If you’re wondering where all the ammo is, and heard all the stories and rumors, ammunition makers say they are running at capacity and never, ever experienced this much of an increase in ammo sales.
It’s attributed in a large part they say, to first time gun buyers who crave ammo for range shooting and that number reached over 8 million in gun sales in 2020 and to date. And because of unrest in parts of the country and the current government administration pushing for gun control and the crazy defund police movement, gun buyers are hoarding ammo in case they may need it. Then there are those who buy as much as they can to re-sell it at ridiculous prices (price gouging).
So, what does the future of ammo look like for the remainder of 2021? The following was released by Southwick Associates who do annual surveys and extensive research on topics related to the fishing, shooting, outdoor retailer industry. The following is their outlook as to what the next months may bring.
Southwick says, 2020’s uncertainties boosted ammunition demand to record levels. Going forward, the question within the trade is “how long is current demand sustainable?”. To help provide insights, Southwick Associates polled the market.
In April 2021, Southwick surveyed hunters, recreational shooters, and firearm owners and found 72% had purchased ammunition within the past 12 months. Based on more than 1,800 responses, their feedback includes:
* Out of stock issues in 2020 and continuing into 2021 have caused 50% of hunters and target shooters to cancel or reduce the amount of target shooting and hunting activities they normally would have engaged in:
In 2020, four out of five encountered out of stock issues when trying to purchase ammunition.
o Three-fourths tried to purchase ammunition during the first quarter of 2021 but encountered out of stock situations.
* Expect ammunition demand to remain high: Nearly 2/3 indicate their current ammunition inventory is lower than they would prefer (64%).
o When asked how much more ammunition they would like to have on hand, 43% reported much more while 38% reported a little more. 17% were satisfied with the amounts they had on hand.
* When asked why they desire more ammunition, responses include: Uncertainty about future ammunition supplies (72%). This is especially true among consumers 45+ years of age.
o Uncertainty about future restrictions on ammunition purchases (70%)
o Uncertainty about future economic conditions (54%)
o Wanting to participate in hunting and target shooting more often (26%). This was more common among younger consumers.
When will demand soften? Certainly, at some point it will. However, the frenzied purchasing often feeds further increases in demand. Considering ammunition manufacturers still have significant backorders, and considering Southwick does not see demand softening at least through the second quarter of 2021, the ammunition shortages should at least continue through the second quarter of 2021 and for most of the year.
Second only to trout, black bass are the most popular sportfish in Pennsylvania. And the season for them kickes off this Saturday - minus the crowds of the trout opener.
The bass season opened with a creel limit of six and a minimum size limit of 12 inches. Despite this, most bass anglers wisely practice catch-and-release. It’s not because largemouth and smallmouth bass aren’t good eating, because they are. It’s because they’re more fun to catch-and-release as they can be caught again another day, especially when using lures as compared to live bait which could be swallowed and injuring the fish.
While smallmouth bass are predominately a river and stream fish, they can be caught in any one of Pennsylvania’s 4,000 lakes and reservoirs, most of which contain both bass species says the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PF&BC).
Of that number and for those new to the area, here are the more popular local waters that hold bass.
Blue Marsh Lake is the largest lake in the county where motorboats with unlimited horsepower can be used. It’s located off Route 222 northwest of Reading and in the area of Bernville.
Then there’s Ontelaunee Reservoir, also located off Route 222 in Maiden Creek Township. This impoundment has to be fished from shore (or wading) as no boats or watercraft are allowed. This lake probably holds the largest bass of any lake around this and other counties mainly because access is limited. Incidentally, you may latch onto a snakehead fish. If you do, it’s recommended it be dispatched as it’s an invasive species that no one seems to know how they got in the lake.
Lake Nockamixon, located between routes 313 and 412 outside of Quakertown, this expansive lake has a 10-hp limit on outboard motors. It has an extensive shoreline that contains good fish structure. It’s the premier lake in this county as it contains hybrid striped bass as well.
Beltzville Lake is an elongated lake that has no power limit for boats and is a popular bass water with Preachers Camp area being one of the hotspots. It’s located off the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike outside Lehighton.
