Envisioning a Lead-Free Landscape by Kent Salazar

Kent Antelope.jpg

My family has been hunting for generations in New Mexico. It has been a tradition that we have participated in year after year, and one that has bonded each of my family members.

I started hunting at 8 years old by tagging along with my father and uncles, and eventually began to hunt small game like squirrels and rabbits. I look back on these memories fondly, remembering how I first learned to walk quietly, use my senses of sight and smell, reading tracks, and learning the ways of my prey. Later I learned to safely carry and fire my hunting rifle, my grandfather’s old Remington Rollingblock.

These days, I’m proud that I can pass on the wisdom my father imparted to me to my own children and grandchildren. However, sometimes I find them sharing new tech and tactic with me as our shared sport progresses in modernity. While tradition is near and dear to my heart, I’m excited to enjoy the gadgets that have come as a result of the desire to improve the hunt. I find myself particularly passionate about non-toxic ammunition and have found the switch to be seamless.

Lead based ammunition has a tendency to spread across our landscapes, poisoning the wildlife that ingests the shot, which in turn affects our birds of prey who consume the poisoned animal or consume the innards of the game that has been shot. Additionally, x-rays show that despite our best efforts to clean the game for consumption, it is very difficult to clean the animal of the lead fragments that disperse as the game is shot. That means that not only are wildlife consuming lead from our ammunition, we may consume it as well, along with our families who we serve our meat to if we are not careful.

Since the creation of the lead-free bullet, the industry has developed lead-free ammunition that is compatible with rifles, holds together better than lead bullets, and is accurate and lethal without damaging the game meat in the process. They’re readily available across several sporting goods stores and are coming down in price as demand climbs. Lead-free ammo is clean and effective. This drives my decision to continue to use lead-free ammunition.

As a hunter, I want to make sure I’m doing my part in participating in conservation efforts, something I know the hunting community is committed to as well. I encourage our community to get further involved by researching the impacts of shooting non-lead bullets, and sharing this knowledge with our fellow hunters. Additionally, you don’t have to reload your own bullets, there are many non-lead based ammunition that is very effective.

In my family, we enjoy preparing and cooking the game that we bring home by preserving vegetables like squash and beans, and canning fruit. By using non-lead ammunition, I can rest assured that my family isn’t ingesting lead, and that we can enjoy our meal without worry.