Every time the phone rings at Mel’s Trading Post in Rhinelander owner Mitch Mode knows it’s more than likely a hunter.
“80 percent of my phone calls are guys looking for ammo,” said Mode.
His shelves are usually stocked full of ammo this time of year, especially with the start of gun deer season just three days away.
But this year, those shelves are mostly empty.
“Past couple three weeks we’ve had some key sizes come through and sell it out in two or three days,” said Mode.
Shipments of ammo are coming in few and far between.
It’s not just Mel’s Trading Post.
Chuck’s Sport Shop and Northern Highland Sports in Boulder Junction both told WXPR they’re low on ammo.
They also say they’ve never seen anything like this.
“It is unprecedented,” said Mode.
It makes sense with the record gun sales this year across the U.S.
The Small Arm Analytics and Forecasting group put U.S. firearm unit sales at 1.9 million units in October alone.
That’s an increase of 65 percent from the same time a year before. And that’s actually down from earlier in the year.
Ammo Incorporated is an ammunition manufacturer based in Arizona. In August, its record backlog increased to more than 80-million dollars. The largest in company history.
Mode started to notice the increased demand mid-summer.
“Went back in July with significant orders to some of our manufacturers and vendors with the thought we’d need it come fall. The short is, we haven’t seen it yet,” said Mode.
He points to couple things causing the shortage.
Every time there’s a strong democratic candidate running for President gun sales in the U.S. spike.
Mode says you add in the protests in larger cities, an increase in first-time buyers, along with the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic and you get a high demand for guns.
“The cumulative effect is instead of having one factor drive demand you now have four and it simply got out of control. Demand exceeds supply by ten times from what I’m understanding,” said Mode.
Mode is now limiting one box of ammo per customer.
He says he’s still getting some in and encourages people to call ahead.
He also encourages hunters to think about next deer season sooner than later.
“The end in sight is a moving target right now we were told a few months ago this is going to last through the end of this year. We’re told now maybe the end of the summer of 2021,” Mode said.