Mauch Chunk Lake is much smaller in size (330 acres) as are the bass there. While there are some lunkers, many of the fish are on the stunted size but still fun to catch and release. Chunk is located on Lentz Trail Road west of Jim Thorpe.
Leaser Lake is producing some lunker bass but must be immediately released as only trout may be kept. Huge muskies too are being caught and they must also be released.
Locust and Tuscarora lakes, located west of Barnesville near Route 52, offer 52 acres of fishing at Locust Lake and 100 at Tuscarora. Both hold good populations of largemouths, albeit small ones with an occasional keeper.
If you don’t mind driving a little farther, Shohola Lake is prime bassin’ waters in that it’s shallow and loaded with above water structure. It holds some 8-pound largemouths. This is an electric motor-only lake that’s located off Route 6 between Milford and Lake Wallenpaupak. When bass fishing there many moons ago, I caught/released a huge snapping turtle that hit my white spinner bait.
This is but a fingernail summary of some of the local favored bass fishing waters. But don’t overlook farm ponds. You may be surprised as to the size of bass in these small waters.
For the 19th time, competitive shooting superstar Doug Koenig, a former Alburtis resident now living in Hamburg, Pa, has won the prestigious and competitive Bianchi Cup National Action Pistol Championship held May 24–28 at the Green Valley Rifle and Pistol Club in Hallsville, Mo. After firing all four events, Koenig ended the match with a score of 1920-182X.
This is the 19th Bianchi Cup Championship victory for Koenig, which is the most of any competitor in the history of the match.
"I just finished the 42nd Bianchi Cup and proud to have won my 19th Cup. Congrats to all the winners for a great match in some tough conditions. Thank you as well to Green Valley Rifle and Pistol Club for running a great championship and to all the match sponsors. I’d also like to thank my sponsors Ruger and Hornady for their support. I could not do what I do without them."
Bruce Piatt, the 2019 Bianchi Cup Champion, also finished this year's match with a perfect 1920 score, but he was down from Koenig in the X-count, and finished second.
Becky Yackley won the 2021 Bianchi Women's Cup with a final score of 1908-139X. Her score placed her 13th among all the competitors. In addition, her son Andrew Yackley secured the Bianchi Cup Junior Championship with a score of 1882-134X.
The Bianchi Cup is a championship match for the shooting sport now known as NRA Action Pistol. Action Pistol encompasses a number of set stages that are somewhat confusingly called “matches” or “events”, with the aggregate score of several being combined into one “course of fire” to determine winners and placement. Classically, the Bianchi Cup events are the Falling Plates, the Moving Target, the Barricade, and the Practical.
One of the defining features of Action Pistol is that each event is shot on a par time. Instead of scoring based on how fast competitors can shoot the required targets or number of rounds, competitors have limited time, counted in seconds, and limited number of rounds to shoot the best score possible. With most events being composed of strings of six rounds or less, revolvers have a special home in Action Pistol where they can compete on equal ground with semi-automatic pistols.
Except for the Falling Plates, Action Pistol events are shot on cardboard “tombstone” targets. The best Action Pistol shooters are able to shoot the 8-inch circle of the 10-ring and the black 4-inch X-ring inside of it consistently at distances out to 50 yards and under time pressure. Bianchi Cup champions in the open division, using optical sights, regularly score a perfect 1920 points, though the perfect 192x to go with it has been elusive.
As for Koenig’s experience, it spans nearly three decades of professional shooting. He attributes his success by incorporating a strong work ethic into his practice sessions mostly at Topton Fish & Game Association’s ranges where he does the majority of his practicing.
Koenig was born and raised in Pennsylvania and began shooting competitively at the age of 17 winning both regional and national competitions. In 1990, Doug turned pro as a competitive shooter. Since that day, his list of accomplishments and championship wins continues and may never be surpassed. He holds more than 70 National and 10 World titles including an unprecedented 19 times as a Bianchi Cup Champ. He’s also a lifelong hunter and hosts his own TV Show, “Doug Koenig’s Championship Season” on a cable channel.
It’s no secret that gun sales continue to boom. And they’re not all being bought by men, but women too.
