Jack Hagens Great Buffalo Giveaway

A Humanitarian Project Sponsored by the Iowa Chapter Safari Club International
Photo by Robert Utne


As a priority for Iowa SCI in 2003, the chapter Officers and Directors wanted to create a humanitarian program which benefited those folks in need right here in Iowa. Their brainstorming always brought them back to a discussion of how to incorporate the essence of what brings chapter members together (hunting) with their desire to help.

Didn’t take long before “wild game meat” and “working with homeless shelters” was an idea they just could not dismiss. Nels Spevak, along with support of then Iowa Chapter President Glenn Vondra and Director Steve Skold, found a huge ranch in southwestern South Dakota offering a cow buffalo hunt for the greatly reduced price of $500, and off he went. Nels was able to take the trophy with his muzzleloader and returned home with 500 pounds of ground buffalo.

It was at this point that Glenn suggested “The Great Buffalo Giveaway” as the name of their program. Finding shelters willing to accept the meat was not a problem. The first year, Iowa SCI distributed meat to five or six programs, including two single family homes where the donation overwhelmed their small freezers. Two thousand meals were prepared or shared.

In addition, to help raise funds to continue supporting The Great Buffalo Giveaway, the buffalo skull was sold to the highest bidder for $275 at the winter Iowa SCI banquet. Not bad for a first year program.

In 2004, with a clear vision and purpose, their search for another outfitter offering a buffalo hunt brought Nels and Glenn to Broken Bow Ranch in Nebraska. Glenn donated the cost of half the hunt while the outfitter donated the remainder. Glenn managed to take another huge buffalo, a bull this time. Again, Glenn returned home with coolers full of ground buffalo meat which were donated to local shelters. In addition, the quality hide was sold at the Iowa Chapter banquet for $500 (which Glenn won in the bidding – thanks Glenn for your generosity and support).

Under the heartfelt guidance of Nels Spevak over the subsequent years, national and personal donations have allowed The Great Buffalo Giveaway to become a self-sustaining program. Often, in addition to the ground meat, the hide and/or skull are donated to the chapter for fundraising efforts.

Generous individuals have supported this program through donating meat – up to a whole processed beef cow – to be distributed along with the bison meat.

Buffalo Giveaway 2016 Hope


Today, the Bethel Mission is the primary beneficiary of The Great Buffalo Giveaway, along with Churches United shelters and Freedom for Youth Ministries. Since 2015 meat was also donated to Emma Cornelis Hospitality House in Fort Madison (see link to newspaper story below) and the Burlington Area Homeless Shelter (see link to newspaper story below). These organizations are privately funded and greatly appreciate the meat and time donated by Iowa Chapter members as they help serve their visitors.


Through Thanksgiving 2016, about 46,000 meals have been served in the Des Moines area alone thanks to The Great Buffalo Giveaway.


  • Donate a Big Game Hunt
  • Donate to Our Beneficiaries
  • Donation Form

Donate Processing

Follow the lead of Iowa Chapter member Jack Hagens of Pella, who donated a fully processed hog to the Bethel Mission on behalf of The Great Buffalo Giveaway. Just over 100 lbs of ground pork provided 400 meals. After Jack’s passing in 2012, The Great Buffalo Giveaway was renamed in his honor.

Donate Meat

After your successful deer, elk or buffalo hunt, consider donating some of your locker-processed, locker-labeled, ground meat to The Great Buffalo Giveaway.


The Hawk Eye
September 2015

Fort Madison Daily Democrat
October 2015

Our Sponsors


Randy and Diane Ruth, Frederika, Iowa
Donated all meat processing
since 2003

p. (319) 275-4362


Jason Douds
Donated time and material to transform buffalo and elk capes into gorgeous leather
since 2003

Visit Website
p. (515) 433-0176