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October 28, 2008


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I think it can be, but thats if you do all your own butchering. Its not cheap if you take the deer to a butcher and get baloney and stuff like that made for you. For my father and I, hunting ends up being just like any other hobby and ends up costing money. However, im sure avid hunters who know what they are doing can stock up a considerable amount of meat during deer hunting season for the cost of the hunting license.

We hunt mainly moose. I ran the numbers a few years and found that while I saved a little, it wasn't a lot. By the time you add in the cost of hunting gear (yes, this can be reused), gas to get to and from the hunting areas, and the cost of butchering, you're saving a little bit (maybe a couple of hundred dollars on 300 lbs of meat). When you factor in the fact that a portion of the meat usually gets given away to neighbors and family, the savings are even less- I'll gladly give some moose steaks to the neighbor after the hunt, but I'm unlikey to pick up a t-bone at the butcher for him. But what really tips the balance is the time commitment- if you believe that time is money, countless hours spent hunting quickly eliminate any money that you might have saved.

With that said, I don't hunt to save money so it's a really a moot point.

I think it depends on the person. I would say most people do it as a hobby and if they save money, great. My brother hunts and doesn't spend a lot on equipment and enjoys being in the woods, and he butchers the deer himself, so it may save money. On the other hand, my dad just likes to shop and has bought a new bow recently and a ridiculous amount of mostly unneeded hunting gear and has only gotten one deer over the past 8 years. For him it's clearly an expensive hobby and has nothing to do with saving money.

I'm not a hunter but a pretty avid fisherman. I assume its pretty much the same, that those who take the minimilist approach easily come out ahead (fishing from the bank with a cane pole and worms, which I would guess is like buying a used .22 and using existing clothing). That said, once it truely becomes a "hobby", you generally buy more equipment and the breakeven point is difficult to reach. Once you buy a boat (which I guess would be like buying a small hunting cabin or a truck you justify because of hunting), you've turned it into a hobby more expensive than golf (which I think is a fine way to spend "extra" money once the finances are solid)

I'm deep enough in the South that many around me hunt deer. Give me three minutes, and I can get you someone who hunts right now, if not stir up a lively conversation.

My take on it is similar to MoneyGrubbinLawyer's: It doesn't really come out in the end.

Starting cost is steep. A reliable rifle and scope is anywhere from $1k to $2k. There are other miscellaneous paraphernalia you may want such as a stand, appropriate attire, deep freezer, ammo and more. You'll also want a truck if you don't already have one.

Hunting, from what I've been told, is many hours of waiting, which like MGL, I don't think compares to simply holding down a part time job. A good hunter will scout the land and even plant "bait" months in advance, which is more time commitment that you are not using to make money elsewhere.

Perhaps the steepest point on the learning curve is getting used to dressing your own game (for non-hunters, it means gutting the deer yourself). I've been told that the entrails and the smell, and sometimes, bottling your own deer urine is something that takes a lot of practice to get used to, not just learn.

In the end, I don't think hunting is a practical avenue to pursue. I think it's actually easier to simply hold down a low wage part time job somewhere and use that money to buy steak at the grocery store.

However, that doesn't mean I don't support hunting as a sport and as a means to provide food. For those who enjoy hunting and are adept at it, it can prove worthwhile in the long run.

There is a reason that farmers raise livestock rather than hunt. To save money, invest in a steer.

I joke and try and figure out how much the fish we catch every summer is worth pr lbs. If you only include the cost of the license it is a good deal! But the stories are priceless ;)

I think it depends on how it fits into your lifestyle.

Much of my family are avid hunters. I will hunt when I move back to Michigan too.

One family saves money with hunting, the other spends quite a lot.

Family 1
My aunt and uncle are woodsy people. They live way out in the township on a large wooded lot with lots of deer. They've owned the same guns and clothes for many years. They take 2 or 3 deer a year at a minimum of cost to them. They do the deer processing (dressing, curing) right up to the actual cutting and packaging. They don't buy much other meat, except for brats for during Packers games!

Family 2
They live all over the state and own a cabin up north (in the UP). They get together every year for most of the two weeks of hunting season. The guys live out at the camp and the ladies get together for spa days and shopping. They have tons of food and even more booze. Pretty much everyone gets one deer. They gut and hang the deer, but they pay for the skinning and butchering.

Obviously the two hunting experiences are very different. If it fits into your lifestyle, hunting can save money. If you're maintaining extra property and treating it as a vacation, it's not going to. It may still be worth it for other reasons though. Family 2 is very close despite living far apart, in part because when they have big fun get togethers a couple times a year, including hunting season.

A guy I work with will tell you that the meat he gets from hunting is free. The money he spends on hunting compares to money others spend golfing or cycling or gambling or what not.

Any meat he gets is bonus.

Hunting can be a money saving method, but rarely is. The license is generally a low price per pound of meat. The shells/bullets can add up, but if you are a good shot and only shoot what you will eat it shouldn't ever get too expensive (and you can refill your own if you really want). You can get by with a low price gun for most applications. The meat is lean and healthy, so there can be a great payoff if you have the storage space and the time to hunt.

But for most people, even in my home state of South Dakota and my current state of Minnesota, the cost outweigh the financial returns. But most don't hunt for that reason, they hunt because they enjoy it and the people they do it with. Cabela's is profitable for a reason!

