Deer hunters can help feed local families by donating venison
For people who depend on food pantries to get through tough times, meat is very appreciated and can be the base of a hearty family meal. Each year, hunters, meat processors and food pantries help families in need by working closely with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and its partners to donate thousands of pounds of ground venison to Wisconsin food pantries.
“Whether it is harvesting an extra deer or donating the only deer they shoot, Wisconsin hunters have historically shown their willingness to help others by donating deer to the Deer Donation Program,” said Sarah Wyrick, DNR wildlife damage program assistant. “As deer hunters begin preparations for this hunting season, we encourage them to consider the Deer Donation Program.”
Since Wisconsin’s Deer Donation Program first began in 2000, more than 92,000 deer have been donated, totaling more than 3.7 million pounds of venison distributed to food pantries across the state.
“There are a couple of ways hunters can help,” Wyrick said. “Hunters can donate a deer at one of the participating meat processors, or when they purchase a hunting license, they can make a monetary donation to help cover venison processing costs.”
Visit the DNR website, https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/ topic/hunt/donation. html, to learn about the DNR’s deer donation program and how to help, as well as find a list of participating meat processors and CWD sampling requirements.
Any legally harvested deer can be donated by dropping it off at a participating processor. Hunters should call the processor first to make sure they have space for your deer. Hickory Nutz Sausage of Medford is Taylor County’s only donation site currently and can be reached at 715-748-4828.
Others in nearby communities include Inge’s Custom Meats of Stanley, River Valley Meats of Withee, Geiss Meat Service in Merrill, Custom Meats, Inc., of Marathon and Smith Brothers Meats of Colby. All participating processors and their contact information can be found on the DNR website.
Hunters need to field dress and register the deer. The registration confirmation will be needed for the processor’s log sheet. Hunters are asked to handle the deer as if it were destined for their own table and place bags of ice in the body cavity if the weather is warm.
Processors will take the entire deer (head and antlers make be kept for mounting). Although Taylor County is not currently a CWD-affected county and donated deer harvested here do not require testing, deer from other counties may require testing for CWD and the meat held until results are known.
Hunters without an extra deer this season can still contribute with a cash donation to help cover processing costs. Donations to the program can be made at any Wisconsin hunting license sales location or online through your Go Wild account.