OK, can we just decide here and now that 2021 is going to be better than last year? Good, I'm glad that we can agree on something. Mountain lion sightings, coyote origin and the best deer rifle aside, we sportsmen (remember, that includes the girls) need to agree on some things!
As usual, there are several things swirling in your outdoors, guns and hunting world, so let's look at a few of them while the year is still new:
Remington. If you are like me, it pretty much broke your heart last year when Remington Outdoor Company was split up and sold at auction during bankruptcy proceedings. In 1816, Eliphalet Remington II entered a shooting match with a flintlock rifle he made himself; he left the match with so many orders from other shooters that he entered the world of gun making. Remington is the oldest firearms company in America, and I would love to see them survive.
During the breakup of Remington, the ammunition side of the company was bought by Vista Outdoor, the company that owns Federal Premium Ammunition, and from what I can tell, Remington (nicknamed "Big Green") will soon be cranking out ammo in the green box once again. Word on the street is the Federal people mean business and Remington will be making ammo under its own name.
For the firearms manufacturing side of Remington, things are not so clear. That portion of Remington was bought by a group of investors who did not appear to have previous firearms manufacturing experience. There are many challenges with getting the plant in Ilion, New York, up and running, and it is unclear when we will see new Remington firearms in the store. I say it can't happen too soon. I would not want to see a day when Remington was not producing the 870, 1100 and V3 shotguns, along with the Model 700, Model 7 and any of its .22s in the rifle line.
You may know that Marlin firearms was under the Remington umbrella and it was bought by Ruger during the breakup. Ruger seems to have taken the bit in its teeth, and it appears it will not be too long before you will see Marlin lever-action rifles again.
COVID-19 and hunter numbers. Among all the mess from the coronavirus, there was a positive result in the outdoors world: Hunter numbers increased — dramatically in some areas. Wildlife managers observed increased visitation at many state and federal areas, and they recorded increased harvest numbers on some animals. There was some "the sky is falling" speculation (my opinion) on wildlife management areas as to the number of turkeys taken in the spring season of 2020, but I don't think enough to warrant the alarm raised by some managers. Time will tell.
A related issue here is that between the pandemic and the unrest felt by many in 2020, there was a general "get back to the land and hunting" movement by many citizens. With the combination of isolation due to the virus and the feeling many experienced as parts of some cities burned, a lot of people wanted to be more self-sufficient. Doing so in terms of where your food comes from has led many to start hunting or rekindle their relationship with it.
Where is all the ammo? Going along with the theme in the previous topic, because of a lot of social unrest and COVID-19 craziness, more than 8 million American citizens saw fit to become new gun owners in 2020. How this will fit into the general landscape of gun ownership and gun control laws and how many of these will become new hunters remains to be seen, but as an advocate for Second Amendment rights, I see it as good thing.
As experienced gun owners and hunters, the best thing we can do is embrace these new gun owners and offer them all the help we can. If you have a friend or acquaintance new to the firearms world, offer advice and a trip to the range. For the uninitiated, delving into the guns and shooting realm can be very intimidating. Be patient, offer to teach the basics and listen as much as you speak. The vast majority of new gun owners will greatly appreciate this.
As for the ammo shortage, this has been a hot topic for several months. Think about what went on last year, and you can see a perfect storm for the shelves being emptied of guns and ammo. As much as anything, the COVID-19 fiasco contributed to the ammunition companies running low on supplies. Production was obviously hurt, with employees not being able to get to work for long periods of time. Ammunition manufacturers, like any company, rely on other companies for supplies. When these companies get bogged down, the whole process is slowed.
There is no doubt that hoarding by firearms owners causes some of the problem; we have seen this before, and the problem is self-perpetuating. You hear about a shortage, you go into the gun shop for some .22 and .308 ammo, and if any is available, you get eight boxes of each instead of the two you went in for. It doesn't take long for this to catch on, and everybody is scarfing up the ammo.
No, the companies are not selling all they produce to the government. Look for these shortages to ease up later this year.
OK, we can talk about other issues later. Keep the faith, brothers and sisters in camo.
"The Trail Less Traveled" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.