Empty Shelves in Meat Sections Bring on Rush of New Hunters

By: Phil Phillips

Hunt Tacos Sign NRA ILA
While this photo is meant to be funny, some people truly believe food simply comes from the supermarket.IMG NRA HLF

U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)-We are a species of hunter-gatherers but for many, easy access to food at the grocery stores has taken away that instinct … until now. It is amazing how fast we return to our roots and to a focus on life’s essentials when that food supply is suddenly tough to come by. If there is anything good that has come out of COVID-19, it is that people are returning to an era of self-reliance to make sure we hunter-gatherers meet the survival needs of ourselves and our families. No wonder the latest news reports are filled with stories of how the coronavirus has opened the eyes of non-hunters to the benefits of acquiring their own protein through hunting.

For us hunters, it’s no surprise that state wildlife agencies in multiple states this spring are reporting increases in hunting licenses and permit applications as the coronavirus spreads. In just my native state of Colorado, the Gazette’s Woodmen Edition, published in Colorado Springs, says how the coronavirus pandemic has reinforced Coloradans' love for the outdoors. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) data, CPW received 624,104 applications for its annual big game draw, an increase from the 609,366 applications received in 2019.

In covering this trend, Fox News, Reuters, and other media outlets are reporting that more Americans are now turning to hunting, many for the first time, due to shortages of meat due to the coronavirus pandemic. And with ensuing daily reports about potential and upcoming breaks in the U.S. food chain as meat plants shut down, there undoubtedly will be many more people realizing there is an option besides shopping at the grocery store.

For just one example, Fox News shared how New Mexico resident David Elliot started to consider going elk hunting to help feed his family and friends in January when the United States announced its first coronavirus case, despite not owning a rifle or ever having hunting large animals. He applied for a cow elk tag and will be hunting in November.

“I want to make sure it’s a clean, humane shot, as much as possible, and get a bunch of food,” said Elliot, as noted by Reuters. And that is exactly what every hunter strives to do.

So now more than ever, the fact more people are turning to hunting circles right back to the importance of the NRA and its services and programs for hunters. The NRA was the organization that in 1949 created the country’s first hunter safety course for the state of New York. Programs like the NRA’s free online hunter education course are available to meet every new hunter’s need for safety and education.

A similar report also from Reuters interviewed Nina Stafford, 42, a building contractor in Georgia, who killed her first deer in January. Confident in knowing she can find her next meal despite national food shortages, she said, “The coronavirus has only made me want to go and do it more so that I don’t have that scared feeling of where’s my next meal going to come from,” which again points to how in times like this our focus turns to the simple act of meeting basic needs.

It is no surprise that these same news sources and NRA Publications websites such as AmericanHunter.org and the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum (HLF) website also have shared how this return to basics has led to increases in purchases of guns and ammunition for hunting and personal protection. At the same time, the Institute for Legislative Action has urged state governors to keep spring hunting seasons open while maintaining social distancing due to the additional benefit of ensuring access to fresh air and sunshine during this health and economic crisis.

“It’s been so important for me, being able to go out and kind of cleanse my mental card and just go and be present, you really have to be present, and quiet and listening,” said Nathaniel Evans, 38, a teacher from New Mexico who told Reuters he’d bagged a 17-pound gobbler last month. My wife, Karen, and I did the same thing on Saturday.

So How Bad Is the Food Shortage?

On Apr. 28, C&S Wholesale Grocers CEO Michael Duffy appeared on “Fox and Friends First” to explain disruptions in the supply chain. “What we’re seeing is with consumer demand up almost 50 percent the last six weeks and the cumulative impact of plant closures and shift reductions reducing production capacity by 30 to 40 percent, we will see more out of stocks at retail probably beginning next week,” he said.

Other meat processing plants such as Tyson Foods closed due to outbreaks of COVID-19 and staffing shortages. “In addition to meat shortages, this is a serious food waste issue,” Tyson Foods claimed in a recent full-page ad published in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “Farmers across the nation simply will not have anywhere to sell their livestock to be processed when they could have fed the nation.” In addition to the economic blow to farmers, Duffy acknowledged how animals at slaughterhouses have nowhere to go and maybe euthanized. “… it’s heartbreaking when you see the long lines at food banks with miles of cars waiting for food and then, on the other hand, euthanizing animals or dumping milk,” he added. For example, those of us on Facebook likely have seen one of the photos circulating of a pile of euthanized hogs.

