Donating deer: State program helps feed struggling families
JANESVILLE Needy families will benefit from the state’s deer hunting season through the annual Wildlife Damage Deer Donation program.
The annual tradition, started in 2000, has seen hunters donate more than 80,000 deer processed into more than 3.6 million pounds of ground venison. In the south-central Wisconsin area Green and Jefferson counties are providing deer donation drop-off sites.
“Our local pantries are low on meat, and meat is a significant expense for struggling families,” said Marc Perry, director of planning and development at Community Action, Inc. of Rock and Walworth Counties. “We don’t have numbers for the number of area deer or pounds of venison expected, but the deer donations are welcomed at all our area pantries.”
Perry was asked if there were any objections to venison as a meat provided at the pantries.
“The meat is inspected and checked for chronic wasting disease,” Perry said. “The pantries welcome donations from the program.”
There are rules associated with the program. Perry provided tips on donating deer.
- Legally harvested deer outside the chronic wasting disease management zone can be dropped off at participating processors by Friday, Feb. 1, 2013.
- Deer harvested inside the zone should be taken to processors inside the zone.
- The deer must be field dressed and registered at a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources station prior to donation.
- Hunters should call processors prior to making a donation.
- The entire deer must be donated to receive free processing.
- River’s Edge Farm Market, 843 S. Washington Ave., Jefferson, 920-674-6466
- Pernat-Haase Meats, 312 Milwaukee St., Johnson Creek, 920-699-6990
- County E Locker, N6833 Highway E, Albany, 608-862-1320
Warm weather venison handling
Warm weather has been forecast throughout Wisconsin for the opening weekend of the gun deer season.
Cindy Klug, manager of the Bureau of Meat Safety and Inspection for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, offered these tips to ensure venison does not spoil before being consumed.
In the field
- Field dress the carcass immediately after harvest.
- Wash the body cavity with cold clean water, if possible, and be sure to carry a clean towel for wiping hands to prevent cross-contamination.
- Place the heart and liver in a food grade plastic bag if you wish to keep them.
- Spread the ribcage to cool the carcass more quickly. Better yet, pack the carcass with clean ice.
Transporting the deer home
- Do not leave the venison in a car trunk where warmer temperatures promote bacterial growth.
- Register and process deer as soon as possible. Let the registration station know if you intend to donate your harvest to the charitable venison program.
- Call ahead to a licensed meat plant for processing.
- Refrigerate the carcass if at all possible. Avoid hanging it in a garage.
- Use food quality plastic bags or buckets to store cut meats. Do not use dark-colored garbage bags.
- “The biggest mistake we see each year is that hunters hang their deer in the garage for too long thinking that the garage gets cold enough, but temperature fluctuations are not good for keeping meat safe to eat,” Klug said.
For more info
For more information about meat safety: