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The Frugal Sportsman

March 29, 2009
By Tony Seals
With the cost of everything going through the roof, many of today’s sportsmen must cut corners in order to keep enjoying their outdoor passions and I am no exception. Here are five cost-cutting ideas that have helped me to stay afield the last few seasons.

Pack a Lunch

Restaurant food can be expensive. Taking food with you can save several dollars per person and the food doesn’t have to be extravagant. A few cold-cut sandwiches, chips and beverages can make a quick, satisfying meal and won’t take much time from your outdoor activities.

Make Your Own Ice

It always amazes me how much it costs for frozen water. I know it’s convenient to walk into a store, throw a few dollars on the counter and walk out with enough ice for the days outing. This is the way that I did it for years until I started doing the math. At a cost of between 3 and 5 dollars per outing, I decided that the money spent on frozen water would be better used to buy equipment or fuel.

When making ice, one of the easiest methods is to fill a one gallon milk jug with water and freeze it. A couple of jugs will keep a large cooler cold all day and once the ice begins to melt in the jugs, you have a supply of cold drinking water.

Another method is to fill small butter bowls with water, place the lid on them and then stack them in the freezer. Once frozen, a few taps on the side of the bowl and the small ice block falls out. Use as many ice blocks as you need, refill the bowls and place them back into the freezer for future use. If you have an ice maker in your freezer, simply empty the ice container into large zip-lock bags a few days prior to your trip and then store in the freezer. (The bags can be reused several times.)

Buy Supplies in Bulk

Buying items such as fishing line, hooks, soft plastic baits and ammunition in bulk quantities can save you a small fortune over several years. Here’s an example: If you buy a 330 yd. spool of 10 lb. test. The average cost is around $6 per spool, but if you buy a 3000 yd. service spool of the same line, the cost is about $40. This is a 25% savings that is common when buying most items in large quantities. If several of your hunting and fishing buddies use the same items that you do, order large quantities and share the savings.

Find More Local Areas to Hunt and Fish

The Ohio Valley is full of opportunities for sportsmen on both public and private lands. A little leg-work can result in access to virtually untapped hunting and fishing areas that are only a short drive from home. Trips to far off hunting and fishing locations are exciting, but are very expensive. Don’t overlook local areas such as the neighbors farm pond that needs a few of the hand sized bluegills thinned out, or the small public hunting area 10 miles from your home that is full of cottontails because everyone else thinks it is too small to bother hunting it. Experiences like this are priceless and cost almost nothing.

Maintain Your Equipment

Simply maintaining your equipment provides the biggest cost savings of all. Here is an example. Let’s say that you buy a piece of equipment that with proper care and maintenance should last more than 10 years, but due to improper upkeep the item only lasts for three years before having to be replaced. In this situation, lack of maintenance will triple my cost for that item, because I will have to replace the item three times in the same amount of time that one should have lasted. When that cost is multiplied by the amount of equipment that the average sportsman owns, the numbers can be staggering. Equipment maintenance is not difficult. It is usually just a matter of taking the time to properly clean and lubricate all of your outdoor gear in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications. The cost savings will more than make up for the small amount of effort required.

Don’t give up on your outdoor passions, simply tighten your belt another notch by incorporating one or all of these tips and get yourself back into the game.

Fact Box

The Ohio Valley is full of opportunities for sportsmen on both public and private lands. A little leg-work can result in access to virtually untapped hunting and fishing areas that are only a short drive from home.



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