Gun and ammo shortage: Hunting season faces new challenges

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (NEXSTAR) — As hunting season begins in certain parts of the country, people may have trouble finding guns and ammunition at their local retailers.

In some places, gun shop owners report a rush on supplies as people look to get outdoors this fall and winter. Because of that, stores are having a tough time keeping up with the high demand they’ve seen in 2020.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation says it made about $300,000 on the first day of hunting licensing and permitting in 2019. In 2020, that number dramatically increased to $900,000.

It’s a similar situation in North Dakota where the state’s Game and Fish Department saw a 40% jump in licenses.

As you might imagine, more permits can lead to a big boost in gun sales. That’s exactly what Tim Kinton of Kinton Guns in Farmington, New York is seeing.

“The hunting season hasn’t had that big of an impact in gun sales in years but with folks being homebound — they’re sick of that,” he said.

Kinton also noted a shortage in available ammunition. And while it’s not supposed to have a widespread impact on hunting season, the supply issue is a problem that may not go away anytime soon.

“We try to sell ammo but that’s been a challenge in 2020, its very, very hard to find ammo,” South Dakota Military Heritage Alliance Executive Director Brian Phelps said. 

Phelps’ gun range in Sioux Falls, South Dakota has had to limit ammo purchases when people come to use it. 

Man prepares to shoot target at South Dakota Military Heritage Alliance in Sioux Falls (KELO)

“We’ll limit them to one box of ammunition versus the normal three to five hundred rounds,” Phelps said. 

Stores across the nation have reported increases ammunition and guns sales since the pandemic initially hit. Ben Minkel, who operates a gun store in the small town of Bonne Terre, Missouri told his local paper sales have skyrocketed by 300%.

“Sales are higher than we’ve ever seen, even during the Obama administration,” he told the Daily Journal Online. “Accordingly, since many gun manufacturers shut down production due to COVID-19 for weeks at a time, we’re seeing shortages in weapons and ammunition.”

According to the National Shooting Sports Federation, retailers estimated 40% of their sales in the first few months of 2020 were to first-time gun owners. They say these news customer spent an average of $595 per sale.

When you combine the already increased demand from the first part of the year with new demand brought by hunters like Larry Pfaltzgraf, you face a problematic situation. Pfaltzgraf, who lives in the Rochester area, was looking for supplies at Kinton Guns for his family’s newest hunter.

“My granddaughter took the online course just this year for firearms and for bow hunting,” he said.

Since he was able to score supplies, Pfaltzgraf is one of thousands of hunters looking at the upcoming season as an opportunity for some stress relief from the noise brought by 2020.

“It’s enjoyable to be out in the woods, and it’s nice and quiet.”

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