HELENA - Montana’s regular big game hunting season came to an end over the weekend and hunters brought home a lot of meat this year.
Some Montanans look at a deer or elk and envision food. The lean red meat is savored by hunters and friends for its flavor and nearly organic properties -- and a new study shows that Montana produces a lot of venison.
“I ran the numbers and to my surprise, it amounts to about 10 million pounds of boneless, wild, natural, organic, sustainably harvested wild meat,” said Thomas Baumeister with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks.
Calling it the “Wild Meat Economy,” Baumeister calculated Montana’s wild game production by taking the average weight of meat produced per animal multiplied by average harvest numbers. The results showed that the Treasure State produces roughly 10 million pounds of venison per year.
“There are more and more hunters who are telling us that, ‘I’m primarily interested in getting a couple of roasts, and some nice steaks and a little bit of burger. And I like to cook, and I like to share my meals with family and friends’,” Baumeister said.
The analysis also broke down which hunting districts in the state produce the most venison with some areas of the state produced more than 200 pounds of meat per square mile.
“So, around Bozeman or around Great Falls, they have elk, they have whitetail deer, they have mule deer and they have antelope,” Baumeister explained. “So, when you talk about the economies they have a very diverse economy -- meat economy.”
Montana produces enough venison to feed every Montanan a four-ounce portion of venison for more than a month, a shared experience that benefits the conservation of Montana’s wildlife.
“How is it possible that we live in a state of a million people and we have this abundance of wildlife? This didn’t happen by accident. So how does the system work? And our hope is to bring these people who are interested in hunting for food into the fold,” Baumeister concluded.