South Dakota Sportsmen Against Hunger

The mission of South Dakota Sportsmen Against Hunger is to encourage and facilitate donation of wild game meat to needy people in South Dakota.

South Dakota Sportsmen Against Hunger News

OUR VIEW: Despite EHD, consider Sportsmen Against Hunger

By: Daily Republic Editorial Board, November 1, 2016

November is a time when many outdoor enthusiasts start ramping up their efforts with deer hunting.

The bowhunting season is already several weeks old, West River opens Nov. 12 and East River is the following weekend. Deer hunting is a way many youth become exposed to the outdoors. It's a great tradition in South Dakota, and the sport helps for the future of our outdoor activities. Deer hunters provide an important revenue source for management and conservation as 2014 brought in approximately $4.8 million in license revenue.

Though, perhaps the most under-the-radar aspect of deer hunting in South Dakota is that it brings thousands of meals to needy families.

According to the most recent South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Conservation Digest magazine, it's been 10 years since the South Dakota Sportsmen Against Hunger program first partnered with GF&P.

During that time, 684,000 pounds of venison has resulted in about 2.61 million meals to families across the state. In 2010, the banner year of the program, 104,000 pounds of ground venison was donated.

That's simply phenomenal.

This year, though, doesn't look as optimistic for the lesser-known food donation program. GF&P has reported there's been a significant hit to deer populations again due to epizootic hemorrhagic disease, which has affected a significant population of white-tailed deer in eastern South Dakota.

GF&P has scaled back many of the leftover deer licenses due to EHD, which could mean bad news for Sportsmen Against Hunger and its intake of meat this year. Typically, many of the deer previously donated were from extra tags.

Still, we hope deer hunters who harvest an animal this year consider donating even a small portion to Sportsmen Against Hunger. One pound of venison burger can feed a family of four, so every pound counts.

There are more than 30 big game donation locations in South Dakota, with meat processors scattered across the state.

Sportsmen Against Hunger is a program that's accomplished great philanthropic efforts already. While this year may be a down season for deer licenses, we hope everyone considers donating to this worthy cause.

DEER DONATIONS UP AND MORE EXPECTED

By: Ron Fowler, Sportsmen Against Hunger, September 1, 2016

As predicted a year ago the number of deer donated to needy families through South Dakota Sportsmen Against Hunger (SAH) increased in 2015 (348) compared with 2014 (306). The same prediction is being made for 2016 in that the number of deer hunting licenses and tags are again being increased by the Department of Game, Fish and Parks in many areas of South Dakota. Increased donation of deer, as well as other game, is also expected due to increasing awareness of SAH, the shortage of meat by needy families, and the opportunities for donating game meat to these families in need.

Plus, in continuing to carry out its mission of encouraging and facilitating donation of wild game meat to needy people in South Dakota, SAH is increasing the value of its processing certificates in 2016 for donated doe/antlerless deer and doe/fawn antelope. This is expected to increase the number of SAH game processors which will accept the processing certificate as full payment for processing of these donated game. And this, in turn, is expected to increase the incentive and convenience for hunters to donate more doe/antlerless deer and doe/fawn antelope at no cost.

Credit for increased game donations not only goes to hunters who donated the game but who also donated cash. Through the small game and big game license application check-off provision for donating cash to SAH, hunters donated enough cash in 2015 to cover nearly all of the processing certificates received from hunters by game processors and submitted to SAH for reimbursement. This amounted to over $47,000.

Included in the hunters to be credited are those who donated game for which there was no processing certificate and therefore paid the full processing fee. This included buck deer, buck antelope, pheasants and game taken out-of-state. These hunters paid (donated) over $13,500 in processing costs for these donated game.

Total game donations in 2015 included 348 deer, 6 antelope, 2,832 pheasants, and 2,605 Canada geese. Sources of other game meat were game meat food drives as well as salvaged road-killed and confiscated game. Total amount of processed game meat provided to needy families through food pantries and other charitable food distributors was 31,512 pounds in 2015. This translates to over 126,000 meals of game meat for needy families.

Canada Goose Donation Period Shortened

By: Ron Fowler, Sportsmen Against Hunger, July 11, 2016

The time period during which Canada geese may be harvested and donated to needy families through Sportsmen Against Hunger has been shortened in 2016. The Department of Game, Fish and Parks has eliminated the August Management Take for Canada geese this year, and delayed the start of the Early Fall Canada Goose Season. This leaves September 3 – 16, 2016, of the Early Fall Canada Goose Season as the dates when hunters may donate harvested Canada geese.