Here’s some interesting statistics on the handguns that are trending for women in 2021. It’s a glimpse at what women are choosing to train with and carry.
Recently A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League (AG & AG) hosted its 9th Annual National Conference. All 450 participants were required to go through a “gear check” process where their handguns, belts, holsters, and mag pouches were all reviewed and function checked. The following lists the most popular brands and models that the women brought to training.
Women’s Choices of Handguns
A total of 626 handguns were reviewed and logged by brand and model during the AG & AG gear check process. By far GLOCK was the most popular brand among women at the 2021 training conference. More than 32% of the handguns brought to the event were GLOCK pistols, of which the most preferred models were G19s and G17s. The next popular brand was SIG SAUER, with the P320 and P365 models, followed by Smith & Wesson’s M&Ps and Shields.
Smith & Wesson
Heckler & Koch
German Sports Guns
Interestingly, the logs reflect a lot of brand loyalty. For example, if a shooter brought two pistols (typically one for general or competition training vs. one for concealed carry courses), the pistols were usually the same brand, such as a G19 and G43 or a P938 and a P238. Seldom did women with multiple guns cross brand lines. This is noteworthy because it may indicate that if a woman finds a gun she likes, she is likely to purchase more products from the same brand.
Breaking it down further, these are the most popular model of handguns that ladies brought to training:
S&W M&P Shield
S&W M&P Shield EZ
SIG P320 Legion X5
CZ Shadow 2
S&W M&P EZ
LOCAL FISHING REPORT
On the local fishing scene, and despite low water conditions before the rains came, fishing was good to fair.
According to Willie from Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon, the Lehigh River, the falls area in Northampton and upriver have been yielding some trout, smallmouth bass and rockfish. River fish are favoring minnows and worms.
Hokendauqua Creek by the nursing home, continues to produce trout for anglers who work the deeper holes. And the recently stocked Hokendauqua Creek for this past weekend’s kids fishing derby in Hokey Park, should have some leftover trout.
For big trout, Trout Creek in Slatington has been surrendering trophy size trout that was stocked by Springside Fire Company in Slatington, who raise trout in a pond on their property. The funding of these trout is from local donations, said Willie.
Up at Leaser Lake, sizeable (4-5 pound) largemouth bass are being caught but must be legally released as well as nice sunnies and huge muskies. Only trout may be kept there.
Chris’ Bait & Tackle in Mertztown, reports Ontelaunee Reservoir in upper Berks County, was producing large (1.5 pound) crappies but they’re off the spawn now, however action should resume after they re-group. Ontelaunee is also producing catch-release 4-5-pound largemouths and huge snakeheads that have infested the lake.
According to Chris, he doesn’t know how snakeheads got in there, but they should be removed. In fact, some of his customers are buying large shiners and fishing specifically for them.
For you dedicated and long-time Colt firearm owners, the 175 year old company has been officially purchased by CZG – ??eská zbrojovka Group SE (“CZG” or “the Group”; PSE: CZG). CZG which has secured all necessary regulatory approvals from the U.S. and Canadian authorities, has successfully closed its acquisition of 100% of the equity interest in Colt, the parent company of the U.S. firearms manufacturer, Colt’s Manufacturing Company LLC as well as its Canadian subsidiary, Colt Canada Corporation.
CZG and Colt are confident that the merger will bring significant operational, commercial, and R&D synergies for the combined business, which generated pro-forma aggregated annual sales in excess of USD 570 million in 2020 and which has more than 2,000 employees in the Czech Republic, the United States, Canada and Germany.
“With this acquisition, we have created a strategic relationship between CZG and Colt, which will bring significant opportunities for the group. We will focus on continuing to provide high quality products to our customers in a seamless manner as we harness the many synergies generated by this acquisition. We are confident that this combination will create value for our customers and shareholders alike and strengthen these iconic brands,” stated Lubomír Kova??ík, Chairman and President of CZG. “This merger also confirms our commitment to the North American market which is an integral part of our growth strategy,” he added.
Thanks to this acquisition, CZG gains further production capacity and positions itself to become a leading firearms manufacturer and a key partner globally for military, law enforcement and commercial customers.
