The deer you take could go toward the feeding the hungry or protecting animal habitats.
Venison Donation Program
Minnesota hunters can donate processed venison to food shelves at no or very little cost thanks to a program coordinated by the Minnesota Departments of Agriculture and the DNR.
The state’s venison donation program provides a prized food source to those in need while encouraging hunters to harvest additional animals.
“We recognize that ethically, hunters will not take more deer than they know can be consumed,” said Steve Merchant, wildlife populations and regulation programs manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “Simply asking someone to take another deer to manage populations provides only half of the picture. The venison donation program was developed to provide hunters an avenue to donate the extra deer they harvest without having to pay processing costs.”
Click here for more details on the venison donation program, as well as a list of participating meat processors. Processors who accept deer are paid $70 to process each animal for food shelf distribution.
“There are a few processors who are charging an additional fee to cover expenses, so hunters should check with the processor prior to donating a deer,” Merchant said.
Funding for the program comes from surcharges placed on antlerless permits and nonresident hunting licenses. Individuals have an opportunity to donate to the program when they buy their deer license or by informing a DNR license agent they would like to donate to the program.
To donate a deer, hunters will need to adhere to the following guidelines:
- Only whole carcasses with the hide on can be donated; processors will not accept cut and wrapped meat or portions of carcasses.
- Information such as permit area of harvest and the DNR number will be collected for tracking purposes.
- Processors can only accept carcasses for donation that are free from signs of illness, free of visible decomposition or contamination, and properly identified with a Minnesota DNR registration tag.
- Processors will reject deer for the donation program that appear to have been mishandled in any way.
Hunters are strongly advised to contact the processor prior to donating the deer. The list of processors accepting deer will be regularly updated as more processors register.
Hide Donation Program
The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association collects deer hides for resale to support the preservation of animal habitats in the state.
Trail's End Pro Shop, 7597 Hwy. 65 NE, Fridley, has two of the association's "Hides for Habitat" drop boxes. (Hides and tails only; no heads or other body parts.)
Another Fridley drop site, according to the MDHA website, is Thorpe Brothers, 7500 University Ave. NE.