APPLETON (NBC 26) — As Wisconsin's gun deer season closes in, many local gun dealers are still struggling to keep ammunition on the shelves.
Drew Casperson, Appleton, shopped at Scheels Tuesday to replenish his supply of hunting ammunition.
"We're going pheasant hunting, so we're looking for some 12-gauge shotgun shells," Casperson said. "And then I was just running a bit low on deer hunting ammo too, so I'm looking for 30-06 as well."
The second can be difficult to come by right now.
"It's kind of hard to find anything other than, like .556 and .223. Your hunting calibers are really hard to find," Casperson said. "This is, I'd say, the best inventory I've seen around in the area."
Demand for ammunition is high, but some supply remains low ahead of the gun deer season.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates about 8.4 million people bought a gun for the first time last year. The FBI says one indicator of the surge in gun sales is that federal background checks for gun purchases climbed 40% last year to a record 39.7 million.
"Most manufacturers right now are producing about 30% more than they did in the previous year, but that just goes to show you we still can't keep up with demand," said Dane Belonga, assistant store leader with the Scheels Appleton location. "Those centerfire rifle and shot shells are going to be a continued struggle this year and going into 2022."
He suggests getting a similar grain size or ammo from a different manufacturer if it’s available.— Kelsey Dickeson (@KelseyDickeson) November 2, 2021
Disruptions to the supply chain chain caused by the pandemic are another factor to the shortage. In addition to low supply of primer and powder, Belonga said there are struggles getting the plastics and metal components needed to make shot shells.
So what can hunters do to get prepared during the continuing ammunition shortage?
"If you see something in a similar grain size or a different manufacturer, my recommendation would be to definitely pick it up, because a lot of the centerfire rifle cartridges right now are very difficult to get," Belonga said.
For hunters that own several guns, Belonga said it might be beneficial to use a different one this season if they spot that ammunition or caliber on the shelf.
Belonga said they're starting to see an influx of ammunition for hand guns and modern sporting rifles. He said ammunition prices should decrease once supply meets demand.
Wisconsin's deer hunting season runs Nov. 20 to Nov. 28.