The mission of South Dakota Sportsmen Against Hunger is to encourage and facilitate donation of wild game meat to needy people in South Dakota.
The South Dakota Sportsmen Against Hunger (SDSAH) program was established in 1993 by the Black Hills Sportsmen's Club in Rapid City through the leadership of Dr. Jeff Olson and Dr. Tom Krafka. SDSAH in South Dakota became part of an international Sportsmen Against Hunger network initiated by Safari Club International in 1989 as part of its Humanitarian Services mission of reaching out to people in need throughout the world. The purpose of the SDSAH program was to encourage and provide an easier way for hunters to donate harvested game to needy families.
Starting in 2005, with the help of a consultant and encouragement from the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP), plans were set into motion to significantly expand SDSAH. The plan was to organize as a nonprofit corporation, enlist participation by all game processors across the state, utilize the network of food pantries across the state through Feeding South Dakota (FSD), make all hunters aware of SDSAH and its benefits, and explore various means of obtaining funding.
In the fall of 2005, expansion was initiated by increasing the number of participating game processors from 8 to 36. With increased publicity on SDSAH and on how hunters could donate game, the amount of donated game meat (primarily venison) increased from approximately 27,400 pounds in 2004 to 38,800 pounds in 2005. Approximately 2,500 pounds of the amount donated in 2005 was the result of a "clean out your freezer" food drive in Rapid City conducted by the Black Hills Sportsmen's Club.
In February 2006, SDSAH prepared Articles of Incorporation and filed as a nonprofit corporation with the State of South Dakota. The SDSAH Board of Directors held an organizational meeting and approved bylaws on March 3, 2006. In May 2006, the Internal Revenue Service determined that SDSAH was a public charity under Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3).
In becoming a newly created nonprofit organization, SDSAH established two important goals. First, to help satisfy an ever-increasing need for meat by poverty-level families. Secondly, to help curb expansion of South Dakota's over-abundant deer populations. However, with the limited number of deer hunters in the state, additional harvest beyond what hunters were utilizing themselves was not likely to occur unless the hunters had some easier means of giving the meat away. A GFP hunter survey has indicated that as many as 70% of the state's deer hunters would harvest additional deer and donate them if the hunters did not have to pay processing costs.
In 2006, SDSAH was able to secure funding from the GFP Commission for a 2-year pilot program in which SDSAH would reimburse participating processors for $30 of their costs for processing donated antlerless deer. Hunters could obtain certificates online from GFP and use it as payment to participating processors. The average total processing fee was $51, and each hunter could use up to four certificates with only one certificate per whole-carcass deer. Processors would then submit the certificates to SDSAH for reimbursement. As a result of increased awareness of SDSAH, increased number of participating processors (49), and availability of the $30 processing certificate, game meat donations increased to nearly 46,600 pounds in 2006 (including 2,700 pounds in the Rapid City food drive). Game donated through processors included: 391 antlerless deer, 504 buck deer, 37 antelope and 933 pheasants. In conjunction with SDSAH initiation of a processing certificate in 2006, GFP also agreed to create a check-off system whereby hunters could donate cash to SDSAH as part of either the online or paper application for big game licenses. These check-off funds, along with supplemental funding from GFP, were used to promote, administer, and pay for, the processing certificates.
To encourage even more harvest and donation of antlerless deer in 2007, GFP and SDSAH agreed to increase the value of the processing certificate to $50, remove the limit on total number of certificates which could be issued, make the certificates available at the processors' place of business, and to remove all restrictions on use of the certificates except to encourage hunters not to use more than four per person. The $50 processing certificate was accepted a full payment for processing antlerless deer by 38 of the 48 participating game processors. The result was an increase in donated game meat to over 76,500 pounds (including 3,900 pounds in the Rapid City food drive). This represented an increase of 64 percent from the previous year! Game donated through processors included: 1,757 antlerless deer, 326 buck deer, 48 antelope and 1,050 pheasants.
The value of the processing certificate in 2008 was kept at $50 for donated antlerless deer. New in 2008 was the addition of a processing certificate worth $40 for donated doe/fawn antelope. And hunters were encouraged to donate as many antlerless deer and doe/fawn antelope as they could, with no limit on the number of certificates per person. A total of 50 processors participated, with 31 of the 50 accepting the certificate as full payment for processing. Total game donations included 1,946 antlerless deer, 257 buck deer, 354 doe/fawn antelope, 20 buck antelope, 1 elk, and 3,066 pheasants. Pounds of processed game meat totaled 94,643 (a 24% increase from 2008), including 5,530 pounds through the Rapid City food drive and other private direct donations to the Rapid City and Sioux Falls FSD Food Banks.
