An old-school technique for getting the lead out of your wild game
My first dental crown was caused by a steel shot that I bit into when eating a wood duck breast. The tooth had been filled and was likely on the edge of deteriorating past the point of rescue, but the shotgun pellet, without a doubt, sent me to an early rendezvous with the dentist’s chair and a whopping bill for a custom tooth cap.
I had chomped on shotgun pellets in the past without casualty. I always thought it was part of the program when eating wild game that I had dropped with a well-placed shot from a gun that distributes lots of small round projectiles. My luck ran out when I clamped down on that steel.
Shortly after I paid off the dentist for a second crown due to a shotgun pellet, I decided there must be a solution for getting the lead – and steel – out of the meat from wild game I harvested. My research turned up compact hand-held metal detectors.
I used to scour every piece of meat after that first busted tooth and even then I would bite into the occasional piece of hard shot. Since incorporating the metal detector I have not had a single piece of metal haunt me and the peace of mind is worth every penny. Not to mention the money I save in dental bills.
The hand-held I use today is the Minelab Pro-Find Pinpointer series. I like it because it’s not too expensive – a hundred bucks – and I find it picks up even the most minute chunks of metal.
I use the Pro-Find for every bird I shoot, but I also use it on all the deer I process. It wasn’t that long ago that there were articles everywhere trying to scare deer hunters into thinking that lead particles were spread out everywhere through the meat and we were all going to die from lead poisoning if we ate it.
What I discovered from using the Pro-Find on the venison after butchering it is there are actually going to be some cuts around the wound channel that acquired some lead. When you cut away all the meat that is causing the detector to react, it is a very small amount. The beauty of inspecting the meat with the Pro-Find is that you are secure in knowing that every piece of venison, every pheasant bite, every duck chunk you put in your mouth and every goose breast you grill is free of any metal that might end up passing through your digestive system or worse, breaking a tooth.
One other benefit to making sure your meat is metal free: It’s easier to grind. Many processors quit grinding wild game because the steel shot was breaking their equipment. In one situation I know of someone tried to sue a processor because they failed to find a piece of shot in the meat – that was delivered to them by the guy threatening to sue – and someone broke a tooth. Really?!
So now we grind our own game into burger and take it to the processor ready for them to turn it into brats, sticks and sausage. They love getting the game ground and ready to go.
So now when I’m prepping to clean the game I’ve killed, I sharpen the knives and fire up the metal detector. Every time I hear that detector beep, I get a big smile. It’s a great smile, because I still have some real teeth.