When it comes to a survival situation, cost has no meaning whatsoever. This article will address the cost of Hunting and Fishing from a self-sufficiency standpoint… Higgy
While researching this subject I found that a lot of people are of the opinion that Hunting and Fishing have become “Rich Man’s” sports. That saddened me at first, that what many of our ancestors did just to survive may not be something that the average person can afford to experience. Then I realized, “Wait a minute, Dipshit (I often refer to myself.this way), you hunt and fish and you’re not rich.” So I crunched a few numbers here and have come to the following conclusion: You can make hunting and fishing extremely expensive activities if you so desire. However, it can also be a practical way to supplement your diet AND save you money! It’s all about approach, where you live and how you perceive value.
Let’s start with the cost/ value of the meat. One of the things that irritated me most while researching this area was the fact that nearly every article I found on the subject WAY undervalued game meat (as low as $2.00 per pound for deer and elk meat) and nearly all compared it to the cheapest (industrial farm raised) ground meat available. Most of these articles were written by people taking the position that hunting for meat is outdated and should be stopped. On the other end of that were the pro hunting people that way overvalued game meat and overlooked many of the expenses involved in hunting and fishing. In my opinion, wild game should be compared with it’s closest counterpart that is commercially available. So for my comparisons I have compared wild game with grass fed and organically raised animals.
1. Organic Grass Fed Beef: $8.79 Per Pound
2. Organic Chicken: $3.99 Per Pound
3. Organic Pork: $7.99 Per Pound
4. Organic Turkey: $5.49 Per Pound
5. Organic Duck: $13.49 Per Pound
6. Organic Rabbit: $9.89 Per Pound
7. Organic Quail: $19.99 Per Pound
8. Organic Catfish: $4.99 Per Pound
These prices for the beef, chicken, pork and Turkey were averages. Different cuts have different costs, so I left out the most expensive and least expensive (gizzards, livers, etc) cuts and averaged the rest. Since the sale of wild game is illegal in the United States, there is no price index available. What I will do later is figure the costs involved divided by the average harvest to establish what the cost is for wild game meat. You can use the same formula and figure out your own expenses/ harvest numbers to determine if hunting and fishing is viable for your situation.
Now let’s look at how much meat we need/ want and how much meat we can average per harvest from different game species.
1. Elk: 197 lbs.
2. Deer: 50 lbs.
3. Feral Hog: 90 lbs.
4. Turkey: 11 lbs.
5. Rabbit: 1.50 lbs.
6. Squirrel: .33 lbs.
6. Duck: .80 lbs.
7. Quail: .25 lbs.
8. Catfish: 1.25 lbs.
Because there is no real “equivalent” to chicken in wild game where I am, turkey, duck, quail, squirrel and rabbit would serve as it’s replacement in my diet for comparison purposes.
The USDA recommends that the average American consume 5-7 ounces of protein (meat) per day, split into 2 servings. I’m going to go with 12 ounces per day split into 2-3 servings per day, because I love my meat! That gives us a total of 4,380 ounces of meat per year which is roughly 274 pounds of meat a year (273.75 to be exact). If we average out the price of organic meat listed above, this would cost us $2,535 per year. That does not include fuel cost to go to the store and get it or shipping if you order it online, etc. So we’ll add $100 per year for that (that’s less than $5.00 every two weeks, so I think it’s more than fair). Our total cost for organic meat per year that we’ll be working with is $2,635 per year (per person, the cost would reduce due to the same fuel cost would apply).
