Can You Save Money By Hunting?

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Can you save money by hunting? I believe the answer is a resounding ‘yes,’ and I’m about to give you the justification you need to get out of your house and into the woods more often. Here’s why:

A deer was put in my freezer the other day. And as I stuffed as much of it as I could into my freezer, I couldn’t help but think about the cost of what that meat would be at the grocery store. I had just put away perhaps 45 pounds of venison. How much would that have cost me at the store? Would I have even been able to find 45 pounds of venison at the store?

Here’s how the financials of hunting break down, and I think you’ll see as well, you can save money by hunting.

Oh, deer. That’s a lot of money.

As I hoisted the deer up to make for easier dressing, I realized that the dead weight of the animal was probably around 120 pounds. Other than the occasional chicken liver platter, I don’t really eat organ meat, so all I took from this deer was the meat. After it had all been carved up, I probably ended up with 45-50 pounds of venison.

A nice formula you can use to calculate a rough number of how many pounds of meat you can expect per deer has been created by Deer Hunting Field.

They estimate that each deer you bag will yield you the following amount of meat:

(Full weight x 0.7)x 0.45 = the amount of meat in pounds you’ll harvest

So, my 120-pound deer would factor in as…

(120 x 0.7) x 0.45

120 x 0.7 = 84

84 x 0.45 = 37.8 pounds of meat I could reasonably expect from this deer.

I didn’t weigh each bag of venison, but I’d estimate it was right around 45-50 pounds in total. Slightly higher than what this formula would predict, but the ballpark figure is there.

And it only cost roughly a dollar for the cartridge. (This ammo here is $1.50/round, but you may find it cheaper locally.)

Personally, I’ve yet to see venison for sale at any of the grocery stores around where I live, but I do know they all carry beef, and I am very familiar with its price.

As of right now, a pound of ground beef averages out to around $4.60 in the US. It varies a bit on the fat content you’re choosing, and whether or not you’re choosing grass-fed beef or not, but let’s stick with $4.60 to make things simple.

Breaking down the cost of a deer in the freezer

Let’s assume that a pound of ground venison is worth the same as a pound of ground beef. If I ground up my entire deer (we’ll estimate 45 pounds), it would cost me $207.00 to purchase such at the store. I fully respect that ground venison isn’t exactly the same as ground beef (different fat contents and all that), but if you’re predominantly looking at “how can I keep meat on the table?”, hunting is a fantastic factor to consider.

Am I going to ground up 45 pounds of venison? By no means. I’ve got tender loin, back strap, and other cuts of meat that are much too nice for me to want to grind them up. Really, I think that the price point of a whole deer in the freezer is higher than $207.00.

But the point is this: at least $207 was put into my fridge for around a dollar. Even if I had sat out in the woods for four hours before I bagged the deer, I’d still be making over $50/hour, would I not?

Hunting for deer is economically worth it. You can save money by hunting deer.

What about other animals though?

Can we expect similar results from other hunts?

I think so.

Can you save money hunting the humble turkey?

A whole, frozen turkey in my area costs anywhere between $30-50 at the moment. And that’s when you can find it. For the sake of argument, let’s say a 12-pound, frozen turkey costs $30. I’ve got buddies who have shot some behemoth 20+ pound turkeys in the past, but let’s also assume that a wild turkey averages at 18 pounds.

Let’s also assume that five pounds of that bird is feathers, organs, and parts you don’t want to eat (e.g. feet and the head). A lot of assumptions, I know. We work with what we have, and sometimes, a guesstimate is the best you can do. If we stick with these figures though, that would give us 12 pounds of bird to eat.

So, the birds are comparable.

Is one 12-gauge round $20? Nope. It’s more like $2 at the moment. If you’re lucky, Mr. Turkey is bound to have friends standing real close as well, and you may be able to get one of his buddies. An 18-pound gobbler, and a 10-pound hen for $4 isn’t bad at all.

A $2 shell and a few hours hanging out in the solace of the woods can actually save you at least $28.00.

As you can see, even with turkey hunting, you’re still bound to make money.

How do other animals compare though?

