It’s October and you can feel the change. Leaves are starting to drop. Pleasant temperatures greet us in the evening. And a familiar under-the-breath cursing has returned to my house – “Dang deer”. Dang is NOT the 4-letter word used in our house but this is a G-rated blog.

Yes, it is hunting season and 17 years of marriage has taught me to steer clear of my spouse for the next several weeks. Nope, make that months. My job when the muttering starts is to gently suggest things I have learned from him over those 17 years and say “Yes, dear.” Sometimes I can’t help myself and I say, “You can stay home, you know.”

And when I say my spouse hunts, I do not mean casually. He keeps meticulous records. Last year he spent 473 hours in a tree over 112 outings (in case you think that was a fluke, it was 473 hours in 105 outings the year before and 464 hours in 117 outings the year before that). September through January, if he is not working, he is hunting. If he is not hunting, he is working. Sometimes he sleeps. Words like obsessive, fanatical, and insane have all crossed my mind. 

buck walking up to a scrape in the woods with sunlight shining on him

I mostly stay out of the way in the name of marital bliss. But I draw the line when it comes to what goes in the freezer. The majority of deer in our freezer are harvested with archery equipment but sometimes the gun comes out especially late in the season. Readers of this blog know of the efforts Duane and I have made advocating for non-toxic ammunition

Several years ago, I threw down the gauntlet. No deer harvested with lead was going in my freezer. It’s an issue that is too important to me and the health of my family. To my delight and surprise, my freezer-filler had already been investigating non-toxic ammunition for both deer and turkey hunting. Wow – he was listening! And so have many of our readers. 

We recently received a message from a reader about his experience converting to non-toxic shot. He wanted an alternative after “having spit-out lead fragments on several occasions” which left him wondering how many he might have missed. He has already had success harvesting his first black bear with non-toxic ammunition this season!

Since blog posts and household guerrilla warfare will only get you so far, this reader shared information on Hunters for Eagle Conservation. This program gives a rebate to hunters for purchasing non-lead hunting ammunition. States participating in the program include Alaska, Montana, New York, and Wyoming. It notes that more non-lead ammo programs are coming soon!

You know the saying – money talks. Perhaps pairing information on the hazards of lead with a financial assist may remove some of the barriers to using non-toxic ammunition when afield. 

I won’t say if my spouse’s obsession with hunting is healthy or not. But I can say that the meat in our freezer is lead-free, which I can say is healthy. 

-Jeannine Fleegle
Wildlife Biologist
PA Game Commission

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