UTICA — Ohio’s deer-gun season got under way Monday and many hunters not only appreciate harvesting their own meat, they are responding to the season of giving by donating deer to programs like Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH).
FHFH is a resource for successful hunters who can donate deer to partner processing shops that are licensed and inspected by the health department or USDA. The deer meat is donated to local food programs and ministries.
Oiler Meat Processing in Utica is one of those processing shops. Owner Linda Oiler, son Sam Oiler, and about six seasonal employees are busy now, just a few days into the gun season that started Monday. Former mayor and retired industrial arts teacher Larry Friesel is one of Oiler’s seasonal helpers.
Olier and her late husband, Carmel Oiler, started their meat processing business in 1974. She lost her husband two years ago, but she’s kept the business going. At 73, she stills works from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. some days.
She said the season has already been “very good” to her and Tuesday deer were dropped off frequently throughout the day for processing, of course many for the hunters’ own tables. Steve Chapman of Columbus dropped off a 90-pound doe and asked for trail bologna and summer sausage. He also enjoys fishing and the meat is ideal for a sportsman’s lunch.
“This has been my life for 38 years,” Oiler said. “I love what I do and if I weren’t here, I’d be home on the couch, watching TV, and thinking about my husband.”
Sam works for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) but during hunting season, if he’s not at ODOT, he’s helping run the business. They have participated in FHFH for six years.
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