Indiana Deer Hunters Donating Their Harvests for Heartwarming Cause

by Craig Garrett
Male hunter aiming at deer with rifle - stock photo

Deer hunters in Indiana have decided to donate their 2022 archery and firearm season harvests to a very good cause. Though it may surprise some, a deer can provide up to 200 meals for the hungry when donated and properly harvested. However, Deb Treesh, the executive director of the Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry, confirms the figure. “We even double-checked it,” Treesh, told Indiana’s The Tribune.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources and other nonprofit organizations are asking for hunters’ help in providing meals to those in need across the state. The deer hunting season begins this past Saturday with archery, continuing through Nov. 12 when firearms will be allowed. The Sportsmen’s Benevolence Fund is run by the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division. They provide assistance to Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry and other local groups for processing fees when hunters give carcasses or field-dressed deer to the program.

Since its inception in 2008, this initiative has been running some sort of program. Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry was created in 2011, and since then, hunters from Indiana have donated 879 deer, which were transformed into 45,326 pounds of venison and given to food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens for distribution to low-income families.

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Treesh said that the need for awareness is as great as ever now, but added that more awareness is needed among hunters. “The need is so much more than it was,” Treesh explained. “People are keeping the deer because of the price of meat.” After examining the price of meat at her local supermarket, she was alarmed by how expensive it had become.

Although the number of contributions varies from year to year, deer hunters who give are happy to assist those in need, according to Capt. Jet Quinlan of the DNR’s law enforcement division. “It’s such a worthy cause,” Quinlan explained. “It benefits everybody. It’s knowing we’re helping and giving back.”

When a deer donated for harvest is processed, it typically produces 200 meals worth of venison burgers. The processor will turn the deer into 50 pounds of ground meat; Typically, each pound yields 4 portions. At the end of each season, the DNR requires a report from all participating nonprofit agencies. “That just goes a long way, especially in today’s climate when it is harder to make ends meet,” Quinlan said.

According to Quinlan, the program may benefit from increased awareness about how some hunters think. While many Indiana hunters go hunting with the intention of harvesting meat for their families in mind, others may be seeking only large bucks and not bother hunting little does. “They’re passing on that doe because they’re waiting on that buck,” Quinlan explained. “But if you have that opportunity, take that doe. It’s going to help Hoosiers who need that doe.”