Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Headquarters
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Goguen, A.D., S.J. Riley, J.F. Organ, and B.A. Rudolph. 2017. Wild-harvested venison yields and sharing by Michigan deer hunters. Human Dimensions of Wildlife DOI: 10.1080/10871209.2017.1409372


An increased societal focus on wildlife as food and recent policy deliberations regarding legal markets for wild-harvested meat are encouraging wildlife managers and researchers to examine the amount, use, and distribution of meat yielded through recreational hunting. We used responses to questions on the Michigan Deer Harvest Study to estimate the maximum yield of edible venison and assess hunters’ sharing behaviors. We estimated 11,402–14,473 metric tons of edible venison were procured during the 2013 hunting season. Of hunters who harvested a deer, 85% shared their venison. Hunters who shared did so with an average of 5.6 people (SD = 4.5). Sharing occurred most frequently within tight social networks: members of hunters’ households (69%), relatives (52%), and friends, neighbors, or coworkers (50%). In the absence of legal markets, venison is distributed widely by hunters and greatly amplifies the number of people benefiting from hunting. Nonetheless, we also identified the potential breadth of exposure to disease or contaminants from wildharvested meat.