Is hunting/fishing a good way to feed your family?
With all the talk of our upcoming Great Depression (The Sequel), I've been thinking a great deal about sustenance. Since no one knows what, exactly, is going to happen to our economy or our standard of living, I'm expecting the worst (but hoping for the best, of course). As a result, I've been playing a lot of "What If..." with myself. What if I lose my job? What if I can't pay my mortgage and default on my home loan? What if I have to move back in with my parents?
The thought of these possible outcomes gets me thinking about measures that I could take to avoid them. During the summer, Wise Bread and similar sites are always full of tips like "grow your own vegetables", which is great if you have enough space and sunlight to achieve this (my tomato crop fails every year). I do know, however, that it's not that hard to grow enough food to supplement a family's diet. My nana was enamored over all kinds of squash (summer squash, cucumbers, zucchini), which grow like weeds, are insanely hardy, and can be stuffed, frozen, or pickled for later use. Nana's pantry was chock full of pickled tomatoes, cucumber, beans, and summer squash when she died. Having spent her childhood in Soviet Russia and later Nazi Germany, the woman certainly understood the value of having a good supply of food on hand.
For people who have the ability to grow and store large amounts of food, growing/ your own veggies can be an excellent money-saver. But what about meat? Raising animals isn't cheap - vet visits can cost hundreds of dollars for a sick pig or goat (chickens are less costly, for certain, but can be unpredictable in their laying patterns). So how about wild animals?
Even as something of an animal rights proponent, I've never had anything against hunting. In fact, I consider hunting one of the more honest activities one can engage in. It's one thing to get your sterile, packaged meat from the supermarket - it's an entirely different matter to track, kill, and butcher the animal whose flesh you consume. Those of us who never face the living animals that we eat can keep a safe distance from their life, death, suffering, and realness. Hunters don't have that luxury.
As times get tougher, I have began to wonder how many people will turn to hunting and fishing as a means to provide food for their families. I don't think I have the stamina to track and shoot a deer, and the Seattle area really isn't that good for hunting - hipsters don't taste very good, anyway.
I emailed a number of friends and hunting bloggers to ask them about the financial viability of hunting and fishing for sustenance, and received very little response. One of my high school friends, who is an avid (read: INSANE) outdoorsman, confessed to spending nearly $50K during the last two years on hunting and fishing (boat, guns, ammo, licenses, gasoline, high-tech fishing gadgets). Mind you, for this friend, it's more of a hobby than a way of feeding his family.
I'm aware that hunting and fishing is only "worth it" if you actually manage to bring home some food. This is probably why some friends have confided, off the record, that their families have used hunting to get by in lean times, mostly by purchasing licenses and giving them to the one uncle who always managed to bag a deer or a bear, so that they didn't waste days or weeks tromping around in the woods, losing ammo to a really bad shot. Although technically illegal, I can see why a struggling family would take part in this.
I was wondering how many Wise Bread readers partake in hunting and fishing as a means of providing food (and not just as a sport or vacation). Does your family find it economically viable to buy guns, ammo, and licenses every year? Would you consider hunting or paying someone to hunt food for you if this recession continues for very long?
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