Is there a future for lead ammunition?
The toxicity of lead on birds, particularly waterfowl, has been known for several decades and currently ammunition containing lead shot for duck and goose hunting is banned. Now some environmentalists are saying lead bullet fragments found in lost game animals and in gut piles might be a major problem for raptors such as hawks and even eagles who feed on them. Currently some environmental and animal rights groups have been saying that birds and predators aren’t the only ones affected by lead in the food they consume but, humans also may be at risk of lead poisoning after eating venison shot with lead ammunition.
In 2007 a dermatologist from North Dakota X-rayed 95 packages of ground venison and found 53 contained a small amount of lead. I remember reading that at the time and what an uproar his report caused. People were so concerned that charitable donations of venison were pulled from food pantries in four states.
Any discussion of the use of non-toxic ammunition for hunting will certainly cause some lively discussion among hunters. Personally, I don’t feel eating the deer I kill using a rifle bullet is likely to kill me. Years ago, I butchered and wrapped my own deer and I always cut away any blood stained meat and I never ground any meat for hamburger. I’ve used a meat processor for many years now and I still get my meat as cubes, steaks, chops and roasts.
Still, one has to wonder if there might be a better, perhaps safer way to kill game such as deer without running the risk of accidently ingesting any lead fragments. Fortunately, for those with this concern, there is. Copper is an acceptable substitute for rifle bullets and Remington has been offering its Copper-Lokt hollow point sabot shotgun slugs for many years. Barnes offers a variety of machined copper rifle bullets in a variety of calibers for reloaders. Several ammunition manufactures are now offering non-lead ammunition in many popular calibers.
Remington has offered its Copper Solid center fire rifle ammunition since 2009 in eight different calibers while Nosler offers shooters factory loaded ammunition using its E-Tip line of non-toxic bullets in more than 30 different load combinations.
Barnes VOR-TX line on non-toxic ammo offers shooters a choice of non-toxic all copper loads in 41 different calibers and company says the nose of these bullets peels back and opens instantly on contact to provide quick, humane kills.
According to manufacturers, copper bullets can be and probably are, just as good as their lead core brothers. They are designed to expand just like lead and reach an expanded diameter almost twice their size. They are a match for any big game animals from elk to moose because they retain a high percentage of their original weight allowing them to penetrate deep into the body cavity of almost any game animal.
Hunters have every right to be concerned about their exposure to lead and to the effect it might have on their families especially those with small children or wives of child bearing age. On the bright side, the Center for Disease Control has not issued any advisory warning people not to eat venison shot with lead ammunition. Fortunately, for those with concerns, there are alternatives.