Provisions to allow donation of Canada geese by hunters are a result of a cooperative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, and Sportsmen Against Hunger. Hunters may donate geese by taking their birds to any of the game processors in Bath, Clark, Hecla, Milbank, Renner, Tea, or Waubay.

As in the past, SAH will be paying the total cost of processing donated Canada geese through use of processing certificates which are available from the game processors. Hunters have to simply complete and submit a processing certificate to the game processor at the time geese are delivered. This has proven to be a valuable incentive for hunters to donate.

In 2015, over 2,600 geese were donated which resulted in approximately 3,250 pounds of much-desired goose meat (13,000 meals) being provided to needy families through approximately 20 food pantries in eastern South Dakota.

Hunters who take more Canada geese than what they want for themselves and donate these surplus birds not only provide nutritious meat to appreciative needy families but they also help in management of Canada goose populations. According to the Department of Game, Fish and Parks, Canada goose populations exceed population goals in many areas of eastern South Dakota.

Detailed information regarding donation of geese may be found on the SAH website www.feedtheneedsd.com.

Sioux Falls police remove 45 deer as part of management program

By: Sioux Falls Argus Leader staff, March 9, 2016

SIOUX FALLS - City officials say efforts to cut down on the Sioux Falls' deer population have been successful.

The South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks recently issued 75 deer tags to Sioux Falls police as part of an updated deer management plan. Police filled 45 of those tags within a five-week period.

According Public Information Officer Sam Clemens, deer removal was focused in two separate areas: the southeast and northeast areas in Sioux Falls. A total of 25 deer were removed from the southeast, and 20 were removed from the northeast. During the allotted timeframe to remove the deer, efforts were hindered by a variety of complications, including adverse weather conditions.

The long-term comprehensive Deer Management Plan for Sioux Falls was developed in cooperation with the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks. The plan involves public education, an ordinance that prohibits deer feeding, and the removal of a limited number of deer. The decision to harvest deer will be evaluated year-to-year by the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks, based partly on annual deer counts held in the fall.

Clemens says the goal is not to eliminate all deer in Sioux Falls, but to best manage the health and well-being of the deer that live inside city limits. Some deer recently removed were found to have disease that could affect other deer or even domestic pets. Keeping the deer population in check will help the remaining deer herd stay healthy.

The removed deer were processed in cooperation with Sportsmen Against Hunger. The meat was donated to the needy and totaled about 1,230 pounds.

Parks staff harvests 100 deer within city limits

By:Drew Matthews, Rapid City Journal, February 15, 2016

For six chilly January mornings, Rapid City employees waited for deer to catch the scent of the alfalfa bait and wander into their gun sights.

At the end of the hunt, the city had reached its goal, killing 100 deer in this year's urban deer management program.

According to Lon VanDeusen, Parks Division Manager, this year's harvest was modest. At its peak, the program killed 300.

In 1995 the city started the program to reduce the deer population within city limits, primarily to prevent property damage caused by car accidents and landscape destruction.

The parks team determines the number of deer to be harvested by conducting a yearly trend survey in areas in which deer are usually found. This year's survey was conducted in October with the state Game, Fish & Parks Department. The goal of 100 was down from 150 in 2015.

VanDeusen said, "We are hoping the reduction of deer indicates our program is working."

He added, "We aren’t out there to eliminate every deer in town, but just maintain a manageable number."

From Jan. 6 to Jan. 11, in predetermined locations around the city, parks employees used apples and alfalfa to bait and kill the deer. This year, the largest number of deer were harvested near Highway 79 North, at the southeast edge of the city. The deer harvested included mule doe, whitetail buck, and whitetail doe.

Sioux Falls began its own deer management program last year and consulted Rapid City about best practices, according to VanDeusen. For this year's harvest, Sioux Falls expects to bag 75 deer, according to the Police Department, which runs the program.

In total, this year's deer harvest cost the Rapid City taxpayers $11,514. The largest expense, $3,940, came from processing 3,558 pounds of meat.

The ground meat is donated to the Feeding South Dakota food bank in Rapid City.

This year, the meat from the deer harvest was processed in coordination with the nonprofit South Dakota Sportsmen for Hunger, which helped pay for some of the processing fees and coordinated with the food bank.

Sportsmen Against Hunger was formed in 1993 in Rapid City by Dr. Jeff Olson and Dr. Tom Krafka. The goals of the organization are to provide meat to poverty-level families while also reducing the local deer population. The organization has been working with the city for several years to coordinate the deer processing during the yearly thinning. Olson said he is proud of the effort.

"We know where the meat is going," he said, "and it goes to people who really need it."

