It was a family gathering as much as anything, but the question sometimes arose--how did the price of the venison we were currently in the process of procuring compare to something comparable we could buy? The question has become more poignant now that we now need to buy non-resident licenses at a premium price of 567% of the resident license cost. This week, we realized we had never actually sat down and calculated it. Fortunately, that type of calculation is just the kind of thing we do here on this blog.
Time to put on our number-crunching hats and look at some scenarios. And time to make a spreadsheet!
|First, here are the numbers we used, broken up into five scenarios. Scenarios 1a and 1b incorporate the cost of a low-end, but serviceable rifle ($300 on sale from the local farm store), and a $25 box of shells for an initial sight-in. Those costs are assumed to be divided up evenly over the first five years, and work out to $65 for years 1-5. Another four shells are included for a tune-up and the kill shot, at a cost of $5. (For bow-hunting, a likely-non-reusable arrow and a possibly-reusable broadhead could also be approximated at $5, maybe a little more.) A resident deer license in Wisconsin is $24, and the cost for a typical excursion included travel to the hunting grounds at about 200 miles round trip (calculated at a travel cost of $102, using an approximate GSA mileage rate of $0.51/mile), about $25 in extra food (per person) for donuts, granola bars, celebratory beers, etc., and a processing fee of $85, if we were to take the deer in (Scenario 1a). The "hanging weight" of the deer is assumed to be 80 lbs, which roughly equates to 110 lb dressed and 140 lb live weights, which are typical for upper midwestern whitetails.
Scenarios 2a and 2b assume that the gun is paid for, and is sighted in and close to accurate. This is closest to the situation we had growing up. Scenario 3 is closest to our current situation, with $160 for a non-resident license, no travel costs (because Jake's parents now live in a cabin on the hunting grounds), and no processing costs, since we'll be gosh-darned if we let some careless butcher guy waste a single ounce of that deer.
Scenarios 4a and 4b are for comparison to elk hunting in Colorado, including a drive from the Denver area up to the legendary Flat Tops Range by Yampa (310 miles round trip). The lowest elk processing fee we could find was $275 (others were close to $1.00/lb), and the average field-dressed weight for an elk is in the range of 350 lb.
Scenario 5 is if dear old Dad wanted to drive out from Wisconsin to Colorado for an elk hunt, and also wanted to outsource his elk processing.
|For comparison, the lowest beef prices we could find were about $3.51/lb (composite value from averaging ribeye, filet mignon, back ribs, sirloin, and strip steaks from here; it's bolstered by the ribs, but that brings it into the wholesale range recorded by the USDA). The grocery store conventional beef (averaging prices for hamburger, sirloin, and strip steaks in the weekly ad of our local King Soopers store), came in at $4.92/lb. Buying grass-fed beef directly from the farmer was marginally higher at $5.23/lb (from averaging prices here, here, here, here, and here). To give an idea of the range of farm-direct conventional beef, the last link also offers that next to its grass-fed beef, at $4.50/lb. |
So, long story short, hunting venison is generally less expensive than buying beef, especially if you do your own processing and don't have to travel far to hunt. A corollary is that if you do have to travel, you can probably decrease your price per pound by getting multiple tags to fill on the trip (e.g., elk plus mule deer plus antelope).
|Of course, all of the above is predicated on the assumption that the hunt is successful. That's not necessarily a given, as the Wisconsin deer hunting and Colorado elk hunting success rates show. But if you do your homework ahead of time, your odds of success are probably higher than the average.|
|Practicing by hunting the rare and elusive feed bag target is an important part of the pre-hunt homework, but be careful not to shoot any chickens!|
Have you calculated your hunted meat costs? How do they compare?