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I want to hunt for meat.

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Marlin60Man, Nov 13, 2011.

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  1. Marlin60Man

    Marlin60Man Member

    Oct 23, 2011
    Yakima, WA
    Food prices are getting ridiculous, aren't they? I was thinking the other day that it would be cool to be able to go hunting and get a elk/deer or turkey or something--you know something with a lot of meat on it.

    I've never hunted before and only have a .22. though, so that's a maybe for next season I think. I was just wondering if anyone here likes to keep the meat they hunt, how much it costs to butcher/process, whether it saves them any money on food, etc.

    Is it really very practical to hunt for meat? How much meat do you typically get off of a deer or elk?
  2. dprice3844444

    dprice3844444 member

    Feb 26, 2011
    se fla i love claymores 01/sot
    well,you could find a place to hunt hogs or find a fatchick on aol
  3. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

    Feb 6, 2007
    Lots of variables. All in all, price per pound of wild game is generally much higher than that of similar products found in the store. This is when one figures in cost of licenses, guns, ammo transportation costs, accessories and butcher fees if you don't butcher yourself. The meat is generally considered a bonus. These costs can be reduced if you can readily hunt game in your backyard and you process big game yourself. For someone that has to travel any distance, pay lease fees, buy new equipment and/or buy out-of-state licenses, plus pay to have your big game processed(around here about $80-$100 a deer) and you're only after the meat, you'd be better off buying beef and/or pork by the carcass. Now if you look at the cost of hunting as a hobby and any meat as an extra, it can be considered cheap.
  4. juk

    juk Member

    Jun 22, 2008
    Once you get the proper equipment (gun, proper ammo, license, misc.), the hunting part can be done fairly cheaply. I hunt deer and duck. It would be hard to come out on the better end of the pound-per-dollar scale with ducks unless you get free shells, waders, and land access. You would be lucky to get a pound of meat off of a "big" duck.

    Deer can be done cheaper if you hunt public land. The only problem with deer is that it can be a bit tricky cleaning them the first few times. In Alabama, the deer don't grow that large. Still, one good deer can fill up a freezer pretty quickly.

    Another good option would be fishing. You can get a good bit of meat that way. We always have deer, duck, and fish in the freezer.
  5. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo Member

    Jan 6, 2003
    Depends on where you live.
    With costs of licenses, permits, travel, ect., ect.... You will spend less at the supermarket than at the license offices/online or sporting goods store.

    I live in a rural area and can hunt my own property. (even w/o a license). However, in 6yrs of owning the property, I've taken 5 deer off the property. Three this year. (my 6yrs of application of my Wildlife degree in college is paying off, finally.....).
    However, I hunt in several states and will take 5-15+ a year, and give away the excess. It's a way of life for me..... My daughters grew up thinking that beef from the super market "tasted funny...".

    You won't "save money" subsistence hunting, but you'll enjoy the fruits of your labor....
    Unless you can excercise extream discipline...-Use a "mil-suplus" or old .30/30 rifle for biggame, and a .22 for small game (of course a shotgun is allowable if you own one..) Only shoot at game that is a "sure thing".
    A box of .30/30 or such should last you several years, a box of .22's weeks or months, and a box of #6 shot for the 12ga a month's supply of squirrels....And don't forget the fishing rod. You need fish guts to properly fertilize the garden, you know...
    Get the idea.....
    And learn how to farm.... at least a garden. You'll need the carbohydrates, and vitamins and use the garden as a lure for the protein you intend to shoot. My parents grew up during the depression on farms where they subsistence farmed and hunted. My dad couldn't wait to join the army, even it it meant getting shot at... (he did, and lived, but wouldn't talk about it.) My mother was the one that made outdoorsmen out of me and my two brothers. She was taught to subsistence hunt and fish by a grandfather who was 1/2 Creek Indian, and his father fought on the side of the "RedSticks" in E. Alabama against StoneWall Jackson when he kicked the Creeks out of Alabama in 1812-13....... My mother could call up quail, squirrels, racoons, and could make the best coon hash you ever ate... (bear works real good in that recipe too, statute of limitations has run out on all her "escapades")...... She made an example of herself to me and my brothers and "made" a Alabama Game Warden write her a ticket for an expired license, however..... Meanest woman that ever lived......Her idea of a good fishing trip included "breaking in" a fishing rod on your backside..... didn't matter if you'd done anything wrong. Only she had to imagine that you did......
    Subsistence living off the land makes you that way, if you are "sucessful"..... many will starve to death, however.....

