Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hunting Costs a Tidy Fortune -- or - How Bureaucrats Are Ruining A Conservationist's Sport

Last year I bought a NY resident Sportsman's License for the reasonable price of $37.00. I purchased it online and did the same with my son's license. The Sportsman's License last year included the fishing, small game hunting, big game hunting and Deer management Permit (anterless deer permit). I also got Turkey hunting permits - one for the Fall and one for the Spring. I thought it was expensive but not all that terrible. Then they did not send me or Brendan the hunting regulations or fishing regulations booklets until I called and complained that the license surely had cost enough that they should have included them. This year they got their revenge on guys like me who thought we were already paying a bit too much.

My license this year, had I gotten exactly what I had last year, would have cost me $67.00. That is about an .81% increase from one year to the next. This year the license was $47, the Deer Management Permit was no longer free for the Sportsman's License category and was $10, and the Turkey Stamp was $10 - highway robbery if you ask me but I am sure some politician somewhere thinks it good money management. Like a jerk, I actually opted for a more expensive license, I think it is called the Super Sportsman. It covers fishing, small game hunting, big game hunting, turkey permit, archery permit, muzzleloader permit. It goes for $88.00. I also opted for a Deer Management Permit for $10. Frigging deer hunting is becoming a rich man's sport - bear in mind those were just license fees!

The thing that kills me is that if they keep upping the costs of fishing and hunting licenses it will be guaranteed to reduce the number of sportsman who legally hunt and fish. The numbers are already thinning. So what they are in effect doing is killing the bird who lays the golden eggs. Why? Well because my friends about 90% if not more of the revenues generated each year for wildlife conservation in the United States of America, each year, comes from the money spent by hunters, trappers and fishermen and a lot of that is spent on state issued licenses. Not only do these good folks pay state license fees, they also pay other fees such as federal imposed fees like the one for a Migratory Game Bird Stamps (commonly called a Duck Hunting Stamp) which goes for around $15.00 at the time that piece was written but maybe higher this year.

Over and above license fees paid by hunters, they pay yet another type of fee - actually a tax, and excise tax to be exact - that the rest of you do not pay. It is known as the Pittman-Robertson Act Tax or The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act Tax. This is an approximate 10% excise tax that is paid by people who buy hunting, trapping and fishing equipment and supplies such as firearms, archery equipment, fishing poles, tackle, ammunition and so forth. It is not charged at the cash register but is already figured into the price of all hunting and fishing gear before it is sold to the end user (which by the way means that when you pay a percentage based sales tax on items covered by this excise tax - you are also being charged sales tax on the amount of excise tax you are being paid not just on the value of the item itself because the excise tax is hidden in the price of the item - tax on tax - it is outrageous). It is slated to go ONLY toward wildlife and habitat conservation in each of the states. It has paid over 3.6 billion dollars to state wildlife agencies for wildlife conservation over the past 60 years. (See
http://fw.ky.gov/pdf/lesson3.pdf page 5.) Of course, politicians like Charles Scummer Schumer, U.S. Senator from New York (and radical liberal) tries to get the distribution of those funds changed every few years so that it will go toward things like welfare or the general fund. Each time he and others try, they are defeated. Good for that because it would mean so much less for wildlife that either your taxes would have to increase to support conservation of Nature's creatures or many, many, animals would suffer miserably in sub par habitat. From what I can see, guys like Schumer do not care so long as their agendas for more political power go through.

Now back to hunters, trappers and fishermen because they are not done paying yet. Yeah, I know, you were beginning to think that maybe I am right hunting is becoming expensive because of increased license and other fees, but even with taxes added on that isn't it yet. You see hunters, trappers and fishermen also pay a large amount every year in the form of money that goes into other parts of the hunting community directly related to these sports. They pay lots for hunting guides, use of private preserves, boat rental fees, and so on. The list of how they help the economy does not end there though. They also pay a nice chunk of change each year for things not directly related to these sports, but that are paid for because they come about in the normal course of enjoying such sports. 'Like what for instance?' you maybe wondering. Like motels, campsites, restaurants, supermarkets, car rental fees, gasoline, road tolls and so on.

Hunting can be downright expensive. Yep - it ain't cheap and when you add it all up a field dressed Whitetail Deer, that an average hunter gets while on a short hunt of maybe five days, can wind up costing a lot. By the way, I use a 5 day example because I try to combine a couple of days of turkey hunting with deer hunting, and while the seasons abut one another they do not overlap in NY. Then again it could just be a 5 day deer hunt - 2 days scouting, 3 days hunting depending on skill and luck as I am not that good a hunter - and maybe some fishing thrown in there if warm enough. Let's see how much a five day trip like that might cost a guy like me - and that is if I go alone. I'll try to add up all the costs I can think of, but I almost am sure to forget and leave out a few things. All prices will be approximately what I pay in NY but rounded off to the nearest dollar:

Licenses - $98.00

Migratory Gamebird Stamp - $15.00

Ammunition (one box of 20 rounds) - $23.00

Practice Ammo (one box like above)- $23.00

Range Fees For Practice - $25.00 (Per trip to the range.)

