,” he said of the local distributors.
Tucker’s wife, Tracy, is one of the distributors at the Methodist Church.
The Tennessee Wildlife Federation’s Hunters for the Hungry program has been working with hunters and meat processors to fight hunger by providing properly prepared venison to food banks, church programs and soup kitchens.
Based on available funding, game processors are allotted a quota for the number of deer that Hunters for the Hungry will subsidize. Beyond these quotas, any whole deer processed is paid for by the hunter at the same discounted rate, which is typically $40.
In times when processing funds have run low, Tucker, a firm believer in the cause, has donated some of the work at his own expense.
Across the state for the 2012-2013 hunting season, the HFTH set another record for pounds of venison donated for the fifth straight year, with a total of 136,162 pounds collected. The season’s donations provided approximately 542,768 meals for hungry Tennesseans.
In order to defray the cost to hunters, it takes the help of local businesses, individuals, civic organizations, churches and others to help raise the extra funds for processing.
“Kudos to Carl Kinkle of Crawford Supply. He has been a real big supporter of this program,” Tucker said.
Kinkle donated $1,000 toward the cause last year.
“It’s critical to have those type of folks,” Tucker said.
In addition to feeding the hungry, the HFTH program helps to reduce herd populations.
“We are overpopulated with does,” says Tucker, explaining that generally the ratio is two or three does to one buck, but in Lincoln County, “We have seven to eight does for one buck,” he added.
Tucker believes Hunters for the Hungry is a worthwhile program and encourages the community to get involved in it.
Before getting into the wild game and taxidermy business, Tucker served in the U.S. Air Force as a professional recruiter for doctors, nurses and other health care professionals. He retired out of San Antonio, Texas, where he was running the national program. In 2000, he moved back to Fayetteville when his father, James Tucker, former property assessor, got sick.
After several years of working in the area for an engineering firm and FedEx, he decided to go to a taxidermy school in Montana. In the front office of KT’s Wild Game are a host of stuffed and mounted deer, turkeys, fox and other animals. Taxidermy is a service he offers during the off-season.
During deer season, which started Sept. 28 and runs through Jan. 12, KT’s is open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., seven days per week. Four to five employees assist him during the deer season. He also processes turkey, wild hogs and Elk.
His greatest satisfaction, he says, is when a customer comes back and says, ‘It’s the best meat I’ve ever had’.”
KT’s Wild Game is located at 124 Shelbyville Highway. For additional information about processing, contact Tucker at (931) 993-7657.