The fall season brings colorful leaves, crisp air, and all things orange. Fall also ushers in firearm deer season, the biggest hunting season in Michigan, which draws as many as 700,000 men and women to the woods. For the serious hunters, deer season means fresh meat on the table and a chance to give back to communities.

The Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger (MSAH) program was founded in 1991 by a group of men and women who saw a unique opportunity to provide nutritious meals for those less fortunate.

Started as a nonprofit organization, MSAH connects participating licensed game processors with deer hunters looking to process and donate all or a portion of their hunt. There are two different ways a hunter can donate game at MSAH participating processors:

Give-A-Pound—Successful hunters who have their deer processed at a participating MSAH processing facility have the option to donate a pound or more of their processed deer to local food pantries.

Whole Deer Donations—Successful hunters who drop off and donate their whole deer at a participating MSAH processing facility will have the deer processed at NO COST to them. The processor turns the venison into ground burger and is reimbursed through the MSAH fund for their work in the finished product.

The processed venison is then collected by a nonprofit community food bank, pantry or shelter working in coordination with the processor. If a specific processor needs a nonprofit community food bank, pantry or shelter to work with, locations can be provided through the MSAH.

This way, deer donated and processed can help their local community.

In 2016, more than 29,000 pounds of processed venison were donated through wild game processors working with the MSAH program to 35 nonprofit organizations. That processed venison equaled over 145,000 hot and high-in-protein meals for those throughout the state of Michigan who were in dire need.

Funding for the Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger program exists through an account created through Public Acts 116 & 117 of 2005 which states that sportsmen, sportswomen and non-hunters can voluntarily donate funds to the MSAH in different ways. Funds collected reimburse processors working with MSAH for the work they perform in the processing of the deer.

So, the next time you see a flash of blaze orange or camo, tip your hat and thank a hunter because good things are happening statewide thanks to their love of the sport.