Donating a deer is important and can make a big difference in the lives of many people. But on this episode I am going to share some stories and guidelines for how to NOT donate a deer to a feeding program like Farmers and Hunters Feeding The Hungry or Hunters Sharing The Harvest.
Donating venison is an honorable thing. Foodbanks often supply people in need with canned goods, non-perishables, and carb rich foods but meat of any kind may be rarely available due to the cost. Venison is able to provide people who are food insecure with high quality lean protein. People will often wait in line or check back constantly with hopes of venison becoming available. If the meat portions they receive are lousy because the hunter was careless, we’ve hurt a person we could have helped.
Proper field care is a huge part of bringing back quality venison to donate. But simply being considerate as a human being is needed first. You must not leave a deer over night or for several days in the woods and bring it to donate. These carcasses are unfit and unsafe for human consumption and a good butcher will throw the entire thing away. You cannot bring animals that have been half eaten by coyotes. The bacteria and disease present in these situations makes the meat unsafe almost instantly.
Just because you’ve eaten questionable meat and been ok does not mean its ok. Children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems can become seriously ill by eating something that your body seems to process ok. And people who are food insecure and nutrient deprived may be at elevated risk levels. You are providing meat to people who due to their poverty may have compromised health.
The deer that we donate should be the best deer we can take out of the woods, not some scheme to get a butcher to cut off the antlers for us for free. In fact the deer we donate should be better than the venison we put on our own tables. Keep in mind someone is paying to have that deer butchered and given to food banks, soup kitchens etc. These are often individual donors, local churches, small businesses and others who pay the financial cost of deer processing, so the hunters do not need to pay money when they donate their animal.
We need to strive to provide the best possible meat for families in need. If you are going to donate a deer, donate your best, not your worst.
Listen to the whole podcast episode for so much more.