Often, I see folks posting harvest photos with a disclaimer that they harvested the yearling buck or small doe pictured because they are a “meat hunter” and don’t care about antlers. This is just an empty excuse used by deer hunters that feel that they have to justify their harvests. While the hunter may truly not care about antlers (which is unlikely as almost all hunters share at least some fascination with antlers), it is doubtful that any hunter these days is a true meat hunter for a few reasons.
What Is A Meat Hunter?
While there are countless possible definitions of a meat hunter, any solid definition will stipulate that the hunter is hunting to provide meat for his family and himself as a necessity. This differs from the idea of a sport hunter who hunts for the enjoyment of the experience and does not necessarily need the meat to provide for food himself.
I personally fall into the sport hunter category. I love hunting and I do so because it is relaxing, I get to enjoy creation, and I ultimately enjoy eating the venison I consume. I do not hunt as a food necessity; the meat I harvest is simply a huge bonus that often becomes my motivation to hunt. I am not poor enough to have to shoot deer to feed myself, and I doubt that any of the self-proclaimed “meat hunters” out there are too poor to purchase their own food.
Hunting Isn’t Cheap
Everyone invests some level of finances into their hobbies, and if hunting is one of those I guarantee that they are spending way more on hunting free-range venison than they would spend if they went to the store and just bought beef. For instance, if you hunt 5 days and have a short 15 minute commute to your hunting property you will spend roughly $20 on gas for your truck. If you live in a state where it is legal and you choose to bait with corn you can easily spend $30 on corn over a month. You will also spend $20 on a box of bullets and probably around $75 on a trail camera. If you put out scent lure you will easily spend $10 there and you will probably want to buy that $20 package of scent killing products to try not to be smelly. Let’s stop there and ignore the fancy camo clothes, boots, treestand, boxstand, binoculars, and gun that most will buy and will add hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on value.
Just counting gas, corn, bullets, a trail camera, scent, and scent killer you have already spent $175 to kill a deer! If you shoot that little yearling buck in your corn pile you will get roughly 30 lbs of meat. That means you are spending nearly $6 per a pound for venison and that’s before processing fees or processing equipment cost if you do it yourself!
We Hunt Because We Love It
If simply acquiring protein for the best price possible were the goal I think any budget conscience person would buy cheap beef or chicken before they paid $6/lb for deer meat. The short of it is we hunt because we love being outdoors and experiencing nature and we shoot deer because we enjoy completing our hunts with tasty venison!
Stop using meat hunting as an excuse to kill every juvenile deer you see and don’t fool yourself into thinking you have to kill that yearling buck because you “need” the meat. People should shoot what makes them happy, but if you want meat shoot a doe and let the little guy go! It may just make a future hunt much more exciting when that buck has matured!