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Gun sales continue to spike into 2012 with high number of background checks

Gun manufacturers are expecting another good year in 2012.

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, one of the best indicators of firearms sales is the FBI's national instant background check system, which gun sellers use to conduct mandatory background checks on people buying new and used firearms. December "marked an unprecedented 19th straight month of background check increases when compared to the same period in the previous year," the group said.

NSSF-adjusted background checks for December totaled more than 1.4 million, the most ever for any month.

Last year also saw the record for the single-most sales on a particular day. "Black Friday," Nov. 25, had 129,166 background checks. That was a 32 percent increase over the previous one-day record.

Another indicator pointing to robust gun sales is the federal excise taxes collected on the sale of new firearms and ammunition, which have risen 48.3 percent over the past five years, the foundation reported.

That trend should continue, the group added. Industry professionals at the SHOT Show — the hunting and shooting industry's annual trade show, which just wrapped up in Las Vegas — said this year could feature another similar surge in firearm sales.

Ohio deer

It will be another six weeks or so before the Pennsylvania Game Commission releases its estimates on how many deer hunters shot this past hunting season.

But Ohio hunters know how they did, and it was not necessarily good.

Hunters there — beset by the same kind of warm, rainy weather that plagued a couple of days of Pennsylvania's statewide deer season — shot 14 percent fewer deer in 2011 than they did in 2010.

The kill was down 39 percent after opening day. Hunters made much of that up but never got back to even, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

The total harvest was 90,282 animals. In 2010, sportsmen killed 105,034 deer.

Merger talk

Speaking of Ohio, consider this: Periodically, there's talk of merging at least the Pennsylvania Game and Fish and Boat commissions, and sometimes even the Department of Conservation and Natural resources, too.

In Ohio, several top-ranking officials with the department of wildlife were fired this fall, replaced in the top spot by a former leader of the state's department of agriculture. According to media reports coming from that state, the move has fueled speculation that there are plans to merge the departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture, along with the Ohio Environmental Protective Agency.

Deer webinars

A free webinar miniseries recently completed by the Quality Deer Management Association for Penn State University and American Tree Farm Systems is available online.

The webinars, or web-based seminars, cover implementing a successful deer management program on your property, while-tailed deer breeding biology and communication, providing quality habitat for deer, and one on timber management for deer.

You can see them at www.treefarmsystem.com .

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