DES MOINES - Iowa deer hunters donated 6,320 deer to the needy by the close of the 2010-11 deer season through the cooperative Help Us Stop Hunger (HUSH) program. Venison from those deer amounted to more than 282,500 pounds or about 1.1 million quarter-pound servings.
Last deer hunting season was the eighth year in which hunters could donate field-dressed deer at nearly 90 lockers around the state. It brought the total to more than 44,500 donated deer or 8.2 million servings of venison. In addition to deer donated to HUSH, 90 deer were donated to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, a national faith-based deer donation program that raises its own money locally to pay for deer processing and venison distribution to the needy.
A $1 fee on all deer licenses is collected by the Iowa DNR to pay the lockers $75 per deer in processing costs. The Food Bank of Iowa coordinates distribution of venison to pantries and missions, and it administers payments to lockers, all for $5 per deer.
HUSH coordinator Stacey Olson of the DNR said deer donation numbers are slowly declining due to a lower overall deer population in the state. Lockers receiving the most deer included: Milo Locker in Milo with 532 deer, Burrell's Meat Locker in Moravia with 321 deer, Amend Packing Co. in Des Moines with 286 deer, Corning Meat Processing in Corning with 263 deer, and Zeb's Smokehouse in Bedford with 258.
"Once again, deer hunters in Iowa have impacted thousands of lives by donating their deer to the HUSH program. Venison is an excellent source of red meat, which many of the less-fortunate citizens of Iowa would otherwise not get."