By Jack Spaulding
Indiana deer hunters and their families know nothing beats the taste of a hearty venison burger or equals the satisfying flavor of venison chili. Sharing the bounty of the field with others is a Hoosier tradition, and once again, Indiana deer hunters stepped up to the “plate” and delivered! Deer hunters donated more than 65,000 pounds of venison in 2016-17 deer season to feed Indiana’s hungry through the Sportsmen’s Benevolence Fund, according to the DNR Law Enforcement Division.
The Sportsmen’s Benevolence Fund administered by DNR Law Enforcement provides grants to Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry, Hunters and Farmers Feeding the Hungry, and the Dubois County Sportsmen Club to pay for processing fees when hunters donate legally harvested deer.
The participating organizations notify food banks throughout Indiana when the venison is ready to be collected from certified Sportsmen Benevolence Fund butchers. The food banks distribute the ground venison to soup kitchens and food pantries to feed hungry citizens. The average cost per meal is 35 cents.
In the 2016-17 hunting season, Hoosier hunters donated 1,307 deer which were processed into 65,443 pounds of venison. The amount of donated venison is enough for 261,772 meals.
“Once again, the Sportsmen’s Benevolence Fund has met its objectives,” said DNR Director Cameron F. Clark. “With the Fund’s support and the generosity of Indiana deer hunters, citizens in need will be able to prepare healthy meals with low-fat, high-protein venison.”
The total for this year is comparable to the 2105-16 donations of 1,333 deer and 67,356 pounds of venison.
How Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry works
Hunters and farmers donate large game and livestock to participating state or health inspected butcher shops. Tax deductible donations from hunters and caring Hoosiers are used to pay for the butchering, cutting, and wrapping of donated meat. Butchers cut and wrap the meat into 1 and 2 pound packages, perfect for families. The packaged meat is then given at no charge to local Feeding America food banks and local hunger relief ministries. The meat is then distributed to area families in need within your community!
“It’s evident the desire to donate to this program by our deer hunters continues to be strong,” said Col. Danny L. East, director of DNR Law Enforcement. “Our Indiana deer hunters continue to be valuable partners in carrying out our mission and our programs.”
Indiana State Sen. Michael Crider, who developed the Sportsmen’s Benevolence Fund when he was director of DNR Law Enforcement, said, “This program provides an opportunity for Indiana hunters to enjoy the outdoors and provide for fellow citizens in need.”
Jack Spaulding is a state outdoors writer and a consumer of RushShelby Energy living along the Flatrock River in Moscow. Readers with questions or comments can write to him in care of Electric Consumer, P.O. Box 24517, Indianapolis, IN 46224; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.