With presidential election on tap, expect cost of hunting to spike

You know you’re getting old when much of your time is spent reminiscing about your life and pondering what you did or didn’t do in the good ol’ days. At least that’s what I remember my college psychology textbook saying. Looking back, I believe it has something to do with one of Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development.

OK, I didn’t remember whose theory it was, so I had to look up the specifics. (Thank goodness for the Internet.) According to Erikson’s theory, the period of life in which reflection is a central activity isn’t supposed to begin until we reach 65, but one look at the price tag on my favorite over-the-counter rifle ammunition caused me to jump ahead a stage or two.

“Twenty bucks a box! Why, I remember the days when a box of shells was less than $7 at the discount mart and no more than eight at the high-end sporting goods store,” I reminisced out loud.

By the stare the clerk sent in my direction, and the sudden turn of customers’ heads in my direction, it’s safe to say my reminiscing was louder than a typical under-the-breath mutter.

Unfortunately, everything is more expensive these days, and with the price of gasoline it’s going to get only worse. But the presidential election and political rhetoric will drive the increases in ammunition costs you will see in the coming months more than any other factors. It will boil down to supply and demand, and all one has to do is look back at what happened to ammunition and firearms sales following the election of President Barack Obama in 2008 to see where this is going.

Driven by concerns of what Obama and his administration might do to curtail Americans’ Second Amendment rights, and worries about personal safety in uncertain economic times, gun enthusiasts opted to stock up on ammo and add to their firearm collections while others purchased firearms for the first time. People who once purchased ammunition a box or two at a time began purchasing by the case.

This resulted in store shelves being devoid of ammunition for the most common handgun calibers and many of the most popular rifle calibers. As a result, some stores limited purchases to only so many boxes per customer per day, while others held ammunition only for their best customers. Supply was low, demand was high, and prices climbed.

Eventually, some manufacturers increased ammunition production, and time eased the demand. But with the 2012 election campaign well under way, and with Obama running for a second term, gun sales are spiking again, and ammunition sales are sure to follow.

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Instant Background Check System processed nearly 1.2 million checks in March, a 20 percent increase over March 2011. These figures were adjusted to eliminate checks used by some states for concealed weapons permit applications.

“This marks the 22nd straight month that NSSF-adjusted figures have increased when compared to the same period the previous year,” the NSSF noted.

On Monday, shares of Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. hit a 52-week high. Last week, just days after announcing that it would temporarily suspend taking new orders because it can’t keep up at the production end, Sturm Ruger & Company, Inc. traded at an all-time high.

So what does all of this mean? No one knows for sure, but my guess is that lead could become the new gold.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at intheoutdoorslv@gmail.com.

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