“Colt is pleased to join forces with CZG. We are proud of our heritage and believe that the strength of the combined businesses and the many synergies created by the merger will enable us to honor our roots while also securing the future of the Colt brand. We look forward to continuing to deliver our high- quality products while also investing in innovation and new product offerings in the near future. We believe in the successful connection of our corporate cultures, the proven track record of our teams and the complementary nature of the CZ and Colt brands,” stated Dennis Veilleux, President and CEO of Colt.
CZG – ??eská zbrojovka Group (CZG), together with its subsidiaries, is one of the leading European producers of firearms for military and law enforcement, personal defense, hunting, sport shooting and other commercial use. CZG markets and sells its products mainly under the CZG - ??eská zbrojovka Group SE, (??eská zbrojovka), CZ-USA, Dan Wesson, Brno Rifles and 4M Systems brands.
CZG’s subsidiaries include ??eská zbrojovka, CZ-USA, 4M Systems and CZ Export Praha. CZG owns a minority stake in Spuhr i Dalby, a Swedish manufacturer of optical mounting solutions for weapons.
CZG is headquartered in the Czech Republic. It has production facilities in the Czech Republic and in the United States and employs around 1,670 people in the Czech Republic, the United States and Germany.
Colt is one of the world’s leading designers, developers, and manufacturers of firearms. It has supplied commercial, military and law enforcement customers in the U.S. and throughout the world for over 175 years.
Colt is a supplier to the U.S. military, the exclusive supplier to the Canadian military and it also supplies its products to other armed forces around the world. Colt firearms enjoy a reputation throughout the world for accuracy, reliability and quality. Colt pistols and revolvers are carried by military and law enforcement personnel in numerous countries and are used by hunters and sportsmen and sportswomen worldwide. Colt commercial, sporting, military and law enforcement rifles enjoy similar renown.
In preparation for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend, the nation’s largest recreational boating safety event of the year is set for May 22-28.
The National Safe Boating Week serves as a reminder to boaters to keep safety first and center all season long.
According to the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC), each year, on average, 700 people die in boating accidents nationwide. And nearly 85 percent of the victims were not wearing a life jacket.
Last year the agency said there were 58 national recreational boating accidents resulting in 11 fatalities. None of the 11 were wearing life jackets at the time of the accidents. Alcohol or drugs were believed to have been a factor in three of the fatal accidents.
Most recently, there have been three Pennsylvania boating fatalities so far this year. All occurred on private ponds and none of the victims were wearing life jackets.
The first fatality occurred on Feb. 2, 2021, when a 70-year old male fell overboard from a kayak on a private pond. The victim was attempting to rescue his dogs who fell through the pond ice so he retrieved his kayak and launched it in open water where he subsequently went overboard. Both he and his dogs perished. According to the PFBC, sudden cold water immersion may have been a factor.
The second fatality took place Mar. 20, 2021, when a 44-year old male capsized a 6-foot kayak while fishing on a private pond. Like the other victim, this man also did not wear a life jacket. Again, sudden immersion in cold water may have been a factor in his death.
In the third fatality that occurred Apr. 3, 2021, when an 84-year old male capsized a 12-foot motorboat on a private pond. His boat was found drifting on the pond and he wasn’t located until the following day in 8 feet of water. The victim was not wearing a life jacket and like the others, it’s surmised sudden cold water immersion may have been a factor.
There are three major accident factors according to BoatUS, the industry’s recreational boating organization. And they can be alleviated by following these rules:
*The best life jacket is the one you will wear. It’s recommended checking the jacket’s label to insure it’s approved for your type of boating. For children, don’t be tempted to put a child in an ill-fitting life jacket.
*Boating safety reports indicate that operator inattention, improper lookout (if water skiing/boarding), operator inexperience, excessive speed and alcohol rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents with power boats.
*Remember to wear an engine cutoff switch if your boat is less than 26-feet, traveling on plane or above displacement speed. Engine cutoff switches can prevent boat strike injuries after an operator has been ejected from the vessel, or displaced from the helm.
Three easy rules to adhere to for a safe boating season.
