Game donation program success due to hunters and processors

Ron Fowler
Sportsmen Against Hunger

For twenty-six years Sportsmen Against Hunger (SAH) has relied on countless hunters and game processors to provide game meat to families in need through food pantries. Donations of game, especially deer, has continued to grow in relation to hunting opportunities. And game processors across the state continue to cooperate with SAH in processing donated game at reduced fees.

In 2018, 332 hunters donated 214 antlerless deer, 146 buck deer, 9 doe/fawn antelope, and 8 buck antelope. In addition, 1,129 pheasants, 1,059 Canada geese and 141 walleye were donated. Processing of this game, plus game from other sources such as city deer reduction programs resulted in over 31,400 pounds of processed meat. This translates into 125,600 meals of meat for needy families. Total amount of game meat donated since SAH was created is now over 900,000 pounds.

Hunters are also recognized for donating funds to SAH through the Department of Game, Fish and Parks hunting license application check-off system. In recent years these funds have helped SAH to cover the cost of the Processing Certificate Program in which hunters may use processing certificates to pay most or all of the cost of processing donated antlerless deer, doe/fawn antelope and Canada geese. Credit goes to hunters who paid the full or reduced cost of processing other donated game such as buck deer, buck antelope, and pheasants. The donated funds have also been used towards the costs of salvage processing of confiscated game, deer taken in city deer reduction programs, etc.

Success of SAH can be attributed not only to hunters who donated but game processors who have participated in SAH and provided incentive to hunters to donate by reducing the cost of processing donated game. When coupled with the SAH Processing Certificate Program there was often no cost to the hunter.

This past year the 39 game meat processors who cooperated with SAH were also instrumental in delivering processed meat to Feeding South Dakota food banks and to local food pantries which then provided the meat to families in need.

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