GAME MEAT DONATIONS DOWN BUT FUTURE PROMISING

By: Ron Fowler, South Dakota Sportsmen Against Hunger, September 5, 2015

Donations of game meat to needy families by hunters through South Dakota Sportsmen Against Hunger (SAH) were down in 2014 due to decreased deer harvest but the forecast for 2015 is optimistic. Deer populations are starting to recover from unusually high losses in recent years, and the number of deer hunting licenses for 2015 have been increased in a number of areas including East River and the Black Hills.

In addition to a favorable outlook for deer donations, an additional increasingly significant source of game meat has been Canada geese (during special early seasons) and pheasants. With about equal amounts of Canada geese and pheasants being donated the total increased from about 9,000 pounds in 2013 to over 11,000 pounds in 2014. As populations of these game birds continue to be the same or higher than last year, and as hunters become increasingly aware of the opportunity for donating game birds, donations are expected to continue to increase.

Even though donation of game meat from all sources decreased from 48,100 pounds in 2013 to 37,600 pounds in 2014, the number of meals of meat provided to needy families is still significant (over 150,000 meals in 2014). However, much more is needed. According to Feeding South Dakota, one in eight people of South Dakota live at poverty level and one in five kids go to bed hungry. A primary food shortage is fresh meat which is in high demand and difficult for lower income families to afford. Of particular demand is game meat because of its nutritional value in having low fat and high protein content.

The willingness and ability of hunters to provide this much-needed meat to poverty-level families has continued to grow in relation to opportunity. Additionally, SAH continues to look for and utilize other opportunities for obtaining game meat such as from city deer reduction programs, salvageable road-kills, and game confiscated by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks.

And with help of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks in publicizing opportunities for donation of game meat through SAH, the 40-plus game processors across the state who process donated game meat at reduced fees (SAH helps pay for processing of antlerless deer), and the numerous food pantries associated with Feeding South Dakota who distribute donated game meat to needy families, the future of SAH being able to arrange for donation of game meat to needy families is promising.

SPORTSMEN AGAINST HUNGER MEAT DONATION REACHES MILESTONE

By: Ron Fowler, Sportsmen Against Hunger, August 22, 2014

Since 1993 hunters have donated over 750,000 pounds of game meat to needy families in South Dakota through Sportsmen Against Hunger. This milestone of game meat donation translates to over 3,000,000 meals of meat to those who need it most.

According to Feeding South Dakota, one in eight people of South Dakota live at poverty level and one in five kids go to bed hungry. A primary food shortage is fresh meat which is in high demand and difficult for lower income families to afford. Of particular demand is game meat because of its nutritional value in having low fat and high protein content.

The willingness and ability of hunters to provide this much-needed meat to poverty-level families has continued to grow. Not only has the Sportsmen Against Hunger program grown in number of hunters donating and number of pounds of meat donated but also in variety of meat donated. In addition to the large donations of venison there were, starting in 2006, over 900 pheasants donated which increased to over 3,500 pheasants last year. Beginning in 2011, over 2,000 Canada geese were donated during special early seasons, and now this past year nearly 9,000 geese were donated. In 2013, for the first time, over 500 walleye were donated.

The increasing popularity and success of Sportsmen Against Hunger started in 1993 with the foresight of the Black Hills Sportsmen’s Club of Rapid City. Game donation program features developed by Safari Club International provided the basis for organizing SD Sportsmen Against Hunger. The Sportsmen Against Hunger program was further developed and implemented through the work of a couple of Black Hills Sportsmen’s Club members. The first years of the program involved less than a dozen game processors who would accept and process game donated by hunters. In the last seven years approximately 50 game processors statewide have participated.

Sportsmen Against Hunger is now a nonprofit charitable organization whose mission is to encourage and facilitate donation of wild game meat to needy people in South Dakota. In partnership with Feeding South Dakota, Sportsmen Against Hunger provides processed donated game meat to over 75 food pantries across the state annually for distribution to needy families. Although 750,000 pounds of donated game meat is significant, much more is necessary to meet the needs of poverty-level families in South Dakota.

To provide an incentive for hunters to donate game, Sportsmen Against Hunger will again in 2014 pay for most or all of the processing costs for donated antlerless deer and doe/fawn antelope (as well as Canada geese harvested during the August Management Take and a portion of the Early Fall Canada Goose Season). Processing certificates are available from participating game processors for hunters to use to donate animals and to make processing fee payments.

Twenty years of hunters helping feed needy families

By: Ron Fowler, Sportsmen Against Hunger, August 8, 2013

In 20 years of existence the Sportsmen Against Hunger (SAH) program has provided over 700,000 pounds of game meat needy families in South Dakota (SAH). Annual donations of game meat by sports men and women grew from 1,500 pounds the first year to over 104,000 pounds in 2010.