    Otherwise, shop at the local discount grocery store.....
    By the time you buy fertalizer, fuel, and pump the water for a garden, you are "in the hole" again. Cheaper to buy than grow your own. But, you can't buy tomato's like I can grow, for ANY price..... And, I'm very, very "picky" about my game... I process it all myself.. cube my own steaks, grind the hamburger. I get the "beef fat" free from a local grocer that processes deer commercially....So I save $$$ on deer processing.... And people will eat what I cook.... not so from a lot of commercial processors. (it used to be part of my job to inspect the processors for game law compliance. Lucky for them I didn't enforce health code violations.......

    You can't even "moonshine" and make your own "booze" for what you can buy it for, even with taxes, ect.......
    But if you're looking for an enjoyable hobby...
    Have at it... (hunting, that is...., though my younger brother even brews his own beer.... but we kid him about his "deer" gut.....)
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2011
  6. sixgunner455

    sixgunner455 Member

    Aug 25, 2006
    Well, you could certainly take your .22 and hunt squirrels and maybe rabbits in most parts of the country.

    Many states require Hunter Education/Hunter's Safety classes before you are allowed to purchase a license and hunt. If you live in or intend to hunt in a state with that requirement, then you will need to find out from your DNR where and when a class will be offered. Most of the time, they are taught in the summer so the new crop of hunters can be prepared for hunting season. This is something you have to do to prepare ahead of time.

    Making a friend in your local area who is a hunter is a very good way to start out. Having a mentor can save you time, aggravation, effort, expense, and so forth. It can also give you a buddy to go hunting with, which is usually a good idea.

    Depending on where you are, you can certainly save money on meat costs by hunting and processing deer and hogs yourself. Even elk and moose can be cost-saving quarry, if you live in the right area. For me, moose would not be cost-saving, because there aren't any here, so I would have to travel for the purpose of hunting them. Where I live, getting an elk tag is a rare event, but traveling makes it possible, though it adds significant expense.

    Where I live, deer tags are given out in a lottery, and you don't always get a tag (yes, one, singular, tag). Our deer are small. They are fun to hunt, but they are not a large part of my food planning. The last season I hunted deer, the season was 4 days. The one I am doing this year is 7 days. That isn't a lot of time.

    In other areas of the country, the deer are much more plentiful. Tags and seasons are much more generous than where I live. Living on wild game is a much more viable option in those areas. If you live in or can economically travel Texas and have access to hunting grounds, hogs can be a viable protein source. Other states have hogs, too. Florida is one.

    Good luck!
  7. Freedom_fighter_in_IL

    Freedom_fighter_in_IL Member

    Aug 30, 2010
    Cheaper? Oh hell no! Just ask the wife! Healthier, better tasting meat, satisfaction that you did it yourself, got out of the house or office and got into nature, PRICELESS!
  8. TexasPatriot.308

    TexasPatriot.308 Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Luling Texas
    here in Texas, after you consider the cost of a deer lease, gas and expenses like food, beer, etc. deer meat is one of the highest price meats pound for pound anywhere. my deer lease is only 40 miles away and I can figure on spending $150 or more on each 2 day trip. glad I got 2 pastures locally I can hunt pigs etc. on.
  9. cottswald

    cottswald Member

    Sep 13, 2010
    As mentioned above, your .22 is plenty adequate to hunt rabbits and squirrel. Skin and dress them in the field and your cost is a zip lock bag. As far as the quality of meat -- In most cases, these critters have been feeding on natures bounty, free of insecticides and artificial fertilizers. Likewise, the animal itself will be free of growth hormone injections and mega doses of antibiotics. Good eatin and good fer ya! Couple that with the experience of stalking and harvesting the animal yourself, and thanking the Lord before your meal will take on a whole new meaning!
  10. Larry Ashcraft

    Larry Ashcraft Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Home of Heroes, Pueblo, CO, USA
    Even hunting rabbits with a .22 rarely pays off. It takes a lot of rabbit meat to offset a $30 small game license. And doves, forget it. Doves probably cost me about $20 a pound. :rolleyes:

    But just like my garden, the quality of the food you feed your family is miles ahead of anything you can buy in the store. We hunt, garden, can and freeze, and trade pasture for beef. Sometimes we'll pick up bulk pork roasts on sale and make our own sausage (we have a commercial grinder that me and my brothers and dad chipped in to buy). Sausage probably cost around $1 a pound, and is much better than store bought.

