By Joel Hodgdon, Central Midwestern States Coordinator, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation
The days are growing shorter; the weather is getting colder; and my ammunition stockpile is growing larger. Deer season is upon us. Sitting and waiting for the right buck usually gives me a lot of thinking time and I often find myself reflecting on how fortunate I am to be able to hunt. I’m lucky that my family brought me up to love the outdoors. I’m blessed that I had breakfast before I climbed into my blind and I don’t ever have to miss a meal.
This isn’t the case for everyone. Even here in America, many people go hungry every day. Families and children struggling to get enough food to eat is a problem that we all should strive to solve. Thanks to several nonprofits and the wildlife agencies in many states, hunters like me can do our part to help those less fortunate than ourselves who go hungry. Every hunting season in my home state of Kansas, I’ll donate a few dollars online to a charitable game meat donation program when buying my license.
When I harvest a deer, I take pictures, field dress the deer, put it in the truck and take it in to my local meat processor. I can then give away some, or all, of my deer to the processor. The processor is reimbursed by the money donated by hunters and in some states by funds that the state budgeted to help the game donation program. Kansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry, and other similar organizations like them across the country, will then pick up the venison from the processor and distribute the meat to churches, shelters, kitchens, food banks and other places that provide the less fortunate with a hot meal.
You can support game meat donation programs in the following ways:
- Give a tax-deductible donation when buying your hunting license, permit, or stamps. Or support a game meat donation nonprofit without buying a license by donating to the nonprofit on their website.
- Donate freshly harvested game to your local meat processor that participates in a donation program.
- When donating your game, pay the costs of processing so that the limited funds available for the game meat program can go further and help put more meals on the table.
- Only want part of your harvest? You don’t have to donate a whole deer, elk or other big game animal. Donate as much or as little of your animal as you would like.
The donation of wild game to those in need reaps other benefits as well. Game meat donation programs help improve the public’s image of hunting and can serve as a valuable conservation tool.
To get further involved, or find a place to donate your wild game, find a contact in your state here.
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- Facilitating voter registration at the time of hunting/fishing license purchase (5.50%)
- Addressing Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer populations (12.84%)
- Increasing public access to private lands (24.77%)
- Granting more fish and wildlife management authority to the states (39.45%)
- Other (17.43%)