Deer Hunters Pitching In

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Iowa deer hunters are responding well this hunting season to shooting more deer and giving their extra deer to the needy, but a little more is being asked of them.

"Lockers are already reporting high numbers of donated deer but the main deer harvest is still a month away," said Richard Bishop, DNR's wildlife bureau chief. Bishop expects to meet, even exceed the goal of 1,000 donated deer. The archery season is currently open, but many more deer are taken from the shotgun seasons in December.

Under the banner of Help Us Stop Hunger (HUSH), 43 lockers in central and southeast Iowa are processing deer donated by hunters that go into the Food Bank of Iowa's network for distribution to needy Iowans. A check of 11 lockers showed about 16 percent of deer taken in to date is going for HUSH.

"Hunters quit hunting when they do not want to take home any more deer. With HUSH, hunters can keep hunting and donate the extras to those who really need it," said Bishop.

He said the DNR and Food Bank of Iowa have raised more than $40,000 from insurance companies, the hunting industry and conservation organizations to pay lockers $50 for each deer processed for HUSH. Some lockers require hunters to bone out the meat; others take regular field-dressed deer.

"I am hopeful that deer hunters will rise to the occasion even more by helping to pay a small part of the processing costs," he added.

About two weeks ago, a $5 HUSH donation option was added to the electronic deer permit buying system. When a hunter buys a deer permit, the system asks if they would like to donate $5 to help get venison to the needy. Bishop said every $5 donation pays processing costs for 20 meals of the healthy and tasty red meat.

"Deer hunting is a great sport, and we need hunters to help us reduce the population to good levels. But we also hope many of them will donate just that $5 more to help process that venison for homes who can really use it," Bishop said. He added that any deer from any season, legally taken in Iowa can be donated.

Hunters wanting to donate extra deer to HUSH can find a list of the lockers on the website:, or ask for a locker list where they buy their permit.