Is Hunting for Meat Cheaper Than Buying It?

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase one of the recommended items, I will make a small commission, at no extra cost to yourself. See my disclaimer page for more details.

Have you ever asked the question: is hunting for meat cheaper than buying it? My man and I did, just after we set a big financial goal for ourselves! We wanted to buy land, build a simple home and start a tiny farmstead…all in 5 year’s time! But in order to do this, we needed to be very conscious about where our money went.

Raised in hunting families, our natural instinct was to carry on with this traditional way of putting meat on the table. However, in light of the fact that we needed to save money, the question had to asked: is hunting for meat cheaper than buying it?

Hunting for meat, is it financially worth your time and effort?

We needed to know for certain. As a result, we came up with a chart (shared below) that tracked our expenses. In the end, we had our answer!

Before you scroll down to grab your free copy of this chart, let’s briefly touch on the expenses that most hunters encounter.


The Cost of Hunting Courses

Minimal though it may be, this is the first thing a hunter (or would-be hunter) has to take into account. In both USA and CA, you have to take and pass a paid, Hunter’s Education Program before you’re allowed to hunt rifle or archery.

In Canada, rifle hunters are required to have a Possession and Acquisition License (PAL) that must be renewed every 5 years. With a fee, of course!

Yep, we’ve got it tough up here. 😉


The Cost of License and Tags

Every year, hunters face the cost of a hunting license. They must also purchase tags for each type of animal they wish to harvest. Most of the time, prices are quite reasonable! If these were the only two expenses a person needed to consider, hunting for the table would be very cheap indeed!

Is Hunting for Meat Cheaper Than Buying It?


The Cost of Equipment

Rifle hunters not only face the cost of a rifle, but they also have to think about a good scope, ammunition and maintenance gear. Archery hunters have the cost of a bow, good sights, arrows and tips, plus a few other odds and ends.

Depending on where you hunt, you may also need binoculars or a spotting scope, quality camping gear, a tree stand or special clothing. All these things add to the actual price of your harvested meat! Our all-time favorite hunting knife is this one here.


The Inevitable Cost of Travel!

In a lifetime of hunting, the majority of us will spend the contents of our pocketbook not on equipment, tags or gear, but on fuel for our vehicles. If you have to drive even 30 minutes to reach a location where you can hunt, the cost of the animal you (hopefully) harvest is going to quickly add up!

Is Hunting for Meat Cheaper Than Buying It?

My man and I are fortunate to have good hunting within a 10-15 minutes radius of our home. You probably imagine us bombing down back roads in an old truck, don’t you? Guess again! Truth is, we sport a mini-van and have hauled numerous deer in the back of it!

Go ahead. You can laugh! We do.


The Cost of Taking Time Off

Not everyone takes time off work to go hunting. However, those who do have to stop and consider something important. When you look at hunting from a financial perspective alone, taking time off work only adds to the price of your meat.

How much money do you make in a day? How many work days did you skip for the sake of hunting? This amount needs to be added to total cost.


The Cost of Processing Meat

Even after you harvest an animal, there are still expenses looming on the horizon. Are you going to let it age and do you have a cool place to hang it? Will you process the animal yourself? Do you have (or at least have access to) proper equipment? If not, what is the cost of having it done at your local butcher shop?

These things affect the actual price of your meat and should be calculated into the final cost!

Is Hunting for Meat Cheaper Than Buying It?

Are you a hunter who loves to eat? Grab “The Vension Cookbook” by Kate Fiduccia (one of my favorites) and try the roast recipe on pg 23! Its the best!


A Reference Chart

And now, I’m going to show you my man’s hunting expenses for the year 2019. You’ll notice that instead of lumping all set up costs into the first year of hunting, we chose to divide them up over a 10 year period. You can do it however you like on your chart!

Set Up Costs


10 Year Break Down for Set Up

Hunting Education Program




gifted to us



gifted to us



gifted to us


Gun Lock & Accessories



Hunting Knife




Reoccurring Purchases


5 Year PAL Renewal Fee






Whitetail Tag



Whitetail Tag



Black Bear Tag



Fuel for Travel






Processing Costs


Bulk Butcher Paper



Freezer Tape






Set Up Costs



Yearly Purchases



Processing Costs



Total Hunting Cost of 2019



2019 Harvest

Meat Pkg Weight


1 whitetail doe

40 lbs


1 whitetail buck

60 lbs


Total lbs: 100


Final Cost: $205.43/100 lbs=

$2.05 per lb



Is Hunting for Meat Cheaper Than Buying It?

When my man and I realized that grass fed beef sells for $6 lb in our area, there was no longer any question in our minds. We love the taste of venison, have good hunting nearby and who doesn’t want a savings of $2.92 per lb when it comes to their meat supply?

That’s our story. And now, it’s time to discover your own.


Calculate The Cost of Hunting

Wanna discover the cost of your wild game harvest? Click this link to download your free copy of my chart in PDF form!

Did you click on the link? The chart should be found among your downloads. Print, fill it out and then let me know how it goes! Is hunting for meat cheaper than buying it?

2 thoughts on “Is Hunting for Meat Cheaper Than Buying It?

  1. Autumn this is a great breakdown of costs. It’s neat to see someone doing this so well. But I think you need to find out the cost of the rifle, scope and binoculars and add them to the cost, though maybe amortized over $20 years would make sense for those.
    The reason is hat in theory you could have just been gifted meat (lame I know) but that is the opportunity cost of those gifts in this context. :-/

    Though speaking of opportunity cost, I suppose you’d also have to include the cost of some other hobby you’d do if you couldn’t hunt….

    1. Thanks Steve. I have to wonder if you read this post well or looked at the downloadable hunter’s chart. 🙂 In the post itself, I was simply giving a break down of our exact costs for the hunting year 2019. I know not everyone is gifted hunting gear. But we were. In the downloadable chart, I most certainly DO have place to record the expenses of all these things! And hunting will never be free. You’ll always have the cost of hunting license, tags, ammo, fuel for travel and butchering costs. As far as hobbies go, I specifically left them out of the equation. Those who hunt as a hobby don’t really care about cost; they do it because they enjoy the experience! This post is geared toward people who, (like Jesse and I) are searching for the cheapest way to put meat on the table, who may or may not hunt if there was a cheaper way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.