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CouesPursuit

To Fragment, or not to Fragment..

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That is my latest question after reading the recent favorite elk bullet thread. 

After shooting a 100 and 200 pound animal this year with a popular bullet that is relatively new to the market, I was pleased to see both drop in their tracks. I wasn't pleased to find lead fragments throughout the front shoulder and top of the straps while processing in areas a good distance away from the bullet channels. There is no shortage of studies supporting this as a reasonable concern for someone feeding their (especially young) family with the meat and it makes a compelling case for trying another bullet that holds together better or even going lead-free. Eating archery meat became even more satisfying after this last year.

I'm curious what you say, CWT?

 

 

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That’s why I run Barnes bullets and will be trying out the hammers this year. Got tired of throwing out lots of good meat due to massive bloodshoting. Have ran Barnes for twenty years with great results.

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I'm thinking of trying the 83 gr hammer in my 22-250 Ackley. I took last year's coues with this rifle using a 80 gr. Berger vld at 733 yds. The buck only made it a few feet but the destruction was insane, fragments everywhere!

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In order to cause as much damage as possible and kill quickly I like the idea of fragmenting, that being said I too hate looking for little pieces of fragmented bullets in my animals as I process them. 

 

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You're concerns are spot on, buddy.  Everyone who thinks they are getting all of the lead out are wrong.  Lead fragments have been documented 24 inches from the impact point.  I switched to Barnes for that very reason after biting into a chunk of lead the size of my pinky nail.  My wife told me she'd never eat meat from an animal harvested with lead-core bullets again.  I used that as the impetus to spend the money on setting up my reloading bench and getting Barnes TSX and, eventually TTSX.  I've only been loading and hunting with Barnes since 2008, so not as long as others, but I've never had to track an animal more than 60 yards.  Most have gone down much sooner.  I have a study of lead fragments and processed deer I'm happy to share, but the summary is that 80% of grind from 30 deer (24 deer) had lead fragments.  30% of the 234 grind packages had at least one lead fragment.  That means the other 70% had multiple lead fragments.

The biggest arguments I hear with nonlead are that 1) the bullets down expand with small-bodied animals and at slower velocities; and 2) they are too expensive compared to lead-core ammo options.

To those points: 1) when my son shot his Coues buck this past October at 375 yards with his 7-08 using 140gr TTSX handloads, the exit wound was the size of a tennis ball.  When he shot his javelina this youth season (Feb 1), using my M1 Garand and 150gr TTSX VOR-TX ammo at 74yds, the exit wound was softball sized.  In both animals, the bullets expanded beautifully.  2) When you compare premium lead-core ammo, which is what I see most hunters use, the price difference is usually less than $2 for a box of loaded lead-core ammo and Barnes VOR-TX or Hornady GMX loaded ammo.

Even beyond the condor issue, a100s, if not close to 1000 bald and golden eagles are killed by lead poisoning from scavenging game carcasses and ingesting bullet fragments every year.  The isotope analysis has confirmed that its lead from bullets.  Losing one or two condors is bad enough when there are only 98 in AZ/UT, but losing that many eagles, not to mention the other raptors that scavenge carcasses is scary. 

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I do a fair amount of work with eagles and I've seen lead-poisoned birds first hand, it sucks. In addition to not wanting to inject any more harm into my kids that already exists in this crazy world, introducing load poisoning to scavengers is something that has bothered me for some time at varying levels, but knowing especially that I shoot a lot of coyotes in eagle territory. I always try to hide their carcasses in inconspicuous places although it probably doesn't help much once they are dragged out. 

It's not a feeling I wanted to confirm after just settling in on an amazing load in a new rifle but quality meat is one of most important aspects to my hunting. As someone who already reloads, I'll enjoy pursuing my existing accuracy with lead-free bullets anyway, so it is a road I have been prepared to go down and something I will do this off-season. I'll share my results along the way and still look forward to input on the thread.

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Well my experiences with lead in the meat is very different than what has been experienced by others.    I process 100% of my own meat over the last 40 years (probably 200 - 300 cleaned animals) and at no point in time have I ever got a piece of lead (or any foreign substance) in my meat at the table.   If done by a person that is competent in the process of cleaning meat then you will never get a piece of meat with a fragment in it.   When a fragment goes through the meat it leaves a very obvious spot where it travels.

Loosing meat is going to be part of the deal regardless of what type of bullet (or arrow) you use.   I've seen different shots cause very different damage while using the same bullet.   There really isn't a one size fits all when it comes to how a bullet will react upon impact.   Frequently the meat around the impact will not be edible (in my book) just from the blood clotting due to a massive tissue damage.   If you put a bullet through the front shoulder of a critter typically you won't get much meat off of the shoulder.   In all reality most shoulders on a deer won't provide much meat anyways.   Elk will give more but probably not as much as you think.  If you put a bullet behind the shoulder and don't hit the shoulder on the opposite side typically all the meat will be in good shape.   If you are hunting big game and are really worried about saving as much meat as possible then shoot it in the head.    They will drop like a rock and you will loose zero meat. 

