By Some Guy:
Last fall I was getting my gear ready to go deer hunting. During the process I was reminded of an old camping friend. He was not a hunter but always liked it when I would bring a deer roast to cook on the outings. One time as we were just sitting down to enjoy a roast he said, “I should go deer hunting so I can get all this free meat too.” Free? If he only knew! So I explained the situation to him. Nothing is really free. Even “free meat” from a deer has costs.
To get the free deer meat you first need to purchase a general hunting license, $19, and the habitat fee required by the state, $13. Then you need a deer tag, $28.50. Of course you will need something to shoot the deer with. $400 will get you a pretty decent used shotgun. You will needs shells for the gun, $20. Iowa law requires the wearing of blaze orange while deer hunting. An orange vest will suffice, $10. Now you have all the “basics” you need to hunt deer.
Unless you live in a place that has prime habitat out your back door you will need to travel someplace to hunt. The way deer hunting goes, you will need to make several trips. $70 for a tank of gas should cover it.
Let’s see, you have all your gear, made your way to the woods, and you are fortunate enough to actually bag a deer. Now what do you do with it? Unless you plan on eating it whole, there will be some processing costs involved. Most deer will end up at a locker plant for this. Depending on what you have done with the meat, i.e. made into sausage, jerky, burger, etc., you can easily drop $200 here.
O.K., right now you have about $760 wrapped up in this endeavor. An average Iowa deer will weigh about 200 pounds live. More than half of this weight is made up of hide, head, bones, guts and other miscellaneous inedible parts. Unless you like eating these sort of things, you will only end up with somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 pounds of meat. Doing the math, the free meat my friend refers to cost about $9.50 per pound.
Free deer meat is still kind of expensive even if you are an avid hunter and have all the needed equipment already, and you butcher your own animal. You still need the deer tag, shells and gas. But this does take the cost of your free meat down to about $1.50 per pound.
That is if you actually bag a deer every year! Miss out one year and your free meat costs double. I know one guy who is in a four year drought without killing a deer. His free meat cost is coming in at $7.50 per pound right now, providing he gets one this Fall.
My friend just sat kind of quiet for awhile digesting this information, and my roast. He then came to the conclusion that taking up deer hunting just for the free meat didn’t seem feasible. He did however point out that if he just let me continue bringing venison on the campouts it would still be free to him. The guy did have a good point!