Chris Hargrave represents Winchester and Browning and a number of other gun and ammo manufacturers, so when I ran into him at a recent big game show it was a good chance to ask what's behind the scarcity of .22 and other ammunition in many gun shops.
Hargrave, who lives in Disputanta, guides bear hunts in the Dismal Swamp and is an accomplished deer and turkey hunter. He spent considerable time addressing my question, then, as he got up to leave he bent close to my ear and said: "Just remember the most important word I said was 'hoarding.'"
The hoarding or panic buying of ammunition comes as a result of fear that there will be a push for stricter regulations on guns and ammo by President Barack Obama and those who think like him.
What I am experiencing, you can find ammo, but it might not be what you want. I was in a store recently that had .22 shorts, but no long rifles. It had 9mm ammo, but only in hollow point.
Big box stores often are selling out as quickly as a supply of popular rounds reaches their shelves. Some are limiting sales and holding orders from special customers.
A question for Hargrave: Why don't manufacturers gear up and make more products?
"We are running our facilities 24/7 to keep up," he said. "We are making as much as we can as fast as we can. The biggest problem we have is hoarding."
Hargrave doesn't think it will become so bad that deer hunters won't be able to find ammo in popular sizes. But if you have a rifle chambered for a round that isn't mainstream, you could have difficulties; thus, you shouldn't wait too long to stock up. Manufacturers are placing production emphasis on the most popular rounds.
At times, one of the hardest rounds to find has been .22-long rifles. The .22 is a popular round to begin with, for hunting, plinking and target shooting. Add to that, it is quite inexpensive compared to, say, a .223. A box of 20 rounds of center-fire ammunition can coast you $35 to $40, said Hargrave, while a box of 50 .22s sells for about $5. Many shooters are using conversion kits that will allow them to shoot .22s in their AR guns, rather than more expensive rounds of .223s and .308s.
Another factor, the components used in making ammunition are increasingly difficult to obtain, and often are coming from overseas.
"We will not use inferior metals," Hargrave said.
Hunters reported killing 178 turkeys Saturday on opening day of the turkey season. These were electronic reports, and do not include birds checked at big game stations. Last year on opening day, the electronic report was 142 turkeys. An increase was anticipated this time, the result of a poor acorn crop making the big birds more vulnerable. But consider this: On youth day, the electronic count of 41 turkeys represented a 16-percent decline.Virginian Jeff Lugar won the 2013 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship on Arkansas' Dardanelle Lake on Sunday, but what had the McGaheysville (Sheandoah Valley) angler most excited was an automatic berth in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. Fellow members of the Rockingham Bass Anglers helped fund his trip and he returned with $45,000 in cash and prizes. The Classic is set for February at Alabama's Lake Guntersville. "Just the fact that I made it means everything," he said.Have a bear upsetting your garbage can, or a deer eating your ornamentals? Now you can get tips on how to resolve wildlife-human conflicts from a new helpline sponsored by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services. The toll-free number is 855-571-9003 and it is scheduled to be in operation 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.If you are a deer hunter, check out a new web site titled Star City Whitetails. It is the work of Roanoke hunter Jeff Phillips, who has been online since April. "I've put a lot of time on it," Phillips said, and it shows. He says the site is for the average hunter who has an above average passion for deer hunting. It includes weather information, solunar tables, features on trophy hunts and the opportunity to join other hunters in discussions at www.starcitywhitetails.comThe last of five charter boat captains indicted Nov. 8, 2012 for violating of the Lacey Act off Virginia Beach has been sentenced. Noland Agner, captain of the Flat Line, was fined $3,500 and placed on three years of probation Monday in Federal Court. Along with four other charter boat skippers sentenced earlier, he was arrested for taking paying customers striped bass fishing in an offshore zone where it is illegal to fish for or possess this species.Fishing for most species in Smith Mountain Lake should improve as November ushers in cooler weather, according to Capt. Dale Wilson, a veteran guide, www.captaindalewilson.com. Wilson likes shad- and crawfish-colored lures this time of year. Rocky areas will hold bass; docks, fallen trees and brush piles will attract crappie and striped bass will be found in the upper sections of the lake and in the big creeks where there is bait. Give an Alabama rig a try.The National Park Service plans to tear down what's left of the Cape Hatteras Fishing Pier on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The 400-foot pier was built in 1962. The storm-battered structure also is known as Frisco Pier. It has been closed most of the past five years. The park service said the spot where the pier has stood will be turned into a beach-access point.The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has said "No" to a winter crab dredge fishery this winter. Anglers had expressed concerned that such a season would be detrimental to sport fish.The newest leader in the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament is a 21-pound, 1-ounce pompano landed by Mary Jo Ellis of Chincoteague who was surf fishing Assateague Island. Only six pompano have been registered in the contest this year.The debate over whether deer should continue to be hunted with dogs in Accomack County on the Eastern Shore has been sent to a seven-member committee following a 5-3 vote by the county's board of supervisors. Committee members include hunters and landowners. The committee is scheduled to report back to the supervisors in March. Events, seasons, dates
Smith Mountain Striper Club tournament, Nov. 2, www.smithmountainstriperclub.com/tournament-info.htmlBass and Saltwater Fishing Expo, Jan. 17-19, Meadow Event Park Farm Bureau Center, Doswell (Richmond area), www.ncboatshows.comYouth Waterfowl Hunt Day, Feb. 1, check www.HuntFishVA.com for details. Have an event? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org