Are Tennesseans Hunting for Meat? Experts Warning More Shortages Are Due to Supply Chain Crisis

John M. Dabbs
Elk in Rocky Mountain National ParkJohn Dabbs/Photographer

Our economy has changed. Just-in-time supply chain management is a victim of next-day deliveries becoming day-after-next delivery. Car parts and other items to repair machinery and appliances are taking more than a day - sometimes weeks, just to receive parts. You may have new home improvements scheduled with your next round of down-time, or plan to hire it done with your latest round of pigeon-holed stimulus funds - if you can find a contractor.

We're experiencing a whole new breed of economy, one we haven't seen before. This "pandemic economy" has an uptick in GDP, coupled with a litany of shortages: Car Parts, Semiconductors, Computer Chips, Shipping containers, Aluminum, and most importantly...Workers.

The shipping fiasco

We're not looking at a single bottleneck from oversees factories, trucking, or container ships waiting to dock and unload. The pandemic has made a mockery of the modern supply chains around the world - not just in the United States. As the government cut checks to Americans with cabin fever during the pandemic, a lot of cash flowed to hard goods (home goods and building materials). Many of these items come through Asia. Whether the items coming into the U.S. are passing through Asia or originating there, it has slowed traffic through the area considerably with the original strains, and the Delta variant of COVID-19 having a significant impact on the region.

The supply chain slowdowns are very evident in the shipping bottleneck in Southern California ports. Unfortunately, the containers being tied up longer as they are full creates a shortage, making demand go higher - thus costs increase. A shipping container that once costs $2,500 to reserve now runs $25,000.

It gets worse

Shipping is now cheaper from to L.A. to Shanghai than from Shanghai to L.A. In fact it cost six times more. Many containers are being shipped to China, even when they aren't full, so they can be expedited to China to come back to America.

This means they are leaving American ports empty, or at least not being shipped full of merchandise and goods from the U.S. American goods are left to languish in warehouses instead of finding their way across the Pacific, or left in rail yards in American ports. When we can't unload our rail cars for shipping abroad, they can't be sent back to American factories and warehouses to distribute more goods.

As for trucking, Americans aren't getting into the trucking business as they once did. One trucking association (Minnesota Trucking Association) estimates the country is short at least 60,000 drivers. The reason comes from retirement, and training programs cancelling due to the pandemic.


Prices aren't just higher at the pump - we are seeing large spikes in groceries. Empty shelves are also becoming common place across the country. As the supply chains become more hectic and chaotic, we see experts forecasting doom and gloom (i.e. - no toys for Christmas).

One BBC News report cited prediction of massive shortages and skyrocketing prices due to a strong demand and poor supply of products.

"The just-in-time system is no longer working and I don't think it'll work again," Ian Wright, Food and Drink Federation (in an interview with the BBC)

Tennessee response

As many Americans try and grapple with the constant increase in gasoline, heating oil, and grocery costs, many Tennesseans are returning to their roots to mitigate their family's impact. Allen Davis of Hancock County, Tennessee works as a flight paramedic and runs his family farm.

Davis not only raises goats, chickens, and cattle, he hunts to support his families protein intake. Davis is not alone in his methods. Many Tennesseans from rural areas (which is most of the state) enjoy hunting, fishing, and gardening. Davis shares his harvest of hunting and fishing with friends and family to help them get by in hard times as well. He has been known to provide fish and venison to friends going through the hardship of divorce, or other hard times.

While you may see many "trophies" on some walls in Tennessee - the mounted heads of prized game- you will mostly find these animals are used for meat. You won't find many hunters and anglers in Tennessee who do not have a deep-freezer to store their harvest for use throughout the year. You will find others who choose to can some or all of their meats.

Davis reminds Tennesseans that hunting is not just a skill, but a tradition which must be taught and passed down. It isn't enough to know how to kill an animal. "You have to get kids involved in hunting and learning how to process their own meat. it's a skill that's falling away."

Record deer season

TWRA (Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency) Information Specialist Barry Cross says last year's Deer Season started strong in the summer and finished strong in January. The state saw a harvest nearly 20% larger in 2020-2021 than in 2019-2020. Last license season saw 159,962 deer harvested across the state. It was the largest harvest in six years.

Many licenses were sold last year which weren't as popular in the past. This led state officials to expect the higher harvest numbers last season. People want to be outdoors, and active. It is one of the things the pandemic couldn't take away from people in the Volunteer State.

Will this year's deer season finish as strong? With meat prices continuing to soar, and some items still unavailable or at least in short supply, I personally think it has a chance at holding its own against last year, if not increasing.

TWRA has a robust Hunter Safety Program, which is being taught in different formats since COVID struck the state. If your youth is ready to hunt with you, look online for information about a program near you. It wouldn't hurt you to go through the program with them.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Johnson City, TN

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