Donating game meat nourishes the stomach and the soul. Thank a hunter and eat a second helping of moose sloppy joes!

9769674 - wild deers in a forest in autumnHunters across the country walked softly through the field and sat quietly in stands and blinds. They sighted rifles, called to bucks, and if all went as planned, filled their tags and hauled out their kill. What came next was, for many hunters, an act of charity.

An increasing number of outdoorsmen are opting to donate game meat to feed the less fortunate. According to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, an advocacy group that targets hunting and angling, about 2.8 million pounds of meat were donated in 2010 alone to programs that supply food pantries and soup kitchens. Last year in Virginia, a group known as Virginia Hunters for the Hungry accepted donations from more than 7,000 hunters to provide a total of 283,198 pounds of meat to food banks. Hunters for the Hungry can be found in other states too, where they accept meat from their respective game animals. The Maine chapter of the group takes meat from bear and moose, which makes its way into dishes like “moose sloppy joes and bear corned beef’” served up for the state’s hungry. And in Utah, volunteers working with a Catholic charity and the national Hunt.Fish.Feed. campaign have served up more than 16,000 meals to homeless residents of Salt Lake City, making a specialty of venison tacos sourced from local mule deer.

The time we spend outdoors is food for the soul, but it also provides a much more tangible nourishment to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. That’s a sporting tradition we can all be proud of!