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Schumer pushes bill to help hunters, hungry

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Charles E. Schumer, who made his early career as a New York City congressman by fighting for gun control, has finally fired a gun himself — on his first hunting trip.

"I got three pheasants," Mr. Schumer, D-N.Y., told New York reporters in a conference call Wednesday, recounting a weekend outing in Nebraska with Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., as he touted a bill he introduced Wednesday to encourage hunters to donate animals to charity.

Mr. Schumer's hunting trip and legislation are part of his transformation to a gun stance more in keeping with his statewide constituency. He bragged Wednesday that Field and Stream magazine named him its person of the year for pushing legislation making more privately owned land available for hunting.

The senator's latest effort would allow hunters and meat processing plants to claim a tax deduction for the value of deer donated to food programs. It also would apply to other hunted animals such as turkey, Mr. Schumer said.

"The hunting, fishing and outdoor sporting industry is a bright spot in a dark economic time - and one that must be protected and allowed to grow," Mr. Schumer said in a press release. "This legislation will provide hunters with an economic boost, combat overpopulation of deer and help the hungry all at the same time."

Hunters would continue to pay a plant to process the animal but could claim that amount as a tax deduction.

Plants also could claim a tax deduction by donating the meat to a nonprofit organization such as the Venison Donation Coalition. For instance, under current law the Venison Donation Coalition would pay $65 in processing fees to the plant, which in turn would pay $10 in taxes to the government. Mr. Schumer's legislation removes the tax requirement, so the Venison Donation Coalition could pay $55 — saving $10 — while the processor makes the same amount as before.

Mr. Schumer said he will try to attach his measure to a tax-related bill in the Senate. There is no companion legislation in the House, a spokesman for Mr. Schumer said.

Hunters took 28,400 deer in Northern New York last year, Mr. Schumer's office reported. One deer contains about 160 servings of venison, he said.

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