    Of course, the skills to do all this came from my parents' generation, and is rapidly dying out. You can't just pick up a rifle and start hunting any more than you can buy a packet of seeds and a hoe and expect to have a successful garden. I would suggest looking for a mentor or two to get you started in hunting. Most hunters are glad to share their skills.
  11. BADUNAME37

    BADUNAME37 Member

    Aug 10, 2008
    I'm to the point where I should be able to live off the land that I have. When I look at my wife's garden plot that is about 25' x 12' in size and there are SIX DEER in her garden at 1am with my back floodlights lighting up the back lawn like daylight, it is wrong that we are illegal if we take one of those out for meat. I don't know how everyone else is doing economically, however, we are watching every dime we spend!

    I suppose if I called a game warden I may get permission. With my varmint rifle I could easily take a head shot using a bipod and the back second-floor window and the deer (about fifteen yards or less down below me) would drop like a ton of bricks and would not even know what hit it!
  12. Geno
    • Contributing Member

    Geno Member

    Jun 11, 2005
    I haven't set down to calculate the cost in many years. If one hunts as my grandfather did, his own property, the shotgun his father gave him, I assume the cost to be pretty low. He kept the same shotgun and little bolt-action .30-30 Win for about 50 years of hunting. His cost? Shells and a license.

    For me, I would have the rifles, shotguns and pistols anyhow, so I don't bother factoring those into the equation...same with the ammo. As I would be going to visit the family anyhow, I can't really even count the gasoline. My only real (extra cost to be able to hunt) is the orange blaze clothing and the license. So, for me, a deer in the freezer, is about 95% (wild guess) profit.

    My only suggestions for now, borrow a rifle/shotgun or whatever you need. Tag along with a relative who hunts or a friend who hunts. Most of use have multiple firearms that we gladly loan out to beginners. That experience will tell you what feels good to shoulder, and what amount of recoil you realistically want to absorb. By the way, Michigan (for example) gives a discount if you purchase a sportsman license or purchase multiple license at the same time.

    Welcome to the world of hunting! Remember, the best reasons for hunting include, but are not limited to, companionship with others, being outdoors, helping control excessive populations of game animals, helping save farmers' crops of destruction, reduction car-deer accidents, and eating healthier (non-steroided) meets.

  13. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

    Dec 3, 2005
    The end of the road between Sodom and Gomorrah Tex
    Only way you'll come close to coming out ahead is with a hog trap. Even then, there's the bait. Good luck with that. I think hogs are your best bet, though.

    Ever thought of fishing? One can catch a lot of protein around here. I do. And, you don't have to lease the water.

    My reason for hunting is because it's what I am. That's about the size of it.
  14. altitude_19

    altitude_19 Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    Riiiight up until you actually want to go somewhere. Then they don't want to share the space to actually SHOOT something. It's a dying sport and that's why. I can't believe people are even willing to pay to hunt. I'm just getting started, but I've already resolved that I will gladly go with unfilled tags the rest of my life before I pay some highway man for a "lease."
  15. shiftyer1

    shiftyer1 Member

    Jun 26, 2008
    central texas
    I'm lucky, my deer hunting costs nothing but the liscense and a cartridge. We do out own processing and the deer stand is a 5 minute walk from the house. In Texas if you don't have your own land you normally need to pay for land to lease, you could buy a 3 year supply of beef by the time you tally up what your deer cost.

    If you really want to save money you need to process yourself. With your .22 you can hunt squirrels and rabbits, i've heard possum tastes good bbqed? That would be the cheapest way to get your feet wet and see if you really enjoy doing it.

    It is nice to know you can put meat on the table if you really had no choice.
  16. ZeroJunk

    ZeroJunk Member

    Oct 14, 2007
    Browns Summit N.C.
    Most people spend way more on hunting than they need to. I'm as bad as anybody. If I had kept the first Model 70 I paid $153 dollars for new in the box and the Redfield 3X9 I paid $70 for new in the box I would have killed just as many deer and elk. Resident hunting licenses aren't much. A box of ammo can kill a lot of deer. In the old days hunters felt bad if they used a cartridge and didn't kill anything with it. It wasn't that they didn't have much money, they hardly had any money at all. Biggest thing is finding a place to hunt where you can be successful.
  17. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Member

    May 5, 2005
    Garrettsville, Oh.
    I agree with pretty much everyone so far. By the time you figure the money for a license, a box of ammo, even minimal gear and the time, game meat isn't cheap by any stretch.


    I'll not be giving it up any time soon. I spent a day in the woods and fields Saturday and got nothing other than a rabbit someone gave me because they didn't want to clean it. It was a very good day.

