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The Last Windrow: The price of a deer hunting license

I just returned from our local hardware store after purchasing my 2013 Minnesota deer hunting license. I got under the deadline wire of purchasing my license with the opportunity of a chance at receiving a lottery doe license. Not that I might actually receive such a license, but life is a gamble and so is deer hunting. 

The cost of this year’s Minnesota deer hunting resident license is $31. That’s a long way from the day when we paid $12 or $15 or $21 or maybe nothing for a deer license. But, times change and costs of raising a whitetail to maturity must have gone up and I feel no remorse for paying $31 for this permit to enter the woods with no guarantee of ever seeing a deer. 

Really, the price of a deer hunting license is really puny by today’s standards. You can’t get into a Vikings game for much less than $100 if you want to sit anywhere near the second tier of seats. You can’t get into seeing the sinking Twins for much less than $30 in the upper deck where you might actually witness the Twins winning a game. 

Really, a deer hunting license is cheaper by far when you equate the other possibilities. 

I was figuring the other day that in my deer hunting zone, we are allowed to pursue a whitetail for a total of 16 days. Two weekends and the days in between. That equates to only $1.93 a day for the pleasure of freezing your behind to a deer stand during daylight hours in hopes that something other than a pileated woodpecker will saunter by your place in the woods. 

If you break it down further you might add the time you spend purchasing rifle shells, sighting in your rifle, purchasing food for your hunting buddies and putting gas in the four-wheel drive pickup, and that all adds up to substantially more than what you paid for your license. If you have to rent land to hunt on, well, cry on my shoulder. You’re in hock. 

So, as I look back on that day a week ago when I pulled a $50 bill out of my billfold and plunked it down on that hardware store counter to purchase my 2013 deer license, that license was the least of the costs of the hunt. 

If I do indeed shoot a deer, include the processing, time spent filleting the meat off the bone, freezer paper and add the electricity required to freeze my venison, the $31 pales in comparison. It is not cheap to shoot a deer these days.  

And, as I sit here writing this column, three mature does are standing 50 yards in front of my house, grazing on fallen acorns. They seem amazingly calm for being so close to a deer rifle. Do they not know that this human being staring out his picture window at them had tenderloin on his mind? If they did, they would not be standing there munching on the bitter fruits of the oak tree.  

But, I have my $31 license and I’m in hopes of securing a doe permit. My wife has put the wrench on me about putting venison in her depleted freezer space. This has become a quest. I will willingly put my frozen pants on the deer stand seat and sit there gazing over an empty forest landscape for untold hours, waiting for the sound of a deer’s hoofbeats coming my way down the trail. 

This is not an easy or cheap job. The price paid for the license is far less than the price paid in human endeavor. 

See you next time. Okay?