While we could undoubtedly look at bear, hog, quail, or other forms of hunting, I think it’s worthwhile to focus on duck hunting instead. I don’t know too many people who eat bear or quail on a regular basis. I don’t know anybody who eats wild hog. So, ducks it is.

Normally, a whole, frozen duck could be purchased at the grocery store for around $18.00 (at close to $3/pound).

Obviously, you can get a duck at the pond for much cheaper than that today (around $1/shot). But the catch here is this: where I’m at, duck is currently unavailable in stores. It doesn’t matter how much you’re willing to pay when you walk in the grocery store. If they don’t have it, you don’t either.

In this circumstance, hunting not only saves you money, but it actually provides you something that the grocery store cannot. That’s not even considering that when one is duck hunting, getting 3+ is usually the norm. (Last time I was out, I only got two, but I digress…)

The point is that I spent four hours out in the cold and walked away with what would cost me close to $40 in the store if the store even had it in stock. Is duck hunting as “profitable” of a venture as deer hunting when it comes to the amount of meat you harvest? No, but the savings still prove – yet again – that you can save money by hunting.

“But what about all that gear?

I admit, this is where hunting can flip to an overly expensive hobby. Was it always this way? No. Consider the early American. He hunted because it kept his family alive. Do you think he had spare cash to throw into the latest camouflage, decoys, and calls?

No way.

You don’t have to either. You do need some gear, but as a whole, I think hunters tend to overdo it.

If you’re the gear junkie who drops $100 every time that you walk into the hunting store, then obviously, you’re going to have to harvest a lot more meat to make hunting pay off compared to the guy who already has his camo and rifle, and is content with things as they are. I am assuming you already have a rifle here too. Where I live, this is just a given.

If you’re looking for new camo, may I first suggest checking out your local thrift store. You’re bound to find fantastic deals on great name brand camo for a matter of dollars. If you’re looking for ammo, may I recommend MidwayUSA.com. At the moment, they’re the only supplier online I’ve found that consistently has ammunition, and at a reasonable price. Palmetto State Armory has been letting me down as of late.

As far as decoys, calls, and other gear goes, I highly recommend telling your buddies you’re in the market for such. They’re bound to be getting rid of some of their older gear – which will still work just fine – and be willing to sell it to you for a fair price. You’ll be amazed at the deals you find when you utilize word of mouth.

Can you save money hunting? The answer is ‘yes.’

Just like anything else worthwhile, it does take time and effort. You’ll have to spend some early mornings out in the frigid cold before the sun rises. You may end up spending your evening in a tree stand. But I refuse to believe that this is wasted time.

The chance to unwind and think, the chance to watch the shooting stars – and all while working to provide for your family – it truly is a gift.

What are your thoughts on the subject though? Have you found you save money by going hunting? Are there other factors to consider I did not? Let us know in the comments below.

About Aden

Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has two published books, The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.

Can You Save Money By Hunting?
Aden Tate

Aden Tate

About the Author Aden Tate has a master’s in public health and is a regular contributor to PewPewTactical.com, SurvivalBlog.com, SHTFBlog.com, ApartmentPrepper.com, HomesteadAndPrepper.com, and PrepperPress.com. Along with being a freelance writer he also works part-time as a locksmith. Aden has an LLC for his micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has two published books, The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American at Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.

7 thoughts on “Can You Save Money By Hunting?”

  1. Hunting your meat can save a lot of money. But you need to process it yourself. It’s not difficult to learn. There are lots of u tube videos that walk you through it or you might find someone who will show you how. Also expensive gear is Not necessary. Warm comfortable clothes with an simple orange vest will usually suffice. If hunting with a gun a 30.06 will kill everything from a deer to an Alaskan moose ☺. It’s all my dad ever used. A used one will be fine. If food gets more difficult it might be worth learning if you live in an area with wild life.

  2. I’d like to see a little more about how much hunting licenses, deer tags, etc cost – because I know that cost can vary widely. For a while my spouse and I would occasionally be invited over to our friend’s house to help her process nuisance deer that kept eating her fruit trees, in exchange for half of the meat. Man that was sweet. Venison is amazing.

