View Full Version : Are Lead Fragments in Your Venison?

November 14, 2009, 09:52 AM
Check out this video report done by Minnesota DNR.
They did extensive tests, firing a .308, a shotgun, and a muzzleloader at sheep, then did xrays of the sheep to test for lead fragments.

You might find it interesting.


November 14, 2009, 10:18 AM
That is a very interesting link.

Art Eatman
November 14, 2009, 12:36 PM
A bunch of anti-hunting types got all involved in yapping about lead fragments. The big problem is that there's no way for lead to move around in the body after it's dead, and there are few fragments ever found in the eating-meat parts. Few deer are shot in the eating meat.

"Fragments": They're generally larger than #8 lead shot, and I've never had trouble finding and spitting out a pellet that was in a dove or quail.

Tommy Vercetti
November 14, 2009, 12:43 PM
I grew up spitting pellets out of rabbits, birds, moose, bear my dad had hunted (although to be honest the bear was killed in camp defense)

November 14, 2009, 12:59 PM
Studies like that are encouraged by PETA and anti gunners and anti hunters in their quest to outlaw hunting and guns. If lead in deer, or any game, was truly a problem there should be hundreds of thousands of hunters with lead poisoning issues. Can't ever recall hearing, or reading, of a single case of an individual with lead poisoning that was traced back to eating 'tainted' game.

Lead doesn't taste or feel like meat and is easy to spit out in the unlikely event one finds a piece in cooked game.

The study did not have a satisfactory outcome for the sheep however.

Brian Pfleuger
November 14, 2009, 03:32 PM
Wow. They could not have found a less interesting voice-over for that presentation. I can't even sit through it. Only smokes that is the most boring person that I have ever heard speak.

Besides that, yeah, I agree with the previous posters. I've been eating animals that were apparently just riddled with deadly lead fragments since I was born. It is evidently another one of those things that's going to kill me.... that never does. Like radon, asbestos, leaded gas, bicycle helmets, sun-burns, yada-yada-yada.

November 14, 2009, 11:07 PM
Here's what I've recovered from Rem. .44 Mg 240 gr. JHP's. This is from more than one kill.


November 14, 2009, 11:47 PM
Wasn't the "Doctor" in the study a Dermatologist, as well?

November 15, 2009, 01:46 AM
I didn't read that particular link, but if it's the same one I read before, I don't ever recall seeing proof anyone has gotten sick from eating game that had lead fragments in it and ingested them. In fact, if you place your bullet right, it should help reduce the amount of lead in the meat to begin with. Hit 'em in the broiler room and that helps. I know it can fragment and hit the opposite shoulder, but it's better than hitting them square in the shoulder anyway.


November 15, 2009, 11:14 AM
The link says that lead fragments may travel 12 inches from the entrance/exit wound.

Art Eatman
November 15, 2009, 11:28 AM
Lead is gray. Meat is red. The study proves that blind people should not butcher game animals...

November 15, 2009, 11:45 AM
That was such a good study I think I'll cast some bullets today...

November 15, 2009, 05:02 PM
No I use my Bow ,but some times I will shoot themwith my gun ,and I use Barnes Bullets :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes: F PETA

November 16, 2009, 08:35 AM
I am an avid deer hunter who got sick as hell from lead poisoning.

My health collapsed in 1990, and it has been a real nightmare getting healthy again. It took ten years just to get diagnosed. Most docs don't even test for lead poisoning, and they don't know how to test for it, and they don't know how to treat it.
Once I began treatment, in 2000, it took years to get straightened out, and it was very expensive. I will never completely recover, but I am a lot better now.

When I finally found a good doc who understood how to treat lead poisoning, I asked him, "Where did I get loaded up with lead?"
He told me there is a lot of lead in the environment, there are many ways you could get lead poisoning.

Well this study has got my interest. At the time I got sick, I was killing and eating at least ten deer and hogs every year. I was eating wild game sausage, burger, or steak every day of the week.

This study shows that lead can travel a foot away from the entrance/exit wound.
I don't know if I got toxic lead from eating wild game I had shot, but now I know it is a possibility.

I didn't know Minnesota DNR had an anti-hunting agenda. Down South here the DNR is supportive of guns and hunting.

