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Hunting For Ammo: Supply Chain Issues Have Minnesotans Scrambling Ahead Of Deer Opener

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesotans are gearing up for this weekend's deer-hunting opener.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has already sold more than 220,000 licenses, but those hunters might have a hard time finding some of the supplies they need.

It's a busy week for Osseo Gun Club and Pro Shop as the deer hunting opener approaches.

"That's got a lot of people coming in, last-minute preparation, sighting in guns, trying to find ammo," said gun manager Joe Martinson, adding that the latter has only gotten tougher. "When you do find (hunting ammo), you buy it, and it's gone quick."

Supply issues started in 2020 and haven't let up. Martinson said in a normal year ahead of deer season, his shop buys six to eight cases of shotgun slugs. Each case carries 50 boxes of ammo.

"Right now, if I'm lucky to find it, I can buy one case," he said.

That means limiting how much hunting ammo customers can buy along with higher prices.

Customer Chris Helfrict, who will use a high-powered rifle to hunt, said he's also struggling to find ammo for his guns. He plans to use rounds left over from last year.

"I'm banking the ammunition I have is enough," Helfrict said.

Ammo Generic
(credit: CBS)

Kevin Vick, president of Stock & Barrel Gun Club, says 2020 was an unprecedented year for firearm sales.

"Forty percent of firearms sales [last year] were people who had never owned a firearm in their life before," Vick said.

With a sudden spike in new gun owners, Vick said manufacturers decided to focus on producing handgun ammunition. Ammo for hunting firearms was put aside.

"As much as they've tried to keep up, they're still behind and it just got them caught short this hunting season," he said.

Availability of parts like brass also slowed ammo production, along with shipping issues. Vick said his club started to order ammunition from overseas, some of which is now stuck at backlogged ports in shipping containers.

"All of that, like I say, combines along with the demand, gives you a perfect storm," he said.

If you're struggling to find shotgun slugs or other forms of hunting ammo, Martinson suggests trying a different firearm. He said muzzleloaders are allowed to be used during deer hunting season, as well as high-caliber handguns such as a .44 Magnum.

But if that route is too pricey, Helfrict said you best work on your aim.

"You need to make every shot count, let's put it that way," he said.

Other tips include contacting members of your hunting group to see if they have ammo to spare, and buying in bulk whenever you get the opportunity.

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