         

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1 hour ago, IA Born said:

You're concerns are spot on, buddy.  Everyone who thinks they are getting all of the lead out are wrong.  Lead fragments have been documented 24 inches from the impact point.  I switched to Barnes for that very reason after biting into a chunk of lead the size of my pinky nail.  My wife told me she'd never eat meat from an animal harvested with lead-core bullets again.  I used that as the impetus to spend the money on setting up my reloading bench and getting Barnes TSX and, eventually TTSX.  I've only been loading and hunting with Barnes since 2008, so not as long as others, but I've never had to track an animal more than 60 yards.  Most have gone down much sooner.  I have a study of lead fragments and processed deer I'm happy to share, but the summary is that 80% of grind from 30 deer (24 deer) had lead fragments.  30% of the 234 grind packages had at least one lead fragment.  That means the other 70% had multiple lead fragments.

The biggest arguments I hear with nonlead are that 1) the bullets down expand with small-bodied animals and at slower velocities; and 2) they are too expensive compared to lead-core ammo options.

To those points: 1) when my son shot his Coues buck this past October at 375 yards with his 7-08 using 140gr TTSX handloads, the exit wound was the size of a tennis ball.  When he shot his javelina this youth season (Feb 1), using my M1 Garand and 150gr TTSX VOR-TX ammo at 74yds, the exit wound was softball sized.  In both animals, the bullets expanded beautifully.  2) When you compare premium lead-core ammo, which is what I see most hunters use, the price difference is usually less than $2 for a box of loaded lead-core ammo and Barnes VOR-TX or Hornady GMX loaded ammo.

Even beyond the condor issue, a100s, if not close to 1000 bald and golden eagles are killed by lead poisoning from scavenging game carcasses and ingesting bullet fragments every year.  The isotope analysis has confirmed that its lead from bullets.  Losing one or two condors is bad enough when there are only 98 in AZ/UT, but losing that many eagles, not to mention the other raptors that scavenge carcasses is scary. 

Do you clean your own animals?   

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Youve never found lead in an animal you’ve killed? I have found lead in animals I have killed, it’s not cool. I just kinda thought it was part of the game 

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3 minutes ago, trphyhntr said:

Been biting split shot down on my fishing line for 30 years. I can’t imagine a tiny piece of bullet lead would kill me 

Was waiting for your replies..

When I get x-rays at the dentist, I can see the white blotches on the right side of my molars where I've also clamped down split shots through adolescence. I don't need more lead to test my exposure limits. 

1 minute ago, trphyhntr said:

Youve never found lead in an animal you’ve killed? I have found lead in animals I have killed, it’s not cool. I just kinda thought it was part of the game 

I have found quite a bit but seldom with the accubonds I was previously shooting and never more than this year shooting the new bullets. 

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3 hours ago, CouesPursuit said:

That is my latest question after reading the recent favorite elk bullet thread. 

After shooting a 100 and 200 pound animal this year with a popular bullet that is relatively new to the market, I was pleased to see both drop in their tracks. I wasn't pleased to find lead fragments throughout the front shoulder and top of the straps while processing in areas a good distance away from the bullet channels. There is no shortage of studies supporting this as a reasonable concern for someone feeding their (especially young) family with the meat and it makes a compelling case for trying another bullet that holds together better or even going lead-free. Eating archery meat became even more satisfying after this last year.

I'm curious what you say, CWT?

 

 

so shooting animals that are lighter I always like a bullet to fragment and dump the energy into the critter.   I've seen bullets that don't really expand well on smaller animals and it can create an issue depending on the circumstances.   Dropping in their tracks is almost always a good thing.    When shooting bigger critters I like a bullet that will stay together to allow for extreme penetration.   So on elk I would think about a Nosler Partition and deer maybe a nosler BT.   Doesn't have to be that brand but the bullet construction is the key to look at.  

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6 minutes ago, CouesPursuit said:

Was waiting for your replies..

When I get x-rays at the dentist, I can see the white blotches on the right side of my molars where I've also clamped down split shots through adolescence. I don't need more lead to test my exposure limits. 

 

Maybe that’s why I had to get a tooth extracted last week 

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40 minutes ago, recurveman said:

Do you clean your own animals?   

Depends on the animal, but generally not deer or elk since my time is limited enough and I don't have the space or money for all of the equipment I used to have access to.  I used to help my dad process deer in our basement in Iowa growing up since he was a meat cutter and we had everything to do it right.  Worrying about picking out lead particles is not an issue for me anymore, anyway, since we only hunt with Barnes.  That's great that you are that thorough when you clean your game, but I'd bet money you are missing lead pieces. and that's not at all a jab at you.  The point of that article that I summarized is that quite a bit of the lead particles are almost microscopic to microscopic in size.  Very few folks I know have the ability to find lead that small in meat and very few are looking over 12 inches from the point of impact to find lead particles.  I'm happy to share the whole article and slew of others on the matter if you are interested.  Lead poisoning is cumulative and the toxicity/poisoning builds up over time.  To be clear, I'm not trying to start a pissing match and I won't pursue one, only presenting what the data show and I've never seen x-rays lie about finding stuff where it shouldn't be.  My intent is to always present the data and let people continue on with their own informed decisions.  Next time you're in Flagstaff, coffee is on me.

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I also didn't start this thread to cause any problems. It is beyond commendable to kill as quickly and efficiently as possible, but if that means unknowingly putting lead on the table and not just through the animal's vitals, I wanted to see what people had to say. Great discussion so far. 

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