The Real Cost of Venison

   03.17.20

Remember the tongue-in-cheek humor article about the real costs of firewood? It started with buying a chainsaw and other gear and even the hospital visits for accidents. We all had a good chuckle to learn in the final analysis that a cord of firewood probably costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $35,000.

Hopefully, processed deer meat for the freezer does not approach those kinds of costs, but some (many) hunters are in denial when it comes to the real costs involved in procuring meat for the family.

Now for me, hunting deer is recreation. I really don’t care what it costs, but I am conservative in my spending. I have cable TV and I don’t do nightclubs, movies, concerts, or expensive restaurants. I hunt. Others spend far more than I do, and try hard not to think about how much it actually costs, such as my good friend Bill.

Bill hunts virtually every week of our three-month deer season. When I try to approach the subject of the costs of deer meat per pound as opposed to buying grocery hamburger, he sulks up to the point of getting red-faced angry. It is a subject I have learned to avoid.

In our area a deer meat processor charges between $3-$4 per pound to grind and package deboned deer meat. It costs a lot more if they have to also process the whole deer. Accordingly, 50 pounds of meat could cost around $150. A pound of hamburger at Kroger costs $5.49, but I had very little overhead cost except to drive to the store to get it.

So, what does deer meat cost? If Bill hunted public lands the costs would be less, but he does not. In fact he participates in two property leases (he never divulges the cost) and pays a share of food plots and other expenses. A good annual land lease in this state can range from $1000 per member of a club, or upwards of $5000 to be a first-tier leaseholder. It costs much, much more to own hunting land outright.

So, what other expenses are involved? Without calculating the exact cost of each item there is a vehicle, an ATV, a ton of hunting equipment and supplies, guns and ammo, license, clothing, fuel, food, property taxes, cabin or camp maintenance, and a lot of other incidentals. Not cheap.

I’m guessing that hunting costs Bill several thousand dollars a year in addition to his $150 for processed deer meat.

It’s cheaper to buy grocery hamburger, but for most of us that is not really the point of hunting. What do you think?

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