Your Deer Could Stock A Food Pantry

The Wisconsin DNR encourages hunters to donate Wisconsin-harvested deer through the DNR’s Deer Donation Program. The program helps stock food pantries for the upcoming holiday season and supports residents in need throughout the state.

The program started in 2000. Since then, hunters have donated 98,000 deer, totaling over 3.9 million pounds of venison, to help Wisconsinites in need.

Wisconsin has a network of venison donation partners. This includes county land and water conservation departments, food pantries, charitable organizations, USDA – Wildlife Services and participating meat processors. They all help implement and administer the program.

“This is a great opportunity for hunters to showcase their sportsmanship and help individuals in their local communities facing food insecurity,” says DNR program administrator Grace Nugent.

According to data from the Department of Health Services, more than 900,000 Wisconsin residents received food assistance in 2022.

“There is a big demand for venison provided through the Deer Donation Program, and we are hopeful hunters will continue to donate their deer and help those in need,” she says.

Hunters interested in donating a Wisconsin-harvested deer to the DNR’s Deer Donation Program should follow these steps:

  1. Field dress the deer. 
  2. Register the deer through GameReg: Please note the registration confirmation number and keep it on hand when dropping off the deer.
  3. Test the deer for CWD before taking the deer to a processor if harvested from a CWD-affected county. A list of CWD sampling locations is available on the DNR’s Sampling For Chronic Wasting Disease webpage:
  4. Call ahead. Contact a participating processor before dropping off the deer to make sure they have space to accept it. Some processors might join later in the season, so check back if you don’t see one currently in your area:
  5. Bring the deer to the processor. If donating a deer being tested for CWD, inform the processor and provide the CWD barcode number. The processor will not distribute the deer until the results are known.