Ammo shortage still a reality, especially for popular rifle cartridges
The availability of shotgun shells, most gauges, and deer rifle cartridges, most calibers, continue to be few-to-none in sporting outlets.
Hunters should not expect the availability of ammunition to improve greatly leading up to, and through, the fall hunting seasons.
A few hunters have gotten lucky and others have made the rounds weekly to find a box on a shelf. Some have considered purchasing a gun in the hope that a sports shop would be able to throw in a box of cartridges. Don’t count on it this year.
Jimmy Hamilton, research range manager at Vortex Optics in Barneveld, while in the same predicament as hunters, has given thought and effort to maintaining enough ammunition for the range’s primary purpose, research on rifle scopes.
A few of his ideas include planning ahead and ordering well before there is a need. If an order is backordered, he keeps ordering, and from other suppliers. Some suppliers won’t take an order, and those he discounts.
Expect to have to wait. Expect to have to pay more, too. Accept an off brand if that’s all there is.
To cut sight-in needs sometimes requiring many rounds, Hamilton says check the mechanics and scope before firing a shot. Make sure everything is right and tight. Learn how to do bore sighting.
For deer hunting, consider going “Minnesota style.” There it’s mostly shotgun slugs and they may be easier to get than a rifle cartridge. Use other implements, too, including muzzleloaders.
The archery season is long, so take advantage of that, too, and in some states a crossbow can be used with a buck tag during the gun season, but that may mean purchasing a crossbow before the Nov. 20 opener. (From page 10 in the 2021 Wisconsin Hunting Regulations regarding Gun Buck Deer Harvest Authorization: “Authorizes the harvest of one buck deer with any legal weapon type.”)
Looking back, some of us were suggesting crossbows during years when the rut was completely missed by gun hunters. Hunt the rut with a crossbow, which may be as good as a shotgun or rifle at close range.
An extreme option could be find some ammunition, even an uncommon caliber, and then buy a gun to fit the found bullets.
As a last resort, borrow from a buddy; and do not hoard the cartridges.
Whatever you do, do not give up fall hunts in 2021 even if it means taking a Canon camera into the woods instead of a Remington.