When deer hunting season on Martha’s Vineyard begins Oct. 5, so will the Island’s increasingly popular venison donation program.

Coordinated by Island Grown Initiative in partnership with the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society and the MV Tick-Borne Illness Prevention Program, the system allows hunters to donate surplus meat that will go to feed hungry Islanders.

Last year, according to an announcement from the three nonprofits, hunters donated 22 deer, providing 600 pounds of venison that was distributed through the Island Food Pantry and other food equity services.

“It’s a lot of food going back into the community,” said agricultural society president Brian Athearn.

“The way things are going this year, there’s a lot of people who are going to be hungry, and we have a renewable source of meat that’s healthy and good for you,” he said.

What made the program successful last season, Mr. Athearn said, was a per-deer subsidy that encourages hunters to return to the woods after meeting their own needs for venison.

This year, the tick-borne illness prevention program is again offering $100 for each eligible female deer donated during the bow and arrow and black powder hunting seasons.

“It’s not a bounty,” Mr. Athearn also said. “It’s a subsidy to incentivize hunters to be able to go back out and spend more time getting food for the community.”

In addition to the cost of taking off work to hunt, Mr. Athearn said, hunters have expenses such as arrows and tree stands, which the subsidy helps to offset.

Beyond providing more food to the community, the donation program also aims to help reduce the deer herd, which is a vector for ticks and the diseases they carry.

Hunters who donate deer are waived the $50 fee ($20 for agricultural society members) to hang the carcasses in the society’s community deer cooler in West Tisbury, according to the announcement.

Mr. Athearn said based on the number of deer he’s seen this summer — many with young — there should be good hunting both this season and next year, when the fawns are grown.

“I have never seen so many deer [in the summer], and we had a banner year last year,” he said.

Deer hunting dates for Martha’s Vineyard are set and regulated by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. The seasons are as follows:

Archery, Oct. 5-Nov. 28.

Shotgun, Nov. 30-Dec. 12.

Primitive firearms, Dec. 14-31.

Woodland walkers are encouraged to wear blaze orange or brightly colored outer clothing during these dates, and the DFW advises hunters on its website that more people may be out walking in wooded areas due to Covid-19.

To join the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society, or to learn more about the community deer cooler and donation program, visit marthasvineyardagriculturalsociety.org.