Hunting for those in need

You open the freezer door and stare at shelves filled with venison.

You feel good that you have been successful in the field, but even though you don’t need any more meat for the year, you’d really like to spend more time deer hunting.

There is an answer. In fact, there are two answers. The Sportsmen’s Benevolence Fund and GiveIN Game are programs for donating venison.

These programs allow deer hunters the opportunity to donate a portion of their deer or the entire deer. Doing so provides healthy, nutritious meat to individuals or families that otherwise might do without such nourishment. It also sheds a positive light on hunters in general. It’s hard for anti-hunters to convince the public we’re a bad lot when hunters are donating hundreds of thousands of pounds of protein to those who need it.

The Sportsmen’s Benevolence Fund is a program that provides venison to Indiana food pantries, which distributes it to individuals and families in need. In 2014, the food pantries received more than 70,000 pounds of ground venison.

Donating to the Sportsmen’s Benevolence fund is simple.

First, hunters need to locate a participating processor by searching the Department of Natural Resources website at Then drop your deer off at a deer processor.

The GiveIN Game Program puts hunters in direct contact with people who would like to have deer meat. The program has been around since 2010, and participating is simple. Hunters willing to donate venison and those who wish to receive venison simply go online to register at Hunters and recipients both supply contact information. Hunters list how much they are willing to donate and what they will donate, either a whole deer or packages of a processed animal. Recipients list what they hope to receive. There is no cost to complete the simple registration.

Say you want to keep hunting and you’re willing to donate a whole deer to the GiveIN Game program. Just register online stating you are willing to donate a whole deer and find someone in your area willing to accept a whole deer. Contact them and work out the exchange.

You are still responsible for tagging the deer and checking it in. Keep in mind that selling or bartering deer or any wild game is illegal. Your deer must strictly be a donation.

According to the DNR, the program works like an online telephone directory that allows hunters and community members to contact each other directly to donate or request deer meat. Last year, more than 715 people participated, with the requests for deer meat outweighing the offers.

With two ways hunters can donate venison to those who may otherwise go without meat, you can feel good about extending your hunting season. Hunters need positive press, so spread the word. Tell your family and friends about the programs and your donations. Post it on Facebook.

Your participation might encourage others to also donate, which will end up putting more healthy venison on plates across Indiana.

See you down the trail.

Brandon Butler’s outdoors column appears Sundays in The Republic. Send comments to

Brandon Butler’s outdoors column appears on Saturdays in the Daily Journal. Send comments to letters@ daily