Gasoline To Get To Range - $12.00 (Per trip, it is 60 miles from my home; this is at the best mileage my car gets.)

Gun Cleaning Supplies - $2.00 (Approximate cost per cleaning.)

Deer Pee Scent - $12.00

Hand Warmers - $5.00 (Yes I am old and frail and can use em.)

Boots - $150.00 (My old ones are shot and too tight - my feet actually grew at my age.)

Other Gear - $0.00 (Hopefully I need none this year.)

Gatorade or Other Drinks - $14.00 (per case)

Sandwich and Other Food Stuff - $35.00 (I'll try to eat two meals a day, and snacks, from this.)

Ice For Cooler - $8.00 (Remember this is for 5 days worth.)

Restaurant Food - $40.00 (I try to get to a restaurant for at least one hot meal per day.)

Tolls - $15.00

Gasoline - $57.00 (For about 600 miles driving at the best I can get mileage and current low end gas price.)

Lodging - $226.00 (This is at Motel 6 folks - I am too old & creaky to camp out in the cold of November.)

Butchering of Deer - $125.00 (This cost has skyrocketed.)

Did I leave anything out. I am sure I must have forgotten something but isn't that all enough expense for one deer. Then again if this was a year where I needed more gear like maybe new gloves, a hat, a hunting coat, rain or snow gear, and so on, it could get lots more expensive. but just how expensive is it, even with just what I figure I may spend this year - let's do some calculating...

Wow only $885.00 for a 5 day deer hunting trip. So if I get a deer that weighs about 120 pounds field dressed, and maybe get 60 pounds of meat out of it - how much would that be per pound. That would be about $14.75 per pound - not bad by comparison to other years I have gone hunting - especially when I got ZERO pounds of meat for the freezer! Add another couple of hundred bucks to the mix and the cost per pound goes up to about $19 per pound.

Now I did not add on fees for taxidermy should I actually stumble across a deer spectacular enough to become trophy material. I guess there is always that outside chance I may fall asleep under a tree and wake up to find an old grizzled, but stately, buck peering at me thinking my snores were the grunts of a rival buck. On the other hand, I suppose I could come across some stately old buck that has survived thanks to its wily ways and only stumbled across me because it was suffering the effects of old age. Those examples probably would be more my in line with my hunting abilities than me actually setting up a great stand and hoodwinking a magnificent buck, in its prime, into shotgun or rifle range - but truth be told I am not that lucky and will have to work for whatever I get even if a forkhorn. If I do somehow wind up with a trophy deer, I am going to guess that sending the head to a taxidermist for a mount will cost around $500 at the least, and maybe as much as $750. That would sure make my venison this year rather expensive - wouldn't it.

Egads - here comes the wife - I had better stop typing. If she sees how much this is all going to cost, and that without my son added in to the mix, well she may just shoot me where I sit and hang my head on the wall. Now really folks, my wife loves it when I go hunting. That's because I am out of her hair for several days to a week, I usually don't bag anything (she does not like venison but then again loved bear but would rather eat beef), and because if she wants to go to Germany over the summer, to visit relatives, I give her my blessing. I had better, otherwise I truly might get my head hung over the fireplace. For now that's it; I have other things to do - like figure which bank to rob to get all the money I'll need for this year's hunting trips. I may have to rob the Federal Reserve itself, or Fort Knox, because I'll probably go on 2 or 3 hunting trips this year. No that is not extravagance, that is just because I am such a lousy hunter. Yep, it sure can add up to a tidy fortune and it can hurt a guy's finances pretty bad.

Did I mention its all because of politicians and bureaucrats raising license fees, and raising taxes, and the cost of inflation and... Folks while some of the above may have been comical the fact is that the best method of wildlife conservation we have available to us is dying fast. It is dying because of skyrocketing license fees, constantly rising taxes and other costs due to inflation. It really is not a laughing matter. Contact your state and federal officials and tell them enough is enough. Explain that you fear the loss of sportsman generated revenue will only result in higher taxes all around for all of us. Tell them you are sick of taxes and taxes disguised as fees and so on that only go to ruin our way of life. Sooner or later they have got to get the message and find ways to cut back on the government machine making it more efficient thereby resulting in a better economy with lower taxes, less fees and - in the case of conservation - more efficient wildlife conservation.

Thank goodness I didn't cover anything about making this a fishing trip too. Those little lures can go for over $10 a pop, then you have the fishing line, and the rods and reels, and...

All the best,
Glenn B