Watching wildlife is enjoyable, especially when young animals and birds appear in spring. But it’s best to keep your distance, says the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC).
Picking up young wildlife can do more harm than good, and it’s also against the law, advises the PGC.
When people see young animals and birds alone, they often mistakenly assume these animals are helpless and lost, in trouble or needing to be rescued. Bringing young wildlife into a human environment often results in permanent separation from their mothers and a sad ending for the animal or bird, it’s explained.
Handling wildlife could also pose a threat to people involved. Wild animals can transmit disease and angry wildlife can pose significant dangers.
Biologists and wildlife scientists encourage wildlife watchers to respect the behavior of animals in the spring and early summer, and to resist the urge to assist wildlife in ways that may be harmful. This is particularly noted for deer fawns and baby birds that may have fallen out of a nest.
Here are some helpful tips from the PGC:
*Deer nurse their young at different times during the day and often leave their young alone for long periods of time. These animals are not lost. Their mother knows where they are and will return.
*Young birds on the ground may have left the nest, but their parents will still feed them.
*Young animals such as fox, opossum and raccoons will often follow their mother. The mother of a wildlife youngster is usually nearby, but just out of sight to a person happening upon it.
*Animals that act sick can carry rabies, parasites or other harmful diseases. Do not handle them, even though they don’t show symptoms, healthy-looking raccoons, foxes, skunks and bats may also be carriers of the deadly rabies virus.
*Many wildlife species will not feed or care for their young when people are close by. Obey signs that restrict access to wildlife nesting areas, including hiking trails that may be temporarily closed.
*Keep domestic pets indoors, leashed or fenced in. Dogs and cats kill many baby animals each year.
*Avoid projects that remove trees, shrubs and dead snags that contain nests during the spring and summer.
Flying Trout Thief
A buddy of mine took his 12-year old son trout fishing last week along the Jordan Creek by Home Depot in Whitehall. While fishing he noticed a great blue heron standing in shallow water on the opposite side of the stream. After a couple casts, my buddy latched onto a 13-inch trout that he swung onto shore, only to discover the fish swallowed the hook so he was in the process of removing it. At the same time his son was having trouble with his fishing gear so he stopped his effort and when to assist his nearby son. When he did, the heron flew over and grabbed his trout which was still hooked, and took off. Only problem was, it also took flight with his line, ultra-light rod and reel attached. My buddy could hear the drag releasing line because of the weight of his rig as it went airborne. The heron flew about 30 yards away before the hook dislodged and his rig dropped to the ground. Shortly thereafter, the heron returned to its original spot across the creek, possibly waiting to steal another trout from my friend.
Avid birders may be interested in the recent The Birding Wire press release regarding bird migration into the U.S. and, in particular, our area through the BirdCast website.
BirdCast provides real-time analysis maps that show bird migration intensities of actual nocturnal movement into the United States and into our area with approximate dates of arrival.
The migration is detected by the US weather radar network from sunset to sunrise. It’s produced by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and provides birders and scientists with insight into ongoing migrations, including an estimated the number of birds moving into the states.
BirdCast also provides local live bird migration alerts throughout the continental U.S. by employing real-time notices of bird migration as detected by radar. It’s a tool to determine whether birds are migrating into our area tonight – or any night – in low, medium or high densities.
The site also serves to employ effective conservation efforts such as turning off lights when birds are flying at night to avoid attracting them to artificial light and a potential collision with buildings, windows and other structures.
For more information check www.birdcast.info/migration-tools/live -migration-maps.
BLUE MOUNTAIN RESORT RE-OPENS OUTDOOR ADVENTURES
With the snow sports season over, Blue Mountain Resort in Palmerton has re-opened its Outdoor Adventures Park for summer and fall adventures.
The park includes hiking, canoeing, zip lining, rock climbing, high ropes course, outdoor fitness classes and glamping, the latter has been expanded according to Ashley Seier, Blue Mountain Marketing Director.
“Glampers will now be able to choose from basic or deluxe glamping experiences within Blue’s 25 glamping sites. Each has their own unique view and settings on the mountain,” Seier explained.
