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Old August 23, 2021, 05:54 AM   #1
Lhigginsqrb
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Wound Tract/ lead question

I’ve been taught to cut the wound tract out of a deer where the slug hit it. I don’t know anybody that doesn’t do this actually. The argument is that the lead hits with such force and speed that it contaminates to meat. Little particles of lead would be in there that you would swallow.

So my question is why is this not a concern with shotgun shells? My rifle rounds travel out anywhere between 2300 and 3000 feet per second. Shotgun shells tend to be around 1300 for the high-performing rounds.

The reason I ask mainly is that I’m playing with loading faster rounds at lower shot sizes. Three-quarter ounce for example. I’m really wondering if there’s a tipping point on the velocity or if this is just something we’ve ignored all together that we shouldn’t be ignoring.

I just remembered something while I was typing this. I have a buddy who only uses full metal jacket who claims that they don’t foul the meat as bad. I’m wondering if the hollow point is a factor? Anyway we aren’t allowed legally to hunt with those in Tennessee because it tends to not put the deer down as efficiently. My buddy only shoots the heart and he has the skill to actually do that and not just talk about it. I don’t so I go with the Hollow points. That and I don’t want the game warden getting after me.

Last edited by Lhigginsqrb; August 23, 2021 at 06:03 AM.
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Old August 23, 2021, 07:11 AM   #2
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You have an abnormal fear of lead poisoning. I’ve been hunting for sixty years now and I’ve shot and consumed well over a hundred deer. My whole family hunts and eats wild game. Most of my friends do also. I’m not aware of anyone in my sphere of family or friends who’s gotten any increased lead levels from consuming any of this. In fact, I can’t remember a single case of this being reported in any journal or news media in my state….ever. I worked as a manufacturing manager in a plant where the employees worked on 3,500 molten lead pots making automotive parts and the ones who got increased lead levels were working 40+ hours a week and NOT following safety protocols prohibiting smoking or eating in their work areas. They also weren’t wearing masks when reloading the pots. You can get lead “poisoning” by committing certain acts on a repeated basis, but again, probably not from eating game shot with lead slugs or pellets. As far as your friend shooting deer with full jacketed bullets….I’m not aware of any state allowing that to be done. It’s unethical and should be prosecuted. The game warden should “get after” anyone doing it and he/she is doing their job by doing so.
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Old August 23, 2021, 08:49 AM   #3
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If you are really concerned about lead, you can do what I did and switch to all copper ammo.
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Old August 23, 2021, 12:33 PM   #4
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You're over thinking this.

I understand and support non lead shotshells in areas where waterfowl hunting is popular. Over time literally millions of pellets are fired into the air and fall back to earth. Birds ingest small pebbles into their stomachs to aid digestion. I have no doubts that many pellets are ingested by birds thinking they are pebbles. And it doesn't take much lead in a bird to be an issue. If nothing else it can have a negative effect on reproduction.

On big game I just don't see it as being a problem. But on the other hand I have no issue with hunters choosing to hunt with solid copper bullets. Not because I'm concerned about ingesting lead, but because in some ways they can be superior to lead.

The most likely chance for humans to ingest lead is from tiny shotshell pellets in small game. I've had to spit a pellet out of my mouth a few times while eating small game and I've probably swallowed a few too. But it takes a lot of lead over a lot of time for it to be a problem.
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Old August 23, 2021, 12:54 PM   #5
Hawg
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The only reason for cleaning a wound channel is to remove damaged/bruised meat. Lead fragments from a high velocity round can be found a long way from the wound itself. I don't worry about it.
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Old August 23, 2021, 05:28 PM   #6
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Quote:
You have an abnormal fear of lead poisoning.
No. He asked a simple question because of concerns. Nothing wrong with having concerns and determining their validity, which is what he is doing.