Another Fox News report shared remarks from Kenneth Sullivan, the president, and CEO of mega meat-processing company Smithfield Foods. Sullivan warned of “severe, perhaps disastrous” consequences for the country’s meat supply chain following the closure of its South Dakota plant and several other meat-processing plants due to outbreaks of the coronavirus. “The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply,” said Sullivan in a news release on Sunday.

Can President Donald Trump’s Executive Order Save the Day?

On a positive note, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds appeared on Fox News with news anchor, commentator and business journalist Neil Cavuto on Sunday to discuss President Donald Trump’s recent executive order to keep meat processing plants open. It is not often that a U.S. president intervenes in individual commerce but as Gov. Reynolds explained, “I appreciate the order he put in place,” detailing all the employee safety and COVID-19 testing protocols that are being followed in all 40 of the state’s manufacturing and production plants. “This is a critical and essential workforce and work production capability so we’re working in tandem to keep the food supply chain moving and to keep America fed,” she added. This is important in a state like Iowa that produces 10 percent of America’s food supply.

What Happens Next?

As news reports continue to show, the pandemic has people thinking about basic survival for themselves and their families. I am hopeful that even those in the general public who won’t decide to hunt for their own food at least will have a much better understanding of why it always has been so important to those of us who do.

Even as hardcore hunters, we appreciate our farm and agricultural producers and enjoy that grilled steak or burger or that slice of ham. But when given the choice, we lean toward self-reliance and the joys of hunting and getting our own food.

I’ve given deer, elk, and moose meat to some of my non-hunting friends to try during this lockdown and one of them already asked me to help him start hunting this fall. I have also given some of my hard-earned elk from the past season to non-hunters who got laid off and were having trouble finding meat at the store. After enjoying a meal with elk meat, one of them started asking about how to get into hunting.

Sadly, though this all has led to increases in hunting license applications, and ultimately more funding for wildlife conservation, California is one state that has seen numbers of hunting license applications decline. I guess this isn’t a surprise because the Golden State makes everything relating to hunting, shooting sports, and personal protection far more difficult to pursue. This is why NRA-ILA maintains an office at the state capitol in Sacramento, by the way. Eternal vigilance, as NRA President and actor Charlton Heston always said, is how we safeguard freedom.

As trends go, as an associate broker for the farm, ranch and recreational real estate company Hayden Outdoors, I’m getting more calls these days from people wanting to specifically leave California hunting and firearm restrictions behind and from people currently in large population bases around the country wanting to move to a new setting. Who doesn’t want their own piece of land to hunt on or want to have an extra piece of property where they can go to in times like this. The truth is, we’re all hunters of one sort or another at our core.



National Rifle Association Institute For Legislative Action (NRA-ILA)

About NRA-ILA:

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Visit: www.nra.org

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nobodyuknow
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nobodyuknow

I am what people in “mainstream” America have derisively called in the past a “prepper”. I now have the ability to eat, get water and electricity, and defend myself should the need arise. What are you bozos in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.; ad infinitum, going to do when you go to the grocery store and the shelves are empty??!!!

nobodyuknow
Member
nobodyuknow

Many of the beef farmers in my area continue to graze animals since Spring/Summer grass is now growing. They are waiting for markets to open which is dependent upon meat processors working. The processors are the key. I have many head of cattle that belong to another farmer using my pasture now waiting for the above to happen. WHAT IS THE PLAN FOR THIS??!!!

DMack54
Member
DMack54

As we older folks who have worked for a living know the millennials and other current generations have no clue about how things get to the store. They just think it shows up out of the air for them to buy. I worked on my uncle’s farm growing up but he didn’t raise cattle or pigs so I don’t understand the in’s and outs of the slaughter process. Why can’t the rancher’s and farmers keep the animals for a few months until things pickup? I know there are feeding issues but the ranchers around where I lived had fields and… Read more »

Will
Member
Will

This new sissy generation never would have never survived 150 years ago! Back then people hunted even when they weren’t specifically out hunting. It was all about putting meat on the table for your family. Smoking meat,canning home grown vegetables,raising livestock,that’s what people did back in the day! Survival!

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@DM, Surely, you know that if you feed and care for an animal twice as long, it cuts the profit in half? Profit margins are thin already. Bankruptcy follows. China buys up the farm lands.
I think that another great depression is coming. Prepare now.