Not only has the SAH program grown in number of hunters donating and number of pounds of meat donated but also in variety of meat donated. Starting in 2006, over 900 pheasants were donated and donations have increased to over 3,500. Beginning in 2011, over 2,000 Canada geese were donated during special early seasons, and now this past year nearly 9,000 geese were donated. In 2013, for the first time, over 500 walleye were donated from a fishing tournament.

The increasing popularity and success of SAH all started in 1993 with the foresight of the Black Hills Sportsmen’s Club of Rapid City. Game donation program features developed by Safari Club International provided the basis for SAH. The SAH program was further developed and implemented through the work of a couple of Black Hills Sportsmen’s Club members. The first years of the program involved less than a dozen game processors who would accept and process donated game from hunters. In the last seven years approximately 50 game processors statewide have participated.

As interest in the Sportsmen Against Hunger program developed through the years, a big step was made in 2006 when Sportsmen Against Hunger became a non-member nonprofit organization and a Board of Directors was established. A consultant on contract with the Department of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) helped expand SAH statewide.

The SDSAH Board of Directors stated that the mission of SAH is to encourage and facilitate donation of wild game meat to needy families in South Dakota. A primary means of encouraging donation of game meat has been use of a Processing Certificate Program which was implemented in 2006 with support from GFP. This program provides a means to help hunters pay for processing of donated antlerless deer and doe/fawn antelope as well as Canada geese donated during August and September seasons. As expected, this financial incentive greatly increased donations.

Momentum of SAH through the years has been aided greatly by a number of organizations, businesses, foundations, agencies and individual cash donors which have provided funding to SAH. The funding has been used to primarily support the Processing Certificate Program and to pay for salvage processing of game such as confiscated game and also deer taken under city deer reduction programs.

In cooperation with Feeding South Dakota processed game meat has been delivered to over 70 food pantries and other charitable agencies across the state for distribution to needy families. The real bottom line of game donations by hunters during the past 20 years is that the 700,000 pounds of game meat has resulted in providing over 2,800,000 meals of meat for needy persons in South Dakota.

Tournament fish to benefit Sportsmen Against Hunger

By: Chris Nelson, Pierre Capitol Journal, June 3, 2013

A healthy batch of Lake Oahe walleye will find its way from tournament livewells to the dinner table of local families this weekend as the Masters Walleye Circuit comes to town. Sportsman Against Hunger is stepping in to clean and process the catch for local food “I have checked with a number of food pantries and they are excited about the potential for receiving fresh, frozen walleye to make available to needy families,” Ron Fowler with The two-man tournament teams are allowed to keep eight fish each day and weigh in their biggest five. For the tournament, that means hundreds of pounds of fish will be culled out of walleye-laden Oahe and make their way to those who need it most.

State administrative rules governing fishing tournaments mandate no catch-and-release tournaments June 1 through Sept. 15. Higher mortality rates due to warmer water during this period prompted the rules.

This created a unique situation for the Masters Walleye Circuit, which practices catchand-release ethics at all of its tournaments. The solution came in the form of volunteers willing to spend their weekend knee deep in fillet knifes and Ziploc bags.

“The local High Plains Wildlife Association sportsmen’s club has agreed to provide fish cleaners for this tournament. They will be able to keep some of the fish for use in their game feed fundraiser next winter, and then the rest of the fish will be packaged and labeled for Sportsmen Against Hunger,” Fowler said.

Volunteers will clean and package the walleye at Spring Creek as weigh-in occurs daily starting at 3 p.m. on Friday. Donations from Dakotamart, Runnings and Tour Ice will ensure the volunteers have the supplies needed to process the fish correctly.

Brock’s Butcher Block in Onida is freezing the fish free of charge. From there, Fowler will deliver the walleye to local food pantries.

According to Feeding South Dakota, a food bank that services local food pantries across the state, one in seven persons in South Dakota lives at or below the poverty line. It’s also estimated that half of those are children. That’s a statistic Sportsmen Against Hunger is looking to change.

Safari Club International started Sportsmen Against Hunger in 1989 to encourage and provide an easier way for hunters to donate harvested game. The Black Hills Sportsmen Club started the S.D. chapter in 1993 and it grew from there.

Sportsmen Against Hunger derives the majority of its donations from hunters who are allowed to donate resident game birds and big game animals to the program. Its popular antlerless deer and doe/fawn antelope donation program provides certificates to help donors cover the cost of having the animal professionally processed.

