My wife says my truck smells like a locker room.  It probably does but the dogs don’t care.  I don’t know why but I’m more motivated to clean out my truck prior to, rather than after, the hunting seasons. Well, I do know why, but that’s another topic.

While I was vacuuming up dog hair and bird feathers and finding empty shotshells under the seat, it reminded me I need to reload some cartridges for my deer rifle.

Why now? Well, the weather is warm and fewer people are at the range than the week before hunting season.

I’ll be reloading for my .30-40 Krag with copper bullets, of course. Lead was banned for waterfowl hunting in 1991 well after it had been conclusively shown to have poisoned millions of waterfowl. Today we now have research to show that lead ammunition is poisoning many species of wildlife, including our national symbol the bald eagle. In Maine, between 2001 and 2012, 19 of 127 dead bald eagles had levels of lead indicating clinical poisoning.

The great news, however, is that there are many options for hunters to purchase non-toxic ammunition for many different rifle calibers.

A quick Google search revealed 238 non-toxic center fire rifle cartridges ready to ship from one major seller of shooting supplies. Included were 17 different versions of the popular .30-06 Springfield for prices that range from $1.40/round to $2.75/round (not counting manufacturer rebates). Other calibers were .308 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .243 Winchester, .223 Remington, 7mm Remington Magnum, .22-250 Remington, and more. There are a lot of options available today.

The use of lead ammunition is not making hunters look good. As more instances of birds dying due to lead poisoning occur, we need to take advantage of available solutions like the North American Non-lead Partnership is promoting. 

There is also a personal reason to move towards non-toxic ammunition – the health of our families. I never realized how much a lead bullet fragments – as much as half or more of a lead bullet can turn into tiny fragments only detectable by a radiograph but ideal to poison you. Check out this presentation about research conducted by the Minnesota DNR to see how far lead fragments end up from the bullet entry/exit holes. It should shock you.

So clean up that mobile locker room. Organize your hunting gear. Take Jeannine’s grandmother’s advice – Don’t be an Old Lady – and test out some non-toxic ammo on the range.

-Duane Diefenbach

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