No changes were made in the processing certificate program for 2009. Of the 49 processors participating in 2009, 35 accepted the $50 certificate as full payment for processing donated antlerless deer, and 33 processors accepted the $40 certificate as full payment for processing doe/fawn antelope. Total game donations included 2,039 antlerless deer, 263 buck deer, 261 doe/fawn antelope, 54 buck antelope, some elk trim, 5,929 pheasants, 90 chukar, and 6 quail. Amount of processed game meat totaled 97,752 pounds including 3,203 pounds through the Rapid City food drive and other private donations of big-game meat directly to the Rapid City and Sioux Falls FSD Food Banks, and 8,919 pounds of game bird meat.
The processing certificate program remained the same in 2010, with the number of participating processors increasing to 50. Of these processors 36 accepted the $50 certificate as full payment for processing donated antlerless deer, and 34 processors accepted the $40 certificate as full payment for processing donated doe/fawn antelope. Game animal donations from hunters included 2,267 antlerless deer, 293 buck deer, 117 doe/fawn antelope, 23 buck antelope, 3,646 pheasants, 14 grouse and 1 buffalo which resulted in 101,135 pounds of processed meat. Game meat food drives in Rapid City, Pierre and Sioux Falls resulted in hunter donation of 1,487 pounds, and hunters delivered 813 pounds of processed game meat directly to a FSD Food Bank. Additionally, 743 pounds of game meat came from salvage processing of 4 elk and 1 moose which were illegally taken. The total amount of game provided to needy families through 60+ food relief agencies of various types in 2010 was 104,178 pounds.
In 2011, Canada geese taken during the August Management Take season were added to the processing certificate program whereby the 15 participating processors were paid $4 for processing each donated Canada goose. A total of 2,044 Canada geese were donated by 167 hunters and yielded 2,850 pounds of ground meat.
The processing certificate program for donated antlerless deer and doe/fawn antelope did not change and so the certificate value remained $50 for antlerless deer and $40 for doe/fawn antelope. A total of 51 processors processed donated game. A total of 1,235 hunters donated 1,709 antlerless deer, 182 buck deer, 36 doe/fawn antelope, 10 buck antelope, 36 out-of-state deer, 1 out-of-state antelope, and 2,811 pheasants. Game animals which were salvage processed included 36 deer and 5 elk which were involved in vehicle collisions, confiscated game, taken under a GFP kill permit, or euthanized game farm animals. Game meat food drives in Rapid City and Pierre resulted in donation of 2,775 pounds of meat, and hunters donated 115 pounds of game meat directly to FSD Food Banks. Total amount of game provided to needy families through 64 food relief agencies of various types in 40 counties during fall and winter 2011-12 was 80,684 pounds.
The Canada goose donation program was expanded in 2012 to include the opportunity for hunters to donate Canada geese taken during the September Early Fall Canada goose season as well as during the August Management Take. Processing certificates were available for hunters to use in paying processors the entire processing fee of $4.00 per donated goose. A total of 384 hunters donated Canada geese through 16 participating SDSAH goose processors who processed a total of 4,282 geese from the August Management Take and 3,905 geese from the Early Fall Canada goose season which resulted in 10,051 pounds of packaged ground meat.
The value of processing certificates for donated antlerless deer and doe/fawn antelope remained at $50 and $40, respectively, in 2012. Hunters paid the processing fee for all other donated game and also any processing fee charged in addition to the processing certificates. A total of 850 hunters used processing certificates in donating 1,120 antlerless deer and 15 doe/fawn antelope. The 49 participating processors also processed 142 buck deer, 3 buck antelope, 3,481 pheasants and some elk and deer trim donated by hunters. In addition, SAH paid for salvage processing of 219 deer which included 200 deer from the Rapid City deer management program. The remaining deer were confiscated or road-killed animals. One confiscated elk and one GFP kill permit turkey were also salvage processed. Game meat food drives in Rapid City and Pierre resulted in donation of 2,955 pounds of meat, and hunters donated 134 pounds of game meat directly to FSD Food Banks.