    You'll find, too, that if you have a highly productive piece of land, it soon won't be if you rely on it for most of your meat.
  18. inclinebench

    inclinebench Member

    Feb 12, 2009
    Nice place
    Initial investment might be a bit high, but the long term can work out well for most folks. I have about four hundred invested in my rifle, and another 250 in my muzzleloader. I hunt my own land, and harvest anywhere from 100Lbs to 300Lbs of deer meat a year. I pay a processor about 60 bucks per deer to process them, and it is well worth it for the quality of work he does...no meat wasted. I dont buy a bunch of fancy, latest newest coolest hunting clothes and equipment. So for $650 in arms, I will be able to hunt for many years. a few hundred in processing fees....beats the daylights out of buying meat, and the quality of wild deer is far superior to supermarket beef in my opinion.

    So, it can be worth it.

    On the flip side, I have a buddy who buys the newest of everything every year, pays money to hunt leased land, misses work to hunt, and might harvest one or two deer a season. He is in a money losing proposition, but he loves to hunt, and he loves to eat what he has killed.

    It all depends on what your situation is, as well as what type of investment you are willing to make.
  19. Leverb66

    Leverb66 Member

    Sep 5, 2010
    West Fargo, North Dakota
    Gotta say the biggest cost involved is the cost of gas. I've spent several hundred dollars this year on gas for my car while hunting, and have yet to kill anything! It's never going to be cheaper than buying in the store, but it will always be better.
  20. RevGeo

    RevGeo Member

    Sep 17, 2011
    North Idaho
    Subsistance hunting is a hard way to go. People invented agriculture for a reason.
    Hunt because you want to hunt. I eat what I shoot, but I sure wouldn't want to have to depend on what I harvest for survival.

    Hunting is now a sport with the additional benefit of providing food.
    The last spike buck I got yielded maybe 40-45lbs of meat (I didn't weigh it) and the last turkey was much smaller and leaner than a Butterball. Tasty but a little tough and if I wanted to feed the family at Thanksgiving I'd want two of 'em.
  21. USAF_Vet

    USAF_Vet Member

    Jan 6, 2011
    Hastings, Michigan
    Considering I butcher and process my own kills (or pass it on to the Father in law to do), it doesn't cost me anything but time and gas money and the cost of beef tallow.

    Last deer I got was in '09 and it a smaller doe. but being the end of the season and no luck, I filled my doe tag and went home happy. She dressed out at a little under 100 pounds, and I figure I got a good 45-50 pounds of vension. A decent size doe or buck could easily double that. Go to your local grocery and see how much you'll spend for a 50 pound mix of burger and steaks. I paid $15 for the tag, and an afternoon of my time to process it. A gallon sized bag of beef tallow (to mix in with the burger) cost maybe $10. Then there was the cost of fuel to get to my hunting location, cost of ammo for my shotgun. Really, all told, I spent well under $50 for that 50 pounds of meat.

    Now, if you have to buy the gun, gear, processing knives, meat grinder, etc. along with your tags and ammo, then yous, the initial expense will be vastly higher than any grocery bill. But it's a one time expense for most of it, tags and ammo are cheap enough not to really even consider, and you'll have the set up for years to come. You might even be able to make a little on the side from people who didn't put forth the expense.

    I live in the sticks, and if I can't hunt within walking distance, it's only a few miles drive. so I'm not too concerned about gas money.

    Your situation will be unique.
  22. countertop

    countertop Member

    May 20, 2004
    At the diner

    That's just ridiculous. Sure, if your hunting for trophy deer the cost is higher. Or flying around the country to hunt. But if you just want to go kill some does in your own state, on a resident license, the cost isn't high at all. Especially on the East coast where a resident big game licensee is going to include 6 or more deer tags with it. Butcher the deer yourself (ask someone to show you how) and you'll have plenty of meat to go around, for next to nothing.

    now, of course, you also need to factor in the cost of a gun (go to a pawnshop, or buy a used mil surplus gun - an SKS is an excellent gun for hunting), ammo, and the practice rounds. As well as gas, sure. But you need not travel far to find deer. And if you tell folks your just hunting for meat, not antlers, most farmers will quickly give you permission to hunt for does.

    Here's a cost breakdown, for me in Virginia.

    My resident license small game and big game license cost a total of $46 (I also have a muzzleloader and archery tag, but I'm not inlcuding that here).
    It comes with 6 deer tags, 1 bear tag, and 3 turkey tags. And we can shoot turkey's with a rifle.

    Assuming you just shoot deer (and don't take a turkey or a bear) - it comes out to $7.6o per deer shot.
    I figure the average doe around here will get me 40-50 pounds of meat. Lets go on the light side, and say its 40 pounds of meat. That comes out to $0.19 cents a pound. For venison.

