While hunters go afield in pursuit of game for all sorts of different reasons each year, meat is always at or near the top of the list of reasons people give for hunting.

That’s perfectly understandable. After all, appropriately prepared wild game meat is both healthy and delicious. At the same time, harvesting your own meat is incredibly satisfying, and sharing a meal of wild game meat is a great way to make new friends.

What if I told you that you could also help the needy with the fruits of your harvest?

Protein is one of the most highly sought-after food items by food banks. Fortunately, venison is an excellent source of lean protein.

For this reason, most states have some sort of "Hunters for the Hungry" program where hunters can donate their venison to local food banks, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters. The NRA helps administer a program that delivers over 8 million meals each year to needy Americans in multiple states.

The details vary from state to state, but the Texas Hunters for the Hungry program accepts donations of legally killed and tagged deer at 24 different meat processors in Central, South, and East Texas.

Just field dress the deer, drop it off at one of the processors, and they’ll take care of the rest. The meat processors have an agreement with a local food bank to handle the actual distribution of the meat to those in need.

Keep in mind that the meat processors typically don’t accept small game, feral hogs, or exotics like fallow or axis deer for donation. They also don’t accept road-killed deer. Only bring them legally hunted and tagged whitetail or mule deer.

Hunters for the Hungry is always looking for new meat processors to partner with as well. If you run a processing facility, contact the program directly for information on how to register.

Meat processors are reimbursed for the work they do in preparing donated venison. So, if you don’t have any venison to spare (or if you’d like to go the extra mile), Hunters for the Hungry also accepts monetary donations through their web site to help cover those costs. You can also choose to make a monetary donation when purchasing a hunting license or donate your time as a volunteer directly at one of the food banks.

Feeding Texas administers the Texas Hunters for the Hungry Program. Since Feeding Texas and the individual food banks that participate in the program are all 501(c)(3) organizations, all donations are tax deductible.

For what it’s worth, Feeding Texas advertises that venison is one of the most economical (just $1.12 per pound to process and distribute) sources of protein for them to supply to those in need. So, by donating your venison, you’re not only providing a great source of protein for the less fortunate, but you’re also helping the food banks help the most people with their limited funds.

Keep all this in mind during hunting season and consider making a donation to the program if you run out of space in your freezer.