A Spring Canada Goose Management Program was established by GFP for the period of April 1 – May 5, 2013, whereby Canada geese were taken by hunters in select areas where goose depredation problems were occurring. All geese taken were required to be delivered to one of seven cooperating SAH goose processors and donated to SAH. The result was that 811 geese were donated and provided 1,490 pounds of processed ground goose meat.
In June 2013 yet another donation project was developed and implemented. All fish from the Masters Walleye Circuit Fishing Tournament at Spring Creek on Lake Oahe of the Missouri River were donated by the tournament fishermen. The Pierre area High Plains Wildlife Association sportsmen’s club cleaned and packaged the fish in return for receiving some of the fish for use in their Game Feed Fundraiser. Of the 526 fish donated, 397 (350 pounds) were packaged for SAH and distributed to five different food pantries.
Total amount of game and fish meat provided to needy families through 64 food relief agencies of various types in 40 counties during fall, winter and spring 2012-13 was 66,843 pounds.
A goose donation program was established for the 2013 August Management Take (August 3-31) and Early Fall Canada Goose Season (September 1-20). Processing certificates were available to hunters donating geese which provided a payment of $4.00 per bird to processors to cover total cost of processing. Twelve goose processors participated and received a total of 4,207 geese which resulted in 4,811 pounds of processed ground goose meat.
A fishing tournament in August 2013 provided 14 pounds of cleaned fish.
Processing certificates for antlerless deer and doe/fawn antelope in 2013 were increased in value to $60 for donated antlerless deer and $50 for doe/fawn antelope. Hunters paid the processing fee for all other donated game and also any processing fee charged in addition to the processing certificates. A total of 44 game processors participated. A total of 599 hunters used processing certificates in donating 605 antlerless deer and 9 doe/fawn antelope. Donated game also included 92 resident buck deer, 50 nonresident buck deer, 1 buck antelope, 7 miscellaneous salvage deer, 150 deer from the city of Rapid City deer reduction program, 20 deer from the city of Pierre deer reduction program, 4 salvage elk, 1 buffalo, 3,870 pheasants, and 4,717 Canada geese. Additionally, 1,478 pounds of game meat were donated through game meat food drives in Rapid City, Pierre and Huron. Another 2,497 pounds of confiscated processed game meat were provided by GFP to food pantries.
In Spring 2014, a Canada Goose Management Program depredation hunt was held by GFP during April 1 – May 3 whereby all geese taken had to be donated to SAH through one of five participating goose processors. Processing certificates were available to hunters which provided a payment of $4.00 per bird to processors which covered the total cost of processing. A total of 645 birds were donated which resulted in 1,275 pounds of processed ground goose meat.
Total amount of game and fish meat provided to needy families through over 60 food relief agencies of various types in 40 counties during fall, winter, and spring 2013-14 was 48,102 pounds.
Canada goose donation was provided for during the 2014 August Management Take (August 16 – 31) and Early Fall Canada Goose Season (September 1 – 19). Ten SAH goose processors (permitted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) accepted and processed 4,554 donated Canada geese donated by 223 hunters. SAH processing certificates were used to pay processors the total cost of $4.00 per bird for processing. The result was 5,504 pounds of processed meat which was distributed to food pantries.
The value of big game processing certificates remained at $60 for donated antlerless deer and $50 for doe/fawn antelope in fall and winter 2014-15. A total of 41 SAH game processors processed donated game in 2014 and 33 of these accepted the processing certificate as full payment. A total of 166 hunters used processing certificates in donating 182 antlerless deer and 9 doe/fawn antelope. Also donated were 124 resident buck deer, 74 nonresident buck deer, 1 buck antelope, 3 salvage deer, 150 deer from the Rapid City deer reduction program, 30 deer from the Sioux Falls deer reduction program, 3 salvage elk, 4 elk from the Nebraska Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge elk culling program, and 5,032 pheasants. Additionally, 813 pounds were donated through game meat food drives in Rapid City, Pierre, and Huron. Another 30 pounds were donated privately. Total amount of game meat donated and processed in 2014-15 was 37,643 pounds.
