If youre going big-game hunting during the October general seasons, dont procrastinate. Buy your ammo now.
There are no certainties when it comes to ammunition because of recent hoarding and panic buying as a result of fears of proposed gun control legislation.
Its plagued buyers for months when they went to buy rifle and pistol ammo and instead stared at empty shelves.
Shotgun shells remained available during the shortage. Shelves remain well stocked with bird-hunting loads, and prices have not changed much since last year.
This month, gun shops and sporting goods stores in the Treasure Valley are reporting fair-to-good supplies of hunting cartridges. And prices havent gone up much since last fall, either, except a couple of bucks per box.
You can find some common hunting cartridges, such as .30-06 or .270 Winchester, for about $20 for a box of 20.
Theres still a shortage of 9 mm and .22-caliber long rifle ammunition, but those arent used for big-game hunting.
Some local stores anticipated the needs of hunters and started stocking up two to three months ago.
Although there is hunting ammunition on the shelves locally, whether it lasts is as up in the air as tracking a whitetail through brush with dusk nearing.
Hunters need to be prepared, said Jim Payne, manager of Larrys Sporting Goods in Nampa.
I started buying hunting ammunition 60 to 90 days ago and have a good selection of it at the store, Payne said. But he added, you never know whats going to happen.
Boise Gun Co. in Boise also reported good inventories of common hunting cartridges.
Also helping the situation is that ammunition manufacturers have focused their manufacturing efforts on common and popular cartridges.
Theyre producing as fast as they can, said Payne.
Michael Bazinet, spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade organization for the firearms industry, agrees.
People arent running into shortages (of hunting loads) nationally, he said.
Higher production and retailers restrictions on the number of boxes of ammunition an individual can purchase have also helped reduce the shortage, Bazinet said.
Still, those at the gun counters say hunters should get their ammo now, not the day before they head out.
Several big-box stores had hunting ammo on the shelves, too, but it still can be hit and miss depending on the store and whether any buying rushes have occurred.
The ammunition shortage and higher prices also have gun owners and hunters being price conscious.
Walk into a gun store and you might see hunters browsing the shelves with cellphones to their ears, comparing prices with friends at other stores.
Thats because ammunition prices can vary widely.
You can pay $28 to $63 for a box for .300 Winchester magnum ammo, and boxes of .30-06 ammunition range from $24 to $44.
Although most gun stores reported ample supplies of the common hunting cartridges, what about the uncommon or older calibers, such as .257 Roberts or a .30-40 Krag?
They may be much harder to find because ammo manufacturers are focusing on more popular calibers and loads, and they probably will be expensive if you can find them.
It could also get expensive if you wait too long to buy the standard loads of common hunting cartridges. If supplies run out, hunters may have to settle for expensive, specialty loads.
Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors