Saturday, September 22, 2007
Craig One wonders if legendary trapper Jeremiah Johnson ever had to worry about this.
If you're a hunter, a recreational shooter or a farmer or rancher trying to keep varmints away from your crops and livestock, you might have noticed the escalating price of ammunition.
Ammunition prices went up 15 percent across the board on all types in early September, said Jim Hixson, Bears Ears Sportsman Club membership director.
By Joe Herod's estimation, the price has gone up 39 percent this year.
Herod owns Craig Sports, which supplies many of the hunters in town with their equipment and ammunition.
"Oh, they complain everyday," Herod said. "There's nothing I can do about it, though. Because of the war, and the way the prices on zinc and copper have gone up, there's nothing anyone can do about it."
The raw materials to make bullets have become scarcer recently because of the demand coming from the world market. Industrializing countries such as China and India in particular have started ordering large quantities of lead, copper and brass, said Sam Bobst, a hunter from Wernersville, Pa., who was in Craig for the first hunting season.
"It's gone up six times in 2007," Bobst said. "That's pretty crazy. I can afford it, but it's getting awful expensive for the average person."
What isn't going to China is going to the Middle East, Bobst added.
"The government is buying millions and millions and millions of rounds," he said. "Did I say millions? I probably should say billions."
The U.S. government has orders to ammunition manufacturers around the country to fill large shipments for the military before inventory can be sold to private retailers.
Certain types of rifle ammo, such as .223 caliber, are really hard to come by because they are often used for military weapons, Herod said.
"It's a common round for farmers to use on their land, shooting prairie dogs and things like that," Herod added.
It's also common ammunition for sport shooters at Bears Ears Sportsman Club on Craig's west end. The members there have been chattering about ammo costs, Hixson said.
"It's definitely put a pinch on some of them," Hixson said.
Bears Ears recently placed its first order of .223 ammo after its distributor had been sold out for months, Hixson said.
Despite the price hike, Herod and Bobst haven't slowed down. Herod is seeing the same traffic through he store he normally does, he said.
Bobst isn't close to thinking about not hunting or shooting at gun clubs less.
"No sir. Not me," he said. "Not presently, anyways."
Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or email@example.com