Iowa’s popular deer donation program Help Us Stop Hunger (HUSH)
is entering into its second decade as a tool connecting hunters, lockers and hungry Iowans.
The program is pretty simple – hunters contact a participating locker before bringing in a whole, field-dressed deer, and once at the locker, they fill out a donation card. The locker processes the deer into two pound packages of ground meat. The Food Bank of Iowa then coordinates collecting the valuable protein and distributes it to local food pantries.
“Iowa deer hunters do an excellent job of using available doe tags to reduce the deer herd which simultaneously provides a needed high protein product to the Food Bank of Iowa,” said Jim Coffey, who coordinates the HUSH program for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Bureau.
Iowa’s HUSH program is considered a major success nationally and Coffey is often contacted by other states looking to replicate it.
Since its inception, Iowa hunters have donated more than 56,000 deer to the program. Donations peaked at about 8,000 deer in 2007. The 5,281 deer donated by hunters in 2012 resulted in 800,000 meals being provided to needy Iowa families.
“The steady decline in donations parallels the decline in the size of the deer herd,” Coffey said. “As the herd size is reduced, hunters should work with their local landowners to harvest the number of deer that is acceptable and if they are not seeing the number of deer that they expect, it may be time to pass up on taking the extra doe.”
Iowa’s bow season is open until Dec. 6, and then reopens Dec. 23 to Jan. 10, 2014. Shotgun season one is Dec. 7-11. Shotgun season two is Dec. 14-22.
To find one of the 89 lockers participating in HUSH go to www.iowahush.com
or see the list on page 34 of the 2013-14 Iowa Hunting and Trapping Regulations