CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Many years ago, I wrote a humor piece in which Daniel Boone was transported 200 years into the future.
Quite understandably, Boone wanted to try his hand at 20th-century deer hunting. But when the sporting-goods store clerk told him how much he'd have to lay out for his rifle, scope, ammunition, day pack, clothing, hunting license, four-wheeler and pickup truck - well, let's just say that early America's most famous hunter developed a terminal case of sticker shock.
Thankfully, we who live in modern times have grown accustomed to price increases. By and large, we don't let them deter us from buying what we want.
Once in a while, though, the rising cost of an item or a service does affect our willingness to pay for it. Case in point: the cost of having a deer butchered by a commercial meat cutter.
Twenty years ago, it cost just $35 to $45. Nowadays the average is closer to $80.
Curtis Taylor, wildlife chief for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, believes meat-cutting costs are causing hunters to kill fewer deer than they otherwise might.
"An average deer yields about 40 pounds of clean meat," he said. "If you're paying 80 bucks to have your deer skinned and cut up, the meat you put in the freezer is much less economical. Once the average person pays to have one or two deer done, they think long and hard about whether they really want to go out and kill another one."
West Virginia's hunting regulations allow hunters to kill more than 10 whitetails a year, but Taylor said the average hunter kills just 1.8.