Doszap
Member
Doszap

There WAS no shortage, the stupid ass Government (as Usual),ordered farmers and ranchers to kill hundreds of thousand even millions of American animals, and plow under entire crops. WHY?. To cause a food shortage. Why didn’t these ranchers and farmers get an OK to sell these animals,and have them processed by local butchers, and smaller processors/shops?. OR, allow people to come to the fields and pick what they could, rather than plow under FOOD. ALL the Food Banks are basically empty, and people unable to work(C19) could have USED that,but do we do the Intelligent things?,no, we waste(a SIN) billions… Read more »

Mudhunter
Member
Mudhunter

There are ranchers being told to put livestock down and farmers to plow crops under. That is beyond stupid. There are means OUTSIDE of government to get food to people. Ranchers could hold big barbeques. Come get a meal and a weeks supply doggie bag for $35 per person, or something along that line. Or come get your beef quarters. Plenty of retired men and women who know how to butcher animals to provide needy people with food. And city slickers need to understand where hamburger meat comes from. It is an opportunity to serve and educate at the same… Read more »

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@USA “… after guns for the third time, now …” What are the three times and who are the boys?

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@USA, Ok. I see.

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@Mud, at least you have your thinking cap on. We all need to put our thinking caps on because our employees in government will not get us out of this.

Ryben Flynn
Member
Ryben Flynn

Unless you plan to hunt game that is in season and you have tags for the game, poaching is the only option. And unless there is land that is free to hunt, you’re also forced to poach as land owners either demand payment for permission to hunt their land or they contract with hunting organizations that charge for guided hunts. I’m S.O.L. in South Carolina as 98% of the hunting land is privately owned and a deer hunt can cost $1000 a day or more, a Turkey hunt is $600 and up. I have a Senior Lifetime Hunting and Fishing… Read more »

Dave in Fairfax
Editor
Dave in Fairfax

RF, Have you checked the WMAs or talked to friends? My brother gets invited to hunt all the time.

Dave in Fairfax
Editor
Dave in Fairfax

BB guns will take tree rats, if you can be still long enough for them to show back up, but there isn’t much meat on a squirrel and after you pop a couple the others get scarce. Tasty, but small. If you aren’t hunting already, you’ll be REALLY hungry by the time you learn to aim and dead of hunger by the time you learn to stalk and hunt. Then there’s that pesky cleaning thing. Do it wrong and you’ve wasted the meat. OTOH, this may be just what we need to thin out the feral hog problem in this… Read more »

Core
Member
Core

Any shortage is fabricated to drive up revenues to compensate for less institutional consumption. And every American has the right to stock whatever the hell they want, and don’t believe when any leader tells you otherwise. But be kind and help your neighbors.

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@Core, Soon you will be called a hoarder and black marketeer. Rationing will be instituted at the business end of a gun. And … China is coming for us.

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@Anonymous down clicker, I did not say that Core would be doing anything wrong. I wrote that he would be CALLED a hoarder and black marketeer.

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@USA, Yep, I’ll be right their with him in the docket.

Will
Member
Will

@WB,just bumped it back up!

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@Will, Thank you. Thank you very much!

AZ Lefty
Member
AZ Lefty

Yay more yahoos “hunting.” The skill needed is to learn how to butcher; there is plenty of meat out there but it is on the hoof, the bottleneck is processing it.

ALL GUN LAWS ARE INFRINGEMENTS
Member
ALL GUN LAWS ARE INFRINGEMENTS

Why are people eating 1000 times more laying on their asses then they did working?

After they packed their house with toilet paper where do they put food??

Grow & roll ur own is the way to go…

Finnky
Member
Finnky

@AGLAI – People are buying more. Not necessarily eating it. Given uncertain future supply, hording is simply a logical way to buy time for those who truly matter (one’s own family). It is easy to rationalize and not consider oneself to be hording if simply buying a few extra nonperishables when shopping for essentials. It is common knowledge in retail that if you want to clear something out, put on a slight discount and label as “limit 3”. Right now many items have purchase limits, almost guaranteeing that everyone will buy some. Not knowing if something will be on the… Read more »

Oldvet
Member
Oldvet

@Finnky …I once knew a retailer who had a rack of cheep ties .He lowered the price They still would not sell. He raised the price to twice the original price , put up a sign that said sale while supply last . They sold in a matter of days . I worked at a place where we had a surplus of wooden pallets , couldn’t give them away , we stacked some out side of the gate put up a sign “$1.50” each , They were stolen over night . IT’s all how you pitch the product ! Same… Read more »

Core
Member
Core

People are not eating more, they are wasting less. With many institutions shuttered the meat industry is trying to create hysteria by wanton waste in an excuse to buy stock from farmers at cost and jack up retail prices. This is why we need to go back to local sustainable meat/food processing so these big food corps can’t hold our delicious meats hostage.

Oldvet
Member
Oldvet

@AGLAI…Because they are at home buying groceries rather than hitting vending machines and taking dumps at work .