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Ken Perrotte’s Outdoors Column: Taking stock of gun stocks

A favored term in Vegas is “shoulda, woulda, coulda,” representing a bettor’s remorse over not making a bet or not making a big enough bet when the odds or some other circumstance favored it.

Even during some of the darkest days of the recession, a person would have made a lot of money betting on the stock of firearms companies Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger. Smith & Wesson went through a lot of pain in October 2008 with its stock falling to $1.58 a share. It closed Tuesday at $10.39 a share. Sturm Ruger & Co. closed at $56.99 a share, more than double what it was a year ago and up from $5.18 in November 2008.

I wish I had taken everything in the 401K, the Individual Retirement Accounts, and sold blood to max out purchases of stocks delivering that kind of performance.

Firearm sales began soaring again in the run-up and aftermath of the latest presidential election. And on Nov. 23, Black Friday,a new single-day record for point-of-sale background checks was established, reports the National Shooting Sports Association.

The FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System logged 154,873 checks that day, nearly 20 percent more than the previous high of 129,166 set on Black Friday last year.

Another 88,419 background checks were made the Saturday after Black Friday.

What’s at the heart of these surging sales over the last few years? Industry experts attribute them to worries about administration or congressional efforts to restrict firearms ownership, or the chances that changes to the nation’s highest court could result in challenges to Second Amendment rights.

Plus, the playing field has broadened with more women taking up shooting both for sport and personal or home defense.

Definitely “shoulda.”

DEER DONATIONS DOWN

As the general firearms season for deer began, the staff at Hunters for the Hungry was bemoaning a substantial decline in the amount of venison being donated this year. Donations were off by about 80,000 pounds.

An email query to Hunters for the Hungry Program Director Laura Newell–Furniss asking for their reasoning for the lower donations wasn’t answered.

My guess, based on purely anecdotal evidence, is that: 1) Fewer deer are being killed this year for a multitude of reasons, such as the hemorrhagic fever outbreak and a massive crop of acorns, and possibly more predation by coyotes. A biologist told me one coyote will eat about seven deer a year, and; 2) the economy still is causing many families to struggle and the meat is staying in the home freezer or being given to those people a hunter personally knows to be in need. The rub is that the economic struggle is likely even more dire for families relying on food banks.

But, the economy was bad last year, too. It will be interesting to see what the state’s final deer kill is and then attempt some analysis.

To donate a deer, take a field dressed, legally tagged deer to a participating processor. Hunters for the Hungry pays the processor to cut and wrap the deer and then coordinates distribution to food banks.

Silver Ridge Custom Butcher in Stafford, 373-1073, is the closest processor to Fredericksburg that accepts deer donations. Others include Bentley’s Processing in Catlett, 540/788-1079, and Rollins Meat Processing in Orange, 540/672-5177.

For a full list of processors or more information, see h4hungry.org or 800/352-4868.

SPORTSMEN’S ACT DEFEATED?

U.S. Senate Republicans possibly killed by a 50–44 party line the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S. 3525), the diverse bill containing 17 legislative provisions that we reported on two weeks ago. Six senators did not vote on the procedural motion.

Reportedly, the bill failed to pass over budgetary questions related to giving the Secretary of the Interior the ability to increase the duck stamp price by $10. A “point of order” was raised about whether the bill violated a 2011 budget agreement.

When this legislation was first cobbled together,I began wondering if so many different, and really unrelated issues, packaged into one bill could survive. But, backed by a broad coalition of organizations, it advanced and similar legislation easily passed the House of Representatives.

The legislation could still be revived but with “fiscal cliff” issues dominating attention, one wonders if this lame duck session of Congress can be motivated to put it back on the agenda.

Ken Perrotte can be reached at The Free Lance–Star, 616 Amelia Street, Fredericksburg, Va. 22401, by fax at 373-8455 or email at outdoors@freelancestar.com.

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