Deer hunters taking the field in Wisconsin and Minnesota this month are reportedly finding slim pickings at sporting goods stores and gun shops where ammunition is concerned.
Minnesota whitetail hunters take the field beginning this Saturday, Nov. 6 for the “A” season hunts, while the “B” season opens Nov. 20. The muzzleloader season opens Nov. 27.
In Wisconsin, the modern firearm season runs Nov. 20-28, followed by the muzzleloader season Nov. 29-Dec. 8.
But those seasons might be a little less noisy thanks to an ongoing ammunition shortage, despite the fact that manufacturers have been saying for months they are churning out as much ammunition as possible.
According to WCCO in Minneapolis, “Supply issues started in 2020 and haven’t let up.”
In neighboring Wisconsin, it’s the same story. Wisconsin Public Radio reported, “As the gun deer season approaches, hunting ammunition is hard to find due to supply chain disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic and surging demand for guns and ammunition. Gun dealers say they’ve struggled to stock shelves as firearms sales have climbed due to unease stemming from the pandemic, civil unrest and 2020 presidential election.”
Some retailers consider it the “perfect storm” of circumstances. Last year, millions of people bought guns for the first time, and with those guns, they bought ammunition…lots of it. The result has been bare shelves, particularly for rifle cartridges. One retailer, Kevin Vick, president of the Stock & Barrel Gun Club, told WCCO that with the “sudden spike” in gun sales last year, manufacturers apparently shifted focus to loading handgun ammunition while rifle cartridge production apparently took a back seat.
In Wisconsin, retailer Dan Marcon at Marc-In Shooting in Lake Hallie said he gets scores of telephone calls every day for hunting ammunition. Some people, he said, have been buying new guns because he has ammunition available in the same calibers.
The dilemma is not limited to the upper Midwest. Social media has seen discussions about the ammunition shortage for many months.
However, there is one demographic that doesn’t share this problem: Reloaders. Also called “handloaders,” these folks manufacture their own ammunition, using commercially-bought components including brass cartridge cases, primers, propellant (powder) and bullets. The reloading industry is dominated by such companies as Hornady, Nosler, Hodgdon Powder, Speer, RCBS, Alliant powder, Lyman, Sierra, Starline Brass, Lee Precision, Dillon and Redding. Some companies make bullets, others build loading dies and presses, bullet moulds and/or other accessories, and some do it all.
Their clients have one thing in common. They always have ammunition on hand. It’s just a matter of resizing the empty brass cartridge cases, loading them up and putting them in a box.
If the ammunition shortage continues—and there is every reason to believe it will—expect more people to get into the reloading game, not merely as a hobby but out of necessity.