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Excess venison, the lean, healthy gift (07/18/2004)
With the deer population at high levels through most of Minnesota, deer hunters will be able to purchase additional antlerless tags in many areas of the state. Although many hunters will take advantage of the opportunity, one problematic question must be answered: "What do you do with the extra venison?"

MDHA's Executive Director Mark Johnson, says the answer is as simple as sharing. "Deer hunters who are willing to harvest an extra deer with a management or intensive harvest license can give venison to non-hunters. There are many who will gladly take the meat. The only difficulty is connecting the hunters and non-hunters ahead of time to make the proper arrangements."

According to Johnson, deer hunters have several options for giving away venison this year.

1. Hunters can give processed venison to others - to remain legal make sure your hunting license number, name and phone number accompany the gift.

2. MDHA, SCI, FHFH, DNR and the MN Dept. of Ag are addressing legalities so hunters can drop off whole deer at specified meat processors for processing and donation to area food shelves. Watch for upcoming press releases closer to fall detailing this program.

3. Many soup kitchens or community café organizations gladly accept processed ground venison. Call ahead to get specific directions from your local facility.

4. Give a whole deer to someone who wants one.

"Each year, more surplus deer are given away by hunters through method four than any other," reports Johnson. "All it takes is a little planning and now is the time to prepare." Johnson encourages interested hunters to:

Ask non-hunting family members, neighbors and friends if they are interested in receiving an unprocessed deer, if you can harvest one for them.

Ask church leaders if they know of anyone who might appreciate receiving a deer.

Contact local meat processors so you know where recipients can take the deer and how much it processing will cost.

If you butcher your own deer, consider inviting the recipients over and butcher their deer with them.

Have your hunting group butcher the extra deer as a group project, divide the wrapped meat and give it to friends who can not utilize a whole deer.

"Giving away venison isn't hard. It's just old fashion networking, talking to friends and neighbors." 


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