Hunting has been carried out since the year dot. Yet, we’ve come quite a way from men carrying spears and utilizing them to feed themselves from wild game meat.
Today, we shoot guns laden with gunpowder, so it’s certainly spiced things up a little. With that, the vast majority of us use hunting as an escape, a pastime, or a hobby. Many, in fact, don’t consider that this adrenaline-filled sport can actually lead to an increased income.
In this comprehensive guide, I’m going to talk you through the various ways that it’s possible for most hunters to make money hunting on the side. Or potentially, in some cases, at least even full-time. Some ideas may appeal to you more than others. Some require the completion of courses. Some are easier to plan than others.
Let’s get into it and see if there’s a new side hustle in the hunting game that sounds appealing to you.
How To Make Money Hunting: A Guide
Sell wild game meat
In areas across the world where hunting is legal, people can bulk out their income by being able to sell wild game meat. Here in the States, it’s no different. Many hunters sell wild game meat to butchers and restaurants and make a hefty buck in the process – pun very much intended.
However, some important pieces of advice first. Ultimately, selling wild game meat depends on which state you live in. There are many states where you can only hunt throughout specific seasons, so using hunting as your sole income isn’t always a viable year-round option.
However, when hunting season is in full swing, it’s not just butchers and restaurants that will be keen to snap up your wild game meat. Setting up a stand at a Farmer’s Market gives your direct access to the public. Here, you can perform short transactions, selling game meat or even hogs or coyotes.
In areas where demand is big, hunters can make even more money by raising their prices. If demand is high enough, you can increase your hunting trips to bring in even more revenue.
Cutting a deal with other hunters or enthusiastic family members can help you to make more money hunting as you collect more meat between you.
Becoming a hunting guide
There are plenty of people out there that want to hunt. But they don’t know how or where to start.
That’s where the unique and varied skills of experienced hunting come in.
As a hunting guide, it’s your responsibility to take these people out and oversee their hunting experience, ensure they are hunting properly, and offer them lots of expert hunting tips.
Consider leading expert hunting expeditions for the general public, guiding them on the workings of a traditional hunting experience. This can be a half or full-day event. Or, make it a full-blown hardcore trip, camping along the way over a weekend.
There’s a big demand for hunting guides. Therefore the opportunities to make some serious money are plentiful.
While a hunting guide may not always carry weapons or other hunting gear themselves, they will need to know exactly what they are doing and teach their students how to use these firearms. (I wouldn’t recommend a guide not to have him or herself well-equipped with a gun, but some guides don’t let the absence of a firearm on their person put them off.)
Guides are also, ultimately, responsible for the safety of not just themselves but the other members of the group.
If something goes wrong, it’s you who needs to know how to correct it. You’ll also need to be meticulously well-informed about those areas safe for shooting and areas where it might be a little riskier.
You’ll need to understand the weather patterns and the predicted swells of any nearby water and potentially know the ins and out of camping out in the wild, too.
So, if you have a lot of experience with hunting, there’s no reason why you can’t consider a career path as a professional hunting guide.
After you have a bit of experience navigating members of the public through a shoot, you could consider creating your very own business. This should allow you to make money faster. However, as with just about everything hunting-related, there are no guarantees.
Renting out your hunting equipment
You probably don’t need me to tell you that hunting equipment can be pricey. That’s why more than one professional hunter prefers to rent hunting gear.
If you are lucky to live in an area where there are lots of others who hunt wild animals, leasing your gear out to them could prove to be a wise investment.
You can decide if you want to rent by the hour or the day, and choose your prices from there.
Remember, while there might be tons of demand for equipment and gear in the summer months, the market will likely cool down by wintertime for obvious reasons.
However, that’s not to say that you couldn’t pair this with a side hustle where you rent or even sell products related to hunting wild animals.
A seasonal hunter, for example, may decide that there’s a market for maps of the local area. Or, you could decide that you want to sell hunting clothes or boots.
Becoming a Game Warden
It won’t be possible to become a game warden overnight. But, for those that have been to guide school or on training courses in conservation, it’s possible to make money as a warden.
Otherwise known as wildlife officers, game wardens don’t actually do much wild game killing. The role is a protective one. It involves the warden being out in nature, studying the surrounding wild animals, and keeping an accurate count of their numbers, which prevents overhunting.
Much of the time, you’ll be responsible for trekking into uninhabited forests and dangerous areas that don’t hold fresh drinking water or supplies. A love and detailed knowledge of navigating the outdoors is a must.
Likely, though, this is something you already know quite a bit about.
You’ll be responsible for ensuring people are hunting correctly and legally. You’ll have a detailed knowledge of hunting safety, too. You’ll ensure everyone accurately reports the types of animals they see. One major reason for this is so that a hunter is unable to say they got lost and felt forced to shoot at a wild animal, not knowing what type it was.
Living in a rural area can mean money is hard to come by. Game wardens, however, are paid well and usually have a steady flow of work.
Using a camera trap to take photos
For those of you who are uninitiated, a camera trap is a handy device that’s set up in a specific location. It will snap photos of whatever wild animals pass the camera and can be used in just about any weather conditions.
When hunters are part of a guided hunting party, they can authorize the use of their camera traps and pictures collected to be input into a database. This is an invaluable tool for scientists and conservationists. It’s often used as a guide to population numbers of a range of different elusive species.
