Local processing plant helps hunters donate deer to food banks
Mike Maier is the owner of Mike’s Star Market in Eau Claire. Mike’s is one of the donation drop-off sites in Eau Claire County.
”There is absolutely no cost to the hunter,” Maier said.
He said the process of donating a deer is simple.
“All you have to do is shoot a deer, legally of course,” he said. “We need all your tagging information, harvest number and we do have them sent in for CWD testing so they are all clear for that.”
Once a deer clears the CWD test, Mike's processes it and donates it.
It’s all turned into ground product,” Maier said. "It’s all hamburgers, we put it in 2 pound tubes and it goes to the local food pantries."
Maier said they have already collected 25 deer for donations, that’s six more than last year.
“It helps the hunters that want to donate more than they want to eat at home and then we can pass it on by offering a service to get it to the food pantries and help out the less fortunate,” Maier said.
According to the Department of Natural Resources website, 682 deer were harvested in Eau Claire County during the opening weekend of the nine day gun-deer season this year, down almost 300 from last season. But Maier said it is still early and they expect more donations.
“It’s up a little bit from the last couple year,” he said. "As the season goes, we will get them all the way until archery is done.”
Mike's has been a donation drop-off site for two decades.
“Once the program started, I don't know how many years ago, I thinking like 20 years," he said. "We started when were in elk mound and it followed us over here doing deer.”
Maier said not many processing centers do donations, but he is proud to be one that does.
“There are very few places that are able to do the donation sites,” Maier said. “You have to be a licensed plant to do this, a state of Wisconsin licensed that is, and we are that.”