There’s still time: Donate venison to food program

The amount of venison donated by hunters to local food pantries through a national program is down this year, although the collection period hasn’t quite come to an end.

Since the beginning of

firearms season in mid-

November, the Jackson County chapter of Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry has

received about 18 deer carcasses, which generally yield 50 to 70 pounds of meat each.

A year ago, 32 deer were donated to the 4-year-old program, and the highest number of deer donated in one year is 50.

Dirk Botkin of Vallonia, co-chairman of the chapter along with his wife, Shannon, said donations may be down for a couple of reasons.

“A lot of people are believing that the deer herd is down, keeping them from shooting as much,” Dirk Botkin said.

He said he also saw a mixture of hunters participating from both Jackson and Bartholomew counties last year, but this year it’s been mostly Jackson County residents.

The national Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry organization was founded in Virginia in 1997. There are 15 chapters in Indiana.

The Botkin family restarted the county chapter

four years ago after it went inactive in the late 1990s.

Dirk Botkin said the program is a way for hunters to combine something they love — being outdoors — while also giving back to others and feeding the community.

To participate, hunters need to drop off unwanted deer at Darlage Custom Meats, 5974 E. County Road 410N, Seymour. Gary Darlage is the only butcher in the area participating in

the program.

The meat is processed and packaged free-of-charge because that fee is paid

for through donations to

the program.

The venison then is distributed to Jackson County programs that help supplement the diets of the underprivileged. Those agencies include Community Provisions Inc., Human Services Inc. and Anchor House.

Dirk Botkin said people do not have to be hunters to become involved. Cash or check donations are accepted and appreciated because they will go toward fees or processing, he said.

Checks can be made out to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry program, specifically for “Indiana 28,” which is the Jackson County program.

At a glance

Donated deer can be dropped off at Darlage Custom Meats, 5974 E. County Road 410N, Seymour.

On the Web

For information, call Dirk Botkin at 812-358-4737 or visit fhfh.org/.