STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Pictures of former fraternity brothers line a wall, and empty soda and beer cartons are stacked near the back door. It's just like any other college fraternity house - except for the deer carcass hanging in the front hall.

It's hunting season at Delta Theta Sigma, a fraternity at Pennsylvania State University that caters to students interested in agriculture.

"The mailman hates us at this time of year," Dan Vastyan said as he skinned the deer hanging just inside the front door. "He absolutely hates us."

The bloody mess had to be cleaned up by the next morning so the mail carrier could get through.

It's the same drill every late fall for the fraternity in State College, after rifle deer season begins the Monday after Thanksgiving.

"For anybody who's an avid hunter, this is like Christmastime for us," said Alex Potosky, a senior and the chapter's vice president.

A daily tally of the deer kills by fraternity members is kept on a calendar just outside the kitchen. They're off to a good start this year, with five on the first day, and two more by the next evening.

Many of the fraternity members are avid hunters who hail from small towns and rural areas.

Members say they form bonds that go beyond hunting, but rifle season - which ends Saturday - is special because the venison will help feed the 17 men who live in the house, plus 10 "little sisters" who live elsewhere but enjoy many of the same privileges as members.

Fraternity brothers prepare and process their own meat and store it in one of the house's seven chest freezers.

"We definitely don't starve, but we work on a pretty modest budget, so anything we can do to offset that cost really helps," Potosky said.

Angie Lucas, the house cook for 18 months, whips up weekday meals for the fraternity brothers. Her favorite recipes include pot pie and venison stroganoff.

"Sometimes you look in the refrigerator and you never know what you are going to find," Lucas said.

But getting deer meat to the cooking stage is a messy process, one shared by all members when a deer is hauled in.

One day this week, Vastyan and Tom Kirby busily skinned and quartered a kill. Then, fraternity member Joe Stoner, still decked out in some of his camouflage gear, barreled through the door, a bit out of breath, carrying in his own deer, a bit smaller than Vastyan's prize.

Flopping the carcass onto the laminate floor, the brothers exchange stories, sounding like old friends telling tall tales around a fire at a lodge.

"I wasn't shooting for this one; I missed the big one!" Stoner said. "If it weren't for a branch, I would have had a lot bigger one."

Vastyan and Kirby worked on their deer, hung from a ceiling hook. Its body was cut in half at the midsection. A last-second move by the deer led Vastyan's rifle shot to hit the deer's hind leg, shattering the back half.

Nearby, Stoner and two friends worked on another deer, crackling off bones and getting the body ready for butchering.

The organization has been cited by the agriculture school and the university overall for its academic performance and community service. The group advertises itself during rush season more as a small "family" than as a fraternity, Potosky said.

Most members are majoring in an agricultural field and nearly all are from rural areas.

"Everyone who lives here, we feel like a family," Kirby said. "These people are like real brothers, not just frat brothers. . . . I wouldn't be in college still if I hadn't been here."