23 Oct 2009

Elementary, My Deer Watson

This [unedited] guest post is by a student in my EEP100 class (background post).
Please praise/critique/comment on its economic quality and importance to you.

Emily Riggs says:

Post labor day weekend, the season tends to swing swiftly into Autumn. The changing colors of the forest, from brilliant green to dusky reds and yellows, signify the arrival of a new inhabitant to the woodlands. Man. Yes, the fall season signals the start of 37 consecutive days of deer hunting season. During this time many hunting enthusiasts flock to the woods to bag themselves a buck.

In the United States however, successful policies exists that protect the deer that roam our wilderness. In California, a strict limit of two deer is imposed on the hunter. This however is only one of many hurdles that the hunter has to go through to participate in the sport. The hunter must first buy a hunting license costing $41.20 ($143.35 if you don’t happen to be a California resident). Then the hunter must purchase two additional tags for each of the deer costing $27.55 (first deer), and $34.40 (second deer). The non-resident pays $242.80 for both.

Hunting also has less explicit costs. There is the time that it takes to go out into the woods, track, kill and clean a deer. For people who enjoy these activities the costs of this time will be less then those who are not enthusiasts.

There has always been tension in modern American society about the necessity of hunting. Many people are outspoken in their beliefs that hunting is morally wrong. And many hunters feel that hunting should be enshrined in the constitution right next to freedom of speech. It would be hard for either side to ever change the others views on hunting. The various hurdles that the hunter has to face ensures that only those who get the most marginal benefit from hunting will participate. These people will be the most unlikely to change their behavior despite protests from people who feel hunting is wrong. The anti-hunting people are those whose marginal benefit of hunting is lowest and therefore these people will rarely be enticed to change their opinions of hunting.

Bottom Line: People who participate in hunting do it because they gain a large marginal benefit from it despite the costs. These people have a high marginal utility of hunting and thus will normally not be inclined to change their behavior.


  1. The Federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition goes to fund a large percentage of the budget for the Federal Wildlife system. Other recreational users of these facilities pay nothing.

    And of course, game is the ultimate local, organic, sustainable meat product. Hunting is certainly not everybody's cup of tea, but any meat-eater ought to kill, dress and eat a creature, even once, so that they gain a proper appreciation of what meat is.

  2. Great post, Ms. Riggs! Keep up the good work.

    Also, now consider the consequences to the impacts of hunting or not hunting, both economically and sociopolitically. For example, Mister Kurtz points out our heavy reliance on hunting as a means to fund conservation efforts. If the marginal utility of hunting drops below the costs to legally enter into hunting, many hunters, due to ethical considerations and tradition, may continue to hunt illegally. By not buying in, what will happen to conservation and regulation? What happens to conservation if hunting as an activity loses its participants? I became an environmentalist because of my hunting experiences... what are the impacts of fewer people caring about a physical place?

    Last, what about losing heart? My sorry behind has been up in the forest more times than I care to count, and all I've obtained is the eerie notion that the Dept. of Fish & Game perpetuates a myth that deer in California actually have antlers... (this last one is silly, for the record.)


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