From a hunting perspective, this is valuable information. It helps companies that offer hunting tours know that there are enough wild animals on-site to give hunters a fair chance of getting a kill.
If you don’t want to set up your own camera traps, consider hiring someone who can do the hard work of rambling through dense forests and mountain tracks for you.
Those that aren’t fond of hunting game can still avail of the photos you sell. There’s a big market for people who enjoy watching camera traps from the comfort of their own homes. This is why setting up camera traps where it is illegal to hunt can be a really good and profitable idea.
Renting out your own hunting land
If you are lucky enough to have a large plot of land with a steady flow of wild game running around, consider renting it out to hunters.
Before you think about doing so, it’s imperative that you check out the specific laws in your area.
My advice? Check, check again, and recheck the laws regarding renting out your potential hunting land in your specific state. As I said earlier, the law doesn’t look too kindly on those in the hunting industry who don’t appear to be playing by the rules.
If you do have land, have conducted your research, and, therefore, have the green light to get started, you can begin promoting. Start by advertising your hunting land, and hopefully, you should quickly start making a few extra dollars.
Selling fur is a great way to make some extra money hunting wild game.
The best way to do this is to get in touch with a fur trader. But you’ll need to be quick. Hanging around means that pelts quickly begin to rot and spoil.
Not only is it bad for business, they just plain stink.
Fur will lose a lot of its value the longer you wait to sell. Also, ensure you are thoroughly cleaning your pelts in order to make the most money. Dirty pelts aren’t terribly attractive, after all.
If you enjoy getting your hands dirty (you’re a hunter, why wouldn’t you?), pelts can be the perfect solution for making some extra income. Demand is high on wild game pelts, so it could be a great option for you.
Taking part in animal bounties
There are states across the country where animal bounties are set up where a particular breed of wild animal has been causing havoc. The bounty is created as a result of, say, the species damaging crops, killing, or maiming livestock.
In some cases, said animal could be causing a genuine risk to human safety. Feral hogs, anyone? Most often, however, it’s rabies-ridden raccoons that are the chosen target.
Having a bounty is a great way to solve the problem. Keen hunters congregate in large groups to solve the problem.
If you are someone who works a shift pattern, part-time, or perhaps has lots of time on their hands, joining in on a bounty can be a thrilling and profitable opportunity.
Can I really hunt for a living?
With a little bit of know-how, yes, you can make money hunting. Potentially, quite a lot of money.
While most hunters hunt mainly for sport and fun, some of us hunt for a living. Other hunters make their money as successful hunting guides.
Making money hunting isn’t always a year-round venture, given the laws restricting hunting throughout certain months.
How do I start my own hunting business?
If you are keen to start up a business dealing with hunting, there are a few things that you’ll need to consider carefully.
If you are lucky enough to own land that you can rent out, you’ll need to look into the laws regarding leasing your land. Then there are permits to think about.
You’ll have to think about marketing your product or service. Then, think about offering extras, such as incentives to use your business.
What types of animals can I get paid for hunting?
There are both federal laws and state laws which apply here, so I strongly recommend you do your research regarding animal protection and animal rights legislation. However, generally speaking, you can get paid to hunt the following animals:
- Feral Hogs
Which U.S. states allow the selling of wild game?
There’s no one size fits all answer when it comes to the topic of selling meat and the law. Every state throughout the U.S. has its own rules when it comes to selling wild game meat.
In some states, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is tasked with inspecting wild game meats before they can be sold.
How much money can I make by hunting?
This is a difficult question, given the variables involved in a) acquiring meat and b) knowing where – or who – to sell it to.
Saying that, if you know the types of wildlife in your area, have honed your craft well enough to pretty much guarantee yourself a kill, and have the contacts to sell the meat onto, there’s no reason why you can’t substantially increase your monthly income during hunting season.
Good hunters, however, with hunting sponsors, can make upward of $70,000 a year.
How can I get started hunting?
The very first thing I strongly recommend to any hunter just starting out is undergoing a safety course. You might think you know it all because, presumably, you can handle a gun. However, even expert hunters get hurt. Sometimes, fatally.
Letting your guide down and/or simply being unaware of the risks involved can lead to disastrous results. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen.
And one more thing – ensure you always have the right permits and licenses. The law doesn’t look favorably on those who don’t.
What tips do I need to know before hunting?
Hunting is a serious sport that requires mental and physical strength, common sense, and ample training. The only real way to acquire the skills needed, in my opinion, is to undergo those aforementioned safety courses.
No good has ever come of wandering into the woods and not understanding the necessary precautions and implementing them.
People hunt for a variety of reasons, but mainly it’s a leisure pursuit for many of us.
However, for those who want to make a bit of money on the side, there are plenty of opportunities to do so. You can sell wild game meat. You can take part in animal bounties. You can help people hunt. You can organize your own hunting trips where you act as a guide.
I just want to take this opportunity to reiterate that getting paid to hunt isn’t always straightforward.
We live in difficult fiscal times, and with that comes the inevitable risk.
That does not, by any means, mean that your side hustle or brand-new business venture is doomed to fail. From the looming possibility of a recession, many new businesses and ventures not only survive but thrive.
Think small, to begin with, at least. Don’t move too far out of your comfort zone. Hone your knowledge and think strategically. And, over time, and with a little bit of luck, it’s possible you will have a side hustle in hunting to be proud of.