Monday, August 22, 2011

The cost of a little fun

I woke up this morning "shoulding" all over myself! Things were going through my head like, "You should have a better deer rifle! You should have already decided exactly where you're going to hunt next month! You should have already scouted a lot more than you have!" There are a few more "shoulds" that I thought of that I'll keep to myself for dignity sake, but all in all I started the day worrying about my readiness regarding deer season. A very wise woman once told me that we are not supposed to "should" all over ourselves. I try to live by that advice, but sometimes I look down and see that I've stepped in a great big smelly pile of "should".

So here's my current situation. I've budgeted right around minus forty dollars for myself to spend on deer hunting this season, so I need to do a little refiguring of exactly how I can do everything as cheap as possible. I have an idea. I'm going to challenge myself to keep total track of every dollar I spend toward deer hunting until my freezer is filled with venison, while keeping the expense as absolutely low as humanly possible. I want to find out exactly what the price per pound of meat will be when all is said and done. Will it be $6 per pound, or $60 per pound? So let's see here. Where do I start the list of expenses that will incur from cradle to grave throughout this hunting season, or more appropriately from field to freezer? Here's a question. Do I include the cost of my hunting license? I know I'll include the deer tag itself, but since I buy a hunting license every year for bird hunting, I'm not so sure I should count it as a deer hunting expense. So I've got the cost of the tag for sure, thirty dollars. Then there's the ammunition. Do I count all the expenses of getting my shooting dialed in? And what about the price of the box of bullets or just the cost of however many bullets it takes to bring down a deer? Hopefully it'll just take one! One shot, one kill, right? Ooh Rah! We'll see if I can uphold that old Marine Corps saying, otherwise all the talk in my first post about being an expert rifleman will be out the window. What about the cost of gas that I'll burn driving to scout? Maybe I could waive half of it if I combine scouting for deer with dove hunting if I hunt in the same place for both. Hmmm, I think I'm onto something there. But wait! What if I waive it, then I don't deer hunt there after all? I think this has just become a job for Microsoft Excel! It's time for a serious spreadsheet! So here we go. This is when the nerd in me gets revealed. But seriously, if I'm going to truly find out how much my venison will cost per pound when all is said and done, I need to do this, right? I know a lot of you are probably thinking that I should lighten up a little bit and put more thought into actually bagging a deer instead of creating spreadsheets and playing banker. But before I heed that sort of advice, let me ask another question. What happens if I don't get a deer this season? I guess that will mean that next year I'll carry this year's expenses over and add them to the cost of next year's venison, if I'm successful then. If I'm not, then each year's expenses will keep carrying over until I bring home some meat. I think that if that happens, which I realize 100% that it very well may happen, this venison could honestly reach the $60 per pound price! WOW! If that happens, anyone who might find themselves dining upon the aforementioned venison at my table, better damn well know that I consider them a Super V.I.P.! And God help anyone who leaves any of it behind on their plate! You think the fines in Singapore are steep for wasting food?  For now I'll keep my sights set on bringing home a buck this season. (Pun intended).

So, back to my "shoulds". I'm not going to worry about any of that stuff. I'll use the gun I have. I'll scout as much as I can, and I'll hunt wherever I hunt! I like the challenge that I made for myself regarding the cost of deer hunting, but I just hope that it doesn't spoil the overall enjoyment of the whole experience. Don't get me wrong. I know that a HUGE part of this whole thing is for the experience, the sport, and the adventure. I just think that in the beginning if I know exactly what my investment adds up to, I might find even that much more satisfaction if I can indeed do this for far less money than one would initially expect. Cheers!


NorCal Cazadora said...

I have deliberately chosen NOT to count how much money I spend on waterfowl ammo because I know it's a lot.

But if I were counting? I think you need to calculate annual costs of hunting and fishing compared with the pounds of flesh you get from it. License, tags, stamps, ammo, gas.

I have no idea how to amortize a gun.

And Hank and I disagree on one point: whether to factor in time. I think if you want to determine how much wild game costs us, you have to include time.

But frankly, I don't care what the cost is. I do it, period. It's like going to the store and getting beer or milk - I never know what the price is, because I'm going to buy it anyway.

Feathers to Fur said...

Amortizing a gun, now there's words you don't hear together very often. haa!

I agree with you about the license, tags, stamps, ammo, and gas, but I'm going to have to agree with Hank about the time. I'd be doing something with my time, regardless. So why put a dollar figure on that? I know the whole "time is money" thing, but if I kept a taxi meter running around my neck keeping track of how much every minute is costing me, I'd go crazy.

I'm not planning on making this the main focus of this blog, but I am totally planning on having it be somewhat of a running theme. I think organic green guy in me will love the fact that I'm keeping tract of this.

Thank you so much for the comment, Holly!

Jules said...

We've considered the cost too, but there are so many factors. How do you count the money you would otherwise have spent against some different recreation? I doubt that I'd still have my rig if I didn't hunt, but I didn't buy it for that; do I count that? And our trailer, which does get used for other things... on and on it goes.

It's not about the cost to us either, which is a good thing, as I've spent a lot of money in my life on a grand total of three bucks. My husband comes out a lot cheaper, as he kills more deer. And I probably won't take any game for us at all with the dogs for years. But I'm willing to spend money on a passion.

Feathers to Fur said...

Jules, You're very right about there being so many cost factors to consider. Where do we draw the line? I believe that expenses that would have been made anyway without a hunting trip are ones that should probably be excluded in the final cost analysis.

And I'm honestly with the both of you when it boils down to it. I love the outdoors, and I love hunting. The fact of the matter is that no matter the out of pocket expense, if I can't afford it, then I won't be able to do it at all anyway. My motive for this challenge is mostly out of curiosity. I hope it ends up being a rewarding challenge rather than one that ends up steering me away from the sport.

Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Jules!

NorCal Cazadora said...

One thing I try to keep in mind is this: If all we did was hunt and gather for our food, we'd all have 2-3x as much leisure time. Hunter-gatherers spend about 17 hours a week on food acquisition.

The problem for us is that we can do that if we try, but doing it in addition to the labor we must to to pay the bills is tough.

So yeah, hunting is our leisure time, with a little bit of sweat thrown in when we get lucky.

Feathers to Fur said...

Wouldn't it be awesome if our only responsibility in life was to hunt and gather food? I guess if it was, it wouldn't be leisure, and we'd get sick of it just like anything thing else.

I'm glad that I have hunting and fishing for my leisure time. Try to imagine what you would be doing for leisure if you didn't hunt and fish. What do you think it might be?

NorCal Cazadora said...

Well, there's one more REALLY important responsibility: raising children. But I can tell you exactly what it would be like: You'd sing, dance, tell stories, make art and rest. You would not need anti-depressants, high blood pressure medication, insulin, etc. The glories of civilization are myths we've told ourselves forever to convince ourselves we did the right thing, leaving that life behind.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post.

I actually, for Holly's blog to be honest, figured out the cost. I included all guns, tags, processing,and ammunition for hunting and practice but not gas. That is a factor but I'm assuming I would be spending for some outdoor or family travel. I came up with $4.35, but that was before a deer this week, which I've yet to cut and wrap to weigh it. I'll do it myself this year to save money.

It's an interesting exercise, but to be honest the recreational value is worth more that most things I have ever done, even without the meat. In the thousands of dollars (well spent I think) I put into snowboarding or windsurfing I never came home with food. I have to assume I'd be doing something other than watching TV, if I had one. So whatever the price, there is a satisfaction that goes beyond the net cost. Do I factor the cost of my San Francisco back yard into the cost of homegrown potatoes? They're pretty expensive.

Neil H