CUSTER COUNTY–Deer season means a lot of things to dedicated hunters in central Nebraska. But deer season can also have life-changing impacts for our nation’s veterans. The national Elks Lodge Deer Hide Program is underway across the country with more than 19,000 hides collected during the 2018-2019 season.
According to Elks.org, 19,283 hides were collected last year and resulted in 3,460 veterans receiving free wheelchair gloves made from the deer hides.
“The Veterans Leather Program relies on the charity of hunters across the nation to donate hides so they can be turned into leather used for therapy programs for recovering veterans. Leather is also used to provide professionally-crafted gloves for veterans in wheelchairs, which are distributed at veterans adaptive sports clinics and gatherings throughout the country,” the website states.
Broken Bow Elk’s Lodge #1688 representative Gary Wright told KCNI/KBBN the veterans leather program is “one of our most successful programs” and estimated that nearly 200 hides are collected locally each year and approximately 900 hides are collected across the state of Nebraska.
Wright added that local volunteers collect the hides, salt them, and send them to Tennessee to be tanned and processed into gloves.
Three collection boxes are stationed in the area at Gateway Motors (436 S 1st Ave, Broken Bow), 1335 South F Street in Broken Bow, and 79271 US-183 just two miles north of Ansley. Hides will be collected through all of Nebraska’s deer seasons ending mid-January.