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Quote:
Lead fragments from a high velocity round can be found a long way from the wound itself.
Absolutely true.
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Relevant article...
https://www.grandforksherald.com/nor...ith-toxic-lead

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Quote:
I just remembered something while I was typing this. I have a buddy who only uses full metal jacket who claims that they don’t foul the meat as bad. I’m wondering if the hollow point is a factor?
And he may be somewhat right. However, being a hollowpoint isn't the significant issue. Soft points, hollowpoints, frangible ammo and basically any round that does not retain 100% of its weight is depositing metal into the animal. There are softpoints that will come out with only 60% of their weight, for example, so the other 40% quite likely has been ground off by friction erosion (and possibly some fragmentation) as the bullet went through the animal. With softpoints, the lead "fragments" will likely be on a much smaller scale and may not be discernible to the eye or by touch.

Hollowpoints that open up to the lead core expose the core to the same processes of friction erosion and potentially larger fragments as well.

Frangible ammo, of course there will be all sorts of lead peppered through the meat.
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Old August 25, 2021, 12:07 PM   #7
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I would point out that there is a huge difference between detectable and dangerous.

OSHA standards for lead exposure are not zero. They are low, but they are also based on continuous occupational exposure 40hr a week 52 weeks a year, and still being at a safe level.

FDA standards for lead in our food and water are also NOT Zero. And again, are low to ensure safety with continuous exposure.

The trace lead in meat that is left after you pick out all the visible fragments isn't going to give you lead poisoning.

the reason we cut out the wound channel meat is because it is often blooshot and damaged, so "not good eatin". One of the old saying about the advantage of using lower velocity bullets (which were lead) was that you could "eat right up to the bullet hole".

Point here is that in order to be toxic, lead has to be in your system (in soluble form) above a certain amount, and that amount is way,way above what you might get from eating trace lead in game animals.

I knew one fellow who had an entire lead bullet in his chest, close to his heart, for over 50 years. Never got lead poisoning, and died of old age.

I don't worry about it. Don't think you really should either. Be aware, be informed of what is, and isn't significant risk, but don't WORRY, or loose any sleep over it. That will cause you more harm than trace lead in game meat will.
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Old August 25, 2021, 04:42 PM   #8
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Metallic lead is very difficult to get into the body. Lead oxide is a different matter. How do you make lead oxide? Take lead and expose it to air, or make paint additives, or make leaded gasoline.

Lead poisoning is particularly dangerous to children and the unborn. Treat it with respect, don’t contaminate indoor work areas, wash your hands before eating. With the huge number of hunters now, shooting over duck habitat isn’t like it was a hundred years ago.

Me, I went to copper plastic tip rifle bullets. Far better than my old lead soft points for deer.

For pheasants, I use a mix of common lead #4 shells in my old Model 37 or copper coated high velocity magnum shells in my new gas operated Fabarms, or the number 4 if that’s what I have in my pocket. Just pick the pellets out before cooking. Since I don’t use a whole box of ammo a season, spread out over dozens of square miles of prairie, I am not ready to sell the farm for the superior performance of tungsten (some tungsten, not the hokey crap at cabellas) shot.

It’s difficult to get accurate information about the dangers of lead, as there is always “that guy” that does something stupid and sues you. No one is foolish for using caution, just dig deep.

Casting bullets is another activity that can be done safely, or you can make yourself real sick and contaminate your shop. It’s not play dough.

People have been eating deer shot with lead for hundreds of years. Don’t butcher the damaged bloodshot meat, that’s just folk wisdom. CWD had changed things in my area as the DNR suggests not taking head or spine shots now. As I am smack dab in the middle of Wisconsin’s cwd hotzone and all my hunting buddies have passed on… I lost interest in deer hunting.

Oh, my point was, shoot you buck in the neck. Problem solved.
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Old August 25, 2021, 08:43 PM   #9
Lhigginsqrb
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I don’t think I’m overly concerned.