No Canada Goose Management Program depredation hunt was held by GFP in Spring of 2015 to allow for goose donation as in 2014. However, an August Management Take (August 15 - 31) and Early Fall Canada Goose Season (September 1 - 18) were held during which harvested Canada geese could be donated. Eight SAH goose processors (permitted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) received 2,605 Canada geese from 138 hunters for processing. Hunters used SAH processing certificates to pay the processing cost of $4.00 per bird. A total of 3,256 pounds of processed goose meat were then distributed to food pantries.
Big game processing certificate values were not changed for donated antlerless deer and doe/fawn antelope in fall and winter 2015 – 2016. The number of SAH game processors decreased to 35 this year, with 28 accepting processing certificates as full payment. A total of 186 hunters used processing certificates in donating 204 antlerless deer and 3 doe/fawn antelope. Other hunter donations included 144 resident buck deer, 28 nonresident buck deer, 2 resident buck antelope, one nonresident buck antelope, and 2,546 pheasants.
Donated game meat from other sources in 2015 - 2016 included 6 salvage deer, 100 deer from the Rapid City deer reduction program, 41 deer from the Sioux Falls deer reduction program, 1 salvage elk, 4 elk from the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge elk culling program, 1 salvage moose, and 1,208 pounds of meat donated through game meat food drives in Rapid City and Pierre. Total amount of game meat donated in 2015-16 was 31,512 pounds.
An August Management Take for Canada geese was not held by GFP in 2016 which left only that portion of the Early Fall Canada Goose Season from September 3 – 16 as the period during which harvested Canada geese could be donated. Seven SAH processors (permitted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) participated in the goose donation program. Processing certificate value remained at $4 per bird which was accepted as full payment. The processors received and processed 1,895 Canada geese donated by 108 hunters resulting in a total of 2,619 pounds of ground meat which was then delivered to food pantries.
The value of big-game processing certificates was increased in 2016 - 2017 from $60 to $65 for donated antlerless deer and from $50 to $55 for donated doe/fawn antelope. Thirty-seven game processors participated this year of which 28 accepted a processing certificate as full payment for processing. Donations of game from 326 hunters included 256 antlerless deer, 141 resident buck deer, 59 nonresident buck deer, 6 doe/fawn antelope, and 1 resident buck antelope. Hunters also donated 1 buffalo, and 1,831 pheasants. Additionally, 258 pounds of fish were donated.
Game meat donated from other sources in 2016 – 2017 included 4 salvage deer, 100 deer from the Rapid City deer reduction program, 49 deer from the Sioux Falls deer reduction program, 1 salvage elk, 5 elk from the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge elk culling program, 145 elk from the Wind Cave National Park elk reduction program, and 871 pounds of meat donated through game meat food drives in Rapid City and Pierre. Total amount of game meat donated in 2016 – 2017 was 48,174 pounds. As in previous years, all processed donated game meat was delivered to approved food pantries for distribution to needy families.
A total of 37 game processors processed donated big game 2017 – 2018 of which seven also accepted and processed donated Canada geese during an early part of the Early Fall Canada Goose Season. Of those processing big game 33 accepted the $65 processing certificate for donated antlerless deer, and the $55 processing certificate for donated doe/fawn antelope, as full payment. Hunters donating Canada geese used a processing certificate worth $4.00 per bird which was the total cost. Processing certificates were available from participating processors and online from the SAH website. Game donated by 332 hunters included 218 antlerless deer, 158 resident buck deer, 59 nonresident deer, 13 doe/fawn antelope, 3 resident buck antelope, and 4 nonresident antelope. A total of 1,918 Canada geese were donated by 98 hunters.
Other sources of donated game meat in 2017 – 2018 included 17 salvaged deer, 1 salvaged antelope, 113 deer from the Rapid City deer reduction program, 49 deer from the Sioux Falls deer reduction program, 2 salvaged elk, 4 elk from the Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge elk culling program, and 10 elk from the Wind Cave National Park elk reduction program. Pheasant shooting preserve hunters donated 1,739 pheasants. And 152 walleyes were donated from a fishing tournament. An additional 609 pounds was received through game meat food drives in Rapid City and Pierre. Total amount of game meat donated, processed and delivered to approved food pantries/banks was 34,015 lbs.
In the 2018 Early Fall Canada Goose Season donation period of September 1 – 21, six game processors accepted a total of 1,059 Canada geese from 74 hunters. Processing certificate value for geese was $4. Processing of these geese resulted in 1,604 lbs. of ground meat which was distributed to five food pantries plus the Feeding South Dakota Food Bank in Sioux Falls which made the meat available its agencies in eastern South Dakota.
