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Thread: Subsistence food costs vs. store food

  1. #1
    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Default Subsistence food costs vs. store food

    Janie Leask of the First Nations Institute was on the radio yesterday. They got their hand out waiting for that 1200 bucks cuz they are worried subsistence food will be more expensive than store food.
    I know everyone here is a subsistence hunter.....................right??? All those trophy mounts we see pics of are just secondary to the hunt..................right??? Anyway, what do you think, which costs more? I'm not talking just gas either. Tally up all you spend on hunting, equipment, guns, bows, toys(boats, ATV's etc.) clothing............etc., etc. Average it out over a few years. Now compare that to store bought food, meat that is. I don't mean the MOST expensive steak either. Assume you shop sales and buy intelligently. Figure what you spend per year on meat, or what you might spend if you bought all your meat at the store. Urban res, how much is a side of beef, cut and wrapped? Rural folks...........no fair using local costs if you can get it cheaper shipping it in.
    Fun factor isn't a part of this. Just straight food cost, store vs. the field. Include fish too.

    I'll go first. Except for an occasional lucky hunt, my hunted food costs considerably more than store food. Got plenty of toys and equipment. Participate in 2 or 3 large animal hunts each year. Small animal hunts fall and winter. Fishing may be about a break even deal tho.
    I could possibly bring my hunted food costs down. Own less toys,but maintain them better (longer life). Optimize my hunting to local areas. Keep fishing down to only the most successful places and best times.
    I'd say for rural res, it's a toss up. A guy could do it either way.
    What do you say???
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  2. #2
    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    Default Costs

    We'll I did a talley last year when I had laid out everything for my fly-in hunt to POW for a single blacktail.

    All included I estimated there was $11,000 worth of gear going on that hunt. That included high end all weather rifles, skin on frame packable kayak, High tech tents and sleeping gear, lanterns, ect............................................... .................................

    So in a sense I'm still recovering the costs involved and the final tally hasn't been done. I'll keep on hunting and utilizing the gear I've "invested" in.

    I'll say this. In these current economic conditions I'm only maintaining my gear and there are very few purchases taking place. I bought a new pair of Danners this year to replace my worn out pair. I've also bought an all weather stock for my gun and some bullets and powder for reloading. That is all other than the food and fuel I'll need to run that I will spend. Oh one more thing....I do have a plane charter bill to pay this fall too.

    So I'm really not subsistence hunting anymore. I've clearly crossed the line into recreational/sport hunting. I think that I've voluntarly spent my way into that category. My hunts are indeed blessed with the harvest but in locations I find to my personal prefrence hence "recreational".

    I'd say I'm easily paying $15 pound for my venison. Thats a total estimate because I would be floored to know the real figure.

  3. #3
    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default Mike, not sure if you are the "norm" out there

    Mike, I'd say for most who live in the rural villages: anything you can get from the land ends up being cheaper in cost than the meat or fish you can buy in the store.

    It's all relative too in the villages; some folks think they need a really nice boat and high hp motor out there, some can get by with a used jon boat and 25hp outboard. Some can line a canoe. Some want and use an airplane. Indeed gas is spendy and many are saying they will not go as far as they used to, or they will better plan their hunts to include going along with others on party hunts and split gas costs. Some get food stamps and so for them it may be "cheaper" to buy food rather than the cost of hunting.

    I really don't see how "subsistence" food (meat, fish) out in the villages can ever be more expensive than store bought food from local village store that is shipped in from afar. I'd say you are not the norm, cuz you may have more "toys" than most, but since I don't live out your way, I can't say. Out where you are in western AK, with the liberal amount of caribou you guys can take, and the large WA herd, I'd think it'd be even moreso. Not sure what kind of fishing goes on out that way. This summer the king run on the Yukon was piss-poor and many are hurting from that who normally can up cases and cases of kings to help get through the winter. I think there are a variety of meat sources out there not utilized, such as beaver, which we depend on a lot here. And bear too; I recall asking if you'd salvaged any of the grizz you guys got this spring and you mentioned I think you'd taken a quarter or two back and it was good eating...but most don't eat grizz.

    Interesting question...I do know that many hunters spend way more on a moose or caribou when all is said and done than if they'd buy a side of beef etc, when you add cost of fly outs and long trips to haul road or something like that. But most of those folks aren't the hunters from rural areas. And for some, it ain't about the meat per se. Plus, you have the health factor; most game meat is much healthier than store bought beef or chicken etc. I'd hate to see any elders imply ever that store bought food was cheaper than hunting; it doesn't at all jibe with what "subistence" really is and what it means. Hunting is a way of life for most on this forum, whether it is "subsistence" or not.

