It was the Most Important Day of the Year for a large group of Utahns on Friday. It was the start of the Rifle Deer hunt. Thousands of overweight people riding ATVs were crawling over the hills of Utah shooting copper-jacketed lead slugs into trees, bushes, hills, lakes, rivers, dirt, mud, each other, dogs, trucks and occasionally a male Mule Deer.
The LDS-Church owned news channel did a great story about all the hunters by focusing, in these trying financial times, about the need for hunting in Utah. Most people they interviewed weren't hunting for trophy (although there was plenty of people measuring antlers in the story) but adamantly stressed there were hunting for meat.
Wow - my hat is off to you mountain men and women. Truly a noble thing, hunting for your own food. Very thrifty. Way to save money in these trying, trying times.
The only problem is that if you want me to believe you're "doing your part" by hunting your own meat, you've got a long way to go.
Let's do a quick price check, shall we?
To be a big time Utah deer hunter you need yerself a gun. So, let's go to Cabelas, shall we? Now, I dunno anything about huntin' deers, but I know enough about guns to know that the thirty-ought six is a perty good gun. You kin buy a Remington Model 770 .30-06 for $432, and that comes with its very own 3-9x40mm scope! Wow - truly a thrifty rifle there. But, hell - you're in Utah - you don't buy the minimum in Utah - so let's see what Cabelas has that would make your neighbor envious. How about this and, you'll need a decent scope, so let's buy a 3.5-10 x 30mm Leupold scope to go with it ($469.00).
We've got our gun and scope. We'll need ammunition! $43.99 for 20 rounds of the .30-06 VitalShok ammunition. Good stuff, lead free, etc.. (avg rating 4.8/5 by those Cabelas shoppers!) or, if you want to poison yourself and the environment with lead, choose the Remington Express for $21.99.
So, if we're cheap bastards we're already at $453.99. That's just for the rifle, scope and ammunition! If we're not cheap bastards, we could be up around $4100.
Now we need our license. $26.00 for Utah Big Game license, plus $35.00 for the deer tag.
Hunting in October is COLD. So, we need to buy insulated pants, parka, gloves, etc... I'm getting sick of hyperlinking, so let's figure about $250 for clothing.
50 gallons of gas at $3.50/gallon to get to and from the hunting site by truck and gas for the ATV. $175.00
1 case beer plus food for the weekend. $75.00
We'll also need our ATV for $3,849
I don't have a calculator right now, but I think we're at $A,lot.00
But, hey - you're doing your part, right? After all, you are hunting for your FAMILY To put FOOD ON YOUR TABLE. How much food will there be, actually?
A study found here states that the average weight of a field dressed male mule deer was 113.7 pounds. Field dressing means you take all the guts out and cut off the legs at the knees and hocks. From there one gets only about 54.6 pounds of actual meat. 55 pounds of meat per deer. That's it, folks. That giant, beautiful animal gets you 55 pounds of meat. The rest, the bones, the head, the hide, the fur, the gristle - you're going to put that down the drain, in the garbage - you're not going to use it.
This study also found that, to avoid spoiling the meat, to avoid the "strong" flavor that venison has and to basically make sure that your hunt does what it is supposed to do, you need to get your deer to a butcher within 4 hours of execution. It's a wee ways away from the middle of the Henry mountains to the nearest fridge. And, be careful of the metatarsal glands and all other taste spoiling stuff that Bambi has in him.
(you apparently get about 48% of the field dressed poundage in usable meat - so if you're carcass is bigger, you'll get more meat.....duh).
I dislike hunting for trophies, but I can understand it. Ultimately we need thinning of the herds and blah blah blah. But don't make yourself out to be a hero when you're going to eat about half of a roast and throw the rest away.