Deer Meat Donations Down 50% From Last Year

The number of the deer donated to a state program that provides venison to food pantries is down considerably from a record level in 2004.

That's despite the fact that the number of whitetail deer killed during Wisconsin's nine-day gun-deer season was up slightly from last year.

The state Department of Natural Resources says more than 6,300 were donated through December 1st. That compares with more than 9,500 donated about the same time last year and more nearly 11,000 for all of 2004.

Johnson's Sausage Shoppe in Rio processed about 300 deer for the program this year, about half as much as last year.

Owner Chris Johnson says the lack of the earn-a-buck program has really affected the donations this year.

The earn-a-buck program that was in effect in parts of the state during 2004 required hunters to shoot an antlerless deer before killing a buck.