Dear Dead Shot Readers,
I want to welcome all you hunters, fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts to my Dead Shot wildlife column. Thank you for the emails, phone calls and communications! Today, I would like to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of lead shot verses steel shot.
As you all know, here in the Untied States, lead shot is no longer allowed for waterfowl hunting. This has been the case for several years and will probably also be in the future years, however in Iowa, lead shot is allowed in pheasant hunting, upland bird hunting and deer hunting. The alternatives are non-toxic bird shot and/or bullets for deer hunting. Much of the fear of using steel shot is that the user feels the steel would affect their shot gun and/or rifle negatively. Most research by the firearm companies indicate that guns less than five years old would have no damages with the use of non-toxic steel shot. Some other alternative non-toxic shots used are steel, bismuth, zinc, tin, molybdenum, tunzesten along with a few other metals. With steel being the cheapest and most commonly used as they are readily available, steel does have some disadvantages. Typical complaints you hear about steel is it’s hardness, which is used in shot gun loads. Most of the non-toxic alternatives are equally as soft as lead however, steel shot does ricochet when fired on hard surfaces such as frozen waters. It should be observed that woodland and/or timber areas, the use of the alternatives could cause damage to the timber industry.
There’s an old wives tale that steel shot does damage to older shot guns however, if it’s contained in a plastic type of wad, it protects barrels from wear. There appears to be little concern regarding use of a steel shot as long as the pellets are contained in a properly designed shot cup.
Over the years, there’s been several experiments conducted of various non-toxic shot verses lead shot and it has been determined that, ultimately, consensus by the hunter did not depend upon the type of shot used as much as what people had thought.
One of the problems with lead shot, as far as waterfowl goes, is that waterfowl often mistake the lead shot for seeds or grit, thus digesting the lead and causing lead poisoning. Also any eagles, hawks and other game animals are exposed to lead poisoning. It being known that ducks and eagles can die from any small fragments of lead shot or rifle bullets which will lead to the death of our birds. If the lead is absorbed in the stomach causing sickness from lead poisoning. So far, there has been no trouble with humans eating deer meat that has been taken by lead shot however, this is still under investigation.
The use of non-toxic shot has been brought before the DNR Commission on several occasions and it was decided not to require lead shot use on pheasant, upland game, deer and turkey. The only problems hunters have with non-toxic shot is that the shells or more expensive than the lead shot. I think if more people use non-toxic it will bring the price down considerable. At this time, I am not making any recommendations as to using lead or non-toxic shot as it is up to the hunters to make that decision. The DNR has outlawed lead on waterfowl areas and certain game management areas. Check with your local Conservation Officer regarding the legality to hunt on game management areas otherwise keep in mind that you can not use lead shot for hunting any type of waterfowl because it is against U.S. Regulations.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me calling at (515) 283-2330, emailing me at email@example.com or by writing to 206 – 6th Avenue, Suite 510, Des Moines, Iowa 50309.
Have A Good Hunt And Keep On Fishing!
a/k/a Ron Kuntz