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    Member Phil's Avatar
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    Default Expensive or Free

    I suspect that most of us don't need to hunt so we can eat (a few exceptions of people who live in the bush and are not able to move out). People who choose to live in the bush belong to the "most of us" catagory.

    That said, the last time I checked (about 4 years ago) the cost of my wild game meat was about $20 per pound (including ground meat). I'm pretty sure the cost hasn't gone down.

    So I can figure one of two ways - either my meat is darn expensive or the cost of my hunting is repaid by the enjoyment and the meat is a "free bonus". Since I'm married, I choose the latter explaination.

    MANY years ago I did hunt with a farmer (in rural NY) who truely hunted for food. He never strayed from his home farm so he never bought a license - hunted with an old bolt action shotgun that he probably bought for around $15 - never bought any new guns - hunted in his barn clothes - and was a good shot so he rarely needed more than 1 shot per whitetail.
    His cost was probably around 5 cents per pound. My guess is that, if you need toys to access your hunting and/or you travel to a hunting spot, you would probably be ahead to buy meat in the store.

    But - Where is the value of that???

    ps. Frank (my old friend), butchered all his own deer.
    Last edited by Phil; 07-27-2008 at 09:44. Reason: grammar

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    Member jkb's Avatar
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    Default

    The word of "subsistence" is become so over used. To those that run the Tier II program anybody that hunts certain populations with "the States restrictions" is subsistence. On the Yukon some put nets in the river catching Salmon and selling them. Of those two examples the first is just sport hunting, the second is commercial fishing.

    I would bet there are less than a thousand people that truly subsist off the land. The land does not produce enough calories to truly subsist not using outside foods.

    Is it cheaper for me to collect game meat or go to the store? If I spot a moose on my way berry picking its way cheaper to go hunting. If I go on a Nodwell excursion I could probably buy two cows and still come out ahead. But I don't go Vegas to make money either.
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming-----WOW-----what a ride!
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    Wink subsistence vs store

    Yes our family has gotten tier II pemits for mant years for Unit 13 and have been very geartful for the meat we are able to bring home. Yes we make over the $51,000+ that is asked about and yes we do have 'play toys' to hunt with. With our work we need the free time away from it all so we do a fair amount to camping and four wheeling in Unit 13. Does our 'subsistence' meat cost us more? Probability! But being that we harvest the meat and we process all of our own meat we know that the meat is much safer then what is in the stores. Just look at all of the recalls for bad meat the last couple years and wonder why more people do not 'eat off the land'!
    Just another way of looking at the cost.

  7. #7
    Member gusuk1's Avatar
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    Default cost vary

    Each yr and each hunt varies in costs,last yr my costs were 1 gallon of gas and one 416 shell.i used my four wheeler that is our main transportation so i really don't count that as an expense,where it costs us is the side dishes that go with our harvest such as rice,and vegies.right now we are paying 6.50 a gall. for gas,a plane ride to town which is 29 miles cost's 300.00 one way,so in the long run for meat it is a hek of a lot cheaper to harvest our own meat.

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    Member shphtr's Avatar
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    Default

    It would seem to me that very few (VERY FEW) hunters/gatherers are actual true subsistence hunters/gatherers. Rather it seems to me the bounty they harvest from nature actually SUPPLEMENTS their (store bought) food supply. TRUE subsistence hunter/gathers prob account for maybe 1-3% of the Alaska population....depending of course on one's precise definition of "subsistence".

  9. #9
    Mark
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    While it is clear that Alaska is one of the last places on Earth where a true hunter-gatherer society lived (primarily because of it's limited agricultural capabilities), it's also clear that it is largely supplanted by the benefits of agrarian societies, transportation advances, and trade.

    Jared Diamond's book "Guns, Germs, and Steel", is now the Pulitzer Prize winning analysis of how human history developed as it did, and it delves deeply into subsistence. The bottom line is that those who depended on subsistence lost.

    Current "subsistence" politics is just that: politics. Nobody is going to starve in Alaska anymore. Subsistence as we know it today in Alaska is a combination of "me first" and "keep them out" attitudes.

    A whole cow cut, wrapped, and delivered to any cargo airfield in the Bush will cost about $2,000, which would be the equivalent of 235 gallons of gasoline at $8.50 per gallon.

    The point is that Bush residents are just like me in Mat-Su;

    I hunt for enjoyment, spiritual renewal, time spent in the field, and with the hope of gaining meat as a benefit (as well as the primary goal of the exercise). If I'm not successful, I go buy some meat to eat, or plan another hunt (deer, caribou, etc).