According to Sportsmen Against Hunger, nearly 633,500 pounds of meat has been donated and processed to date which provided 2,534,000 fresh meals. Donations are divvied up between 60 food pantries across the state and other relief agencies in 40 Processing fresh walleye is a new experiment for the charity. If all goes well, Sportsmen Against Hunger may have found another niche in helping the hungry.

“I believe there is considerable potential for other fishing tournaments to donate fish but getting volunteers to clean the fish may be difficult,” Fowler said.

“Since this has not been attempted yet I do not know how hard this might be. It may be possible to work with a service organization or another sportsmen club depending on location of a tournament, or even tournament fishermen.”

Sportsmen take aim against hunger

By: Lance Nixon, Pierre Capital Journal, April 11, 2013

When 11-year old Hailey Switzer shot her first deer ever in early December 2012 – a whitetail doe she brought down with a .243-caliber rifle from a ground blind near the Bad River in Stanley County – the job was only half done.

Her father, Chad Switzer, then led her through the work of field dressing it as the first step toward putting venison on the table – but not their own table, as it turned out.

“I told her another option was to donate it to Sportsmen Against Hunger to help put meat on the table for needy families,” said Chad Switzer, a wildlife administrator for the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks. “That’s what she wanted to do.”

So that’s what they did after Steamboat’s Inc. of Pierre processed the venison.

Ron Fowler, a consultant for South Dakota Sportsmen Against Hunger, said Hailey is not alone. An increasing number of sportsmen and sportswomen are turning their love of the hunt into a way to help others thanks to the program. Sportsmen Against Hunger works closely with about 50 game processors across the state to have game that has been donated processed according to state rules. It’s then funneled to more than 60 food pantries around South Dakota that serve needy families.

“In many cases I’ll work with a pantry that’s in the same location as a local processor,” Fowler said.

Feeding the need

Russ Hofeldt, operations manager for the Pierre regional office of Feeding South Dakota, says Sportsmen Against Hunger fills an important niche in the food bank’s efforts to supply smaller food pantries.

“Our only other main source of meat is the donations we get from Walmart on a weekly basis. But there isn’t enough there to meet all the needs of our pantries,” Hofeldt said. Feeding South Dakota reaches out to locations in 24 counties from its Pierre site.

Hofeldt adds that the wild game has become increasingly popular as people served by local food pantries came up to speed on how to cook it. But that, too, required some assistance from Sportsmen Against Hunger.

“Ron (Fowler) handed me some recipes and I would hand these out, how to prepare the venison or pheasant, and people love it now,” Hofeldt said.

Fowler said the organization tracks exactly how much game hunters donate. So he knows that in fall and winter 2011-12, hunters gave 78,735 pounds of wild game to needy families through SDSAH and local food relief agencies. This meat was primarily a result of hunters donating 1,891 deer, 46 antelope, 2,811 pheasants and 2,044 Canada geese. Other game meat came from community game meat food drives, hunters’ direct donations of processed meat to food relief agencies, and salvage processing of confiscated or non-hunter killed game.

For the fall and winter of 2012-2013, the total amount of game meat donated was 64,649 pounds, which included meat from 1,476 deer, 18 antelope, one elk, 3,477 pheasants, and 8,187 Canada geese. Also included was 3,089 pounds of processed game meat donated by hunters in game meat food drives in Rapid City and Pierre.

Changes in store

Fowler said because migratory waterfowl are managed by a federal agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it’s a little more complicated to get donations of game such as Canada geese as compared to pheasants or deer that are managed at the state level.

But Sportsmen Against Hunger received about 2,000 Canada geese from an August 2011 special hunt, and about 8,000 Canada geese from special hunts in August and September of 2012.

The organization has seven processors lined up to process the Canada geese taken in a special depredation program during the month of April this year to reduce Canada geese in problem areas of eastern South Dakota where the birds have been damaging soybean crops near wetlands.

“These populations are so out-of-control that they’re trying a new tool, an April depredation program, and directing those volunteers to the farms that are having problems. And they are directing the volunteers to donate all Canada geese to Sportsmen Against Hunger,” Fowler said. “We pay the processor $4 per bird for the processing so it does not cost the volunteer anything.”

This year, Fowler added, there may be a new addition to the wild game that South Dakota sportsmen are donating to Sportsmen Against Hunger. Though details are not completely settled yet, Fowler said there’s a strong possibility that fishermen will donate walleyes caught in one and perhaps two walleye tournaments this summer in central South Dakota.

Fowler said he’s already visited with a number of food pantries to ask whether there would be interest.

“It’s a no-brainer, especially with walleye. They think there would be a great demand for fish,” Fowler said.