SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. - As West Virginia's sportsmen and women take to the field for the various fall deer hunting seasons, they gain more than just an enjoyable day outdoors with family and friends and some exercise. Many will successfully harvest a deer and fill their freezer with an ample amount of "heart-healthy" venison. Venison is an excellent alternative to beef for those concerned with healthier choices in their diet.

"Venison is a healthy source of protein for many West Virginia families," said Curtis I. Taylor, chief of the Wildlife Resources Section of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR). "Venison has fewer calories and nearly five times less fat as an equivalent serving of beef."

After the harvest, hunters can ensure their selected venison cuts will be the best quality and flavor if they take a few simple steps in caring for their game. Meat should not be exposed to excessive dirt or moisture and should be cooled as quickly as possible to avoid spoilage.

Hunters are not the only West Virginians who benefit from deer harvested in the state. Over the past 20 years, the DNR has sponsored the Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) program. Since its inception in 1992, hunter-donated venison has provided more than 1 million meals for needy West Virginia families.

For more information about the HHH program or West Virginia's various deer hunting seasons and regulations, consult the 2012-2013 West Virginia Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary available at all DNR Offices and license agents or visit the DNR website at   www.wvdnr.gov

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