  3. The mention of early Americans hunting on a regular basis needs to be tailored with the fact of a vastly smaller population in that era. When the Federal Reserve caused the 1930s Great Depression that really lasted until World War II, the greatly larger population in search of food during conditions of severe unemployment found that many of the popularly hunted animals (like deer, eg) were nearly wiped out in early years of that Depression.’

    Today we have a much larger population than back then. With all indications that the currently Fed generated “everything bubble” is close to collapsing (like what led up to the October 1929 crash), the likelihood of some of those 1930s experiences of extreme deprivation doing a present day repeat is extremely high. So it’s reasonable to expect a repeat of an early wipeout of those hunted animals again.

    My expectation would be that tall fences that can’t be seen through to protect one’s garden could be a far more reliable source of food during a frighteningly many-years-long depression.

    –Lewis

  4. The most economical means to save money hunting is to shoot a deer from my porch (during season, of course), field dress it and haul it to my local processor where for a fee of $80 it will be butchered into whatever portions I tell him, deer burger ground with the proper amount of beef fat to make it juicey, and all shrink wrapped and frozen. $80 for 45/50lbs is a good deal.
    I hunt my own property, so no license fees, transportation costs, need to find a place or get permission. If you don’t own your property you will have to find a place that will allow you to hunt. That likely involves cost. Do I kill a deer or turkey every time I go into the woods? No. I may get several a season or none at all. Time/effort is worth something, and coming home empty handed is a real possibility. Processing your own game is not a ‘snap’. It requires preparation, the correct tools, and a place to do it. Then the meat must be properly packaged for storage or you could loose most of it to freezer burn and spoilage. My point is that hunting for your meat is not a cheap walk in the park…. or woods. Even if you use Grandaddy’s old singly-shot 12 ga. while wearing your work clothes with a few shells in your pocket, getting that deer or turkey or any other game has cost to it.

  5. I ate a wild hog at a cookout one time and could not tell the difference between it and a Hormel. Since they are domesticated pigs that escaped to the wild it make sense. They are everywhere here in Texas and whereas I don’t bother eating them now, I would have no hesitation doing so if stuff hits the fan.

  6. You left out much of the hidden cost of hunting. I’ve been around deer hunting my entire life. I’m assuming the gun and ammo are already owned.
    * the seasonal hunting permit, which is about $50 in my state for both a antlered and antlerless tag
    * special clothing although it is reusable for other years
    * some kind of tent, blind or other enclosure to sit in, some locations you can DIY out of natural materials, You can just sit in a chair but hunter motion and cold make a enclosure easier for beginners
    * helps for staying warm whether hot hands packets or a portable propane heater depending on season
    * also depending on area, time off from work to be able to be where the deer move when they move
    * the cost of processing, As the main cook of the house I find home processed venison much more labor intensive at cooking time because we only have knives to do the meat and getting that white membrane off is extremely difficult
    Only seasoned hunters who already own everything can just count the cost of the bullet and permit as the cost of the meat.

  7. I have not bought ammo since covid19 but subscribe to few sites online–outdoor unlimited, Ammunition depot, Sig Sauer. Big Daddy has good prices buy must join membership. Alternatives would be bow & arrow but arrows & tips are more expensive than bullets.
    I am a prepper naturally & if not for that would not have been fortunate enough to make it through pandemic with less costs/expenses/availability. Having freezer & also canning meat along with fruit/veg/soup/dry mixes should be a no brainer. We don’t necessarily do venison but do beef & chickens from local farmer. Have done venison in past & I can’t process myself but have been fortunate enough to find/know people who do & sometimes just trade for some meat & head/antlers. Though I do have shrink wrapper for foods I do prefer to wrap in meat paper because better protected from freezer burn as we have experienced from some shrink wrap but not all.
    I think we may be more hunting in coming future because of food shortages but most likely would be people who already hunt. I have learned not to share too much info about what I have publicly as others think they have rights to mine.
    I made raised beds (years ago) & have everbearing strawberries (come back every year with multiple harvests & now veg in another. Planted fruit trees years ago, but people stop to pick over fence & recently deer (in 15 years never happened) started wandering into property through fence row to get to trees in fall & winter. maybe because both dogs inside all time now.
    overall hunting & growing as much food as you can is definitely cheaper & healthier.

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