Conservation OfficerDeer hunters donated more than 65,000 pounds of venison in 2016-17 to feed Indiana’s hungry through the Sportsmen’s Benevolence Fund, according to the DNR Law Enforcement division.

The Sportsmen’s Benevolence Fund administered by DNR Law Enforcement provides grants to Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry, Hunters and Farmers Feeding the Hungry, and the Dubois County Sportsmen Club to pay for processing fees when hunters donate legally harvested deer.

The participating organizations notify food banks throughout Indiana when venison is ready to be collected from certified Sportsmen Benevolence Fund butchers. The food banks distribute venison to soup kitchens and food pantries to feed hungry citizens. The average cost per meal is 35 cents.

In the 2016-17 hunting season, hunters donated 1,307 deer that were processed into 65,443 pounds of venison, which equates to 261,772 meals.

“Once again, the Sportsmen’s Benevolence Fund has met its objectives” DNR Director Cameron F. Clark. “With the Fund’s support and the generosity of Indiana deer hunters, citizens in need will be able to prepare healthy meals with low-fat, high-protein venison.”

The totals are comparable to the 2105-16 donations of 1,333 deer and 67,356 pounds of venison.

“It’s evident that the desire to donate to this program by our deer hunters continues to be strong,” said Col. Danny L. East, director of DNR Law Enforcement. “Our Indiana deer hunters continue to be valuable partners in carrying out our mission and our programs.”

State Sen. Michael Crider, who developed the Sportsmen’s Benevolence Fund when he was director of DNR Law Enforcement, said, “This program provides an opportunity for Indiana hunters to enjoy the outdoors and provide for fellow citizens in need.”