First let me start off by saying that my family and I love to be as self sufficient as we can. Our reasons vary a little from having fun planting and growing a garden to enjoying hunting and fishing and not wanting any of the harvest to go to waste. Over the years I have weighed the "cost" of hunting for our meat and what it would cost us just to go to the store and buy it. Now, I won't sugar coat it. Hunting ain't cheap. Especially if you have a gunge-ho hunter in your midst.
At minimum you will have camo cost, license, weapon cost and ammunition cost. Of course those are pretty big purchases that are not needed every year :) If my husband came to be and asked for a new bow or rifle every year I think I'd have to hurt him.
As far as cost for ammo goes it really depends on what you are shooting. My husband hunts during bow archery and rifle seasons here so we are a well armed family. I can usually count on purchasing at least a dozen arrows to start the year and figure on just as many broad heads. Now, because my husband uses carbon arrows the cost is a bit more than the old stable aluminum. But in reality we have had better luck with carbon arrows as they are less likely to bend upon impact. They either break or don't. With aluminum you have to worry about ANY bump causing a bend in the arrow which will cause it to fly off. Lets estimate $100 for a dozen arrows and heads :)
Moving on. Corn. Many a hunter spends hours upon hours toting bag after bag of corn, protein feed, mineral blocks, molasses licks, and other feeds into the woods to help attract the deer. This past year with the drought, corn jumped to about $10 per 50 pound bag. WHEW!!! My hubby was lind enough to start limiting the amount he dolled out to the predictable Bambi and also reset his feeder to limit the amount of corn it was putting out each time it went off. So hunters go as far as to plant food plots. Not that I am against food plots because many other wild animals can benefit from the plot. They are fantastic balance and many of our local land stewards keep them planted year after year on property that is not used for hunting. But for the sake of this blog we will just guess that my hubbers spends about $200 on corn each season.
Currently we are sitting at about $300 spent and he isn't even out the door yet :)
Moving on. Since we have a small piece of property, hubby must drive to his hunting spots. Most weekdays he just stays late after work so he doesn't have to burn the extra gas but weekends are a different matter. Twice a day my husband is in the stand from September to January....EVERY YEAR. I shudder to think of the money that is spent on gas to go to and from the hunting area on all those weekends. But it is what it is. We will make it a nice round number of say $200 in gas for the entire season of weekend hunting. That is roughly about 1000 miles.
Now what happens when he bags that deer? Well, this is where I step in :) Hubby brings it home and quarters it and puts it into and ice chest full of ice for me....which it then placed in my kitchen :) Fun times. We take the meat quarter at a time and process it into our steaks, tips, and meat to be used for grind. Once it has been processed I break out my handy dandy food saver thingy and vacuum seal all the meat in serving size packs and into the freezer it goes.
So lets recap.......
Hunting License $50
Sealer bags $40
And that is JUST deer season :) Dove season is the bane of my existence. It is expensive and for the return on the amount of meat you get.....not worth the time IMHO. But every year we buy about 2 cases of shotgun shells and out the door hubby goes. Cost....Shells $80 Gas.....$ UGH not sure I wanna know
So now comes turkey season which I love. Now hubby doesn't really "hunt" for turkey....he's just real good at being in the right place at the right time. Plus with all the time he spends in the woods during deer season he pretty much knows the habits of all the animals who live there :) So spring and fall turkey season are pretty easy. There are no extra expenses and he brings me home a couple of nice big birds .
Last but not least we get to fishing. Because it can be done any time of the year, fishing is the catch all. My hubby really only goes fishing in the spring before the water gets too hot and starts to dry up. Once the water starts getting warm the fish can start to taste a little funny. I don't really calculate what he spends to go fishing...why? Well, because after this many years of being married to him I KNOW the man will provide meat for his family and I also know that if he is hunting or fishing he ain't in my hair here at the house :) So as long as we can afford the gas I am fine with it.
So lets recap on how cost effective it is for my family to be self sufficient when it comes to our meat.
It runs us somewhere around $800 per year (just off the cuff) to hunt and harvest our own meat from the wild.
What kind of meat do we get? Deer, turkey, wild hog, fish, dove.
We process the meat that we kill into ground meat, sausage, chirizo, tips, steaks and sections of back strap that we stuff and cook on the grill.
Do I buy store bought meat? Not really. Lunch meat and bacon are really all I buy from the store as far as meat goes. We prefer the taste of our wild game over store meat.
In reality do we save money by harvesting our own meat? Eh, probably not, but for certain it is healthier for us and we have a real good idea what that animal has been eating since most wild game tend to stay within a two mile radius from where they were born.....with the exception of hogs and obviously dove as they are a migratory bird :)
Next post I will talk a little about our garden and growing a winter garden so you can have fresh veggies all year long....without having to can or freeze :)