If you ask a dozen hunters for reasons why they hunt, a frequent answer might be to save money and put meat in the freezer.
I used to think this was one of my reasons, too.
Then I did the math.
Starting with the basics, harvesting a deer involves some sort of weapon.
While the Iowa DNR Conservation Officer handling the case would probably laugh as they arrest you for doing this with a sharpened stick, the choices you actually have are bow, shotgun, handgun, muzzleloader or for the last season in the southern tier of two Iowa counties, a high-powered rifle.
Let's start with $800 for a Ruger Super Redhawk .44 Magnum, courtesy of Keith's Outdoors in Fort Dodge.
A good, accurate hunting pistol needs good, accurate ammunition.
This would normally involve carefully assembling handloads using the existing stash of bullets, powders, primers and cases already on the shelf - then following up with some serious group shooting, velocity measuring and carefully retesting the most accurate loads.
What was not on the shelf? A huge can of time to use up before opening day.
Two boxes of factory ammunition were purchased. While that saved a lot of time, it added over $100 to the tally.
In addition, a good accurate hunting pistol needs a good holster. For a bit more than $75, a nice chest carry rig arrived in the mailbox - almost by magic.
To shoot an accurate hunting pistol well in the field, shooting sticks are a good addition to the kit. New set purchased after leaving home for the hunt without the one already owned -?say another 60 bucks or so.
A reliable pair of boots are important. You need something warm, comfortable, fairly light and above all else, camouflaged so your feet blend in with the forest floor.
Another $75 or so - on sale for enough off to pay for three pairs of wool socks.
That about did it for new equipment.
Hunters have to eat. They also need to get where the deer are. The first requires a trip to the grocery store for lunchmeat, bread, mustard, snack cakes, two rings of sausage, enough soda to float the Titanic again and a whole bunch of string cheese in individual packages.
Add another hundred.
Next, fuel. Somebody has to drive to southern Iowa, and once there, find the deluxe homestead where the hunting party stays to the fields.
Toss in another hundred for my fair share.
At this point, we are up to a bit over $1,300.
Not only that, but we now have to take a road not traveled:?the results of actually shooting a deer, which I'm sad to report did not actually happen.
Don Sawyer, owner of Sawyer Meats, said that processing a deer will cost somewhere between $75 and $250. It depends on the options the hunter selects; much like a menu, each can select what products they desire.
How much meat you end up depends a bit on the deer; the range is from about 40 pounds for a small one to double that for a fairly large specimen.
Lets say the average is 60. We'll also go for a middle of the road processing option, $150.
We're now up to about $1,450 total, and yes, a license was indeed purchased.?So let's call the whole thing an even $1,500.
That's 25 dollars a pound, or about $1.56 an ounce.
While that might seem a bit expensive, it is possible to pay more. The Kansas City Steak Company will sells a package containing five pounds of Kobe like beef for the sum of $289.95 - plus shipping.
That's $4.85 an ounce.
Yes, the deer is indeed a bargain.