As I’ve tried to expand my sustainability horizons over the past 4 years, I discovered hunting. I’d always been interested in hunting and curious (as well as unsure) about wether or not I could ever participate. Hunters often get a bad rap, but it’s not wholly undeserved. I hunt so that I can get a sustainable, organic source of meat for the winter and summer months in the fall. The places where I typically hunt I get tags that are designed to control the local population of the animal I’m out hunting, so not only am I getting some stuff for the freezer, but I’m also doing the land a favor by slowing down the heavy grazing going on.
I’ve written about this multiple times before, talking about the total cost of my Halibut fishing, my Elk Hunt, my duck hunt, and my blue grouse hunt. Oddly enough, the first hunt that I ever went on for antelope has not gotten a cost analysis yet. I didnt get to go this year, and I didnt buy a tag in time last year. I always like to see the cost breakdown and figure out how much meat I got per pound. For just about every hunt, I seem to be landing all over the map as far as cost goes, coming in near $5 per pound on the elk side, and upwards of $28 dollars per pound for duck. Of course, this is slightly skewed, because it’s not all lower quality meats like ground elk or elk sausage, there’s also steak cuts and tenderloin cuts.
Next on the list for this time is deer. I’ve been wanting to go hunt deer for a while, and there is a huge deer population in northern wyoming (both white tail deer and mule deer). So much so that the landowners in the area where we hunt (Ucross, WY) call the game warden to send hunters to their place so they can thin the herd a bit. The deer eat all the hay that the landowners have stored for the winter for their sheep or cattle, which annoys the landowners.
For this deer hunting trip, it was me, my father in law, the friend that took me duck hunting a while back.
Here are the costs of my deer hunting trip:
- Deer tags $60. This year, I got two deer tags. I had initially only planned on buying one, but after talking to the landowners when we got there, I decided that if I harvested one early enough I’d go into town and buy another one. My other buddy decided the same thing, and that’s what we ended up doing
- Gas/Lodging $68. This trip basically required a 1 night stay, and 2 tanks of gas. My father in law paid for the room, and I bought one of the tanks of gas and my buddy bought the other. The cost of all three was roughly equal
- Food/drinks $30. Though I brought snacks with me for in the car on the way up and back, I still paid for a fair amount of meals (3). The food situation was a bit thin at the house before I left, so I couldnt really pack as much of my own food as I wanted.
Unlike all of my other hunts, I was able to offset the costs of this hunt. After talking to the rancher about the number of deer and a friend, I offered to “sell” my second deer to my friend for $25 (basically the cost of the tag). He agreed (I’m not sure if he thought I was joking or not), and this was the main reason I got the second tag. Since I knew I could most likely get one and I had something to do with the meat, it didnt seem like that much of a risk. I texted my friend when we left and told him to find a processor for the animal and that he could come pick it up the next day and he was shocked. He ended up giving me $30, which I wasnt going to complain about.
The total cost for the trip was $128, and I ended up with 1 white tail deer. I process the meat myself, and though I’m not finished with it yet, I’ll end up with about 25 lbs of meat when everything is said and done. This puts the cost per pound of meat at about $5.12, which is slightly less than what I paid for elk (though it would have been higher had I not had to go out for elk like 9 times). Of course, this is not all steak quality meat, but I would say about 33% of it is. This will be a nice addition to the winter rotation, and I’ll probably end up giving some away as well.
Readers: Do you think the price for game meat is reasonable? Do you know someone that hunts, or are you involved in a roadkill program in your state (where they take animals that got hit and give away the meat)?