November 16, 2009, 09:01 AM
My primary concern with lead has been stay out of its way, if it happened to flying at low altitudes. 'Swallering it' was the least of my worries.

There's a lot of eco-fertilizer circulating and damn near everything I like is hazardous to my health. I guess I could find a doc to keep me heavily medicated and go hide under a Nerf-shelter for the rest of my life; might add 10-15 years to it. The question is whether those extra 10-15 years would be worth living.

Art Eatman
November 16, 2009, 09:18 AM
simonkenton, I can see where it's possible that your problem came from the lead remnants from your hunting.

The random occasional ingestion by either the average hunter or the recipient of game meat, however, is nowhere near the sort of exposure of which you wrote. And it's this latter condition which is the focus of the alleged danger.

For shooters, an indoor range is the greatest danger; ingestion to the lungs. Other problems arise from just living in a major metro area; I spent a week in Mexico City in 1978 and never felt the urge to smoke: Smog. A doctor specializing in respiratory problems once commented that just living in New York City was equivalent to smoking at least a pack a day.

November 16, 2009, 04:10 PM
The CDC did a study of lead exposure in North Dakota hunters. Here is a link:

November 16, 2009, 04:44 PM
But it's possible that the lead (as you mentioned) may have come from your environment. My dad retired as a contractor and hobby racer. The sheer amount of lead in older homes and buildings is rather staggering.

A good friend became ill with lead poisoning because--get this--they had a hunting cabin wherein all his buddies would gather after a days hunt, cook, drink, and sleep it off to head home the next day. One of the members was bringing "fire wood" from home. The fire wood was siding from an old barn. The old barn had been painted w/ lead paint at some point (all worn off by the time they were burning it). The guys would have fires in the cabin and--in cold weather--the building was "made tight" with all sorts of foam, insulation, and plastic. They were sitting in a very effective "lead-self-dosing machine." Odd but true, and nearly all of them became ill from lead poisoning...

November 16, 2009, 05:34 PM
Well, there you go, the North Dakota study shows higher levels of lead in people who eat lots of wild game than in the regular population.

Thanks for your concern longlane.
A major problem I had was in getting a diagnosis.
Most doctors don't know, or care about lead toxicity. They don't even know how to test for it.
I went to 8 or 10 doctors in 9 years, none even suggested that my problems might be related to toxic metals. Of course none tested me, I doubt they even knew how to administer a lead toxicity test.

I have never had a job that exposed me to lead, I did pick up some lead by using black and red glazed pottery from Mexico. I used that stuff for a couple years, in 1977 and 1978.
But other than that I never have figured out where I got exposed to all the lead.
When I finally got tested in 2001 my lead levels were 3 times the toxic level.

By 1990, the year I got sick, I had eaten well over 2,000 pounds of wild game.
I don't know if lead in the venison made me sick, I processed my own deer and hogs most the time and tried to cut out all the lead, of course.

But these studies make me realize that the venison may have made me sick.

I am sure thinking of switching to Barnes all copper bullets.

November 16, 2009, 06:39 PM
If you process your own game, then the Barnes or other all copper bullet or a bullet that enclosed the lead completely would be a good way of avoiding any more lead from game meat.

Obviously, you should avoid reloading or indoor shooting if your lead levels are high though the rest of us should be fine.

I bit down on a large chunk of copper and lead in some wild pork sausage made from a pig I had killed. That had to have gone through the processor's grinder and there is no telling how many other people got a little lead from it.

As the North Dakota study indicates, most of us should be just fine consuming game meat taken with lead bullets. But if your lead levels are already elevated you should take extra precautions.

November 16, 2009, 06:40 PM
might be why I headshot with fmj bullets

November 16, 2009, 07:34 PM
That is why the pioneers died out - lead poisoning :rolleyes:

November 16, 2009, 11:11 PM
Every critter I shoot, I take more time than I need to trying to find all the little bits of bullet. Not because I am worried about lead, but because I want to see how my bullet performed in the animal. I've got a box of recovered bullets I keep on my reloading bench, either from critters I've taken, or critters I've butchered for other people. Some tend to break up, but a person who is even a little cautious in cleaning up blood shot meat will find 99.9 percent of every bullet in a deer, goat, or elk. Using bullets made of non toxic metals is fine if you are worried about lead, but as far as it becoming law, well I won't curse, but I disagree. Been tested for lead exposure, welding on vessels coated in lead based paint, and welding in general, probably have more lead in my system than the average joe. Doc told me my levels were fine. Overexposure to anything is bad, my wife thinks that too many guns, and too many beers will be hazardous to my health.