10-20 years ago no one questioned drinking out of water bottles. Now we’re finding micro plastics in them, bpas, etc. there are thousands of chemicals we use every day forwhich we have little knowledge of their long term effects. These chemicals weren’t in our diet or environment 500 years ago. A person can’t be overly concerned about this in my opinion. We have a prevalence of diseases like cancer and depression which may or may not be caused by these Industrial Age chemicals. Our distant ancestors hunted with flint, iron, etc.
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Old August 26, 2021, 09:54 AM   #10
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I don't worry about it. Don't think you really should either. Be aware, be informed of what is, and isn't significant risk, but don't WORRY, or loose any sleep over it. That will cause you more harm than trace lead in game meat will.
Being informed is excellent advice. Also noting that the risk to adults is not the same as the risk to children, so what you may not have concerns, does not mean that there are not concerns to be had. So if the food is being given to kids, there are more considerations at hand.
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Old August 26, 2021, 01:22 PM   #11
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Many years ago, while sick with scarlet fever, I had chills so bad I bit through the thermometer and swallowed some of the glass and mercury. I'm 83 years olds and that happened 77 years ago. I shot my first deer at age 11 and first birds at 16. Over the years I have probably ingested lead fragments from deer and elk and shot from birds. Something the doc said when I bit that thermometer. "Don't worry. It'll pass through in two or three days."
Now, as someone mentioned lead oxide is something else. It's that white powder you see on old bullets and can be absorbed into the skin or by breathing. Nasty stuff.
I've also shot and loaded my own cast bullets for rifle and handgun since age 16 so I would imagine my lead levels should be high. Turns out that at my last check up they were within normal limits for my age. I'll ask my doc what the numbers were next time I see him as I don't remember what they were.
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Old August 28, 2021, 01:54 PM   #12
Lhigginsqrb
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I think spy has a good point though. We don’t feed kids game much at all because were concerned about that lead. It can cause developmental problems.

I’m hoping you guys are right because I eat quite a bit of wild stuff but I still think digging into it is a good idea.
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Old September 30, 2021, 08:32 AM   #13
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Most state game agencies have been warning us about lead poisoning from game shot with lead bullets for years. It's certainly not "over-thinking it" to be concerned. I've been butchering my own deer for 50 odd years, basically so what ends up in the frying pan is what I shot and what I want to eat. Removing the wound channel or "blood meat" not only takes care of getting rid of the major lead particles, but also gets rid of body fluids, hair and other contaminants that were pull thru the wound channel with the bullet. I try to remove as much of this blood meat when I skin the animal(as soon as possible) so that these contaminates don't weep into good meat. No different than removing the "pellet trails" on game birds. Last thing I want is another tooth cracked when munching down on pheasant pie.
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Old September 30, 2021, 05:38 PM   #14
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Yes I cut out the bloody shot meat, but if you wait until the animal gets in the right position you can take a shot the doesn't involve much meat. A side shot through both lungs & the heart also keeps you from needing to track that deer. LOL
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Old September 30, 2021, 09:24 PM   #15
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I save the blood shot meat . Cook it up & feed it to the wife’s dog. He loves it.


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Old October 6, 2021, 02:18 AM   #16
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I knew one fellow who had an entire lead bullet in his chest, close to his heart, for over 50 years. Never got lead poisoning, and died of old age.
To be fair, that is totally different from running small pieces of lead through the digestive system. A foreign object will be encapsulated by the body and, in any event, won't be subject to the acids found in the digestive system nor to the portions of the digestive system specifically designed to absorb chemicals from its contents.
Quote:
I’m not aware of anyone in my sphere of family or friends who’s gotten any increased lead levels from consuming any of this.
Just out of curiosity, how many of them have had their lead levels tested? Without that information, there's really no way to say if their lead levels were increased or not.

There have been some studies that show elevated lead levels correlate with game consumption. I don't recall that the levels were alarmingly high, but I think it's pretty much a given that a person who consumes game is likely to have higher lead levels than someone else who lives under identical circumstances but doesn't consume game.

Just to be clear, I'm not trying to say that it's a major health concern, but it is something that hunters should be aware of. There is risk, but it is risk that can be managed quite easily.
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