You can add this to your "more ways to make money column". A friend of mine guides hunts on weekends. He charges $100 per person per day. I think he limits it to four hunters at a time. There is some investment involved. You have to know property owners that will let you use their land. Some let him use it for free. Others lease it to him. He gets a lot of satisfaction from it, especially when he gets the chance to take young kids on their first hunt.

You can take it as far as you want to go with it - a shotgun for $250-$300 and a box of slugs $5-$10 plus a license $24 will get you started here in Indiana. A rifle and cartidges can be about the same. You may also have to buy the necessary hunter's orange hat or vest - $5. You don't need the camo or treestand, though a buddy with a truck is probably wise. If you're willing to process your own meat you really can do that with a minimal amount of supplies, and really only takes a few hours to turn your kill into 40-50 pounds of tasty meat. I'm speaking of deer, other larger animals would certainly give you more. There are plenty of free videos available on the internet that will show you how to field dress and butcher. If you enjoy it, however, you end up wanting a better gun, better bow, comfy ground blind, etc., and can cost a lot, but it doesn't have to. A $300 entry-level shotgun or rifle will kill a deer just as dead as any thousand-dollar rifle will.

Does it save you money? Probably not, since it is a time consuming sport. Butchering the meat yourself can save you the most money, probably, but you also have to pay to store the meat in a freezer. A deer can take up a lot of freezer room.

That said, as a hobby, it can be a lot of fun for those that enjoy that sort of thing, and being able to eat something you caught yourself is great, so its worth spending the money and time on it for those types of folks.

Cheapest way to get it is to have an friend who is an avid hunter. who processes their own meat, and harvests multiple deer. Some people enjoy the hunting more than the eating. That is where our family comes in and takes care of the meat. If we are going to get all technical we can get into the opportunity cost of reading this.

Certainly you can save money compared to buying the same amount of meat at the store. But you can also spend lots of money for licenses, equipment, etc. and not even end up with any meat. It depends on the individual situation.

In my case, I've lived in places where I don't have to travel for hunting, haven't ever bought a hunting rifle (inherited them from several relatives), have outdoor clothing, freezer, etc. anyway, have butchered them myself, and so on.

If you want to count the time spent at some billable rate, then you probably will never save money hunting. However, it's as much vacation, hobby, entertainment as obtaining meat. So if you enjoy spending time traipsing around the woods, it's worth it, but I wouldn't recommend hunting as a frugality measure for the masses.

If you're going on a hunting 'vacation', probably not. If you're living in the UP where you raised your kids on property that is home to a few dozen deer, a large pack of coyote, a couple bear, and an occasional large cat, you'll find most of the equipment is more like 'living expenses'. It's not like you don't already own warm clothing and a few shotguns, rifles, or whatever.

I applaud Andy from Indiana and others who take the practical approach. In our part of our state deer are a major nuisance. Our neighbor man and his wife both hunt, and dress the deer in their back yard. No smell, they know enough not to cut the gut.
Others in our family fill a freezer or two and share the wealth with other family members. It doesn't take major weaponry or fancy clothes. Just a gun, a jacket and a friend with a truck (and a license if you are smart.)
One afternoon's hunting brought in five deer when the guys went out together, which really narrows down the grocery bills. It is totally worth it if you can hit what you are aiming at.

"(you don't need to buy a new gun every year do you?)"

Once you get into the gun collection and target shooting hobby, you'll end up buying at least one a year :)

I don't think I would get into hunting simply to save money. If you don't enjoy it, you won't do it, and you'll get frustrated pretty quickly. If you like the outdoors, and spending time in the wilderness, you'll probably like it.

My advice would be to go with someone on a hunting trip to see if you like it or not. If you like it, it can be a fun hobby that you will recoup the costs of with the meat you harvest.

My father-in-law is a huge hunter. They recently moved to a new place that is located on 100 acres of hunting land, so he can just go out back. He probably spends more money than he would ever save. That said, I love it that he hunts. It helps my grocery bill. We get a deer every year that is in nice white packages. He said that will end once my son gets a little older! He has one waiting for us in his freezer. I just need to get out there to pick it up!

My family hunts and we have gotten at least one deer every year.The past two years we have gotten 3 deer. It saves us a ton of money. We do all the butchering ourselves and we have delisiouse venison year round. Yes there were the start up costs guns, clothes, blinds, amo, a food saver, and butchering/gutting tools. These supplies can be expensive but when you have been hunting for a long time, my dad has been hunting for around 20 years. It pays off.

Ya i gotta get in on this.... Hunting your own food not only saves money but it is priceless. If you take care of your guns they last a lifetime. For example, I have 3 guns, a 12 gauge single shot for hunting deer and what not cost me less than 150 dollars, a 22 magnum for everything else, that was a gift but i can only assume its worth 250 dollars or so from wat i have learned and read, and finally a hi point handgun (175 dollars) will round you out for everything you need. So one year hunting and i could have paid for all these guns(but only paid for two) with the money i saved on food at a grocery store. Yes i like to shoot, and i do put alot of ammo thru my guns for no reason but it still saves money bcuz hunting is my hobby, im not out spending 10 dollars on a cup of coffee, nor blowing money at a casino, or spending money on a gym membership when i can get as much exercise walking thru the woods and doing hard work elsewhere.

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