November 17, 2009, 01:55 AM
Dont use Winchester 180gr RN in 308. Helped a friend butcher his deer last week and found the bullet. Went from 180gr to 151gr. Thats alot of lead somewhere but we never found any in the meat. He hit it in the lungs. I'm sure we missed some small fragments, but that is not good weight retention.

November 17, 2009, 05:21 AM
Been tested for lead exposure, welding on vessels coated in lead based paint, and welding in general, probably have more lead in my system than the average joe. Doc told me my levels were fine.

You probably got the wrong test.
Most doctors have little understanding of lead toxicity.
I bet you got a blood test.
If you are suffering from short-term lead exposure, maybe you work in a battery recycling plant, and you are working on a 2-ton vat of molten lead all day, and your breathing apparatus malfunctioned for a week and you start feeling sick, you could get a blood test right then and get an accurate reading.
If you are suffering from long-term exposure to lead, you may be suffering from lead poisoning symptoms, but your blood test will be ok.
This is because your body stashes the lead away in the deep tissues.
To properly test for long-term lead exposure you need to do a urine challenge test.
Most doctors do not know, or understand, or care about doing a proper lead test.

In my case, my doc gave me two capsules called DMSA. This is a drug that will pull the lead out of the deep tissues.
The doc gave me a 2 gallon jug, I had to save my urine for 24 hours. Then I sent in a test tube of that urine to be tested.
I was three times the toxic level of lead.
That was interesting because I knew I was sick as hell, I suspected arsenic poisoning. I was building a lot of pressure treated decks and I like to work with my bare hands. I figured I might have picked up arsenic from working with all that arsenic-treated wood.
No, the urine challenge test showed non-toxic levels of arsenic.

I had gotten a blood test by a different doc 2 years earlier, he said my blood work was fine and I didn't need to worry about lead poisoning.

November 17, 2009, 05:25 AM
I don't even want to know what my lead level is...:rolleyes:
I have opened and pinched jillions of split shot with my teeth and carried dozens of pounds of air rifle pellets in my mouth for quick access...
All this on top of the other ways a redneck kid can get into lead.:eek:

November 17, 2009, 07:54 AM
That is why the pioneers died out - lead poisoning

Well, they are all dead. Seriously, our ancestors killed their game with lower velocity bullets than we use today. From the study simonkenton posted we can see that muzzleloader bullets and shotgun slugs tend to fragment less and leave less lead in the meat than the modern high velocity ammunition we use today.

The CDC's North Dakota study suggest that most people don't have to worry about lead exposure even if the venison is harvested with high velocity lead ammunition but people who are have certain risk factors should be aware that they might be exposed to a bit more lead. If I had health problems due to elevated lead levels like simonkenton, I would want to watch what I ate very carefully. For most of us, the health benefits of eating venison harvested with high velocity lead bullets will far outweigh the slight increase in lead levels in our bodies. Most of us should be fine but it's perfectly understandable that some of us need to be a bit more cautious.

November 17, 2009, 08:57 AM
Minnesota ran this study in April of 2008 and these quotes were taken from The Star Tribune in Minneapolis. This was the result:
The discovery of varying amounts of lead in 25 percent of the 299 samples tested surprised Minnesota officials because, until recently, it had never been an issue.

What sparked it was this:
North Dakota found lead fragments in donated venison there and ordered it thrown away. That sparked the Minnesota investigation. Wisconsin also is testing donated venison. Iowa tested some and found trace amounts of lead.

The result was the state discarding all the donated venison provided by the Hunters for the Hungry program. Important to note also: there were no reports of illness from lead ingestion from donated meat.

But, the NRA reported this
NRA and other groups reported the fact that the original lead fragments found last fall were discovered by a dermatologist, William Cornatzer, who is on the board of directors of the Peregrine Fund, which seeks to ban the use of lead ammunition. His reports surfaced within days of a Peregrine Fund conference to address the issue.
from this site http://www.nrahuntersrights.org/Article.aspx?id=597
which seems to unveil a hidden agenda.

