Your freezer is full after only two weekends of open season, and you find yourself asking, "Can hunters sell venison?"
The economic benefits of deer hunting are well-known and well-documented, and chances are you've used most of them in an argument to advocate for your hunting activities with an animal rights proponent: hunting helps hold back overpopulation, reduces the spread of deer herds, and cuts back on the damage caused by deer, from crop destruction to detrimental deer-related automotive accidents.
However, one major economic aspect of deer hunting is still being outsourced to other countries: the legal, commercial sale of venison.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, some 85 percent of the venison meat offered on restaurant menus or sold from behind butcher counters is imported from New Zealand, a fact that seems all the more ridiculous when considering that deer populations in the United States land somewhere between 30 and 45 million. Why is our country buying deer meat from the other side of the globe when there is plenty of it right here within our borders to be harvested and sold?
Wouldn't it be better to keep that money in local and domestic circles?
Those questions have been asked for years by hunters lobbying for the legalization of venison sales. Still, an early 20th century piece of legislation persists, forbidding hunters from selling their harvest. Initially, the law made sense: it was put in place to prevent the utter devastation of our nation's deer herds at the hands, bullets, and arrows of commercial hunters and poachers. WE all remember what happened to the American Bison.
However, with how far hunting regulation has come, commercial venison sale might be a good way to bring more interest to deer hunting and to more effectively control population growth.
After all, while the six million deer normally killed during hunting season is a substantial number, deer populations continue to multiply, and instances of deer-related destruction always increase with them.
Of course, legalizing the domestic sale of venison would require a lot of work from both nationwide wildlife conservancy programs and state and local departments of natural resources.
New license laws would have to be in place, bag limits would have to be shifted, and hunting zones would have to be established. Furthermore, increased regulations would likely have to go into effect regarding the field dressing, butchering, or processing of deer meat. After all, what passes one hunter's health code in processing likely wouldn't fly for a restaurant full of people. The Food and Drug Administration would undoubtedly have to be involved.
However, there is much to be said for the economic boost that a decision to repeal the venison sale restriction would undoubtedly cause. For one thing, the re-introduction of commercial hunting into the deer hunting culture would bring more hunters out of the woodwork and would mean greater licensing revenues for state governments. Restaurants and butcher shops would be able to buy and sell venison locally rather than outsourcing it to another country on another continent, which would in turn inject some extra life - however minimal - into local economies. And finally, more deer harvests would mean fewer deer-related car accidents and other destructive economic costs.
Sure, making a change to allow for commercial venison sale would require a lot of work and consideration. It certainly won't happen overnight. But even the fact that it is being discussed is one of the biggest pieces of news in hunting memory.
Stay tuned for further development.