A total of 40 game processors cooperated with SAH in accepting donated game during the 2018 hunting seasons. Processing certificate values were kept at $65 for antlerless deer, and $55 for doe/fawn antelope. Game donated by 332 big game hunters included 214 antlerless deer, 122 buck deer, 9 doe/fawn antelope, 5 buck antelope, 24 out-of-state deer, and 3 out-of-state antelope. A total of 1,129 pheasants were donated by pheasant shooting preserve hunters.
Additional donated game meat from salvage processing programs in 2018 included 209 deer from the Rapid City deer reduction program, 60 deer from the Sioux Falls deer reduction program, four elk from the Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge elk culling program, plus one elk, five turkey and nine deer from miscellaneous sources. SAH food drives in Rapid City and Pierre resulted in 679 lbs. of collected meat. Participants in the annual Governor’s Cup fishing tournament donated 141 walleye (76 lbs. of cleaned fish) to SAH. Donated game meat from all sources in 2018 totaled 31,420 lbs. which was provided to food pantries/banks for distribution to families in need.
Six processors received a total of 793 Canada geese from 66 hunters during the September 7 – 20, 2019, Early Fall Canada Goose Season. Processing certificate value was kept at $4 per goose. Processing of the geese resulted in 1,264 lbs. of ground meat which was distributed to six food pantries plus the Feeding South Dakota Food Bank in Sioux Falls.
Game donated during other 2019 hunting seasons through 39 game processors included 197 antlerless deer, 132 buck deer, 5 doe/fawn antelope, 2 buck antelope, 27 out-of-state deer and 4 out-of-state antelope from 284 hunters. Processing certificate values were increased to $75 for antlerless deer and $65 for doe/fawn antelope. Salvage processing, paid for at least in part by SDSAH, included 245 deer from the Rapid City deer reduction program, 63 deer from the Sioux Falls deer reduction program, and 21 elk from the Wind Cave National Park elk culling program. There were also 11 deer, 6 antelope and 2 elk from miscellaneous sources which were salvage processed. Food drives in Rapid City and Pierre resulted in donation of 742 lbs. of game meat. Other donated game meat included 1,059 pheasants (1,062 lbs.), and 341 walleye (184 lbs.) from the Governor’s Cup fishing tournament. Total amount of game meat donated in 2019 from all sources was 33,201 lbs.
In 2020, 1,182 Canada geese were donated by 62 hunters at four SAH goose processors during September 5 – 18 of the Early Fall Canada Goose Season. Processing certificates worth $4.00 per bird were accepted by the processors as full payment for processing donated birds. Two processors accepted only breast meat and not whole birds. The resulting 1,723 lbs. of processed goose burger was distributed to five food pantries in the vicinity of each of the processors.
The number of participating SAH big-game processors in Fall 2020 decreased to 15 primarily as a result of increased demand for private custom processing of domestic meat due to effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some decrease in processing of deer was also a result of a new SAH policy requiring all donated deer and elk harvested west of the Missouri River to be tested for Chronic Wasting Disease.
The 15 SAH big-game processors in 2020 processed hunter donations of 118 antlerless deer, 59 buck deer, and 2 doe/fawn antelope. Also processed were 250 deer donated from the Rapid City deer population reduction program as well as 26 deer from Ellsworth Air Force Base deer reduction program and 8 deer from the Sioux Falls deer reduction program. Other salvage processing included 9 deer, 1 antelope, 7 elk and 5 bighorn sheep from GFP. A total of 757 lbs. of cleaned pheasants were donated from private shooting preserves (452 pheasants) and Governor’s Pheasant Hunt (303 pheasants), 465 walleyes (320 lbs.) from the Governor’s Fishing Tournament, 459 lbs. from food drives in Rapid City and Pierre, and 43 lbs. of unclaimed game meat from processors. Total amount of game meat donated in 2020 from all sources was 20,086 lbs.
Pounds of game meat donated each year (July 1- June 30) since SDSAH was initiated (pheasants were first donated in fall 2006, Canada geese in fall 2011, and fish in spring 2013):
* Includes pheasants
**Includes pheasants and Canadian geese
***Includes pheasants, Canada geese and fish