We have an amount to work with for buying our meat retail; how does hunting/ fishing compare? There are certain items that you need to hunt and fish such as gun, bow, rod and tackle. How much you choose to spend on these items will depend on your personal budget and preferences. For the totally budget minded, I would recommend a good 12 gauge shotgun with adjustable chokes. With the different ammunition available this could arguably be the most versatile “game getter” for the money. A decent 12 gauge pump action shotgun has the ability to take just about all game in the United States effectively and is what I recommend every beginning hunter acquire first and foremost. Below is an example of the items that are needed to hunt and fish with their costs:
1. 12 Gauge Pump Action Shotgun: $500.00
2. Big Game Rifle (I prefer .270 cal): $500.00
3. Bow and Archery Gear: $500.00
4. .22 Cal Rifle (small game): $350.00
5. Rods/ Reels/ Tackle: $300.00
6. Meat Grinder/ Knives: $350.00
7. Stands/ Blinds: $500.00
8. Hunting Clothes: $400.00
9. Hunting Lease: $600.00
10. Hunting/ Fishing Licenses: $37.00
11. Ammunition/ Arrows: $200.00
I know, that’s a lot more expensive than buying organic meat retail. I’m sure that’s not what any of you expected from me on this site, but hold on… we’re not done yet. The first seven items will serve you from 5 years to a lifetime (My father’s shotgun, that he uses to this day, is well over 40 years old and still operates flawlessly). Together these items represent $3,000.00 in expenses. If we spread them out over five years (most of these items will be serviceable for 2 to 3 times that long), that comes to $600.00 per year. Add that with the remaining $1,237.00 and we have a yearly total of $1,837.00 for wild game meat as compared to the $2,635.00 ($798.00 in yearly savings) for organic meat at the store! That’s $6.70 per pound for the recommended 274 pounds of meat vs. the $9.32 per pound for organic meat from the grocery store.
But wait! There’s more… Let’s look at the costs on items 8-11. Do you really need $400.00 worth of hunting clothes EVERY season? If you do, you have a pretty serious camouflage addiction and might want to seek counseling. Seriously, fancy hunting clothes are not required and are more of a “want” than a “need”. The next item is a hunting lease. This is also not a required item and prices where I live vary from $400.00 to $8,000.00 per year. Research public hunting lands that are available, hunt your own land or make agreements with other landowners to hunt their land and you can minimize or eliminate this cost completely. Then we have the licenses. Mine for fishing and hunting is $32.00 plus $5.00 for the waterfowl stamp. Don’t try to avoid this cost, the fines alone make it a bad idea, let alone the fact that you are cheating your fellow citizens by doing so. The last expense listed is Ammunition/ Arrows. If you expend more than $200 per year in ammunition and arrows, I really don’t want you in the woods when I’m out there. I spend about $80.00 on a half dozen arrows and broadheads and can get through 2 or 3 seasons with them. I also spend about $30.00 for 20 rounds of .270 and will get about the same amount of use from them as well. By cutting down these costs where you can, your wild game meat can rival the cost of regular (non organic) meat sold at the grocery store. Add in the exercise, time outdoors (hopefully spent with loved ones), the satisfaction of knowing where your food comes from and participating in the experience of being a part of the whole process from field to table like our ancestors did; and in my opinion, it is not only cost effective, but silly not to.
Some of you may not live in an area where bag limits would allow you to harvest 274 pounds worth of meat. If that’s the case, I would advise you to raise what meat you can (chickens, rabbits, fish, pigs, goats or cows) and use the hunting and fishing to supplement where you can. I am fortunate that my $37.00 hunting/ Fishing License allows me 8 deer per year (approximately 400 pounds of meat alone) and no limit on feral hogs which can easily provide enough meat to survive on before even factoring in fish and small game for variety.
So is hunting/ fishing for “Rich Men” only? In short, “no” it’s not. If you need to go out on deep sea charters, guided hunts/ fishing trips, safaris and so forth; then “yes” you need to be rich to participate. I don’t judge those that hunt and fish in that way. I look at it like this; hobbies cost money. Look how much people spend on golf, sailing, surfing, woodworking, coin collecting, etc. If you can afford to spend money on something that relaxes you, then you should do it! I used to play golf. In addition to the gear, I paid greens fees every week, plus travel expenses and such. I would rather spend that money on something that pays off with fresh and healthy food for me and mine, that’s just the way I feel about it…
Figure out your numbers and let me know what you think!