Donating hunter-harvested deer in Minnesota

Donate venison to a local food shelf! List of participating venison processors.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, has a program that allows Minnesota deer hunters to donate deer carcasses to food shelves and feeding programs. This program provides an excellent source of protein to people in need while helping reduce local deer populations.

To participate

Hunters must have their deer processed at a Minnesota Department of Agriculture-registered meat processing plant who has agreed to participate in the program. A list of processors can be found on the MDA website . Hunters are strongly advised to contact the processor before bringing in a deer to make sure they are still able to handle the animal.
Only entire carcasses with the hide attached can be donated. Cut and wrapped meat will not be accepted for donation.

Hunters and processors must adhere to specific standards designed to prevent food-borne illness:

  • Hunters must sign a form indicating their willingness to donate the deer and adhere to the field dressing procedures outlined in the Guide to donating a hunter-harvested deer brochure.
  • Processors may only accept carcasses for donation that are:
    • Free from signs of illness
    • Field dressed with the hide intact
    • Free of visible decomposition or contamination
    • Properly identified with a Minnesota DNR registration tag
    • Processors will reject deer for the donation program that appear to have been mishandled in any way.


In 2007, the Minnesota legislature funded a program that will facilitate the donation of harvested deer to food shelves. To pay for the program, a one-time appropriation of $160,000 came from the general fund and the cost of non-resident hunting licenses was increased by $5. Next year, the cost of the bonus permit will increase by $1, which should bring in approximately $160,000/year. Additionally, at the time of deer license purchase, hunters will be asked if they want to voluntarily donate $1, $3, or $5 to the program and any interested individual can also donate by visiting one of 1,800 ELS agents statewide.

There is no cost to the hunter and processors will be reimbursed for each deer they send to the food shelf. In a nutshell, find out who is taking carcasses. After you kill the deer, ensure you are handling it properly and it’s suitable for donation. Take the deer to the processor, fill out some information and you’re done.


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