Seier went on to say sites are set along ski trails and require a UTV ride out to the site. Basic sites are located in the Valley below and provide a flatter surface that may be easier for families with small children.
Also new at Blue is a beginner high ropes course that’s perfect for children and adults who need a little practice before upgrading to the more challenging course. “The beginner course is fully enclosed with netting, removing the need for guests to wear a harness,” said Seier.
For added information check www.skibluemt.com.
Trout stockings are winding down for the year with Northampton County receiving none unless local fish and game associations buy and stock streams for children fishing contests.
As for Lehigh County, the following streams will receive their final stockings for the year unless fish are stocked by sportsmen’s clubs and with some fish from the Lil-Le-Hi trout nursery.
They are as follows:
Little Lehigh: 5-6, 10-18; Switzer Creek: 5-6; Cedar Creek: 5-6; Coplay Creek: 5-5; Jordan Creek: 5-7. Note, not all portions of the aforementioned streams may receive fish as a lot is dependent on water levels at the time and the amount of fish available.
This past Saturday’s sunny and relatively warm day was the perfect venue for Pennsylvania’s one-day spring turkey youth hunt for junior hunting license holders and mentored hunters under 16 years old.
This Saturday, May 1, the regular statewide spring turkey season opens for all hunters and will run until May 1. At that time there will be yelps, gobbles and purrs filling Penn’s Woods with hunters attempting to call in a wary gobbler.
And the hunting prospects fairly look good according to Mary Jo Casalena, Pennsylvania Game Commission’s wild turkey biologist.
With a 2020 estimated spring turkey population of 196,200 birds, Casalena said this total was slightly below average as last year’s good summer reproduction and light fall harvest set the stage for a good population this spring.
Said Casalena, “A strong base of adult toms followed by a healthy population of high-spirited jakes are prevalent. And there’s an above-average supply of 2-year olds in many Wildlife Management Units. So hunters stand a good chance for bringing home one – maybe two – of these wary birds.”
As for her latter statement of two birds, that’s permissible provided a licensed hunter purchased - prior to the season - a second Special Spring Turkey License for a second bird.
Last year’s second-tag sales set a new record of 25,524 hunters buying these licenses. It was, says the PGC, the fourth consecutive year second tag sales topped 20,000. As a result, those second tags resulted in 3,731 birds taken that made for a 15 percent success rate for those with a second tag.
Casalena goes on to say that last spring’s estimated harvest of 34,500 turkeys had a success rate of 16 percent.
For this season, Casalena reminds hunters of the following:
*Only bearded birds may be harvested by calling and sportsmen should refrain from knowingly harvesting bearded hens because they do nest and raise future broods.
*Blinds have become popular in hunting not only deer but turkeys as well, but they must be manufactured types that enclose the hunter on all four sides and from above. It’s unlawful to hunt turkeys from blinds made of natural materials such as logs, tree branches and piled rocks. Also, blinds that represent a fanned tail of a gobbler do not hide all hunter movement and are unlawful to use in Pennsylvania.
*It’s unlawful to stalk turkeys or turkey sounds.
*Legal firearms include manual or semi-auto shotguns limited to a three-shell capacity, muzzleloading shotguns, crossbows, long, recurve and compound bows may be used.
*There’s no need to wear fluorescent orange while hunting, but it’s recommended while moving to and from your hunting spot.
* Hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until noon for the first two weeks (May 1-15). Hunters are asked to be out of the woods by 1 p.m. This, says the PGC, is to minimize disturbing nesting hens. From May 17-31, hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset when hunting pressure is lower and nesting hens are less likely to abandon nests.
*Don’t forget to report your harvest by calling toll free 800-838-4431. The number in the Hunting/Trapping Digest is no longer in service.
*If you get a banded turkey, report that as the PGC leg banded nearly 500 birds this winter. In return, the agency will provide details of when and where the bird was banded.
Above all, be sure of your target. Make positively sure it’s a beaded gobbler before pulling the trigger, and not another hunter, a situation that has unfortunately happened in the past.
Oh yes. Don't forget to spray your clothes with a tick repellent as those nasty bugs will be looking for a meal.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.