The NRA also posted some great Q&As here:

In the end, the Hunters for the Hungry program is still providing donated meat. Its being xrayed for contamination which runs ~$6,000/year.

What I wish I could find, and I don't have time for a search here, is the article highlighting any tainted testing methods used by the original study's author. I thought I remember something on it, but couldn't find it on the web.

November 17, 2009, 09:27 AM
I think the CDC's North Dakota study put to rest most of the questions about lead in venison. It came out in October 2008 http://www.nssf.org/share/PDF/ND_report.pdf

Double Naught Spy
November 17, 2009, 10:23 AM
I don't even want to know what my lead level is...
I have opened and pinched jillions of split shot with my teeth and carried dozens of pounds of air rifle pellets in my mouth for quick access...
All this on top of the other ways a redneck kid can get into lead.

Some folks are more sensitive to lead than others. Then again, some are more sensitive to a lot of chemicals, minerals, etc. simonkenton may be overly sensitive or have had extensive exposure outside of hunted food. hogdogs may not be sensitive or not one to retain lead in his system readily despite obvious unsafe behaviors (you didn't eat lead paint chips as well, did you?). I see these two as something of being at the extremes with most of us falling well between them.

You have to admit, given our proclivity for distrusting the government and the CDC being a government organization, the CDC being full of doctors and so many of us not trusting doctors as apparently so many are anti-gun, then if the CDC isn't having a problem with said hunted meat, I have to think the problem some folks may be experiencing with slightly tainted meat is either because they are biologically extreme (overly sensitive) or have suffered other environmental factors.

November 17, 2009, 11:11 AM
Thanks for the link, 2damnold4this.

The key paragraph, in my opinion is on page 9, last paragraph -

paraphrased paragraph - study suggests consumption of wild game can impact lead levels, the geometric mean of lead levels in this study WAS LOWER than the overall population... (my emphasis).

It further goes on to talk about the mean lead levels in the population going down in recent decades, but still being several orders of magnitude higher than preindustrial society.

I would be curious to see a similar study done with commercially prepared beef. How much is coming off the grinders and saws.....

Double Naught Spy
November 17, 2009, 12:05 PM
So you are saying/suggesting that those who are regular consumers of wild game actually had lower levels of lead than the rest of the population despite potentially increasing their personal lead levels via the ingestion of bullet fragments?

That would be rather ironic.

November 17, 2009, 02:29 PM
So you are saying/suggesting that those who are regular consumers of wild game actually had lower levels of lead than the rest of the population despite potentially increasing their personal lead levels via the ingestion of bullet fragments?

The CDC study compared lead levels in people in North Dakota. All of the participants in the study tended to have lower than the national average of lead. Those that ate venison harvested with lead bullets had slightly higher lead levels on average than those that didn't. None of the participants in the study had lead levels high enough for the CDC to recommend case management.

November 17, 2009, 03:20 PM
If you dig deep enough you find 90% of these types of "scientific" studies are funded from pro animal/ anti hunting groups. Thats a fact.
If youre going to worry about contaminated food, you better quit buying from the grocery store.That chemical and preservative indused crap is a lot worse for you than any wild game you shoot with any kind of bullet. Thats another fact.
I am sorry for the people that have gotten lead poisoning, I may join you someday, but for now I'm not going to worry about it. If I do get it, I'll probably go cast some more bullets to take my mind off it. What do I have to lose?
Its also a fact if you worry and stress about, you wont live any longer than if you would have just done it anyway. Stress is a major killer in our society these days. I'm not saying to go and eat a lead ingot every day, just dont put much faith in these so called tests. Lead poisoning is real but the government only lets you know what they want you to know. Ask any war vet about that.
The people in California face death every day. Read ANY lable on ANTHING and it causes cancer. Just reading about it can cause cancer in California. Glad I dont live there.
I'm just saying, youre going to get sick and die from something sooner or later anyway, why worry about a little old deer? I'm 38 and have been eating home butchered deer and elk for about 38 years of that (all my life). Not one of us has had a problem.
Go put a big deer steak on the grill with plenty of salt for seasoning, and wash it down with a couple beers. For dessert, get a big bowl of homemade ice-cream made from pure, fresh farm cream and lots of sugar.
I bet you'll feel better. Sounds good, I'm going to go eat.