    Now, of course, your gun is going to have a cost. As will the ammo. But like I said, look for an old milsurp rifle, or even better, a shot gun. You can put slugs or buckshot in it and take deer - and then hunt turkeys with it in the spring with turkey shot. Assuming you spend another $150 on a used gun, that adds $25 to the cost of each deer shot (again, we are assuming you only take deer with it). And that's the cost for one season. After that, it is paid off and basically free in subsequent years. And it will last a long time.

    $25 + $7.60 = $32.60

    Again, assuming 40 pounds per deer (smaller does) is $1.23 per pound for venison. And that's a fully paid off gun in a single season. Most businesses would depreciate the cost of the gun over at least 3 years. And its not including the value of having a gun (protection, entertainment, fun) or the resale value (which should likely be what you paid for it, or more, assuming you don't misuse it).

    Ammo, of course, has a cost. Maybe .25 a round (which is high). And so does travel (gas and time). But your not going to need to travel far, and presumably, those are costs you would have already incurred day to day anyway.

    You can get a decent Buck 110 knife at Wal mart for under $30. That is all you need to gut and butcher your deer with ease.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2011
  23. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

    Dec 3, 2005
    The end of the road between Sodom and Gomorrah Tex
    Maybe you should take up leather working or something. Just sayin'..... At least stay out of Texas. Here, there is no public land to speak of except east Texas and I want a neon suit walking around in THOSE woods. :rolleyes: I've also had bad experiences with young hunters trying to mentor them, poor gun handling, just flat dangerous to be around. Before I will take someone hunting , I'll take 'em to the range and observe their gun handling and safety practices first. I have no desire to be shot in the head.

    I will take you duck hunting, if ya wanted, public land and 48 bucks a year to the state buys you access, but my land costs me 500 bucks a year in taxes and I sorta am protective of MY honey hole as there ain't much land there to hunt in the first place. I couldn't afford the king ranch when I went shopping for land, not on a working man's budget. It's huntable by two and it's damned good hunting and it's for sale right now if you're interested as I wanna relocate.

    And, can you blame someone who's put iin the time and effort scouting his honey hole and finding it if he doesn't wanna share that hard earned knowledge with you? If you hunt public land, scouting is 99 percent of hunting. The knowledge gained is earned by days afield.

    Bottom line, for most of us, it's not about the meat in the freezer, it's about the experiences afield. If all ya want is meat, we have an HEB and a Walmart within a mile of the house. If you wish to hunt for food, consider relocating to Alaska. Maybe our poster Caribou can help ya out.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2011
  24. Virg461

    Virg461 Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    The Foothills of NC
    I guess we're pretty lucky, but since I own my own land, my only real expense is ammo and vacuum seal bags. In NC you can hunt your own land without a license, though you are required to tag and report your kills.

    People who say deer meat is expensive are those that have to lease hunting land and drive long distances, or pay for out of state licenses. Yep, that's expensive. I'm not sure, though, whether the cost of a weapon should factor into the calculation, no matter what the wives say. I have always believed that my rifles are the only investments I've ever made that never lost value. Particularly my milsurps. Can't say the same of the stock market.

    I harvest about 4-5 deer a year for the freezer, and do my own butchering. It's not hard. There are several websites and good books that will show you how to bone out the major muscle groups into top round, bottom round, sirloin, etc. You don't need a $1000 electric butcher saw, or a $500 meat grinder. I have a $50 hand-crank meat grinder from the hardware store that the scraps go in for burger, and I think we paid about $100 for the Foodsaver vacuum sealer (and excellent thing to have).

    We're not particularly strapped for cash, but I do like the fact that we have about $2/pound in the beef in the freezer (when you factor in the butcher costs) and next to nothing for the venison. We haven't bought red meat in years, unless we're dining out.

    I second the notion about the quality. I like knowing where my food comes from. I really like that the meat we serve our family was raised withing a stone's throw of my back door. No antibiotic residues or cleanliness issues. I went to high school with the guy that processes our beef. I know how he works and I trust him. And I know really well the guy that butchers the deer. ;)

    I guess my point is that you can do it cheaply, and it's well worth it.
  25. dragon813gt

    dragon813gt Member

    Jun 30, 2011
    6 tags or more with one license on the east coast? What state is that because I don't know any that allow that many. A doe tag for a PA resident is $6.70 per tag. In some areas you can't get them while in others they hand them out over the counter. I've gotten one so far this year. The land lease is free but it's about $12 in gas round trip. Then the broadhead and bolt were destroyed so that was around $12. I processed most of it but still had to pay $15 to have hamburger, sausage and bologna made. Then figure in the cost of the license, doe tag and archery license. It works out to be a lot more than the grocery store. But it is on par with the organic store where the meat is better. I don't have the time to hunt enough to survive off of it. But the meat it does supply keeps total cost spent at the store down quite a bit.

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