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MassWildlife’s Hunters Share the Harvest Program

MassWildlife's Hunters Share the Harvest program provides an outlet for hunters to donate venison to Massachusetts residents in need.

MassWildlife’s Hunters Share the Harvest program provides an opportunity for hunters to donate and share wild game meat like venison with Massachusetts residents in need. Regulated hunting is a safe activity that brings communities together through the sharing of food, skills, and time spent outdoors with nature. A recent study by The Greater Boston Food Bank shows that nearly one-third of adults in Massachusetts are facing food insecurity, a number that has grown during the pandemic. Free range, organic venison is a lean, healthy protein with a low carbon footprint that already feeds thousands of licensed hunters and their families across Massachusetts each year. Licensed hunters play an important role in wildlife management in Massachusetts, and now successful hunters can help combat hunger and food insecurity in their communities by donating venison.

In 2022, there is one approved meat processor (Haskins Custom Butchering in Hanover) accepting whole-deer donations, and packaged venison will be distributed to those in need through the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation’s Food 4 Vets program. With the support of donors, processing and packaging costs will be covered for deer accepted into the program. MassWildlife plans to expand donation and distribution locations in the coming years.

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Donation instructions for hunters

  • Hunters who wish to donate a deer should bring the field dressed deer to the approved processing facility located at 308 Silver Street in Hanover (Haskins Custom Butchering). Deer must be recovered, field dressed, and cooled in a timely manner. Any animals not recovered and field dressed within 2 hours of being shot will not be accepted into the program unless the ambient outside temperature has remained at or below 35 degrees from the time the deer was shot until recovery. Whole-deer donations only.
  • All deer brought for donation must be legally reported and have a tag with confirmation number attached. Hunters can donate deer during any fall season. During archery and primitive firearms seasons, hunters can drop off deer between 2–8 p.m. During the shotgun season, hunters can drop off deer between 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Read more about harvest reporting.
  • Deer will be thoroughly inspected by a MassWildlife biologist for evidence of proper field dressing and to ensure there are no signs of disease. If denied, hunters will have the option to take back their deer. Once accepted, processing and packaging costs will be covered by the Program. Hunters who want to further contribute to the Program may choose to cover the cost of processing if they wish.   
  • Once accepted into the program, all venison will be processed into ground burger, with ~10% pork fat added, and packaged into standard 2-pound portions. Each package will have MassWildlife’s Hunters Share the Harvest label, which will state the contents and include standard safe handling/cooking instructions.
  • Any hunters with questions about dropping off their deer should contact Jason Zimmer, MassWildlife Southeast District Supervisor, at (774) 297-3538.

Help MassWildlife expand

MassWildlife plans to expand donation and distribution locations in the coming years. Meat processors, food pantries, hunger relief agencies, or other organizations who want to participate in MassWildlife’s Hunters Share the Harvest program in the future should contact Martin Feehan, MassWildlife’s Deer and Moose Project Leader, at martin.feehan@mass.gov.

Support MassWildlife's Hunters Share the Harvest Program

Anyone can help financially support MassWildlife's Hunters Share the Harvest program with a monetary donation to the Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation. Your donation will help cover the processing and packaging costs for donated meat. A donation of $25 will provide about 50 servings of meat for families in need.

Contact

Phone

Open M–F, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. (closed noon–12:30 for lunch)

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