Department of Environmental Conservation

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Venison Donation

You've heard the story, more deer every year, fewer hunters, more crop damage, more car-deer collisions... meanwhile there are New York families suffering from hunger.

Hunters, you can help!

Logo for the Venison Donation Coalition.

Visit the Venison Donation Coalition Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (See Links Leaving DEC's website) to learn how you can donate venison to help feed local families!

You may also help by making a cash donation when you purchase your hunting license. Cash donations are used to pay for the cost of processing donated venison.

Not a hunter, but you would like to acquire venison?

Venison donation booth with two hunters holding donated game meat.
One donated deer creates approximately
200 meals for local families in need!

You don't have to be a hunter to enjoy high protein, low fat, and versatile wild game fare! Hunters may not sell venison or exchange goods or services for venison, but they can donate it to anyone they choose. Just ask a hunter, then Eat Local!

To make it easier on the hunter, you may opt to receive the whole deer and process it yourself or pay for a commercial processor to do it for you. Or the hunter could drop the deer off at the processor, and you could pay the processor when you pick up the packaged meat.

It's easy! When receiving donated venison, you will need:

For a whole deer:

  • The hunter's state-issued deer harvest tag, fully filled out, must be attached.
  • In addition, a signed note must be attached to the carcass that includes the date of donation and the names and addresses of both the hunter who shot the deer and the recipient of the carcass.
  • If the entire carcass minus the head is being transported, evidence of sex of the deer must be intact and on the back of the harvest tag must be written the name and address of the taxidermist where the head was sent and the number of points on each antler.

For packaged meat:

  • A note signed by the hunter attached to the packages of meat including:
    • The names and addresses of both the hunter who shot the deer and the recipient of the meat.
    • The hunter's hunting license number.
    • The amount of meat donated.
    • This tag must remain in possession of the recipient until the meat is consumed.
  • Packages of meat should be clearly labeled 'venison'.
venison pot roast.

When you choose to eat wild game, you are:

  • Making the healthy choice to eat meat from an animal that was free range, consumed a natural diet, and was never treated with hormones or antibiotics.
  • Helping to reduce the number of over-abundant deer in New York State.
  • Taking an active role in acknowledging where your food comes from.

Find more information about the nutritional benefits of wild game, as well as wild game cooking tips see: (both links leave DEC's website)

The Wild Harvest Table - a resource for game and fish recipes, nutrition information, and preparation techniques.

USDA Nutritional Guide for Game Meat

Consider Non-lead Ammunition

Non-lead ammunition allows hunters the same performance and accuracy of traditional lead-based ammunition without leaving small lead fragments in hunter-harvested deer meat. To date, there are no reported human illnesses related to the consumption of wild game shot with lead ammunition. Nevertheless, lead is a known neurotoxin, and switching to non-lead ammunition will reduce potential secondary exposure to lead in wildlife and people. See Ammunition: Non-lead or Lead? for tips to reduce the risk of lead in venison.