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    The question isn't about norms. Not about what is subsistence or commercial. Steaight forward question, what costs you more? Asking for input based on individual experience, not on "normal".
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
    I have less friends now!!

  11. #11
    Mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper View Post
    The question isn't about norms. Not about what is subsistence or commercial. Steaight forward question, what costs you more? Asking for input based on individual experience, not on "normal".
    Averaged over the long term, to include equipment and gear needed to hunt/fish, and especially considering time (which can be spent performing other activities), there is no question that buying meat is cheaper than hunting/fishing for most folks.

    For those who enjoy hunting/fishing, enjoy time in the woods, and gain spiritual renewal hunting/fishing, hunting/fishing can regularly provide meat while one enjoys himself/herself, rather than spending time/money in Vegas, Hawaii, California, etc buying trinkets and rides in amusement parks which provide no fruits other than a cheap thrill.

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default

    Mike, you want individual experience...well in my case it's much cheaper to get our meat and fish out here than it is to buy and ship it from town.


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    I hunt and fish for entertainment. I'd do it even if I never managed to catch or shoot anything.

    Therefore the fish and game meat I get are free.

    Not buying store food is a bonus for me, and free meat saves me a lot compared to store prices.

    But if I had no choice but subsistence, the meat would still be free. I'd still hunt and fish as much for enjoyment and passing on the culture to my kids and grandkids as for the meat itself.

  14. #14

    Default It can be a lot cheaper

    In 2006 I got my moose on the 5th day of a 7 day hunt. I drove to the trail head and hiked in. After the shot, two friends came in and helped haul it out.Netting 550 lbs of meat. My total cost was fuel and food (which we all know even tho we eat anyway,it cost more in the woods) and labor repairing a radiator for the guys that hauled me out. Maybe $250.
    In 07 I spent 2 days in the woods and got my moose on opening day. I carried it out in relays by myself, on my back netting over 300 lbs.of meat. I didn't even ruin my arrow. total cost about $30. I think if you want to spend the money, you certainly can. But I also know that if you really want to go work for the meat, you dont have to spend a lot of money to do it.

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    Trip to Chitina - 70 gallons truck fuel / 20 gallons boat fuel = 89 Reds / 5 Kings

    Trip to Valdez - 80 gallons truck fuel / 120 gallons boat fuel = 135 pounds red Fillets / 105 pounds halibut fillets / 15 pounds rock fish fillets, 32 pounds shrimp tails

    Enjoyment had making the trips - Priceless

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    I'd say that quite a few people on Baranof Island in Southeast come out ahead with the subsistence. The majority of people shoot their six deer when they are all standing on the beach after it snows. Considering most people that live here own a boat anyway the cost they have is in ammo, fuel, and firearm. You don't need a lot of fancy gear to get them on the beach and it is a geat way to fill the freezer. I also think you also come out ahead running the subsustence halibut line.

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    Member gusuk1's Avatar
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    Talking Rambling Raven lets barter

    have cotton wood cold smoked vacumed packed kings for some of those bar-be size shrimp

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    Member stevelyn's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by bushrat View Post
    Mike, you want individual experience...well in my case it's much cheaper to get our meat and fish out here than it is to buy and ship it from town.
    Same here. I've lived in a couple Yukon River villages, the Slope and currently out on the AK PEN. It's definitely cheaper to shoot your meat in the backyard and catch fish in local waters than it is to have it shipped in from elsewhere.
    Now what ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark View Post
    I hunt for enjoyment, spiritual renewal, time spent in the field, and with the hope of gaining meat as a benefit (as well as the primary goal of the exercise). If I'm not successful, I go buy some meat to eat, or plan another hunt (deer, caribou, etc).
    You betcha. Me too.

    That's what it's all about, even if I am a poor hunter.

    Smitty of the North
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    Smile Hunting, Hands Down!

    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper View Post
    The question isn't about norms. Not about what is subsistence or commercial. Steaight forward question, what costs you more? Asking for input based on individual experience, not on "normal".
    The yes, or no version of that question is it"s much more expensive for me to hunt for food because I make it that way. New guns, state of the art backpacking equiptment, the search for larger horns etc. These are all self imposed restrictions that add cost to the hunt/meat. If someone had basic gear, that was used for the every day life, say an old beater gun, and shotgun, or old basic bow, used for the family, as tools for hunting the cost of the meat would be cheep! If someone went out with a buddy and shot Caribou, Deer,a Moose is a sore meat wise, and split the costs, and meat thats even better! Even in the lower 48 deer tags are Very liberial, 4 for NY alone, and if I shoot does with the bow, they will issue you tag after tag.
    ; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 1 SAMUEL 2;30

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