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Take the Lead & Go Non-Lead
Venison and bear meat are fantastic table fare providing a healthy, natural, locally sourced alternative to meats and other proteins purchased in stores. Knowing where your food came from and that it is free of additives is important to many hunters and their families. Traditional lead-based bullets which have been in popular use for big game hunting can fragment and leave small unseen particles in your meat, often a distance from the wound channel exposing you to lead. In addition, portions of the carcass (gut piles) left in the field can expose scavenging animals to lead sometimes with deadly results. Lead is a well known toxin to people and animals and even in small amounts can have adverse health effects. This is especially true for many birds. Non-lead alternative ammunition is available in most popular big game calibers as well as for shotguns and muzzle-loading firearms. The performance is excellent and the cost continues to come down as more people give it a try. Look to pay about the same for it as any premium quality ammunition. Best of all, you will help ensure that the quality, locally sourced and delicious table fare you worked hard for will be just that. And you will be reducing risks to the wildlife around you. It’s a win-win.
Photo courtesy of National Parks Service
A recovered .270 caliber copper jacket lead-core bullet (left) is heavily fragmented compared to the solid copper bullet (right) that retained its original shape upon impact.
Photo courtesy of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Deer chest X-ray illustrating lead fragmentation of a rifle bullet.
Photo courtesy of William E. Cornatzer
CT-scan showing lead fragments (appearing white) in 20 one-pound packages of ground venison.